Friday, January 1, 2010

A Rousing Endorsement for Radicalism

No, nothing like the 1960s, with blazing braziers, street marches, or sit-ins. Given the context of this site, one could safely assume something a bit more sedate, and they would be correct. Fear not; I have only figuratively taken up arms to lawfully defend the future of the sport we love.

Envision 1971: Nixon’s in office, The Partridge Family’s cool, and that’s also the last time an Indy 500-winning car looked measurably different than it does today--for all intents and purposes, the cars have looked the same for nearly forty years. Sure, they carry new technology, are sleeker and faster, but they’re still rear-engine vehicles with a monocoque chassis, four open wheels, a large rear wing, and smaller front wing. Even at that, Al Unser’s winning P.J. Colt from ‘71 fits that same mold, save for the lack of wings.

Almighty rulers of IndyCar, if you’re listening, the future is now.

To borrow terms, be it evolutionary or revolutionary, we will live with whatever car design is introduced for 2012 for YEARS, and the decision on what car to bring forward is the most important crossroads the sport has faced since the split. It’s imperative we choose the right path and, in my mind, “radical” wins out over traditional, hands down.

I’m a traditionalist at heart and, having begun attending races in 1974, I’m as fully indoctrinated with the current car as they come; but even I recognize that fresh thinking moves IndyCar beyond its current boundaries, making it relevant again, whereas a slightly revamped version of the same old, same old just leaves it hopelessly stuck in neutral.

Let’s face it, nobody really knows what designs are under consideration, other than the ICS decision makers, and a comprehensive argument for and against could span volumes, so let’s keep it short. It’s a simple as this: to anyone outside the current fan base, a wickedly cool car means “wow,” the status quo means “whatever.” The sport desperately needs new interest and a great-looking, technologically-relevant car is the easiest way to get it.

Do I want a solar-powered tricycle? An electric dragster? Not particularly and, frankly, I fear what a “futuristic design” might bring, but it’s time to roll the dice. Could IndyCar be any more insignificant than it currently is? I suppose the possibilities are endless, but if the series can roll out anything that looks like this, I say bring it on.