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Uncensored CART Commentary
by Ed Donath

Recruiting Speech

ATHENS, NY—CART’s shill literati are left with hardly anything to write about lest they risk turning off readers with too much negativity. While those twin grand pianos of Ferrante and Teicher tinkle out theme music for the primary real world topic—Exodus—the aforementioned house pundits have been forced to search every nook and cranny for quotable quotes by people who actually plan to be around next year, in order that they may continue tinkling their own keyboards.

Enter personality du jour Jim McGee, overseer of Patrick Racing. After decades in our beloved speed sport, McGee’s fifteen minutes of fame finally arrived. Wherever you looked this week, there were profiles, front-page articles and quasi-PR stories featuring the man who is arguably open-wheel racing’s all-time savviest strategist.

Coincidentally [wink], Jim McGee was also featured in CART’s most recent official press conference. Those of us who prefer to hear quotable Jim McGee quotes in their un-retouched state went directly to that source. Here’s an interesting excerpt from McGee’s comments:

“I think that one of the things over the years that usually happens in our type of racing is where tire manufacturers or engine manufacturers put a lot of money in the sport. Usually the money goes to the bigger teams that they feel are going to have the most success with it. It hurts the little guy.

“The IRL was kind of formed with a kind of basis where they were going to try and have a level playing field and smaller teams could start up and that they could grow with the series. It seems like that's all turned around now. You know, the big automotive companies are pumping money into that series now and, therefore, the big [CART] teams are following that way. Now, what happens to the little guys over there? I don't know.

“Is it just going to flip positions and they are going to go through the same thing all over again? It's a hard scenario to figure out, because I'm sure some of the real supporters in the IRL…over the past six years, are going to be kind of left by the wayside because the cost there is going to escalate similar to what it was in CART. By the same token, the CART cars [costs] are going to go down.”

If you read my previous column you might now be saying to yourself: “Hmmmm…that’s pretty much the gist of what the old renegade scribe laid out in his last rant—although it’s certainly a lot easier to digest now that smack talking Eddie Junior Achievement has been replaced by a true stalwart hero of Champ Car racing.”

That a mainstream insider like McGee coincidentally [wink] chose to take this particular subject public in the midst of all the gloom and doom not only helps set a stage from which Grandpa Chris can launch the “Bang for the Buck” campaign suggested in last week’s commentary but it also lends credibility to outside-of-the-box thought processes like yours and mine.

Stop and think for a moment. How was it that the inheritor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was initially able to convince scramblers like Della Penna, Hemmelgarn, Incandella, Menard, Cheever and Foyt to sign up for his program?

He did it by making an alluring three-pronged promise of lower operating costs, a more even playing field and protected Indy 500 participation.

But now that most of CART’s powerhouse teams have thrown themselves into the f-inheritor mix—which, by the way, is as much the result of the founder’s self-serving abandonment of his own cardinal 25/8 Rule as for any other single reason—costs have not only escalated dramatically but it will become nearly impossible for small-timers to qualify at Indy, let alone to achieve profitable results.

Everyone knows that Chris Pook is far more charming, intelligent, well spoken and persuasive than Tony George. So how difficult could it be for silver-tongued Grandpa Chris to craft a recruiting speech in which he makes the alluring three-pronged promise of—get ready for some spooky déjà vu—lower operating costs, a more even playing field and the protected freedom to participate at Indy?

Wouldn’t it be coincidental [wink] if that becomes the subject matter of next week’s shill stories?

Copyright © 2002 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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