What’s on your 2011 INDYCAR wish list?

IndyCar commentary — By on March 22, 2011 10:30 am

Plenty of folks will be thinking about the upcoming season this week, whether it be the potential last-minute signings of big names or who will be the favorite to win the title. But I’ve been thinking a bit lately about what I would like to see in terms of creating interest and excitement in the series — a sort of wish list for the year. Here are a few things I would love to see:

  • Versus/NBC Sports stream all INDYCAR products — practice to race — on a site supported by ads or user fees. Having no stream at all is a step backward for a series promoting itself as forward-thinking.
  • Names like Rahal and Andretti battling it out for wins. It’d be like the glory days of CART when their dads raced each other hard. And there’s such a contrast between the two, with Graham Rahal tweeting about lunch at Kona Grill with his girl and Marco Andretti tweeting about jet setting with Paris Hilton.
  • Stronger seasons for the women drivers in the Series. I want the ladies front and center as another aspect of this forward-thinking series and a demonstration that girls can race hard and do well, if only given a chance.
  • Tracy (Indy-only for now) and Wheldon (radio silence) joining Tony Kanaan (ink still drying on KV contract) in the ranks of those with full-time rides. These guys are veterans who still have the goods — it’s not yet time for them to recede into the past.
  • A significant finish to the 100th anniversary Indy 500 — something historic, thrilling or noteworthy to mark the occasion. The event has so much focus on it with extra celebrations for the centennial. It would be a shame if the race itself was a ho-hum affair.
  • More parity — teams like Dreyer and Reinbold, Newman/Haas, Sam Schmidt Motorsports and HVM vying for wins. More names in the news, more drivers vying for the title at the end.
  • A breakthrough first win for Ed Carpenter, Vitor Meira, Simona di Silvestro, etc. It would be great to see a new name and face atop the podium, sharing the spotlight and reaping some rewards along with the usual crowd on the podium.
  • Another down-to-the-wire championship finish. If you need a mathematician to calculate all the possibilities and have to go to tie-breakers to get a result, that’s a win.
  • More drivers becoming household names. Danica and Helio are just fine and represent our sport well, but folks would love Tony Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe, Graham Rahal, and Oriol Servia if they knew more about them. And how about Charlie Kimball as an inspirational character, racing with diabetes?
  • More sponsor activation, such as Ganassi’s myriad associate sponsors actually promoting the team in Target stores. Example:  a big cardboard IndyCar podium with racing flags on top and the IndyCar race/TV schedule printed on the sides, used as a display for Energizer batteries. Put that in electronics and toys and near the checkout stands — there’s lots of exposure in something like that. I love IZOD’s relationship with Macy’s and the events they hold, but I wish Macy’s were more prevalent and accessible like Target — there are a lot of chances to get people’s attention with Target’s broad reach. I would love to see something related to INDYCAR cropping up in lots of little places in people’s lives, slowly saturating their landscape until they are made curious and tune in.

I’m aware that some of the above is not likely (parity will have a better chance with the new cars coming out next season, for example), but the above would make the Series stronger and make the season more interesting for me. What’s on your wish list?

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