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05-30-2010, 06:43 AM   #1
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What a Difference a Few Decades Make

I've been an avid car nut since - quite literally - I can remember, and in the '60's and early '70's I had a passing interest in car racing, particularly the Indy 500 - an event that captivated a sizable fraction of the American population. Even people (like my Mom), who wouldn't walk across the street to see a car race, generally were aware of the event and the lead drivers - guys like Foyt and Andretti. The race - in a sense - kicked off the summer, and I remember race day at our property in a group of lakeside cabins and being able to hear the radio broadcast of the race from radios scattered throughout the community.

I particularly enjoyed the big, almost festive newspaper spreads you'd see on race day - several pages of articles detailing the cars and track, the rivalries among builders along with drivers, the colorful personalities, the potential of various teams - lots of charts, graphs and photos. Things certainly have changed; today, when I opened the sports section of the Houston Chronicle, I had to leaf back to page 8 of the sports section to find even a single Indy 500 article, which shared the page with a recap of some Nascar race and two NBA filler pieces. The lead in to the article: "Series lacking rivalries that fuel fan interest" - maybe that says it all.

Jer

05-30-2010, 08:17 AM   #2
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It all comes down to politics. The split in the late 90s completely ruined Indycar racing and it's taking a long time to recover. Viewership is up this year, but still waaaay below the peak in the late 80s/early 90s. The cars have stagnated and the drivers are basically going through a revolving door, though there's a new chassis coming in two years, with five design teams competing for the new manufacturing role. Some of them are pretty
05-30-2010, 09:37 AM   #3
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Both my parents were big Indy fans, and I remember my dad saying when NASCAR came along that it would cause a loss of interest in Indy. I don't follow it even though I can relate to hearing the race on the radio in the background on Memorial Day. (I am an Atlanta Braves fan).
05-30-2010, 11:14 AM   #4
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Racing

Can remember when that turbine mill ran at Indy, and how much coverage
that had, recall my Dad talking about that engine, "wait till they put that thing
in regular cars"

What year was that? '65, '66
wasnt it like 3 laps to go and it blew a $2 seal?

05-30-2010, 03:23 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by deadwolfbones Quote
It all comes down to politics. The split in the late 90s completely ruined Indycar racing and it's taking a long time to recover. Viewership is up this year, but still waaaay below the peak in the late 80s/early 90s. The cars have stagnated and the drivers are basically going through a revolving door, though there's a new chassis coming in two years, with five design teams competing for the new manufacturing role. Some of them are pretty
Yeah, I recall the ballyhoo, although I'd stopped paying much attention long before. I did watch the entire race today for the first time in many years; I was surprised to learn that all the engines come from a single manufacturer (Honda) - apparently manufacturer rivalry is out of the picture.

Recently, I took a very cursory look at the American LeMans series - something that might be of interest to me; I'll need to learn a little more.

Jer

QuoteOriginally posted by subeeds Quote
Both my parents were big Indy fans, and I remember my dad saying when NASCAR came along that it would cause a loss of interest in Indy. I don't follow it even though I can relate to hearing the race on the radio in the background on Memorial Day. (I am an Atlanta Braves fan).
My folks weren't major fans, but - as I said - it seems that everybody paid some attention to Indy in those days. NASCAR back then was a fighting pit for the Big Three ("Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday"). I was a Ford loyalist at the time so I followed the races sporadically before I lost that almost mystical, emotional connection to a particular manufacturer.

Jer

QuoteOriginally posted by BillM Quote
Can remember when that turbine mill ran at Indy, and how much coverage
that had, recall my Dad talking about that engine, "wait till they put that thing
in regular cars"

What year was that? '65, '66
wasnt it like 3 laps to go and it blew a $2 seal?
I can't remember the year, but I'm pretty sure Parnelli Jones drove it. And . . . . I think you're right: it was much faster than anything else on the track but lost only due to a minor failure. Later, if I'm not mistaken, turbine engines were "outlawed".

Jer
05-30-2010, 04:19 PM   #6
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I'm 65, & been a car "nut" ever sinse my mum let me change gears for her in our 1936 Austin 10.....I love my V8s.....wished I'd been around in the USA in the late sixties/seventies to own/drive some of your MAGNIFICENT muscle cars...Dodge Challenger 426 Hemi R/T would be my favourite....remember "Vanishing Point"?!
Anyway, enough of my "dreaming". As far as Indy/Nascar is concerned, I think Nascar is certainly winning the "battle". In australia anyway, there's very little coverage of Indy, even though Aussies like Ryan Briscoe are doing ok.
On the other hand, there's lots of interest & TV coverage of Nascar racing, particularly sinse Marcos Ambrose has become involved.
I like most forms of motorsport...in Aus we have V8 Supercars, of which I'm a big supporter, & which is our "major" form of motorsport over here, but nothing (in magnitude) when compared to Nascar.
Cheers, Pickles.
05-31-2010, 05:54 AM   #7
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I feel I should mention that today's Chronicle gave a good deal of attention to the Indy 500, with a reference on the front page of the paper and a large, splashy article on the first page of the sports section that includes a remarkably large color photo. The paper also had posted a series of photos from the race on its website (which I haven't yet seen).

I hope everyone here in the states has a great Memorial Day, perhaps with a thought or two about what we're remembering.

Jer
05-31-2010, 08:49 AM   #8
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It was actually a pretty damn good race yesterday. Even though Franchitti dominated, there was some drama at the end w/r/t fuel mileage, and of course Mike Conway had his huge accident.

05-31-2010, 11:47 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by deadwolfbones Quote
It was actually a pretty damn good race yesterday. Even though Franchitti dominated, there was some drama at the end w/r/t fuel mileage, and of course Mike Conway had his huge accident.
I enjoyed it too. I did fade in and out a bit during the middle laps, but the last 25 were pretty interesting.

Jer
05-31-2010, 02:49 PM   #10
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Frankly 'go fast and turn left' isn't very interesting to watch, especially since it's so far down to a science and even NASCAR doesn't have to have anything to do with real cars. We need Grand Prix and sports car racing here.
05-31-2010, 11:07 PM   #11
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I grew up in Pomona CA. That meant drag racing and a road-race course at the fairgrounds. Nearby was Corona, a city built inside a one-mile-diameter circular race course. And Ontario, where an Indy-style track/stadium existed for a few years, since replaced by a mega-mall. And more drag strips in Irwindale, Fontana, etc. But my indoctrination held that driving around in circles or ovals was for wimps and wienies. Even the quarter-midgets and Formula-Vees had to dodge hay bales in their impromptu parking-lot courses. Indy and Nascar stuff is boring. Drive in a straight line, fast; or negotiate twists with some skill; but, "stomp down and steer left" excites me about as much as golf.
06-01-2010, 02:56 AM   #12
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Perhaps the culture is just changing?

What with oil spills, fuel prices, congestion American's are just losing there love affair with the car.

I know among the young in my family the car has no special mystic for them. It's pretty much just a tool and an expensive one at that.

After all the car has been with us for a century now and is about as "new" as a light bulb or a refrigerator.
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