Sunday, December 6, 2009

Putting a Face to the Name

When you hear the word IndyCar, what single person do you picture? Danica... Tony George... Roger Penske... Helio? The truth is that, depending on the individual, it could be any number of drivers, car owners, or officials you visualize.

The series is in desperate need of one recognizable figure to be the face of IndyCar and bridge the gap from series to fan. Someone that appears prominently at every press conference, in television interviews, and at race events. In short, IndyCar needs a front-man.

Not a new concept, to be sure, but what is new is a viable solution. He’s already closely involved with the series, on the track every weekend, and has three ‘500’ championships under his belt. Helio, you ask? A fair deduction, but no. Consider this the first vote for J.R. as ICS ambassador.

As an old-schooler, there’s no doubt it’s wonderful to have Johnny Rutherford still involved with the sport, wheeling the pace car every weekend but, in my mind, he’s destined for greater things and can truly help put IndyCar back on the racing map.

He’s a champion in every respect: articulate, relevant, and passionate. He loves the sport we hold dear and, in this writer’s opinion, he’s the only individual that’s got the chops.

Certainly, at 71, Johnny would, likely, not want to take on such a position for the long term, but securing him for a just year or two to get the proverbial ball rolling and mentor a suitable successor would be a stroke of genius by the series’ decision makers.

IndyCar has an important need and the perfect solution is already on the payroll. What do you say, John?