An encouraging trend in IndyCar lately: A little less class, a little more umbrage.
Several examples: James Hinchcliffe goes all BANZAI on Ed Carpenter in the Indy 500. Ed says right on TV it’s a good thing that Hinch was still recovering from a concussion or he would have gone up side his head. (!) UMBRAGE TAKEN.
AJ Foyt at Indy and Iowa (TWICE) sees his driver taken out by someone else’s brain fade and declares, on TV, that there are a bunch of “goddamn idiots” driving around out there. The second time he just said “damned idiots,” leaving God out of it. UMBRAGE TAKEN.
Juan Pablo Montoya gets BIFFED by Ed Carpenter at Iowa in what Ed admitted was his mistake. Basically the shoe was on the other foot from Indy. After being told that race control wasn’t going to take any action, Montoya says “I’ll take some action later.” UMBRAGE TAKEN. Ed said in his post-race interview he was going to try to talk to Montoya, hopefully “without getting my butt kicked.”
So is this “classless” or is it “awesome?” I go with awesome, and here’s why: IndyCar for a LONG time has needed to allow drivers to show more passion. This is a sport that raises passions. Cue Danica Patrick: “This isn’t miniature golf. We’re out with 1500 pounds of metal around us. Strapped into it like a missile.”
You’re out there, going fast, literally risking your life, having a good race, and some RAT BASTARD screws up your day. It’s OK to get pissed about that (in my view), so long as we stay away from profanities and violence (mostly). It’s OK to not like another competitor and not hide it very well. It’s OK to cast a few aspersions now and then. As long as it doesn’t get personal — as in “he’s fat and his wife is ugly” — CAST AWAY, ye BASTARDS.
Yet, for a while there, if drivers said some pretty innocuous stuff, they drew IndyCar’s version of an unsporting yellow card (some kind of fine or whatnot). WTF, IndyCar? I want to hear the passion. Will Power’s double birds. Helio going crazy and grabbing Security Chief Charles. BOTH were fined yet BOTH are still beloved memories in the IndyCar consciousness. You’ll probably see Montoya’s “I’ll take some action of my own” and AJ’s “Damned idiots!” replayed in the pre-race for Toronto.
I don’t necessarily want to see pit brawls, but I don’t mind some heat-of-the-moment venting, calling other drivers “douchebags” (as Montoya did!) and even exuberant finger-pointing. Where’s the harm? Bad example for kids? Don’t buy it. All the examples above and several others of IndyCar drivers speaking a bit more freely aren’t worse than any other sport. These outbursts don’t make me fear for the youth of the nation.
But if you prefer to have drivers do their talking on the track, and think such outbursts are “classless,” I’m OK with that. But let’s not impose your will on the rest of us, OK? Let’s not have IndyCar issue fines for saying “the guy’s a clown” or something non-profane-yet-derogatory like that. If you want to TAKE UMBRAGE over a driver expressing him or herself thusly, by all means do so. That’s part of being a fan. Loving some, not loving others.
Perfect example: Tony Kanaan gets taken out of a race because Graham Rahal BASHED his car from the rear under yellow. When asked about it Tony declined to call Rahal a dork, and was praised for being classy. All well and good. Tony made the choice not to go there and was rewarded for it by some fans while other fans were a little disappointed. So my point isn’t that everyone should start calling everyone else a damned idiot, just that drivers should be more free to go there if they want to.
Me, I like someone who gets fired up and vents a little. I understand that heat-of-the-moment utterances are going to happen. If a web page doesn't load quickly I may launch a few F-bombs at my computer or the site, so I'm not one to condemn someone for heated speech after they were just put into the WALL by some JACKWAGON.
Speaking of TAKING UMBRAGE, another amusing part of being a race fan is the reaction to remarks drivers make via their car-to-pit radio. Note: I would not change fans getting riled up about this either, even when I disagree with the riled-ness. Example: Ed Carpenter at Iowa is miffed at Will Power, because Ed thinks Will is making himself wide. So he says, on his radio, “Will needs to pick a lane.” TV reports that (bravo, TV!) and UMBRAGE IS TAKEN on the Twitter. Ed should shut up. I’m tired of Ed’s bullshit. Ed is right and Will is a blocker. The opinions were many and varied. Yay.
I can’t go further without again pleading … please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, IndyCar, give us a driver scanner on IndyCar.com. Just like RaceView Audio on NASCAR.com, where we can PAY (yes, I have my credit card out) for a subscription to listen to our favorite drivers during EVERY race. I subscribe to NASCAR’s RaceView Audio and it’s solid technology. It always works for me and I can listen to anyone in the field at any time during the race. My one complaint is they try to censor Danica Patrick (I don’t know if they censor everyone or just her) so I don’t get the f-bombs. Listening de-hanced.
IndyCar actually did offer a similar web-based service many years ago, which I subscribed to, but was totally unreliable. To their credit they refunded everyone’s money because it sucked. Then it was gone for good. I think, if you have a Verizon phone, you can listen to some drivers via that ap right now, if it works all the time for you. Problem is it doesn’t work all the time for me, and I would rather crank up the internet for the audio. So maybe festoon the web-based scanner with Verizon logos and make it free or a reduced price for Verizon customers and more cash for everyone else. I am a Verizon customer, by the way. Have been for about a decade.
The scanner ap in NASCAR makes me much more likely to 1) watch every race and 2) watch the whole race. Apparently doing this on IndyCar.com would cost $1.2 billion or something, or — more likely — the Powers That Be don’t think there would be enough subscribers to make the expense and effort woth it, because we been asking for it for years (literally) and it’s always “It’s in our plans! Stay tuned!”
If we had the scanner, then there would be even more UMBRAGE TAKEN, and that would be great for the sport.
So, IndyCar drivers, don’t be afraid to be angry! Get a little churlish. Give voice to your recalcitrance. Call people idiots. Throw stuff! STOMP DOWN PIT LANE for a confrontation. Gesture and exclaim. It’s what IndyCar needs.