Feature: July Fab 5

Tomas Scheckter- driver perspective

Tomas Scheckter- driver perspective

Topic 1: 1.Where do I start? Rule 9.3.8 Detrimental Competitor Conduct which states: Competitors must be respectful, professional, fair and courteous to others. At all times, Competitors must not, attempt to, or engage in conduct or statements that in the judgment of INDYCAR:
a) Threatens or denigrates any Official, fellow Competitor or the INDYCAR brand;
b) Calls into question the integrity or legitimacy of the Rules or their application, construction or interpretation;
c) Denigrates the IndyCar Series racing schedule or Event(s);
d) Threatens or denigrates any INDYCAR business relationship, including those with sponsors or broadcasters;
e) Otherwise threatens the integrity, reputation or public confidence of the sport, INDYCAR, or IndyCar Series.

This is essentially a gag rule. Good rule, bad rule? How can there be #IndyRivals when drivers can’t say or do anything? Please share your opinion on what IndyCar was thinking with this new rule.

TonyD:The ratings are finally up on NBC Sports Network. The last 2-3 have had big spikes, it has a lot to do with the great racing, but also some of the off the track issues as well. We talked all week about Sage and Ed. Ed was the #1 viewed post on 1070thefan.com last week. The rule is Indy Car shooting themselves in the foot, which they seem to too often do. Let em fight, throw gloves, express opinions. The worst PR ever was not letting Danica walk down to Briscoe’s pit in 08. They need all the eye balls they can get, whether those eye balls want to watch the racing or see Juan Pablo get pissed at someone.

Ashley: I know that INDYCAR created this rule following what happened at Fontana, but in my opinion, they couldn’t have rolled this out at a worse time. We are coming off of three of IndyCar’s most successful oval races, TV ratings continued to increase with each race to be the highest they’ve been all season and fans are absolutely loving the action they’ve seen. I sure hope this rule doesn’t hold drivers back because the sport needs drama to some extent and difference in opinion is what makes things interesting.

Nancy: Indycar decides they should put a gag rule in place, I have no faith in Mark Miles and whomever makes these types of decisions. The people detrimental to the sport are Mark Miles and gang, you can throw the Boston Consulting Group in as well.
This is one of the worst rules the series could come up with, for a week and a half fans were still arguing/talking about Fontana. The ratings went up in the next two races, the best since 2011. Drivers were talking some for, some against and fans were interested. Than they decide to come out with this rule. What happens is that the drivers used to tweet after races their displeasure etc. but now since the rule, no one’s talking and it’s a darn shame. I used to love to read drivers comments after races, now nothing. The “Rule Makers” don’t have a clue of how to get people excited. A few years ago we had one of the most exciting Indy 500’s in a while instead of IndyCar building that up, Randy Bernard is tweeting saying an owner’s out to get him. Great Fontana race new rules. If I had a say in IndyCar you can bet I would’ve been on the phone with Eddie Gossage putting together an AD Campaign showcasing the drivers for and the drivers against tight racing, not working on rules.

Rick: On the surface this looks ridiculous. Especially to most normal people. We are accustomed to, and enjoy our freedom of speech. To the point of taking it for granted. But when you take this in the context of the current situation, things can get murky. We have a commercial enterprise that 1.) is struggling for relevance; 2.) runs on money from outside sources; 3.) is run by human beings with many divergent agendas.

I am not in the camp of those who claim “any PR is good PR”, see Tom Brady. Nor am I in the camp that any headline is bad for the enterprise. There has to be a middle ground. The problem I have with this whole thing is the conversation has devolved from the thrilling race to some sort of procedural conversation which takes away from the original event. This is not good.

You can call this a gag order if you want, and you may be right. It looks to me like a request to use some common sense. And that should be required on both sides of the fence, drivers and league officials. None of the secondary events is a good thing for sponsors. The event on the track was exciting for fans and presented everything that IndyCar should strive to present as a product. This should not take away anything from the drivers who had concerns about the relative safety of this type of racing. Those drivers who have concerns should be heard and dialogue held, and like it or not, this does not have to be done in public. There are plenty of issues with this series and it is disheartening to have one of them become a close, wheel to wheel race one of them.

Nancy Gass- Avid Fan Perspective

Nancy Gass- Avid Fan Perspective


Topic 2: The fans thought Fontana was a great race. Drivers like Power, JPM, Pagenaud, and Bourdais thought it was pack racing and dangerous. Drivers like Graham, Marco, TK and Briscoe thought it was great. Iowa was an intense race as well with drivers going wheel to wheel. Do you favor ovals being a single file parade, traditional pack racing or close, tight racing like Fontana and Iowa?

Tony: The racing lately has been awesome. If Power ( who blocked me on Twitter after Fontana) doesn’t want to race like that, get out of the car. The 2000’s were all about side by side close tight racing. If these guys don’t want that type of racing, there would be tons of drivers lined up to take those rides. It’s why we love Indy Car and respect and look up to these drivers so much, they put their lives on the line.

Ashley: I have loved the tight, close racing we have been seeing. Ovals are what made IndyCar in the first place, so it is GREAT seeing fans so into it these last few weeks. Are ovals dangerous? Sure, but racing is dangerous in general.

Nancy: ? I favor ovals close pack racing. Ed Carpenter and Sarah liked it because they came from the midgets & sprintcar series, where you have no choice but to race and race hard. I hate it when I see a driver in front by car lengths. I was told to “Piss off Wanker” by a fan of Will Power and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. My son races Sprintcars and flipped at Indiana Sprint Week and got back in the car later that week and raced. I think it depends on the form of racing you came from, road racers typically don’t race like that so they really are not comfortable.

