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Indy Racing League Fan Forum

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Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indy Racing League

Indy Racing League Fan Forum

Eddie Gossage
May 29, 2010

EDDIE GOSSAGE: Just so you understand, again, for those of you that weren't here before I started telling jokes, my name is Eddie Gossage. I'm president of Texas Motor Speedway. I'm one of the seven members of the Iconic Committee that the Indy Racing League has made to make recommendations to them with regards to engines and chassis specs going forward.
The purpose of doing this meeting today is to give you a voice in the process. I give the Indy Racing League a ton of credit for doing that. The NFL, for instance, has a rules committee made up of certain owners, the other owners vote them in, but they never seek fan input to what happens if a punt bounces off the big TV screen above the field or whatever.
Jerry and I are friends, but I like taking shots at him, like the fact that he's got that big new stadium. You can put four and a half of them in our infield, so who is bigger? Everything is bigger in Texas.
Anyhow, I think the Indy Racing League deserves a lot of credit for reaching out, giving you folks a chance to say your piece. We're going to be doing this again next Saturday afternoon in Texas to give folks at another racetrack an opportunity to voice their thoughts. So some of you may be there and you can voice your thoughts there as well.
If you came to this meeting for me to tell you anything about the Iconic Committee, how much we've met, discussed, we're leaning towards this or that, whatever, you're really wasting your time because I'm not going to tell you anything about the Iconic Committee.
We took a vow, a very formal word, we promised amongst ourselves not to say anything about what we've discussed. I can't even tell you when we've met.
If I knew the number of hours we were going to spend on this, I'm not sure I would have agreed, because I'm running a business. It's been a lot of time for everybody to put in.
I personally find myself thinking about this 24 hours a day. So we're all emailing back and forth thoughts, ideas, suggestions from the discussions that are taking place.
So you're not going to learn anything today about what the committee's doing, thinking, leaning towards, whatever. I don't want to disappoint you. I want to be honest with you up front.
What we're asking is, What do you think? Just because I shake my head only means I'm being polite. It doesn't mean, Yeah, I want to go back to roadsters, too. It's not going back to roadsters. But, you know, we want to hear you. In essence, this is testimony for what you want to see in the future of IndyCar racing.
Each of the members of the committee will receive a transcript of this. Probably not my jokes before we started, but they'll receive a transcript, and so will IRL management. It's a great opportunity. This is a chance for you to speak now or forever hold your peace. If you don't speak and tell us what you want, we do something, and I say 'we,' let me be clear about this, the committee is making a recommendation to the IRL. It's the IRL's charge to administer the rules of the Indy Racing League and determine what they are and go forward with what they think is appropriate. So we may say X, and they may choose to do Y.
It's merely a committee just making a recommendation.
But I think it's great that they're going to give you a chance to say your piece. That's what we're here for. You're not going to hear me say a whole lot. We want to keep the comments as brief as possible. No 20-minute soliloquies so everybody can get a chance to speak.
There's things we're curious about. For instance, as we go, what are the things that are important to you or not important to you? Is it important to you that there's a green initiative, that there's a renewable fuel initiative, that there's, I don't know, what else am I looking for? Is it important to you that we make a radical change in IndyCar or a progressive change in IndyCar racing? We want 12 engine manufacturers. Okay, that's great. We have Honda. You go get the other 11 to come to the table and let's talk to them. But where do you get these other engine manufacturers and sponsors? You may want American drivers, but, okay, how do we get them? How does it work?
I hope you understand the dilemma that the sport wrestles with. It's huge and it's important, and we're at a critical crossroads, I think. Realize that we need you to be as specific as you can, but at the same time don't talk to me about a certain grade crankshaft or whatever. We're talking about concepts and generalities and those kinds of things.
Does that make sense to you guys, where we're going? Okay.
The Indy Racing League gentlemen have a couple of microphones so that everybody can hear you. Just raise your hand and they'll bring one for you. So go for it.
AUDIENCE: Back this spring I received a survey on email through I believe it was the Indy Racing League that had pictures of six different chassis designs. I was to pick my favorite, one through six. Are you at liberty to discuss those results?
EDDIE GOSSAGE: No, sir. I can't tell you about them. I can tell you the committee has received the survey. In that sense, your voice has already been heard. If you haven't seen the chassis, over there on that side, the turn one side of the pagoda, I think sits the delta wing. On the wall behind it are the various chassis proposed. If you haven't seen them, you can go look at them. Interesting stuff to look at.
But, yes, sir, we have received the survey results, but I can't tell you what it said.
AUDIENCE: I'd like to see the engines go back to stock block push rod motors.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you. That's what we need to hear. So raise your hand.
AUDIENCE: I'm Eddie from Indianapolis. From the comments from friends of mine that are racing fans, they would very much like to see more than one chassis. There are very many of the IndyCar fans who are tired of a spec series.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Yes, sir. Thank you.
AUDIENCE: I'm Ron from Rolling Meadows. Tomorrow will be my 29th consecutive race.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: How many have you been to at Texas Motor Speedway?
AUDIENCE: Unfortunately I haven't been down there.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: So sit down (laughter). I'm sorry, go ahead.
AUDIENCE: We have to keep safety at the forefront. I'm glad to see that these chassis all seem to have the protection around the wheels to kind of alleviate that chance of that happening again. Keep that in mind when you are making your suggestion, safety has to be at the top of the list.
I miss the old-time racing when we were at Michigan. We had the Handford device. I thought that was terrific device, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Cleveland, Elkhart Lake. Let's not lose track of the fan favorites we had before. If we have six different proposals out there, I know we don't have 12 engine manufacturers, but maybe we can get two or three accepted so we can get some variety in there to mix it up.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you. Great input.
AUDIENCE: I'm Stan. I've been coming here since '59. Not been to your track, either.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Hand a microphone to that guy (laughter).
AUDIENCE: I started out in the roadster era. I'm like a couple of the other guys that have said already, I want to see variety. You have six different possibilities. Time to get away from the cookie-cutter stuff. That would add a lot of excitement into it. I know you said you would like to have more engine manufacturers. Two or three would be beneficial, but please go with three possibilities.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir. Anybody here that has their hand raised that's been at Texas Motor Speedway? Okay, there's the ones (laughter). Just kidding. Go ahead.
