Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What We Learned From IndyCar Media Day

Tuesday was IndyCar Media Day from Orlando, Florida and some nice tidbits came to light.

1. IndyCar is close to a title sponsor and it is reportedly going to be Verizon.

2. Allen Bestwick is going to be the lead commentator for the ABC IndyCar races.

3. There will be two more races to feature standing starts in 2014. Joining the first races of the Houston and Toronto doubleheaders as races with standing starts will be Long Beach and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

That was pretty much it. No big, breaking full-time driver news or Indianapolis 500 one-offs. No other new partnerships with sponsors. No announcement of who is playing the Carb Day concert or something else like that.

I understand why IndyCar did media day at Orlando more than a month before the season. Orlando isn't that far from Daytona, there is nothing to report on the Monday and Tuesday after Daytona 500 qualifying and there is a boatload of reporters down there. It makes sense but I feel if you are going to have a media day, don't have it be flat and that's what today was.

Sure the news on standing starts is nice and confirming Bestwick is nice but all we have is still rumors of a title sponsor (which could fall apart at the last moment, not that it will but...) and nothing else that is even going to turn some heads. Everyone thought we were going to hear about Indianapolis 500 qualifying last month and still have no idea what that's going to look like and I think the series officials have no idea what it is going to look like either.

If there was a race this weekend or a major announcement (i.e. A title sponsor), then this media day would be worth a damn but if it was just to talk to drivers and series officials, reporters can do that either A. At the first official preseason test at Barber a month from now as they were doing for the last couple of years or B. Do it the Friday morning before the first practice at St. Petersburg because there isn't a demand for IndyCar news and you can get away with it.

This sounds like I am bashing IndyCar. I am, a little. It feels like IndyCar is the little child trying to get attention but everyone is focused on the other sibling who has a big performance in the school play.

IndyCar wants attention? Start your season earlier. Testing at Sebring for the 200th time in the last three months and renting out part of the Amway Center for a day isn't cutting it.

I am sorry this sounds negative. I am glad we are getting standing starts at a few more races and any one willing to spend money on title sponsorship is great news but is the narrative ever going to change? It hasn't worked for the last decade. While NASCAR has been changing everything too frequent, IndyCar hasn't been doing enough. Don't get me wrong, IndyCar doesn't have to change the on-track product, they don't have to completely make over their drivers, just get them out in the spotlight every now and then.

And they don't need to exaggerate interviews from former drivers to make it a news story for a week and a half. All I have to say is act naturally. Don't try to be goofy, don't try to be controversial, don't conform to what everyone else is doing. Just act natural.