In a move that was always more hype than substance, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard made a bold offer to drivers from competing series’: climb into an IndyCar and win the last race of the season, and we’ll pay you $5 million. The move was supposed to illustrate that IndyCar drivers are among the best in the world, but instead it hammered home this point: no one cares enough about IndyCar to throw their hat in the ring, even for a potential $5 million payoff.
The drivers with the best shot at pulling off a stunt like this would come from F1, since they’ve already got high-horsepower, open-wheel racing experience. By accident or by design, F1 is in Korea that weekend, crossing every single possible F1 contestant off the list.
NASCAR’S best drivers would be fun to watch, especially since some (Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Almendinger, Sam Hornish Jr., etc) spent time racing in the IRL before opting for cars with fenders. Cross them off the list, since there’s a night race in Charlotte on October 15.
Travis Pastrana was a shoe-in for a ride, until he shattered his ankle in X-Games competition. Surely some other stars would step up for a shot at serious cash, like Ken Block or Tanner Foust, right? Hard to say, since IndyCar allegedly rejected a series of drivers who expressed interest.
So, of the five available slots, who will ultimately be competing for the $5,000,000 prize? Only Dan Wheldon, a former IndyCar driver and winner of this year’s Indy 500. Dan is a great guy and a talented driver, but he won’t draw in a single additional fan to the race or to the series. To add to the theatrics, Wheldon doesn’t doesn’t even get to qualify; instead, he’ll start from the back of the grid and have to work his way to the front. Because that’s fair and safe, right?
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard made the bold statement that he’d quit on the spot if the ratings for the last race of the season didn’t improve over last year. They won’t, and I’ll be cheering louder than anyone when (and if) he hands in his resignation.