AUDIENCE: I'm Mark from North Carolina. I'm not been to Texas. Two things real quick. I would love to see managed competition between engine manufacturers so that people can root for the brands they drive in the driveway.
Also, really, as far as the chassis go, just would love to see one that really maximizes the sponsor billboard space on the side. So many of the side pods today you can't read the sponsors. I think the sponsors may have difficulty with their logo not being as visible as it could be like NASCAR. I think that's something to be aware of.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Is it the size or shape of the side pods?
AUDIENCE: I think the shape of the side pods is difficult because you're mandated into a two-by-one width area. If your logo is round, it's not going to fit very well on the side pod. If someone can do something different about that to maximize sponsor exposure.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir.
AUDIENCE: Don from Columbus, Indiana. We need to start breaking records at Indianapolis and other tracks. Way too long since we've broken records. Same comments as other people, little different language. Get rid of the plain vanilla style, lots more variety.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: You miss Tom Carnegie, New track record!
AUDIENCE: I'm Jake. I'm from Texas. I've been to Texas Motor Speedway seven times.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: God bless you. Just spill your guts, man. Tell me all about it.
AUDIENCE: I'm the new generation. I think we want to see some passing and records.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Passing and wrecking?
AUDIENCE: Records.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: I thought you said 'wrecking.' Cool deal. You're coming next week?
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Atta'boy. You got a pit pass?
EDDIE GOSSAGE: You're not 18? What's the cigarettes doing in your pocket (laughter)? Just kidding. I hope you have fun. Look for me next week and say hello if we see you.
AUDIENCE: Sam from south side of Indianapolis. If the people that I talk to on opening day and Pole Day, hanging out, are like these folks, they're real hardcore race fans. We have one set of things that make this important to us and that we miss, but I also understand it's a financial situation. You're trying to appeal to a new generation. There's concerts out here that I quite honestly never heard of 'em, don't go over there. When Donald Davidson is there, I go and listen to that sort of thing.
I understand it's a balancing act, but there's a lot more people out there you can get than us old folks that are dying off, but try to keep it that's something about racing. That's really the heart and core of this whole thing. There's a good, competitive race out there. I don't think it matters how fast. I do miss the old track records. I tell my wife, I have to endure whatever happens because I love this and I want to see it survive. I know you need some new blood and more money. Just tell 'em to try to keep in mind that it's still about racing.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: You bring up a good point. Let me say this about the Iconic Committee. I should have told you briefly about my background. Everybody on that committee really has a passion for IndyCar racing, frustrated that we haven't enjoyed the growth that we deserve, that we're where we are. We're trying to do everything we can to get there.
Randy Bernard, the new president of the Indy Racing League is a great guy. Randy is a listener, which is a wonderful thing. At some point he's going to make a decision and he's trying to hear everybody. That's the problem. I've always said, if you asked 40 racecar drivers on something, you'll get 78 different responses. They contradict themselves.
This is a committee that really cares. I can tell you it's funny, whenever I'm in an IndyCar race, all I hear, You guys in NASCAR. I'm from Nashville, Tennessee, which is only 300 miles from where we sit, which is an easy drive. I came out of college like most kids do, sent résumés everywhere. I landed a job at Nashville Speedway, back 31 years ago. I was eight years old (laughter). We had two Cup race as year plus ran every Saturday night. I was at Daytona, Charlotte. Just seemed like, That's okay, almost like I belonged there or whatever.
But I remember when I first came to Indianapolis in '84, I was with the Miller Brewing Company, running their racing program. I stood on pit lane saying, How the heck did I get here? This is the Holy Grail, Mecca, this is it. To this day, I get cold chills when I come through the tunnel. This is a special, hallowed place.
I'm an Indy guy more than a NASCAR guy. I'm really a racing guy, road courses, dirt tracks, superspeedways, whatever. But IndyCar is bred for speed and I love IndyCars. This is special and important to me. I'm honored and blessed to be able to come to Indianapolis and be a part of it.
Had a driver once that I worked with. May remember Danny Sullivan spinning in turn one. I have an Indy 500 winner's ring from being on that team when we sponsored them with Miller. So many great moments. I know it means so much to everybody on this committee.
Gil de Ferran, I loved him before serving on this committee, I don't know where he earned his law degree, Ph.D. in business. I have a great affinity for Gil. He's so important to this process.
Everybody is working hard because we love IndyCar racing, we want it to do well and resume its rightful place at the top of the ladder. We like to see young guys around, too.
AUDIENCE: My name is Lee. I own Brayton Engineering. I designed and built an engine in '95 for the Speedway. Unfortunately at that time, it was 55 inches, and Penske won with a Mercedes. My engine made a thousand horsepower, so they banned it from the Speedway. It's very capable, very durable at going a long, long ways at 700. So they would only need to reduce the boost. It is a single camshaft engine. The push rods are only like six inches long because I moved the cam up in the engine. It's a beautiful little engine, 22 and a half inches long, 21 inches high. Fits right in any IndyCar.
So I brought a drawing of it and I brought pictures of it and I'm going to leave it with you. Don't ban it this time (laughter).
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Do you all know one of the great legends of Indianapolis, Mr. Brayton? Give me these plans here. Great. The father of the late great Scott Brayton. Great man. Thank you, sir. That will move you right there. That shows you about the depth, passion, heart of people involved in IndyCar racing.
Yes, sir?
AUDIENCE: Bob, Phoenix, Arizona. I know a number of people out in the west, Long Beach, Southern Cal region. A lot of them say they like the Indy racing better. But DIRECTV, whatever they have out west, a lot don't have access to Versus. They're not able to see many races because they're not on ESPN, things like that.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Versus, those of you who do have their broadcast, they do a really good job. They've improved the quality of the broadcast. The issue is around 70 million homes have it, and there's 90 million homes in the U.S. That's a good point. Thank you, sir.
