Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Bitching About Tony George, Part 10

For all the problems CART had with its management by committee, it did do a lot for
Open Wheel racing, as TG himself pointed out. It brought back OW racing in the US during the 80's when F1 withdrew, USAC imploded, and SCCA screwed up every series it touched. In the 90's it made the Indy Car World Series a formidable stand-alone racing series, with great crowds in Long Beach, Cleveland, Phoenix, Surfers, and Toronto, and world wide attention, as well as domestic sucess" Long Beach delivered a 3.0 rating in 1995.

Was NASCAR coming?? You betcha it was, and that steamroller was inevitable. Was the fall of Open Wheel racing, created by Tony George alone? No, nothing happens in a vacuum. But does Tony George bear any responsibility for what happened next. He bears the majority of the blame.

He publically decided to start a spin-off series, leveraging it with the Indianapolis 500 which was the crown jewel at the center of CART.
Remember, though, that this was the Indycar World Series, George started the Indy Racing League. So in effect, when Open Wheel racing was on solid footing, George started something that immediately diluted the very name "Indycar". Not only that, he also locked out the best teams, by his stupid 25/8 rule, and the effect of the attention that got, was akin to the bad publicity suffered by MLB during the 94 strike.

A lot of fans were ticked off, and more damaging the casual fans, knew that Tony was putting on a sham. And the ratings showed, TWO WHOLE RATING POINTS, THEY HAVE NEVER RECOVERED. At that point it was game over for the Indy 500, those who turned of, did not return.

As for CART, its decline was linked to both losing out on Indy, as well as the very dilution of its name as a race series, since it was no longer Indycar. But then again the IRL has suffered through that same problem, with the resulting confusion the last couple of years reducing both series to a niche in the United States.
The damage is done. And NASCAR not only filled the void, it capitalized. Had things been different OW Indy Style racing, could be united and healthy -- as much as it can be in this economy. Now its split and the future is uncertain.

--And in the final analysis, Tony George is responsible, because his actions directly caused the dilution of the value of both series that have been associated with his track, in a period of time where Open Wheel needed to be united. And in the long run that has probably mortally wounded his own signature race, which is the second most seen race at his own track. And after this disaster, who the #### wants this fool in control of all Open Wheel racing. Not me.