Monday, February 8, 2010

The genie is out of the bottle, IRL!

I understand all of the reasons why the IRL is probably going to pick one chassis design and run with it for 2012.  I really do.  Economies of scale make it possible to keep costs down while still allowing the anointed manufacturer to make money.  And certainly, I'm not against making money.  I'm actually a big fan or it.  You might say I own Making Money's jersey and have a Fathead of it on my wall.

But DeltaWing is releasing their design on Wednesday.  And Lola will be out by the end of the week.  We've seen what Dallara and Swift have to offer.  So far, we have six distinct looking chassis (granted, three of them from Swift seem to be variations on a single main chassis, but they look very different), and at least two more to come by the end of this week.  Then it'll be three months until the IRL decides.  That puts us into May, and we all know where IndyCar fans will be focused in May.  For us, it's like the Fourth of July - we all get swept up into the moment and are hyper focused on the sport.  We will have had three months to ponder and discuss argue about at least eight different chassis, all of which will have the pluses and minuses.  Any one of them would be an interesting option for the IZOD IndyCar Series going forward.  Some of them I wish we could see race RIGHT NOW.

If only there were some way to physically see different chassis against each other on a closed course racetrack.  Some way to, I don't know, compare their respective advantages and disadvantages in an entertaining, direct, and real-time manner while paying customers could watch and form their opinions based on what they see.  If only something like there were possible under the laws of physics.  Wouldn't it be amazing?  Imagine if we could have found out whether Michael Andretti could get around Rick Mears outside, or if Mears could come back and duplicate the move.  Unfortunately, that would have caused the galaxy to implode into a super-massive black hole, so I guess it's a good thing that we never found out.

Admit it, you're already wondering whether the yellow Dallara could go to the top through turn four at Texas, and out-leg the #32 Swift to the line.  You're wondering if the #33 Swift could stay with the red Dallara up the hill at Laguna Seca and then crest the hill and get in front as it drops into the corkscrew.  Right now, you wondering if the maroon Dallara could go around the outside of the #23 Swift though turn one at Indy.  You're envisioning Jim singing "Back Home Again ..." while a field of Dallaras, Swifts, and Lolas get their final prep, and the driver mentally prepare for the task ahead.  It's OK to admit it - don't be frightened.  You're not doing anything wrong.  It's perfectly natural.

This gradual release of chassis design pictures has done more to energize and unite the fan base of IndyCar racing than just about anything the IRL has done in ten years, unification included.  There's a genuine buzz among fans.  The risk the IRL races is getting those fans excited, only to see them let down when three months from now, we find out that the next chassis will indeed be a spec chassis.  Sure, it'll be a cooler spec chassis than the current Dallara, but that will only hold the fans for so long.  That let-down will be bigger than they realize.

The title of my post refers to the genie that is fan excitement, because it can do truly magical things for a sport when the fans get excited and unified and want to evangelize the product.  The problem is that the genie is now out of the bottle for the IRL, and it will be exceedingly difficult (if not impossible) for them to cram it back inside.


JP said...

Good Work Here and welcome to the club!

I hope someone at the league comes up with the bright idea to capture the fan base's thoughts and opinions on these cars as an input variable to the decision process. This genie is a powerfull thing and the league needs to respect it. Sponsor activation may be expensive - Fan Activation does not have to be...

Fred Hurley said...

Thanks, JP!

Allen Wedge said...

Fred I've been killing myself over this issue since Dallara released its 3 concepts. I do believe I've come up with an actual realistic solution that can keep fans, teams and the league happy. [Will have it up on FW after all the new chassis come out]

But you are absolutely right, just like I had mentioned on FW previously; All these new models and types are really getting a LOT of people very excited about what they can see on the track.

Fred Hurley said...

I know what you mean, Wedge. Just curious, did you read my post on the contract manufacturing idea?

I'm curious what you're idea is. Looking forward to reading it!

Anonymous said...

I hope they'll consider allowing many chassis too.