AUDIENCE: I'm Bonnie Andrews, I'm from central Indiana. I would like to see packages that are available to all the teams, not just the Penskes and the Ganassis, even though I know the teams. The one that is sitting out there, the model, looks like something from the far future, not something that needs to be on the track right now. I don't think any of the teams can afford it except Ganassi and Penske. I'd like to see a second race there because you're supposed to be the second home of IndyCar.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you. That's just because she wants to go to Babe's twice a year. For those of you familiar with Indianapolis, Babe's is not the Babe's you have in Indianapolis. It's called Babe's Chicken House, a couple of miles from the Speedway, where they have the best fried chicken, chicken fried steak. That's all they offer. You have creamed corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad and biscuits. They ask you chicken or chicken fried steaks. It's heavenly. Cholesterol, but heavenly.
AUDIENCE: I've been coming to Indy since 1964, love nothing but Indy racing. The things I'd like to see is specifications, let them race what they bring. That's just my view.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir. Then to Kentucky Speedway?
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Atta'boy. We own that place now.
AUDIENCE: My name is Erin. I'm from Cincinnati, Ohio. One of the best initiatives I've seen is the Road to Indy program, trying to rebuild the ladder system, to get talented drivers through the formula series into the IndyCar.
One thing I worry about, if a radical departure like the delta wing is chosen, and I was more impressed with it when I saw it in person, it was different, but I think I can get used to it in terms, if a radical departure from the current formula is chosen, that could jeopardize rebuilding the ladder system around the same time.
If something like the delta wing is going to be the top car, you're going to need it in other series and start preparing people as young as 14 or 15. So I would hope that if something like that is chosen, that the committee would then reach out to those series. It would involve rebuilding the whole sport at each level.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Great point. Great point.
AUDIENCE: I'm Fred from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This is my 41st 500. I've been to your Speedway too many times. I'm too old to remember. But if you ever move next door, I'll offer to be your campaign director for governor.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: I don't know. You guys, Louisiana guys, have your hands full the last few years.
AUDIENCE: But having been here these many years, the one era that really stands out in my mind as the most exciting would be the '60s when you had the foreign invasion, the new chassis, the different engine makes. Saw some of that again in the late '80s, early '90s before the split. If we could ever get back to genuine but cost-effective technological competition, this thing would take off like a rocket.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Do you think those two terms, 'genuinely cost-effective,' 'unique,' are those words in contrast to each other?
AUDIENCE: They're hard to reconcile. I suspect if you spend a lot of time, though, writing the specs, you can build into the specifications some cost-effectiveness.
My point is, no more spec cars, no more NASCAR Car of Tomorrows. We'd like to see technological innovation of whatever kind and real competition in that area.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you. Yes?
AUDIENCE: I'm Rick Fuller from Houston, Texas. I'm Fred's brother-in-law. I also have been to Texas Motor Speedway.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Put more credibility in what you have to say then.
AUDIENCE: This is more of a comment than anything. It's not a technological comment, it's more of a policy thing. Liken it to golf, okay? They developed a Champions Tour, where Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, they transition into the SENIOR TOUR. It's hugely popular. It's one way of continuing the sport. For people like myself who grew up watching those guys on the regular TOUR, I love to see them on the Champions Tour.
The point is, has there been any consideration to have an equivalent, a Champions Tour, for Indy racing? Certainly you don't want to have somebody 55 years old driving over 200 miles an hour.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: What's wrong with being over 55 years old (laughter)?
AUDIENCE: Nothing, because I'm 61. It's one way of keeping the sport alive, vibrant, over periods of time. If there's any thought to that, do it before NASCAR does it.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir.
AUDIENCE: My name is Jake. I'm from Chicago, Illinois. I've been to seven facilities. I went to yours last year. It is my favorite facility.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: You're just saying that.
AUDIENCE: No, I enjoyed it. It was a great facility. Speaking to the gentlemen's point about the ladder series, the Lola is not my favorite design, but I did like the point of having interchangeability where a (indiscernible) could go from the Indy Lights Series to the IZOD IndyCar Series. I miss the sound of turbocharged engines here at the Speedway. I'd love to hear that again. Thank you.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir.
AUDIENCE: My name is Dale from southeast Minnesota, the tropical section of Minnesota. We've been coming for years. We go to a lot of other tracks. We try to bring new people with us and make them fans. We have one shot at making them people fans. There needs to be differences in the cars. They don't know the nuances of the drivers and teams that first day they see the track. They need to sound different, they need to look different.
I'm able to retain interest in IndyCar as a spec series because I got a lot of history. But it's hard to make new fans unless there's differences. Some people want to pull for the underdog. Some people want to pull for the favorite. But they need to be able to see something other than, That's the red car, that's the blue car. It needs to sound different or look different and know that those teams are looking at a set of specifications, making choices on what they think is going to win the race that day.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Great. Thank you, sir. Casey is working his way around. Bear with us.
AUDIENCE: I'm Jeff. I just had a few comments. The delta wing, when I first saw that, I thought it might have been one of these April fools jokes you were talking about. After seeing the simulation online, it's grown on me. Having my three-year-old son here at the track, he was able to see it. He thought it was cool. He likes it. Also bringing non-hardcore IndyCar fans like myself to the track. They see it, they like it.
I think that's what Indy racing needs, is something different, new, not be afraid to make some changes. Personally I like them all. I'm a hardcore fan. Whatever is racing at the Indy 500 is what I'm going to follow.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir.
AUDIENCE: Bruce Smith up from Indianapolis. I've attended all the races since '55. I'm pleased with the delta wing concept. The consistency of the Honda engine not blowing up I think is an excellent feature which I'd like to see continue. Thank you.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir.
AUDIENCE: I'm Mike from Pennsylvania. I wanted to maybe just talk a little bit about the Indy experience. Haven't been to Texas, but it's on the list as soon as I find another job after getting laid off.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Old 'job laid off' excuse, okay (laughter).
AUDIENCE: If you're hiring... But the thing I notice most about the different tracks and the fan experience is that they're very wily. You said you got Kentucky. I've had some of the worst fan experiences at Kentucky compared to some others. When you go back home and watch it on TV, tell people about it, it directly relates to the experience you've had.
