Don't get me wrong. The concept is solid. Have a common "safety cell" -- tub, gearbox, etc. -- and open development of sidepods and wings up to everyone, subject to an inches-thick rule book, no doubt. Yeah, I get that. And it's interesting. It adds variables and at least offers the chance that innovation, not raw dollars, will play a greater role. But it's also still all on paper right now.
As my buddy Jeff Iannucci said/tweeted -- we got a theoretical engine and a theoretical car right now. That doesn't really make you want to bust out the Jose Cuervo and party into the night while screaming "F-yeah, we'll OWN NASCAR in six weeks."The missing elements are HUGE -- Will anyone other than Honda and Dallara get into the game? Having other makers announce "we're in" ... now THAT will be worthy of some theatrical smoke and flash-powder.
Just don't imagine that this announcement -- or the engine announcement before it -- was made without at least ONE maker committed to building the entire car/engine. Dallara and Honda, I'm sure, were all in before the announcements were made. And IndyCar has probably been in talks with the other possible builders in both areas for some time now.
I thought Wednesday's announcement was way overproduced and over hyped for what it was, frankly. It was interesting, necessary and even good, but not worthy of the build up, laser light shows and holograms. Kind of like Super Bowl hype for a wild card playoff game in the NFL. Wild card playoff games are interesting and an important part of the process, but they aren't the Super Bowl. And telling me they ARE the Super Bowl just kind of insults my intelligence, a little.
Plus everyone on stage looked terrified. And I hope IndyCar got a buttload of cash for that "voting on the Droid X" bit because it was, ah, lame. Especially when we figured out they were voting yes-no on the proposal whose outcome was already known, not for their favorite car concept.
And Randy Bernard, come on with the "the vote won't even be taken until Wednesday morning" stuff. That left me feeling a little played. Sure, technically that was true, but they kind of must have been really confident as to how "the vote" was going to go, what with creating the script and props and holograms ahead of time. Can't imagine Randy getting up there and saying "What ...? Oh shit, it didn't pass. Never mind. Thanks for coming." Leading us to believe it wasn't a done deal until Wednesday morning was disingenuous at best.
Biggest winner here is the non-sexy but extremely important area of cost reduction. The new car will cost maybe HALF of what the current car costs, which is huge-huge. Robin Miller opines on that here.
Second biggest winner is Speedway and the State of Indiana, the benefits to which were overplayed in the presentation, in my view. Having the mayor and the governor and the chamber types up there made it seem like the main consideration in selection was "who will bring jobs to Indiana?"
I'm sure that appeared to be a bit bigger deal than it actually was, but it was a bit of a turn off for all of us who don't live in Indiana. After all, it's not like IMS doesn't do jack, economically, for town of Speedway and state Indiana already. I'm sure the economic impact of the Indy 500 is E-normous. They have many of my Iowa dollars running around their economy already, I know that for sure. All the jobs talk in the presentation was probably a disservice to Dallara as well, since, again, perception was "Dallara will build in Speedway, so they're in!" Dallara has far more going for it than that.
I imagine the non-winning makers are saying some version of "NOW you tell us we're bidding on making the tub only." Been nice to know that BEFORE they sunk zillions into designing the whole thing.
IndyCar gets full marks for kicking out transcripts and the video replay and pushing out positive driver quotes, all of which I posted. But this "major announcement" failed to push "Junior's Car to the Hall of Fame!" off the front of SpeedTv.com and SportsCenter was NOT lit up with images of holograms yesterday. But, let's remember to also give full marks to IndyCar for pushing ahead with this. Getting on with replacing the car, something that should have been done three or four years ago.
Marshall Pruett gives some interesting thoughts on it here. Curt Cavin of the Indy Star posted a story here. For me, the whole thing has a giant "To Be Continued" hanging over it. Which is fine, but we could have done that a two weeks ago at IMS.
I remember the introduction of Champ Car's DP-01, which was streamed live on the internet, with much pre-event hype. Now that lived up to the billing, since they pulled off the cover off and there it was, and actual car, beautiful, on a revolving Car Show-like stage, with and Derek Daly eventually walking around it and opining how awesome it was. Now that was cool. An actual car with an actual engine.
I imagine that we'll get there in IndyCar some day, but after Wednesday's crying of wolf re: a Game Changing Announcement, the edge will be off. I can only hope they all use their Droid X's to vote on if the actual car is cool or not.