In defense of Sao Paulo

IndyCar commentary — By on March 13, 2010 8:04 pm
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(Originally posted by Steph to Planet-IRL.com.)

Why are you staring at me like that?

It’s because I made some derogatory comments about the track surfacing issues at Daytona, isn’t it?  I had a feeling that was going to come back to bite me.  (I didn’t expect it to happen so soon, though.)

I’m not one to shrink away from eating crow when it’s justified.  The good news is that the likelihood of there being much audience crossover among people who would throw this back into IndyCar fans’ faces is pretty low.

Actually, I suppose that really isn’t good news at all, is it?  Moving on…

Oh.  That’s not the problem at all, you say?

I see.  It’s that I’m a very vocal proponent of street races and you demand an explanation as to how I can support such events after the debacle we witnessed today.

Fair enough.  But I’d really feel a lot more comfortable if you oval-track fans would put the torches and pitchforks down for a moment.  I mean, we’re all reasonable people here, right?

Good.  Now, look:  every street course goes through growing pains.  I know I wasn’t the only one to bring up San Jose’s inaugural event today, and if we look even further back, Toronto’s original layout in 1986 had the cars racing through Princes’ Gate and had to be modified the following year.  Street courses being what they are, there’s no way to do any testing before the cars hit the track for the first time, and there are always unanticipated kinks to iron out.  It’s unfortunate that this has to happen in the public eye during practice sessions instead of in closed testing, but it can’t be helped.

Once the initial problems at a new track are sorted out, though, I stand by my assertion that a well-planned street course can be a great asset to the schedule.  Toronto’s original problems are long forgotten, and most now consider it a worthwhile event.  And did you see the crowds out there in Sao Paulo?  I’m loath to point it out, but there have been smaller race-day crowds in the U.S. than what the Brazilians produced for practice and qualifying today.

And a lot of people are calling for Tony Cotman’s head right now, but despite claims to the contrary, there’s no possible way that he or anyone else could have anticipated just how bad that concrete was going to be with all the changes that have been made to it in the past couple of months.  If TC tells us he can improve the surface, who are we to question him?  Believe me, he’s more qualified to resolve this issue than any of us.  (I’m still anxious about a two-wide rolling start through the Sambodromo, though.)

Anyway, let’s all just relax, take a deep breath, and trust that the people in charge will set things right overnight.  In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t Texas.  Cars are getting banged up, but no one’s going to get hurt, and nothing’s going to be cancelled.  We will get a race tomorrow, and it will be good.

In the end, let’s be honest:  we’re all just burning off five months’ worth of off-season frustration, aren’t we?

See you tomorrow — bright and early.

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