One of the things I've always appreciated is the Indy experience, translating that into other places. I know each promotor does it differently. I would work with the track a little bit more to get the same consistency effects. Some places you walk in and can't figure out where the ticket windows are. Walking out of that with a bad fan experience, that doesn't translate on TV.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: I'm not supposed to be here talking about our company, but I'm going to. I was with Bruton Smith last week at the All-Star Race. Bruton's favorite racetrack is the newest one. He talks about Kentucky non-stop. I tell him, Look, when you're in Texas, you be talking about Texas. When you're in Las Vegas, you're supposed to be talking about Las Vegas, not Kentucky. But he spent about $19 million there since last August or whatever. He's just like a kid in a candy shop.
You know, give him a chance to get things rolling, give it another shot, if you're looking to get the Indy experience. You can't go and replicate, you can't fake heritage. It's either there or it's not. This place, you walk in, you can feel the ghosts of all the greats walking around here. You can't fake that anywhere else.
Every track, I'm a firm believer, needs to have its own identity and feel to it. Knowing the people that run them, I can tell you by looking at them about the person that runs them by sitting on the highway outside the racetrack. I can see their personality in the place. I guess it's because it's my business and I study it. But it's important to get good fan services, get in and out as quickly as you can.
We're in a simple business, three Ts: Traffic, tickets and toilets. If you sell the tickets, they're coming. You have to have good traffic plans so they can get in and out. Then you have to have a lot of good, clean toilets. After that, it's pretty simple stuff. If I can do it, it can't be complicated, so...
Yes, sir?
AUDIENCE: I'm Bill from Ohio. Having watched very closely all of these things transpire on the Internet, blogs, et cetera.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Whoa! First of all, you may be saying something good about it, but don't believe the Internet, the blogs, the forums, whatever.
AUDIENCE: What brought me to this sport are the brave men and women who get behind that steering wheel and guide racing cars, whether they're in the southeast in NASCAR, if they're Formula One, whatever it is, that's what I love about the sport. This is just one of those, as you said, Meccas, the ghost of the people that are here.
I think in a new design of any racing car for this series, we have to think about putting the driver back into the car so we don't have drivers stepping out of cars saying, Boy, if I could just communicate better with my engineer, we could get around this racetrack. That takes it away, for me.
I want to see a design on a racetrack where an off-roader like Rick Mears can come along again, someone from NASCAR can go for 20 million if that ever happens, a dirt car, a go-kart, a Brazilian, doesn't matter to me, put the driver back in that racing car.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: By the way, you just named my favorite racecar driver. Rick is exactly what you think he is. He's the kind of guy you'd like to live next door to because he's just a cool dude. He's a racer, racer, racer. He's a great one.
AUDIENCE: Paul from Indianapolis.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: You got notes, wow.
AUDIENCE: You said the Indy Racing League has not done as well as you hoped it would in the last 10 or 12 years. I think the core problem is that it's always been addressed as a marketing problem. I think you have a product problem. The spec series, it's been eloquently dealt with here. I think that is a very key part of the equation.
The other thing, I read a great piece once about Kmart, Target and Wal-Mart. In my view, the IRL is Kmart. The hip people go to Target. I think that's the problem with the IRL. They're not Formula One and they're not NASCAR.
But there are two things unique about the IRL. One, they have the Indianapolis 500, which no one in the world has. Two, they're the only series in the world that race on four different surfaces. LeMans should be the model, an iconic race that overshadows everything else. That's what you should build on, in my view.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you. That's all in those notes there?
AUDIENCE: Part of it.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Just part of it.
AUDIENCE: Mario Williams, Dayton, Ohio. Been here since '74. To me it's story lines every year. If you want to build the crowds, the audiences on TV, yes, you have to market the stars, you have to market the teams, Roger Penske, so forth. The story lines should also include speed, going for records. We need to get back at least up over 230 here, incrementally allow the cars to get a little bit faster each year as the safety keeps up with it. The safety is there right now.
The other thing is competition, competition among the chassis. Even if we have a situation where you have a smokey unique side car, pointing to the delta wing, if you can figure some way to have an equivalency among the chassis to have BAT, Lola, Dallara, have them all be able to compete. But also you have to be able to manage the speeds on the engines because allowing the guys to go 235 here is not going to work at Texas, as you know.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: These guys proved it to me one day.
AUDIENCE: They sure did. Unfortunately, they weren't more of them there to run in packs to see the vertigo that was going to develop.
I was thinking about Lee spoke up. They also need equivalency formulas for the engines. It's wonderful to have Chevy, Toyota and so forth, but it's also nice to have the giant killers come along. Brayton Engineering, thinking back to the Buick V6, so forth. Again, it gets back to story lines. Wow, what's going on here? We have four women in this competition. We're going for records. We have giant killers like a Brayton V6 that's going to come along and try to beat the Honda V6. That's what gets the crowds coming.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Great, okay. Thank you, sir.
AUDIENCE: Lee Riley from Dayton, Ohio, in the NASCAR program.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: What radio program do you work for?
EDDIE GOSSAGE: I knew the voice. You had to be.
AUDIENCE: I've been coming since '67. I was still being breast-fed then.
I think creativity makes creativity. Just by seeing what's over here on this wall has been missing from Indy for a long time. Again, I want to echo what my friend said. We have our own Iconic Committee. It's the deal to where you would be able to come over here on opening day of time trials and go, Who is going to break the speed? By bringing in other engine manufacturers, I'm sure you guys have talked about this, probably a lot of redundancy, but to me that's what puts 200,000 people in the stands for qualifying. Not only that, I'm a traditionalist, love the tradition. I love everything about open-wheel, but, I'm sorry, I can't agree with the fenders and that on the cars. I don't like that.
But I think that the creativity is there. That's what is needed about that. I don't like it, but somebody else might. You guys might have to make that decision or ultimately somebody else does. I'm kind of a traditionalist and I like the way it used to be on time trials.
AUDIENCE: I'm Aaron from here in Indianapolis. This won't cost you a dime to fix. There's a lot of inconsistency on the television and radio broadcasts, and even on the websites, about the records. Sometimes the TV broadcasts will include A.J. and Mario, some of the greats in the list of who has won the most races, led laps, and sometimes they won't.
