It has begun.
It never seems to take long. The season ends, the excitement of crowning a new champion starts to fade, and the American open-wheel community at large rapidly descends into the abyss of that most heinous of emotional states: racing withdrawal.
Naturally, this creates unrest as the expanse of long, cold winter months strikes trepidation into the hearts of the sport’s most dedicated. And, as people tend to do, different individuals deal with this uncomfortable reality in different ways.
Unfortunately, there has always been a faction of so-called open-wheel faithful who choose to fill their off-season time by perpetuating negativity in earnest. These people spread rumors — substantiated or not — about race weekends being in jeopardy, top drivers losing rides, teams folding, or problems in administration that are certain to result in the demise of open-wheel racing as we know it.
A short time ago, there was plenty of justification for these concerns. When there were two series vying for attention and press, subversive leaks and implanting of doubt among the optimistic reached the level of competition sport.
However, despite the fact that unification has made it much more productive to focus on the positive growth that open-wheel racing on this continent is finally starting to see, this trend of circulating negativity carries on to this day. There appears to be no good reason for this other than that some people can’t seem to find anything better to do.
And frankly, there’s no longer any basis for it. Take the last off-season as an example. People spent months — months! – speculating that the inaugural race in Brazil wasn’t going to happen or that it would be an unmitigated disaster if it did. Of course, we all remember the resurfacing that needed to be done on the Sambodromo, but that problem was resolved quickly. In the end, not only did the event run as planned, but it was successful.
On top of that, there are just a lot of good things happening right now. IZOD has publicly declared that it sees its investment in the IICS as being hugely positive and that it intends to continue its association. And under the leadership of Randy Bernard, TV numbers are up, sponsor interest has improved, and car counts are increasing. Milwaukee is back, ISC has been handed walking papers, stronger links are being established at all steps of the development ladder, and a new car is on the way.
The positive changes that fans have been screaming for ad nauseum are finally taking place — and yet there are still some people who refuse to be happy with the evidence set before them and insist on declaring doomsday at the slightest provocation.
Therefore, after years of having my naturally positive disposition unceremoniously rained upon every winter (or snowed upon, I suppose, given my location and the time of year), I finally find myself confident enough in the sport’s future to take a stand against the naysayers.
In that spirit, I’ve developed the following manifesto for the 2010/2011 off-season. Feel free to join me.
I will not allow myself to be drawn into the nefarious web of rumors and lies woven by negative people with agendas.
I will not believe any information I am given that doesn’t come from an official, verifiable source (and this includes journalists citing anonymous informants).
I will not waste time poring through websites, articles and press releases looking for information to refute the arguments of those who cannot be reasoned with.
On March 25th, 2011, I will welcome the start of the new season with unbiased, unfettered, and unabashed enthusiasm for the potential that it holds.
There’s no doubt that IndyCar racing has plenty more work to do. But things are finally and unquestionably looking up, folks. Let’s enjoy a relaxing, uplifting off-season for a change.