Keeping It Off the Wall|
by Ed Donath
Where Are They Now?
Cairo, NY—Where are they now? Mario Andretti, that semi-annual drumbeater who never missed an opportunity to rant about CART/Champ Car management's inability to bow down to the dope who had unilaterally messed with their livelihoods and the health of our beloved speed sport.
In 1996 Mario said: "Do I agree with it [the IRL]? Never! I can't support anything they're doing." Today, with open-wheel racing once again unified, his Legendaryness describes himself as "Tony George's biggest fan" according to this Indianapolis Star Will Higgins shill piece.
Where are they now? Those f-inheritor apologists who, in 2001, blamed Andrew Craig, Bobby Rahal, Derrick Walker and Barry Green for their inability to capitulate during meetings and golf outings with the Speedway inheritor while every sound bite and written report of the day cited the IRL's founder thusly: "The Speedway doesn't need to negotiate with anyone."
Where was the joyful excitement one would have expected from the New York Times Open Letter Writer on the day that mergification was finally announced? I guess he can't be blamed for taking it in stride because, after all, he was the trendsetter for abandonment of the series that he, ironically, helped create.
So many years have passed since Penske and his fellow big team owners took the Yen Bait instead of sticking to the anti-split principles they had long espoused. It's easy, therefore, to understand how everyone can be so blasé about their dynamic, new and improved unified series.
Of course, as Higgins points out in the aforementioned "report," the unificator himself is as silent as Calvin Coolidge. Perhaps, therefore, everyone is just trying to be more like their undemonstrative idol. Do little. Say less.
Where are they now? Where are all of those fans who were so quick to criticize the Champ Car World Series' format but who quickly clammed-up once they realized that with reunification comes a good deal of the stuff they mocked and criticized when it was considered not to be part of the Speedway inheritor's vision for open-wheel racing?
Or do these lemmings realize that the latest version of f-inheritor actually contains more of the "negative qualities" of the Champ Car World Series than the pre-mergification version did?
Even the vaunted Indy 500 remains a shadow of its former self. If a hundred entrants were competing for its 33-car field it would still lack the multi-tiered technologies it possessed just one day before the splitter had his vision.
Where are they now?
They're in denial.
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