A few weeks ago in Kansas, they were talking about it being John Andretti's best finish ever. He's won races in IndyCar. I know there's bruised feelings with the split. I don't know how you handle those 15 years. But there's tremendous passion for the heritage and the love of the sport, even the years that someone like me never saw. You can't act like those don't exist. It's always been IndyCar in different forms, be it USAC, IndyCar, CART, the IRL.
AUDIENCE: I'm John from Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. I wasn't actually born there, but I was conceived there, I understand.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Was it near turn five or the carrousel (laughter)? I want to know how you remember this.
AUDIENCE: I've had the extreme good fortune of being able to work in Europe for extended periods of time. I have lots of friends on both sides of the ocean. We're all motor heads. We all love racing.
When I got the invitation to come here, I thought I would try to make a contribution that really represents the attitudes of people who are like me. So I took a survey among 30 of my friends. Eight of them live in Europe, and the rest of them live in the U.S.
The thing we concluded we would like to have you know is what we're interested in is competition, competition at all levels. It's the competition that comes first.
I know we have to have advertisers' dollars. But it's a shame with the advertiser' dollars determine the shape of the car so they can get the name bigger on the side. We think the designer of the car should decide what the shape of the car is, if there's room for advertising, great.
But what we thought is there's three levels of competition. The first level is among the drivers. We think that over the years the competition among the drivers has gone away. My childhood heroes are Rex Mays and Johnny Rutherford, where we had competition among the drivers. They controlled the car, the car didn't control them. There was no automatic shifting available. You had a shift that you controlled the car.
The second level of competition is the designer of the car. He's the builder of the car. He determines how heavy the chassis is, where the engine gets placed, all that kind of stuff. He competes with other builders.
The only way you can get competition among those guys is to give them room to compete. They've got to have room for creativity. They've got to be the ones who determine that this change is going to make my car go faster than his or it's going to make my car easier for my driver to make it work.
Then the third level of competition is the team. How we get more team competition, I'm not exactly sure. NASCAR has worked really well on getting team competition. They really stress that.
But one of the things that bothers me, it's just simply the size of the pit box from racetrack to racetrack is so different. In one track, people are all squeezed together. I am a Milwaukee guy. I actually grew up within sound of the Milwaukee Mile. So I know there are those kinds of restrictions that limit everybody, and they should be more uniform.
But our recommendation then as a group of friends would be competition first.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Let me ask you a question. I'm thinking back to 2001 through, I don't know, '5, '6, '7. Personally I thought the competition in the Indy Racing League was incredible. Packs of cars, two-wide, three-wide. Tell me, is that competition?
AUDIENCE: Absolutely not.
AUDIENCE: What it looks like to the enthusiast, is it looks like it's staged actually, that it's a concocted finish. It looks like a bad movie. When you have 13 cars on the lead lap and they're all starting under green and white with one more lap to go, what kind of racing is that?
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Let me ask you. Do you believe they were concocted?
AUDIENCE: Oh, dear. I have no way of knowing. I don't know. I could be suspicious, but that doesn't prove anything. However, by permitting changes in the design of cars continually over a period of time, let's say eight years or ten years, somebody said before plain vanilla. When everybody is driving the same car, everybody is turning it to keep it going in the same direction...
Actually, this is more my opinion than anything. In the old days when some guy built the car from scratch to run only at Indianapolis, that was a racecar. This was the race.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Do you expect those days to ever return?
AUDIENCE: Well, I don't see why something like that can't return. I don't see why the sport can't be like that personally.
AUDIENCE: But growing up as a kid, the cars that were closest to me physically were sports cars. There's nothing uniform about sports cars. What's the word I'm looking for? They're all unique, something to that effect.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Certainly not a spec series.
AUDIENCE: That was some of the greatest racing I ever saw as a kid in my backyard.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir.
AUDIENCE: My name is Jim Olson. I'm from Rockford, Illinois. A couple quick comments. First of all, I know companies have to be willing, but I'm in favor of multiple chassis, engines, turbocharged engines. Not concerned about a green initiative. If you think about all the fuel spent to get here from all of us, all over the world, I'm not sure saving a couple gallons out on the track is going to make a big difference.
If you want to save money, cut down on people over the wall, team sizes. Have some kind of a limit there and you can cut down on manpower costs.
A quick note. Maybe to boost the series, boost one fan at a time, when you get a ticket, you get a coupon for your favorite driver lanyard, lapel pin or something, and have the IndyCar Series pursue something like that, trying to build the market one person at a time. Thank you.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir.
AUDIENCE: I'm John Taylor. I'm from Michigan, which is about 50 miles south of the bridge. I would have to say that I live in a total IRL vacuum. I've had eight tickets to come to Indy for as long as I can remember. This is my 39th time here. I can't hardly give 'em away to get people to come down here. The biggest reason why I can't is because I'm in a media vacuum. My local newspaper has a full page every Thursday telling us all about what's going to happen in the Cup Series, all the drivers, who is arguing with who, what they're doing with their cars. Unless it's the Indy 500, on Tuesday after the race, do I get to see anything about what's going on in IRL.
It's a matter of IRL needs to get through to the newspapers. In order for me to even know what's going on during the month of May, I had to subscribe specifically to Versus, watch websites, count on my Wing and Wheel emails.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Have you ever called the newspaper?
AUDIENCE: My wife works for the newspaper.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Think you have a little influence there, dude.
AUDIENCE: I sleep with the newspaper.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: I'll be honest with you. This is way off the Iconic Committee purpose. Let me do tell you this. If any of you have the same experience he has, have you called the newspaper and complained? Because if you don't, newspapers are scared to death right now because they're barely hanging on by their fingernails. If they hear from people, they respond. They're trying to find an audience right now.
You've got to complain. You're going to have to let them know that.
AUDIENCE: At the same time, the Indy Racing League needs to try to do something that there are fans out there. Doesn't have to be a full page. All I want to know is what the results are from Texas Motor Speedway next week.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: If you're there, you'll see it with your own two eyes.
AUDIENCE: This is a little too far to drive. This is 12 hours to get here.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: 50 miles south of the bridge.
