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guest ranting: 19 august 2004- Incessent ramblings nearly on Depender's level from a gomer "journalist"

(my first ever guest "columnist", dan belcher, you know, the guy who i outpace in content when i started after he did, provides some excellent smackdown on idiot "columnist" chapman rackaway, crapwagon apologist who i sent an e-mail to sometime last year.

and by the way, expect an e-mail response to this latest beauty to be forthcoming tomorrow.)

for the sake of clarity, rackaway's comments will be italicized

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Incessent ramblings nearly on Depender's level from a gomer "journalist"

...and they're pretty painful at best.

Some things never change. The sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and Chapman Rackaway posts incomprehensible dribble on Racing News Online. Beyond predictable, but it gets worse every time. This article is just absolutely painful and just downright wrong.

"Storm Clouds Gather" (also read Why OWRS Needs To Die)

It's hard to pay attention to open wheel racing over the past decade and not get a little nostalgic for the glory days, a bit depressed for the current state of affairs. In one corner, we have a still-growing but somewhat stagnant Indy Racing League inches ever closer to CART's old model of business. In the other corner we have the three remaining fans of CART (now OWRS) posting on the same message board of their genius, yet they still haven't moved out of mom and dad's basement. Even the fender benders aren't immune from the general malaise. NASCAR, quickly becoming bloated on its own success, starts shredding its rulebook and traditions to keep the value on its television contract up.

In the very first paragraph, he admits that The Vision(tm) has pulled a 180. Could persistent gomer Chapman Rackaway actually be seeing the light?! Ah, I see, I just didn't read another few words where henceforth it all goes downhill in a hurry. The Three Amigos aren't the three remaining OWRS fans, they're just the ones in the limelight for managing to pull off such an incredible feat as getting this series back on its feet and keeping it in the forefront of automobile racing. Three remaining fans, I think not. Just three of the best ones out there. I don't see anything wrong with that. And I'm just going to skip over the tin-top crap as it's thoroughly unimportant and I don't really care, honestly.


Let's start with OWRS, since it's the series with the shortest lifespan. Bleeding money for two years now, the series is a walking corpse, supported by those same three posters who needed that broadband line into the basement so mom wouldn't ruin their dial-up connection to the OWRS message boards in the middle of blaming Tony George for global warming. Between HDNET and Spike TV, ChampCar is being seen by a number of people equal to the population of Wichita. While the series has a few good drivers (Ryan Hunter-Reay, Jimmy Vasser, and Sebastien Bourdais for example) and races on a couple of good courses (Long Beach, Road America), there's just nothing left. Eighteen cars make the starting grid this year, but will that continue next year? Can the series' owners continue to throw bad money after good? Will the pie-in-the-sky Seoul racecourse host an event? Will St. Petersburg return? Road America would like to lure the IRL now that it is going road course racing, too. By April 2005, there might just be Paul Tracy and Paul Newman racing motor scooters in a parking lot in Toronto.



Alright, alright, let me get this straight. Bleeding money essentially INTENTIONALLY is bad? Hmm. When that's part of your business strategy because it is your ONLY option, I don't see a problem with that. Take a look at basic Economics 101. Even Accounting textbooks tell you stuff like this--new companies do NOT turn a profit immediately. The amount of one-time-costs and overhead associated with getting off the ground is going to put you in the red for a little while. It's something you just have to accept and be prepared for. Several years down the road though when you're well into the black, it won't matter, now will it? And once again, read above to see why this explanation of the Three Amigos is wrong. I don't see why you need to go back to it, Chapman. And now, tell me this: when do we blame FTG for everything? We just blame him for what he actually has caused or done that is wrong, and that happens to be quite close to everything... But I digress. We are well aware that SpikeTV is not the ideal television package--this is why we are on top of things and are working out an infinitely better television package for next season. And don't you DARE so much as say anything bad about HDNet. And a "few" good drivers? How about over two-thirds of the entire field? The field of talent we have in the Champ Car World Series this season is the deepest I have EVER seen. We didn't have this much overall talent back in the ever-referenced days pre-split! And a couple of good courses?! Long Beach, Toronto, Road America, Laguna Seca, Montreal, Mexico City, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Surfer's Paradise... that's more than a couple, is it not? And yes, eighteen cars will continue next year at the minimum--it's a requirement. And we already know Seoul is gone, so it's not worth questioning. We've replaced with something even better. St. Petersburg is up in the air, so I can't really say anything about that. And Road America is currently under negotiations, but I haven't seen anywhere where it says that they are actively pursuing EARL.

And for what it's worth, I'd rather watch PT and Paul Newman race motor scooters in a parking lot than watch a Crapwagon race. There'd be a lot more action and fewer injuries and worse...


