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Las Vegas Diary:
Day Two
You’ve Got to Read Between the Lines

Las Vegas, Nevada, April 7 — In this world of ever shrinking grids, a parallel reduction in size is taking place in pressrooms at nearly every race. It was therefore a shock to enter the Media Center on Friday and see so many place cards for so many journalists. As is usually the case in Las Vegas, the vast majority of Media Center seats have remained empty throughout the weekend. After all, in this electronic world, it’s actually possible for some people to cover this race without actually being here. Or, so it would seem.

As newspapers and magazines go into decline, the media companies owning them are forced to reduce their staffs, and in the bigger cities, this is especially true. Into this void have stepped journalists and others – this writer included – who may have a passion for racing but who are scarcely candidates for paid positions at any of the “legitimate” news outlets. Indeed, the access needed to provide coverage on this track is limited for those of us who represent “Internet” websites. We are thus in the peculiar position of having greater overall readerships than the “legitimates” but are perceived as amateurs amongst the public relations professionals who control our access.

So, when it comes to motorsports journalism, this “amateur” thinks it’s about time for all of us to look below the surface, read between the lines, and in general, take time to view what we are told much more critically, because there are fewer and fewer gatekeepers to help us discern fact from fiction. Some recent examples:

Fact: Robin Miller was fired by Champ Car in the preseason for publishing an article critical of CCWS leadership on SpeedTV.com.

Truthier: Miller was walking a thin line – writing what he liked for Speed and writing what Champ Car liked for their website – and so a collision between the two, while not inevitable, is not entirely unexpected. Sometimes biting the hand that feeds you results in that hand slapping you back. Ouch.

Fact: Series fourth place finisher Nelson Philippe does not have a ride this year because he refuses to pay for the privilege.

Truthier: The rumor going around the paddock is that the reason Nelson is not driving is that someone high up in Champ Car doesn’t want him in the series. Two things that make this seem true: Nelson does not have a hard card credential, the norm for series alumni, walking around with a paper credential and wristband, and, there are several drivers with phantom sponsors who are clearly being paid by some one other than the phantoms.

Fact: Team subsidies, which have been the norm since the departure of the manufacturers (thank you, Toyota, not), are stopped as of this year, as the era of team self sufficiency in Champ Car begins.

Truthier: While no checks are being written by Champ Car itself, do you know who owns MediZone? IRise? LNX2? Me neither. If you find out, please let me know because none of them seems to be publicizing that they sponsor Champ Car teams.

Fact: The leadership of Champ Car is solid and focused as the fourth season since the new ownership took over begins.

Truthier: It’s the first race of the season and there is no announcement about international television coverage (although there is coverage). A “full” grid of 17 cars was published by the AP on Wednesday this week, although no announcement of the remaining drivers has ever been made. The China race is shown as taking place in May on the website, but October on all the official haulers. Champ Car has no VP of Public Relations (a possible reason for much of the foregoing), in a week or so it will have no News Manager, and this bothers no one except me?

Fact: The DP01 will level the playing field in Champ Car, and there will be less chance of someone running away with the championship.

Truthier: Until his flat tires yesterday, Bourdais was still one of the fastest, if not the fastest in most sessions. News flash: teams with more money, teams that hire better talent, and teams that are not thrown together the week before the first race tend to do better than others. And, a driver who can learn a new car quickly will also benefit. So there.

Fact: All of Sunday’s races should be exciting.

Truthier: We hope, true that.

Copyright © 2007 by Lisa Davidson and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

 
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