In recent days, a program has been announced that plans to enter a car in the Indianapolis 500 paid for entirely through fan-sourced crowd-funding. The organizers are seeking $100 per person and will wrap the car in only the names of fans who have participated, with no corporate logos included, if the undertaking is successful. (The full text of the press release is at the bottom of this article.)
The idea, while intriguing, is unquestionably very ambitious. Still, with more than a month to go until IndyCar gets under way in St. Petersburg, we here at MFW thought it might be fun to imagine who we might see in the 2014 Indianapolis 500 if the plan comes off. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section below.
My immediate guess, based only on the fact that this partnership is with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, is that the plan is to put Kyle O’Gara in the car (Kyle, of course, being the brother of Andy O’Gara, SFHR General Manager and Sarah’s husband). While it would be Kyle’s first 500 and at 19 years of age he might be considered a young rookie, I can see how watching a popular Midwestern first-timer’s journey through the Month of May in a crowd-funded car would be a highly effective way to engage the sport’s fans.
An honorable mention goes to Pippa Mann. If this initiative starts to come down to the wire short of the funding it needs, and if Pippa doesn’t yet have the funding lined up to land a ride elsewhere, her ability to engage with and motivate fans would make her the obvious choice to push the program over the line.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bryan Clauson return to the second seat at SFHR if this crowd-funded effort does actually come to fruition. Given that Clauson has a nice history with the team, had a solid Month of May with them in 2012 (although the 30th place finish didn’t speak to the quality of his driving throughout the event), and squarely hits a demographic that other IndyCar owners seem hesitant to tap, I think Clauson would again be well-received by a good number of race fans and have the best drawing power for potential donors. If nothing else, it will force Robin Miller to write a positive article in the lead-up for the Indianapolis 500, leading to a “toldyaso” moment if Clauson can qualify well and finish the 500 miles without trouble.
First things first, I will be shocked if this car/marketing device ever turns a wheel. But that said, if everything is pie in the sky and “The People’s Race Car” actually appears, then I’d love to see JR Hildebrand get another shot at the 500. I think JR has the oval chops to make a SFHR car competitive at the Speedway, and he would definitely be a crowd favorite given his recent history at the Brickyard and his unceremonious firing at the hands of John Barnes.
In the likely scenario that JR has a ride already for the 500, though, I say why not give another shot to USAC star and Chili Bowl champ Bryan Clauson? He was quick in a SFHR car before his crash in qualifying in 2012, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him get another crack at it.
I’m of two minds about who I’d put in the crowd-funded IndyCar. If it’s the “People’s Race Car,” then it would be terrific to see the people’s driver, Pippa Mann, in that seat. She’d be perfect to represent a fan-funded machine and her social media presence would be a big perk.
But I’d also like to see the crowd-funded machine driven by someone who’s had a history of strong finishes at Indy, thus bringing in attention of a different sort. In this vein, I’m thinking of Townsend Bell. He’s usually busy with media duties in May, so he might not be as available, but a dash of his swagger here and there might be enough to hold the fans over.
Who’s your pick for The People’s Race Car in the Indianapolis 500? Let us know in the comments section below!
CuttersRT and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Partner to Enter Indianapolis 500 via Crowd Funding
Indianapolis, IN – Cutters Race Team (CuttersRT) today announced it is creating a movement and attempting to enter an entirely non-corporate car into the Indianapolis 500 in 2014. Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) will operate the car with a driver yet to be named. The ride will be known as “The People’s Race Car.”
CuttersRT has set a $1 million goal and is calling on race fans everywhere to participate in the Indianapolis 500 in a way never before seen. All of the money raised will take place via crowd funding and each entry will go towards getting “The People’s Race Car” to the starting lineup for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Anyone can join CuttersRT and be an official sponsor of the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing entry, all for only $100. Various sponsor packets are available, each with different options for prizes and opportunities to participate in numerous trackside events prior to the race. Only names of individuals will appear on the race car. No corporate sponsor logos will end up on the car if all of the financial goals are met.
“I’m thrilled to have a race car that’s in the Indianapolis 500 that is fully funded by the fans,” said Sarah Fisher. “We feel like we are giving our team the best chance to win the 500, and we’re excited to share this with the best race fans in the world.”