AUDIENCE: Mackinac Bridge.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Rode my motorcycle over it two or three years ago with the crosswind, yeah.
AUDIENCE: Little cars have been known to get blown off that bridge.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: I thought about that, so...
AUDIENCE: I'm Jennifer from Indianapolis. I've been to the Speedway probably 19 times with my husband and probably 25 times before that. I have a brother who has worked on several teams. I've always followed IndyCar. We stayed with it with the split.
I agree that I like the idea of variety in chassis and engines because I think in making a choice you add to the element of the suspense in terms of being true competition. What I will add, though, is as I understand it you need to keep the cost levels fairly consistent with all of those choices or you will X out any number of those smaller teams that come here sometimes just for Indy.
That's some of what I follow on Pole Day and Bump Day. That's where your stories come from. The poor little team or the driver who has been kicking butt in Indy Lights, hoping, dreaming to come up to IndyCar, maybe gets in at the last minute, or she, or maybe they don't.
If you start by allowing everybody to create their own engines or to create some premiere engines, then you'll feed what we had before the split, which was kind of like a one- or two-team dominance. I won't name names, Penske. After a while, I get a little tired of that.
Yes, it is hard to get news about the IRL. Yes, it is hard to follow it because you may not know all the drivers. The cars kind of look the same. That's part of my own personal challenge, Who is that that just zipped by?
I do like the fact we have the small little sweet teams, we have drivers that come back and form their own teams because they have knowledge. Then it becomes a competition of making the right choices, putting a driver in there that knows how to communicate with an engineer, having engineers and a team that knows how to set it up for race day. Then they get out there, and I'm sorry, I have watched a lot of times the Texas race, it's my second favorite race, this is my favorite.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: I understand the ranking, close second.
AUDIENCE: It's exciting. It's exciting as heck. It is not staged. At least that's my opinion. It is so cool to see so many drivers on that final lap instead of what it was for a while, which was like one driver out front 10 laps to go in Indy and you might as well go drink a beer or something and go fix your fried chicken because it's not going to change.
Now at least we still have passing. We still have drivers changing at the last minute and a possibility of somebody else maybe coming back in those last 10 laps and winning when they're in second or third place. That's all because they pretty much have the same setup.
I like variety. I just want to give the opportunity and keep that kind of even, if that's possible.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, ma'am. We have about 30 more minutes. Hopefully we get to all of you. Keep it brief when Casey is picking you out. And Casey is picking you out, so blame Casey.
AUDIENCE: I'm Marty. You made a point about green. Absolutely, green not only in fuels.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: I didn't make a point. I just asked a question.
AUDIENCE: You made a bullet point. I wanted to make sure I had a chance to reflect on it. Absolutely not green just in fuels and philosophy, but in the fabrics of the uniforms, the flags, the way that we plant trees at the racetrack, so that we're recognized as an environmentally conscious sport. So much now about sport, look at the NBA, the way that it is perceived by the public. Look at the NFL. Look at the way our athletes are perceived compared to a lot of the elite athletes throughout the world. We already have a leg up on that in the opinion of the general public.
The idea being if we can promote ourselves as environmental conscious in all aspects of our sport, including renewable fuels, because that puts American farmers and people that come up with producing biomass fuels that may not even be conceived up yet, as long as we're open to those things, that would allow us to have a future with renewable fuels.
Radical versus progressive change. I think the delta wing is a polarizing issue. As an engineering exercise, it is a beautiful and pure thing. I'm a 35-year biomechanical engineer. I have to say that I understand the engineering exercise. Having said that, I also know when we had roadsters, we saw winglets. We began to see with the British invasion of cars, we didn't see radical large wings at first. I think that we can evolve to something that becomes something very futuristic, becomes doable as the delta wing, but we don't have to do it in such radical changes because then we fly without ever having walked. We do something without the evolution of the way that the sport needs to grow and progress.
The interchangeable panels and also the ability to step up from Indy Lights to IndyCars, big cars, with one chassis, I think makes things very affordable. It makes someone like Sam Schmidt to be able to put five, six, seven cars in the field. We don't have to worry about how come we're not seeing more than 24 cars show up at Texas Motor Speedway to qualify anymore. I think those things become very realistic to a potential owner.
Gil de Ferran doesn't have to partner with someone to put any car in any race anywhere, road course versus oval course. The step up by Lola I think was very innovative. What we have to look at, there are several things from every one of these potential manufacturers that were very good, off the chart as far as innovative. They didn't move forward because they got stuck because they wanted to be the exclusive provider. That becomes an issue, as well.
I think one of the things we saw in other sports, my last point, I apologize for taking too much time if I am, but one of the things I would love to see, purely as an exercise in engineering, is create a safety capsule, something that allows the driver to survive impacts, it allows them to survive bumps, scars and scrapes with other cars. Has absolutely no suspension, absolutely no wings, no controllable surface areas on it whatsoever. It fits in a box of X, Y and Z, that is all, that safety capsule. That's what you sell. Everything else because Mr. Brayton's motor, it becomes somebody else to design six wheels under, lay the driver down, do something innovative and radical that allows you to win not only the Indianapolis 500 but to be the series champion on the road courses if you choose that's where you want that trophy to come from or to be the series champion in the ovals if that's where you want it to come from.
The idea being, open this up. As long as we remain narrow minded, we'll have a sport that has a narrow-minded fan base. We've seen everything that's been here. We've seen it all before. We have a vision of what we want to see in the future but we need to see it opened up. That's the big thing. Don't be narrow minded with it.
Photo finishes aren't artificial, by the way, and neither is equivalency. One of the things I keep hearing throughout this, there is this mantra, if equivilate [sic] a hydrogen fuel cell versus this or that, I'm creating artificiality. I'm not being artificial, I'm being creative, sir.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: So you see the dilemma here is that you get 200 people together, you're going to get about 384 different ideas, so... I'm just kidding. Yes, sir.
AUDIENCE: My name is Chuck. I'm from Houston, by God, Texas.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: You had a special glow sitting back there. I could pick you out. You carrying a gun, too?
AUDIENCE: Not with me. But you have a lot of my money.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Let me show you a picture of my kids.
AUDIENCE: I need the address of Babe's. I'll be there next week.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: I got to go.
