Friday, February 8, 2008

Open-wheel jerks will blow it again

By Rick Morris

Not content to bask in their well-deserved marginalization on the American sports scene, the cretins in charge of the IRL and Champ Car are putting out another of their patented stupid teases about reuniting under one banner. Talks are ongoing, but word leaked out, and this guy's not happy about it and that guy thinks the negotiating table should be in the shape of a trapezoid instead of a rectangle and that guy wants the talks to be catered by Outback instead of Papa John's ...

Enough. It really doesn't even matter anymore anyway.

That last sentence was very painful for me to compose. I was raised on open-wheel, looking forward as a child to the Indianapolis 500 every year and then the Cleveland Grand Prix in my hometown when it materialized on the schedule in 1982. I loved the action and the legendary names mixing it up: Unser, Andretti, Foyt, Fittipaldi ... and my favorite, Rick Mears, who appealed to a sense of jingoism I had even in my younger years by dispatching the best racers from all over the world en route to four wins at the Brickyard. At the risk of sounding like even more of a fossil than I have already, those were the days.

And then Tony George, the biggest "black hat" in the entire saga by far, overplayed his hand in 1996 as head honcho of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by creating the schism we have seen since, with two competing leagues. Accordingly, neither even qualifies as truly "major league" anymore, with the IRL at what would be considered in a baseball analogy to be at a "AAA" level of talent and Champ Car at "AA."

With the exodus of top IRL talent to NASCAR becoming a flood (and ace Dan Wheldon strongly rumored to be just one year away from joining it, to say nothing of Danica Patrick, who will be gone faster than you can say "moderately hot by female athlete standards" when she finally gets a minimal amount of credibility as a top driver by winning on a depleted circuit) and Champ Car's ultimate dominator Sebastien Bourdais jumping to Formula One -- the horse has left the barn, my friends. It's over.

The egos of these monumental tools, who collectively squandered one of the richest legacies in sports (and THE richest one in motorsports, in my admittedly biased opinion) have rendered even a "dream reunion" to be past its "sell date" at this point anyway. The superstars they have chased away through their infantile actions aren't coming back and it'll take another 10 years at least to generated a new crop of open-wheel superstars worthy of winning the Indianapolis 500 without also receiving a giant asterisk that says "Tarnished the Borg-Warner Trophy By Getting Their Image Plastered On It Without Beating Anyone Who Mattered."

But even that ho-hum, anticlimactic reunion won't be happening anytime soon. These idiots have been going through the motions promising a reunification for a dozen years and they've dropped the ball every time. They'll do it again; unfortunately for them, there aren't enough people left who care anymore.

No comments: