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#1 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 21:51

A post about Ray Harroun in the 'on this day...' thread had me go search for posts about Harroun...

While I was there I found a couple of mentions that were purely tangential in Readers' Comments threads.

But far from tangential was the point of one of them... I think it makes an ideal discussion base here:

Originally posted in Readers' Comments
I am a racing fan and an Indy 500 fan above all. We had terrific racing in 1995. 9 or 10 different winners, a second year team winning the Indy 500 and CART Championship in the same year, proving it was possible at even the top level in the USA if you had your act together, a great mix of fast ovals, short ovals, natural road courses, and street races. The driver and team who could succeed there were true professionls and Champions. And worthy of the linear link back to Ray Harroun.

We had fast exotic race cars, not as exotic as F1 but the cars did more things well. We had record crowds at all but a couple tracks, promotors lining up waving money to stage races. There was a decline in the ovals but there were three more being built to come on line in a year or two. There was record corporate sponsorship. There was record mainstream press coverage. There was record TV ratings. There was record International interest. So much so that Bernie was worried and pushed through a rule CART could only run ovals outside the USA and Canada other than one race grandfathered in. There were a record number of drivers being paid high six and well into 7 figures to race. Only a couple of ride buyers. Less than had been the case for about 20 years. There was something for everybody to like even if they did not like every single venue. Such a difference from 15 years before and the travesty of the USAC era.

One man changed all that with his power grab. Today the sport is in tatters. How the real racers (CART) could piss away a winning hand in their response to the grandson's tantrum is beyond me. But whether CART survives or not is irrelevant. We will never again see what we had before the tantrum. You can take all the delight you want in that. I do not.

You can probably guess which former contributor posted this... but that's not the point.

We've seen such manipulation of the affections of the crowds in the CART/USAC/IRL style of racing that one must ask what caused it all.

Is this really the source of the problems? Is it possible for it to be overcome?


#2 Paul Newby

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 03:43

Its taken me a while to get around to replying this thread. :lol: Are you quoting Burford?

Whatever, I find it hard to comprehend what has happened to US single seater expert. I'm certainly no expert, but probably like a few others, I became interested when Mansell "defected" to CART. Sure CART was seens as a bit of a "retirement home" for former F1 drivers, but then it became an avenue for up and coming drivers like Villeneuve to get to F1 - consequently everyone had to lift their game.

When CART walked away from Indy, it had the upper hand. The drivers in IRL were second rate and the machines were low tech (mind you they were ahead of the game re cost reduction policy.) CART had the best cars, best drivers and most of the best circuits - except Indy. At the risk of being burnt at the stake by our American friends, the month of May at Indy with its guaranted starting positions and the like is an anarchism, but its still the grat race in the world.

What disturbs me with all of this is the way that the major car manufacturers are starting to control the sport. IRL is the recipient of the top CART teams only because Honda and Toyota want to go to Indy. The former CART teams and drivers don't want to be there, but they have no choice as the manufacturers provide a significant portion of their budget. I can't imagine the established IRL teams with the exception of Penske (and maybe a couple of others) will be happy as the Chev engine will be up against it and budgets will blow out. Besides isn't Toyota and Hona's main aim to get into NASCAR, Americas premier (but most boring) category.

As for CART, well the jury is still out. There are a few pay drivers which is disturbing and its now a one car category. But they have well patronised events (unlike IRL except for Indy) and a visionary in Pook. But is Tracey battling out with Junqueira going to be enough for the faithful.

I have been waiting to read some authoritative analysis on this subject from our friends a little closer to the scene. I think TNF is the place. :wave:

#3 Don Capps

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 04:18

Lordy, I am already airing all the dirty linen surrounding the FIASCO War!

Keep in mind that the 1995/1996 CART/IRL struggle was basically the second round of the CART/USAC civil war of 1978/1979/1980. You need to have an understanding of the first war so as to almost grasp the dynamics of the second round. Of course, trying to find a "neutral party" in this cow-pat tossing fest is a tad difficult....

Like the FIASCO cow-pat (with rocks, broken glass, and various other objects embedded) tossing slugfest, this story is largely being written by those who wrap messages around the heads of their enemies -- lopped off for that purpose -- and catpaulted back over the wall to inform the "other side" what the latest gossip on the on-going battle.....

I have my ideas about all of this, naturally, and.....

#4 Ray Bell

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 09:52

Come on Don... out with it!

I remember the first war, but I don't remember (or never knew, I guess) what it was really about.

But I'll bet Buford knew every in and out of the whole thing...