An open letter to Tony George

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on October 19, 2012 12:32 pm
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Dear Tony,

You and I don’t know each other. And, to be perfectly honest, if we did it’s doubtful we would be very good friends. We disagree pretty wildly on what open-wheel racing should look like in America.

But the message I hope to deliver here isn’t intended to be political or drawn down party lines. For the purpose of this discussion, I’m going to pretend your last name isn’t George and that I know very little of the background behind what happened in open-wheel those many years ago because it will make for a more fair delivery of the ultimate point.

Actually, I was sort of hoping to avoid having to make the argument at all. I naively thought the persistent rumors of the past few months might go away on their own. But they instead have come to a head in recent days, and this may be the final opportunity for voices from outside the inner circle to be heard.

Look, Tony — it’s no secret that INDYCAR has turned into the exact thing you tried to turn it away from in 1996. There are undoubtedly voices of support behind you telling you that your way is the only true way and that you need to be the savior and rescue INDYCAR from the scourge it has become.

And there are voices on the other side, too, who think that the current version is the right way and that it’s the only format that can work financially in the long-term.

But there are voices far louder than both of those sides, and their message is loud and clear. You may be so busy pulling takeover proposals together that you’re not hearing it.

It’s saying this: If the political in-fighting in INDYCAR doesn’t stop, we’re out.

This is no longer about who’s right or wrong, Tony. This is about keeping open-wheel alive in North America. If a large percentage of the people who have stuck it out through it all and still watch INDYCAR will be driven away by messing with its management structure yet again, there will be precious few people left to support you no matter what you decide to do with it.

Sometimes, Tony, if you truly love something, the best thing to do is to let it go.

No one doubts your passion here. INDYCAR — and the IRL before it — is your baby. We get that.

Sometimes, children grow up and become things that we didn’t necessarily envision they would be.

As long as the child isn’t destitute (which this one is not — INDYCAR is demonstrably on an upswing and is close to breaking even for the first time in many years), the solution to that is not to take over and control every aspect of the child’s life. That’s only going to result in a revolt and do more damage than good.

Instead, loving parents do better if they use their position to make suggestions and gently guide their progeny to a better outcome from the periphery.

Think of yourself as a loving parent, Tony. The child has flown the nest. It isn’t doing exactly what you wanted it to do, but it’s standing on its own two feet and doing well.

If you insist on wresting back control, the child will lose its footing, likely irreparably.

Please, Tony, if you love INDYCAR as much as we all know you do: let it go. And let it continue to grow.

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