Monday, September 28, 2015

Musings From the Weekend: Welcome Ambassadors

It was back to usual in Japan as Lewis Hamilton tied Ayrton Senna for fourth all-time in Formula One Grand Prix victories. Marc Márquez threw away his championship hopes for the fifth time this season and Jorge Lorenzo won for the second consecutive year at Aragón. The Trucks hit a milestone in New Hampshire. A few drivers ran out of fuel. History was made in DTM at the Nürburgring. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

Welcome Ambassadors
"A person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specified activity."

IndyCar circles talk a lot about ambassadors. J.R. Hildebrand is a great ambassador for IndyCar in the STEM community. Pippa Mann is a great ambassador engaging with the fans. Mario Andretti continues to be a great ambassador after all these years.

Anyone see the problem with these ambassadors?

None of them are competing full-time in IndyCar.

To be fair, IndyCar has plenty of "ambassadors" competing full-time. Ryan Hunter-Reay has dedicated himself to raising money for cancer research. Graham Rahal has taking the reigns twice to raise money for the Wheldon and Wilson families and has worked to get IndyCar's name out to the masses. Charlie Kimball is representing the diabetes community and showing that the disease doesn't have to prevent you from following you dreams.

But outside of that, who else is an ambassador for IndyCar? A driver has do something more than just being a living, breathing person who happens to race in IndyCar to be an ambassador. An ambassador needs to be promoting and doing more for the series then their normal duties on a race weekend. I am not saying all the drivers listed never do that but look at the drivers who are hailed as ambassadors.

Let's take J.R. Hildebrand as an example. When he goes and does a presentation to high school students in STEM programs and he says he is an IndyCar driver, how do you think one of those students might feel when they see the IndyCar race is on at Iowa or Toronto or Road America and find out he isn't racing? There one connection to the series really isn't a connection to the series at all. They might feel a lied to a little bit and it might turn their interest off. This is why a driver like Hildebrand, someone is going out to the community and interacting with people and is also a talented driver, needs to be in an IndyCar full-time and not the likes of James Jakes, Francesco Dracone and Rodolfo González.

IndyCar can't promote drivers as ambassadors if they aren't in a seat full-time. IndyCar either has to do what is in the best interest of the series and get the ambassador in a ride full-time or find another ambassador. The former is the expensive route. The latter is the difficult route. Either way, IndyCar would need to pull the trigger and take action.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Lewis Hamilton and Jorge Lorenzo but did you know...

Matt Kenseth won the second Chase race at Loudon.

Maxime Martin and Miguel Molina split the DTM races from Nürburgring. Molina became the first Spaniard to win a DTM race.

Esteve Rabat won the Moto2 race from Aragón. Miguel Oliveira won in Moto3.

José María López and Yvan Muller split the WTCC Race of China.

Ryan Blaney won the NASCAR Grand National Series race from Kentucky. Austin Dillon won the Trucks race in Loudon, which turned out to be the 500th race in series history.

Coming Up This Weekend
Petit Le Mans.
NASCAR ends the first round of the Chase at Dover.
World Rally returns to Tour de Corse.
World Superbike with be on mainland France at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours.
Blancpain Sprint Series will be at Misano.