IndyCar’s drivers eager to get back to work

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Kanaan said the recent addition of Hinchcliffe to two Speed channel programs is a start for IndyCar, but the series has a long way to go.

“TV is everything, that’s what the sponsors want,” Kanaan said. “We have the competition. We have the personalities. We need to get it on TV. NASCAR is on TV every single day. We need to put television shows on that show the personalities that tell our stories.”

But Justin Wilson, who with Franchitti and Kanaan was part of a driver advisory board last season, wants more focus on the cars.

“We need to be the pinnacle of open-wheel racing in the U.S., the cars have got to be spectacular,” Wilson said. “We need more power. When we race, it needs to be special. It’s got to take your breath away. I remember that when I was younger, going to the track and watching Formula One cars and Indy cars. Now, you look, and these cars, they don’t take your breath away.”

Oriol Servia suggests rebuilding everything starting with the a renewed focus on the Indianapolis 500 by offering a $15 million prize to the winner. He got the idea from Townsend Bell, and admitted he first though Bell’s idea was extreme but after thought thinks it could have some legs.

“Just think about it, one race, it pays $15 million to win, who cares about the rest of the season?” Servia said. “You’d get all kinds of drivers entering the race. Maybe NASCAR drivers, ALMS drivers, Grand-AM drivers, all kinds of people would show up. Then you’ve rebuilt the 500 and interest slowly starts to grow again in the rest of the season. It’s a little out there, but maybe it could work.”

It’s not even clear who will ultimately make the decisions about IndyCar’s future.

Although Miles now runs Hulman & Co., IndyCar doesn’t officially have a CEO since Randy Bernard’s firing in October. Jeff Belskus has been acting as interim CEO of the series while also running Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but the series is two weeks away from the season opener without a permanent fix.

Dixon thinks Miles could run the series so long as he surrounds himself with a solid staff. Among the names that continues to circulate as candidate for IndyCar CEO is Zak Brown, founder and CEO of motorsports marketing agency Just Marketing International.

“When Randy was fired, the two guys I thought would be best for IndyCar were Mark Miles and Zak Brown,” Graham Rahal said. “We’ve seen what Mark can do firsthand in Indianapolis with the Super Bowl, and everyone knows what Zak can do in motorsports. Both of them together in IndyCar could do a lot of good for the series.”

Both Franchitti and Kanaan raced against Brown in their early years and endorsed him Monday for a role with the series.

“Zak is really smart, and I’ve got a lot of respect for what he’s done,” Franchitti said. “When you’ve got a guy with that experience and that Rolodex, he knows how to make things successful, it would just be really great to have him involved in IndyCar.”

Said Kanaan: “He’s very aggressive and he has a vision. The problem is, and it has been in this series all along, is if he has a vision, are they going to let him do what he needs to do? Otherwise he’s just a spokesperson for the place and Zak doesn’t want that job.”

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