Rick: I favor ovals and close pack racing. Ed Carpenter and Sarah liked it because they came from the midgets & sprintcar series, where you have no choice but to race and race hard. I hate it when I see a driver in front by car lengths. I was told to “Piss off Wanker” by a fan of Will Power and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. My son races Sprintcars and flipped at Indiana Sprint Week and got back in the car later that week and raced. I think it depends on the form of racing you came from, road racers typically don’t race like that so they really are not comfortable.

Tony Donohue- sport radio perspective

Tony Donohue- sport radio perspective

Topic 3: Sage Karam has started to get the moniker “black hat” for aggressive driving and speaking his mind, even to veterans. When Ed Carpenter confronted him after Iowa, he said this isn’t go-kart racing. What do you think of Sage? Does IndyCar need a “black hat?”

TonyD: I think Ed nor Sage were wrong. Sage is 20, in a part time role looking to build a career and get a full time ride for next year. He is in a competitive Ganassi car and is going for it. Every driver is aggressive, more so when you are 20 and don’t have a wife and children. He will learn.

Ashley: I could go on forever about this kid! I first worked with Sage five years ago, when he was 15 years old and competing in the USF2000 Series. Even then, he was beyond impressive to me, which is why my first story for Andretti Autosport was titled “Sage Karam – Rising Star On and Off the Track” (http://www.usf2000.com/archive/news/2010/teams/08/USF2000_SageKaram_OpSmile.pdf). The thing I have always loved about Sage is that he can talk a tough line because you know he will go onto the track and back himself up. Once the helmet comes on, he has always been fearless behind the wheel! I personally don’t think he is necessarily aiming for the “black hat” title, I think it just comes from his confidence. Sure he is the youngest guy out there, so he has to go prove himself.

Nancy: IndyCar definitely needs a black hat, Sage is young and happens to be one of my favorites to watch, sure he’s going to make mistakes, yet I remember Ed making them too. Ed has taken his own teammate out and I think he was more frustrated than anything with the whole season he’s had. Sage would be a good black hat, he’s young has spunk and can race with the rest of them. He can bring a new, younger fan base in just by being badass and taking no guff from the senior drivers. He has to be marketed right for this role and that is what’s lacking.

Rick: Sage is a talented, young driver who is willing to take chances. I like him and think he is good for the sport. I am not sure he deserves the “black hat” label, but it sells papers.


Ashley- pr perspective

Topic 4:Graham Rahal is on fire and is now on JPM’s bumper in second place for the championship. What is your assessment of Graham’s season considering that Honda has been woefully behind all year and that Marco is the only other Honda driver in the top 10? Could he win the championship?

TonyD:Graham is right there and heads to his home state this weekend. His turn around has been great for the sport, great for Mi Jack and Steak N Shake. Very impressive, he can win it but it’s a big mountain to climb.

Ashley:There is no denying, Graham has been killing it this season! It is so great to see their team having so much success. JPM has been in the points lead all season, but a lot can still change with three races to go. I can see Graham making a comeback and taking the title!

Nancy: Sure Graham can win the championship, he has surrounded himself with the Force family. I believe they are giving him advice and he has to be building confidence with his results this year. It all depends on if Graham can keep focused and not get impatient.

Rick:He absolutely could win, and with no disrespect to JPM, I will be rooting for him. He has had a great season and things really seem to be clicking for Rahal Lettermen Lanigan. They may be that example of the condensed schedule helping a particular team. Whatever is happening, I really hope that Graham gives Montoya a run for the title. That would do more for the sport than anything else we have talked about here so far.

Rick M

Rick Maas- Team/Owner perspective

Topic 5:If you could change one thing in the IndyCar Series, what would it be and why?

TonyD:Penalties after the race. Race control needs to make decisions as it happens, also, take away wins, if your car is under weight and you lapped the field, take the win away.

AshleyI would increase marketing strategies. Those that watch IndyCar, can’t turn away. There’s a reason for that…it’s great racing! We just need to get a new, younger demographic involved and increase at-track attendance. It always makes my heart cry when I’m on a flight to a race and no one sitting around me even knows there’s a race going on in the city we are travelling to. It makes my heart cry even more when I don’t pass a single IndyCar billboard on the way to the track advertising the race (with the exception of Barber & MKE).

Nancy: Marketing Strategy, it bothers me to no end that the series thinks it doesn’t have to market themselves. The best promoter of anything is the owner of the product, to expect tracks to market your product and then pay to have a race is ridiculous. Even Hanes underwear advertises their product and most people wear underwear.

RickALL drivers would be paid employees of the team for which they drive.

Tony Tellez


  1. The “gag rule” is just further evidence of the poor management of the series. A few years ago IMS banned an ESPN reporter because they couldn’t censor his copy. I was forced to stop contributing to a racing website because other contributers were worried about losing their IMS. credentials because of my columns. The root of the problem is common ownership of the series and IMS. Management decides everything in relation to what it envisions to be the heritage of the 500. The 500 is sacrosant and everything else exists to support IMS profitability. In an ideal world 1 entity would own the series; 1 would sanction the series; and IMS would run the Speedway. Each entity should own a substantial but non-controlling interest in the others. A car owner and a driver would be on the board of each. Until IMS management realizes that IMS depends on the series just as much as the series depends on IMS nothing will change.

    Can you imagine USAC back in the 60’s trying to muzzle AJ, Parnelli, Herk, Lloyd or Ziggy? There would have been a lot of broken noses and busted lips in the front office if they had.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.