AUDIENCE: I grew up at Texas World Speedway watching A.J. and Mario. Couldn't afford the grandstands seating. You could always hear A.J. go by, because he was in the Coyote.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: I thought he was just cussing.
AUDIENCE: I might have been hearing that, too. So I've seen it all.
As far as the staged finishes that your track, that doesn't happen. Those are some of the most exciting IndyCar finishes I've seen was Texas Motor Speedway. They were awesome.
The only problem is, the fan base seems to be deteriorating because we're kind of getting the CART effect here, like NASCAR has. You are getting super teams controlling most of the races. It's happening here now with Penske and Ganassi, and really nobody else is getting a chance the last several years. So it's kind of going back to the way it was. The little guys don't have a chance.
At Indy, okay, you might have a chance. But then you go to Fort Worth and stuff, they're not going to get a fair shake anymore. So some of these ideas need to come up where you do -- like when the IRL first started, you had several different chassis, engines. Every winner, every year, they would be from different teams. Now it's not happening anymore. It's all coming back to Penske and Ganassi. That's really not good for business.
They need to really start thinking, with the new cars and chassis, the engines, with the cost controls, and maybe even like you were saying, the team size, the people over the wall, the people in the pits, start controlling some of these expenses to get some of the little guys a better chance. The more competition, the more people have a chance to win, the more people will get involved in it.
I have eight tickets. I, too, have a hard time getting people to come to Fort Worth with me to see some of the best IndyCar races there is because, A, they don't know the drivers, they don't know the cars. They need to recreate the feeder series where the guys from USAC, because they've locked Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, all those USAC guys went to NASCAR. They're not here. So you got people from Brazil and everywhere else, not from America.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: I appreciate it.
AUDIENCE: I will see you next weekend.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: You look like you might be the brightest guy in the room. Just saying. No offense to the rest of you. He's got a Texas Motor Speedway golf shirt on. Actually, he spent a little more money on the golf shirt than the T-shirt. Thank you (laughter).
Yes, sir.
AUDIENCE: I'm Chad, from about 15 miles south of here. First of all, I'd like to thank you and Randy Bernard for giving us fans a chance to get a last-minute word in on the cars. A little discouraged that this didn't happen three or so years ago when we could have influenced maybe some of those designs up on the wall. I'll get back to talking cars, I guess. Made a couple notes, also.
None of the proposed IndyCars really have completely sold me on what I would like to see. My wish is for somebody to design my perfect IndyCar to watch out there on the track. Kind of my short list of what I would like to see combined in that car is the driver safety considers of the BAT project, the sponsor space of the Honda performance development concept car I think they showed up in the media center here last year, the contemporary aesthetics of the Swift fleet that's up there. I really like the design, the modern look of those cars. I also like the genius ideas of the fuel limitations, the minimum weight turbulence from the car, the open source part design of the delta wing.
There's a couple of other things I don't like about the delta wing. I think as somebody else said, that would grow on me in time if that's what's racing here at Indianapolis or similar cars to that, that would be an IndyCar to me even though it's not necessarily open-wheel.
Lastly, I would occasionally like to see the cars slide and have to slow down for the corners on the ovals like they have to do now on the road courses, as somebody else said earlier, bring the driver more 50/50 into the equation than 80/20, whatever it is now. That's all my comments.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: We have about 15 minutes to go. I want to ask you to keep your comments brief.
AUDIENCE: My name is Jonathan Bird. Probably like everybody else in this room, I've been part of a winning car with John Paul Jr. back in 1988, the second Texas race. Always going to have great memories of spotting for a car at Texas Motor Speedway.
As an aspiring car owner looking to get back to the series full-time, when people talk about the cost of everything, that's something of course, being a little guy that we are, trying to get back into racing. I think the delta wing project makes a lot of sense. If you have to pay $850,000 for a Honda lease now, you can by a $350,000 delta wing, look at the global racing aspect that is coming together. When Ben talks about that motor can be purchased for $50,000 and last 18,000 miles, I could buy two delta wings and two motors for the cost of one yearly Honda lease right now.
I think that makes a lot of sense for the racing, the open source, talking about Penske and Ganassi, if they want to spend a million dollars that makes a full part that goes faster on that delta wing, if it costs $10 anyway, that part has to be available to everybody for $10. Having it open and available to all the different chassis manufacturers to make this chassis, that car right there is not intended, of course, what the delta wing is going to look like. There will be a source of rules. Anybody can make a delta wing car look like that.
As an aspiring car owner, to get back and to win the Indy 500 and honor my dad and in honor for everybody who has ever had the aspiration of competing in the Indy 500, I think that's one of the main considerations the committee needs to look at. I think it will be a very, very good situation, long-term, in terms of getting us small guys back into racing.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you. That was a neat day, a neat day. Yes, sir?
AUDIENCE: I just wanted you all to know this is my 45th Indy 500. This is for the fans. Brian here, he and I grew up right outside the Speedway. He's been here since '63. '66 we rode our bikes here. When Mr. Holman (phonetic) was alive, 12 and under was free. That's our future. The people can't afford to bring their children to the racetracks. They bring their kids, they're going to buy the hot dogs, the Coke, they love the racing. That's our future.
When it comes to the car, take the wings off, let the engineer change the right rear, and that will bring the racing back. Let him get out there and see what it's all about.
But this is for the fans. Brian and I saw Lee Brayton on the outside of turn one sitting at Indianapolis drive here. That's for our fans.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir.
AUDIENCE: I'm Art from Los Angeles. There's about seven of us here from the National Association of the Racing Fan Clubs. We had a breakfast this morning. A.J. Watson attended. While I was looking at him, I realized, I don't know the name of a single mechanic on pit road. It just seems likes people assemble spec parts. The creativity has gone out of the racing.
If for economic reasons you get stuck with one chassis, one engine, can you find a way to let people tweak the base unit and come up with something new, drive the sport forward that way? And also we would like to see Richmond, Phoenix, Milwaukee back on the schedule, some of the traditional tracks. Richmond had a good fan base.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir. Going to try to get to everybody real quickly.
