And so the tragic melodrama that IndyCar racing has become continues. Series CEO Randy Bernard recently told the Toronto Star that he’d quit his job if ratings for the last race are poor. Last year’s season ender, televised on Versus, drew in just a .3 share. This year’s season finale is on ABC, which almost guarantees more viewers, but Bernard was adamant, saying, “If we do a .3 rating on this, I’ll quit. Right there on the spot. I’ll literally quit on the spot. If we do a .8 rating, I will quit. On the spot.”
Part of his confidence comes from the more-hype-than-substance $5,000,000 prize offered to drivers from any other series who can show up and win. It sounds great on paper, but the only likely candidates come from F1, and F1 will be in Korea that weekend. For a driver like Red Bull Renault’s Sebastian Vettel or McLaren Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, the challenge would otherwise be easy money in the bank. Both could afford to buy their way into top-tier rides for the weekend, and both are more than capable of piloting open-wheel race cars.
It’s not yet clear who will take Bernard up on his prize money offer, but I’m guessing we can expect to see some bigger name NASCAR guys, and maybe even some WRC drivers. There’s a rumor that Travis Pastrana will participate, which makes me think that Ken Block will show up, too. That’s good publicity, and they’re all talented drivers, but none has the ability to climb into an IndyCar and beat drivers who do this for a living, day in and day out.
My prediction? No one will win the big money, and the victory will go to either Will Power, Scott Dixon or Dario Franchitti. Despite lots of crashes and yellows caused by inexperienced drivers, the ratings will disappoint, and I’ll call it a .5 share. Randy Bernard may even offer to step down, but IndyCar wont have it. Going into next year, it will be more of the same, only with fewer fans. There aren’t many of us left who care more about racing than about circus-act hype.
Source: Inside Line