The Indy Racing League today unveiled a new strategy "to inject some drama and raw emotion" into the IRL starting in 2006.
At the center of the plan is the appointment of Gunter Yugoff as Vice President of Spontaneity.
"My purpose is to add some fire, some honest emotion, some -- how you say -- color into the IRL," said Yugoff, who holds a Ph.D. in spontaneity from the University of Bulgaria and comes to the IRL from a successful private spontaneity coaching practice.
"When my sports clients come to me, they say, 'We have to step up. We have to take our games to the next level. We have to make plays.' Blah, blah, blah," said Yugoff. " I say to them, 'Please. You can stop talking now because the audience, they are already sleeping.' "
IRL officials said they had become alarmed at how bland the competitors were sounding in their interviews, whether track-side or elsewhere. The only notable exception in 2005 was the Panther Racing team. Yugoff gave Panther's Doug Boles high marks for yelling "WE GOT SCREWED" into a mic held by Jamie Little during the Richmond race. He also lauded Panther co-owner Mike Griffin for calling Danica Patrick's car "the Princessmobile" after an incident at Watkins Glen.
"At last some honesty. This is the kind of raw emotion we want," said Yugoff. "At least these men, they're being candid with the viewers. If you think it's a princess mobile, say so. Have some fun with it. Blow it out a little."
Yugoff suggested that teams who are always reporting their cars are "loose" could "blouse it up a little" by saying "loose as a goose" or, even better, "my car is as loose as the league's interpretation of blocking." He also called for teams to use terms like "freak show" and "goat rodeo" when possible.
IRL officials pointed to the lack of camera time given to colorful IRL characters such as Eddie Cheever and AJ Foyt in 2005 as one of the factors leading to the downward spiral in spontaneity.
With Cheever (who regularly dropped words like "insanity" and "idiot") averaging about ten seconds of air time every five IRL races and Foyt becoming more and more unintelligible every day, the league decided to get the three teams who were actually winning a little help at moving beyond cliches.
"The teams that are winning and therefore getting a ton of air time just didn't step up," said Chett Marselmeyer, the IRL's associate vice president for business development, who immediately drew a scowl from Yugoff. "Er, that is to say, um, they have all the color and panache of a rotting carp."
Yugoff said he doesn't want profanity, which he called "a spontaneity crutch."
"How tough is it to drop the f-bomb? Not tough at all. What I want is honest, yet well articulated, emotion, especially anger. We never see the anger," said Yugoff. "If your engine frags on the back stretch, I say get out and kick it. Tell me video of Jimmy Kite beating his pig-slow Toyota engine with a sledge hammer wouldn't make SportsCenter. Someone is blocking you on track, maybe say 'his car has a butt bigger than my mother-in-law's" or 'he's harder to get around than a fat guy at a buffet.' Blow a half-shaft in the pits? Chuck your helmet. You know, vent a little. Helio and others being bubbly an effervescent can only get you so far on the spontaneity meter."
Yugoff praised ABC/ESPN announcer Todd Harris for injecting "some humor, whether intentional or not," into the broadcasts. "Todd, really 'turns the trick' in the booth," Yugoff said.
Yugoff said the fans will love the honest emotions. "In NASCAR, they throw the helmets at the cars and get on SportsCenter for a week," said Yugoff. "If it wasn't for Danica today, the IRL would be tucked into the sign off on SportsCenter: 'I'm Stuart Scott. Someone won an IRL race today, we'll be right back to do this all again. Take care everybody.' That's going to change. In the IRL, we will throw a few verbal helmets. It will be more fun than lapping a stock car. "
In other news, the IRL announced that Vice President Dick "Bust a Cap" Cheney has taken the unprecedented step of inviting rookie sensation Danica Patrick (5-foot, 100 pounds) to his undisclosed location "to get away from the incessant fans and media horde after the season." Patrick replied "I'm already packed, Mr. Vice President."