For CART-OWRS, it's been time to fold the tents and move on for a year now, but Kalkhoven, Gentilozzi, and Forsythe continue to whistle past the graveyard and pretend they have a product that people want. No matter how much the last remaining CART stalwarts complain about the great open wheel split diminishing the Indy 500 the upstart series still hits OWRS with a roundhouse every race weekend. If you're one of those few remaining fans, you're going to have a lot less to watch very soon - namely, nothing.

Does 400,000+ at Mexico City in one weekend ring a bell? Apparently, Champ Car racing is a product people want! You just have to market it and find those people! And you show me one time even where EARL is outshining Champ Car in any way other than seeing which series can make an ass out of itself the best. I dare ya.


But it's not all champagne for the Indy Racing League. Decreasing American participation, fewer USAC and oval track racers, and the imminent addition of road courses are already starting to alienate a fan base that the league worked hard to develop from 1996 to 2002. Having proven the folly of CART's marketing plan, the IRL amazingly decided to take whole pages out of it. Foreign races, road courses, and lots of ride-buyers make the IRL look (to the passive observer, at least) a lot like CART, circa 1993. But wasn't that supposed to be the problem that spawned the IRL in the first place? The IRL's apparent rudderless direction gives more credence to the D&D players on the OWRS forums who claim that the IRL was just Tony George's power play from the beginning, and that doesn't help the league at all.

Wow, I'm almost impressed! A gomer able to spell "champagne" correctly! Then again, we'll just assume he mispronounces it to help keep status quo. Now, the problems here: "alienate a fan base." EARL has a fanbase? I guess he means Depender and a couple of the other Trackforum goons (Ed: you are going to have to find that place on your own folks, no linking to that festering cess pool from here). And don't you just love how he talks about how EARL is exactly like CART used to be, but throws in the disclaimer "to the passive observer, at least?" I don't know, Chapman. As much as I look into it, it makes it look MORE AND MORE like CART used to be, except with crappy cars on crappy tracks and with no soul. So, I guess in one aspect he's correct, but on the whole painfully wrong.

The IRL doesn't get the nod when it comes to car counts, either. Struggling to put 33 on the grid at Indy this year meant raiding the Leader's Circle fund (if you buy Robin Miller's account of it) and hurting small teams that need the subsidy. Outside of Indy, twenty to twenty-two cars are the norm. Sure, the times are tough economically, but the IRL's ever-escalating costs make it that much harder to field a team. Potential new teams can't start up, and existing teams (Foyt, Kelley) are struggling to make it. If you're taking over-under bets on next year's car count, the split starts at twenty. Unless you're Pollyanna herself, that's not good for the IRL.

Alright, I see how it is. It is possible to rationalize the low car counts for EARL, but NOT for OWRS. Of course, that makes so much sense! *cough* No matter how many coats of gloss and glitter you put over crap, it's still crap in the end. You gotta try harder than that, Chapman.


And it gets worse! Despite the ABC having a self-professed "special relationship" with the Indy 500 (and by default the IRL) they can't let go of that series they used to broadcast: NASCAR. Like a jilted lover that can't move on, ABC is marshalling its resources to make a massive bid to get NASCAR back at the end of the current broadcast contract. It's tough enough to increase ratings with a schedule scattered across three networks and no marketing when you're the only product of your sporting type, like the IRL is now with ABC. But if the IRL has to split time with NASCAR, which series draws the short straw. Only the most Pollyanna of fans would think that IRL races would air on anything but ESPN75, right next to track and field.

And why shouldn't ABC be spending it's money trying to reel in NASCAR once again? It just seems like good marketing sense that you're going to attract more sponsors, more viewers, and more cash inflow when you have ratings higher than a 0.7 overnight on ABC. When you can attract between 5 and 10 times more viewers for your series, you might actually get treated with a little respect by your stations.


The IRL faithful might think that with still excellent racing, TV ratings stabilized, and some measure of slight growth, it's all wine and roses for the league. However, the continuing questions about car counts, the league's future direction, and the impotence of the Infiniti Pro Series feeder ranks make it hard to back the IRL with confidence. If you had to invest money, stock market style, in a racing series, the IRL would be a risky pick.

The excellent racing is already questionable, but I suppose you can chalk that one up to a matter of personal taste. Some people apparently DO enjoy seeing ugly cars drone around in big packs, unable to actually complete a pass thanks to a high-downforce/high-drag aerodynamics package combined with a low-horsepower/low-torque engine package. Now, on the other hand, "stabilized TV ratings" had me laughing out loud as hard as I have in years. I suppose a nice, steady sub 1.0 Nielsen rating is "good" just so long as it's stable. And I suppose technically by looking at the current numbers, EARL has "grown" slightly in the past couple of years, but you have to also look at the future, and I don't see it "growing" any more at all, unless you are counting the number of outright failures (that list will grow exponentially!). And I'm not going to even touch the Infiniti Pro Series. Now, finally, I must say I'm surprised Chapman didn't make some off-color jab at CART on the NYSE with that stock market mention, even though it was implied. I don't think his audience is smart enough to get the joke. (Wait a minute... what audience?)

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