AUDIENCE: I'm Art's little brother. I'm from the mid Atlantic area, right outside Philadelphia. The closest race was Richmond. That's off and on. New York, Philly, D.C. we need to get an oval race in that area.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir. Keep it brief if you could so we can try to get to everybody.
AUDIENCE: I'm Jim from Milwaukee. I just have two brief comments.
Whatever engine is chosen for the future, I would hope it's not a sealed engine. I think it's time to take a little bit of the engineer out of racing and put the mechanic back into racing.
And I'd also like to make a brief comment about road course racing going forward, if there's going to be road course racing, to have it at true road courses, Elkhart Lake, Mid-Ohio, versus the street courses. It's boring to watch. It's just follow the leader. Any casual fan who turns to Versus will probably change channels after about 5 or 10 minutes of watching it.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir.
AUDIENCE: I'm Mike. I've only been here 17 of the last 18 years. I'm originally from Oklahoma City, which used to be one time a long time ago the rodeo capital of the world. We lost the National Rodeo Finals. We spent years wondering how that happened. How did such a place with great tradition, you could walk the fairgrounds, feel the ghosts of the old bull riders, why did that leave us, how could it possibly go to Vegas? I feel that part of the formula for why that happened was realized by the new heads of the IRL who used to be the head of PVR, the Bull Riding Association.
One of the formulas he used to bring the spirit back into rodeo was he brought character back to the bull. The idea sounded ridiculous at the time, to make the bull interesting, the thing that the guy was riding. Make the bull rider interesting, make the bull interesting. Give the bull a prize, give the bull owner a prize.
As the head of PVR comes to IRL, the car is not as interesting as the bull. The car, this homogenous vehicle it has become, yeah, it helped bring some small teams back to the sport, but it's not the kind of thing that people want to paste on their walls, not the thing that people my daughter's age put on the wall and say, I imagine myself driving an IndyCar. People can't get a handle on this device.
As long as General Motors, Ford and Fiat are going to refrain from beating down the doors to get into the Speedway and help us build engines again, until then, I think what we're going to have to do is borrow a few ideas from my line of work, which is computing. Open source this thing for real. Get some of Apex-Brasil's money behind co-funding small group's initiatives to do the safety capsules, the turbochargers. Bring the Lee Braytons and Jonathan Birds of the world into this. There's a way of marketing this so that the month of May can be the year of May.
Americans root for underdogs. If they can see from June on to the next year, the funding and development of these new great ideas from the grass-roots, then that will bring new people into it and make the car interesting again. People will put the car on their walls.
When I talk to people about Memorial Day, people ask me what I'm doing. Naturally, I'm going to the Indy 500. They won't ask me again, Oh, they still run that? Because the car is back. We need to bring the car back.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you, sir.
AUDIENCE: To add to the bull story, I'll do it quick. Have Lee Brayton do the engines, make it a horsepower limit they have to list, have extra so the drivers can have more to drive the cars around mere.
AUDIENCE: I'm George from San Diego. A few years back we truly complicated our sport. Probably the kiss principle would work well here in the engines and the chassis packages. Keep it simple, stupid. Bring the drivers back, get the competition. Put it in the drivers' hands, let them fight this thing out the way they're bred to do.
AUDIENCE: I'm John. I've attended some of your meetings in Texas last year. I think as far as what people -- if you stop and think about the engine, chassis formula, one thing is really simple. For the safety of the driver, we need to have a common cocoon for the driver, use that in all of the cars, and then say, Okay, the drag coefficient has to be X, the weight of the car in comparison to the power of the car, the power-to-weight ratio has to be Y, the wheel base has to be Z, the height, whatever. Dictate some standards. Drag coefficient, power-to-weight ratio, have the common cocoon for the protection of the driver, then say, Build it and bring it. I think that's the best thing to do. The same thing with the engine formula.
If you remember back in the USAC days, you ran what you brought. That's what these gentlemen have been talking about. I participated in a survey not too long ago where we voted on what was the most popular car of the entire Indianapolis era. A lot of us voted for the No. 40 turbine car. It was the most innovative thing out there. If we put a formula like that, where you have the common MonoKote for the protection of the driver because it's paramount, but at the same time put forth a formula that will equalize the competition, then some of them are going to approach it from this angle, some from that angle, but the competition should be good competition, okay?
Then we need to market it. We need to market: Who are these people. You know, everybody doesn't have to be a nice guy. We can take a page out of NASCAR's book and say a little bit of rivalry between Tomas Scheckter and Marco Andretti is a good thing. When Marco Andretti cut Tomas off in that one race, Tomas went off to the edge of the track, threw his gloves at Marco, we should do that.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: That was Texas.
AUDIENCE: It was Texas. But that was a good thing, you see. When the Milwaukee race preceded the Texas race, we had the Danica thing. You had billboards with Marco's, Danica's picture.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Rumble at the Speedway. I was doing my part.
AUDIENCE: That's what we have to do. We have to create a buzz. Everybody is going to get their buzz from a different place. You could see from here, some people are going to get their buzz from the engine competition, some from the chassis competition, some from the driver they hate and they want to root against. I wish personally Tracy would have made the race so I could boo him when he came by, you know.
You see what I'm saying? That's what we have to get. We have to get that, okay?
EDDIE GOSSAGE: For the record, Danica has never spoken to me since that day, and I'm sleeping fine, you know.
AUDIENCE: Some great comments already this morning. One thing I'd like to see remain in open-wheel, we're trying to put fenders around these things. We need open-wheel, we don't need fenders.
AUDIENCE: Linda from St. Pete, Florida. Going back to the fan base. You need to make it easy for the fans, recognize who they are. So a uniform number on the back wing or somewhere on the car, uniform number. Stylize the number on the nose. You can't see that from the stands. You got to make it identifiable.
To the young ones, bring 'em in young. Market to the kids. Coloring books, stuff like that, give it out free. But bring in the kids with the young stuff. We're doing really good with marketing in the gift shops and stuff, but give it out free to the kids, have 'em come in.
But make it more fan friendly. Grand Prix's are great, but you don't see a lot of racing. It's fan friendly. St. Pete Grand Prix is accessible. The waterfront is beautiful. But for racing, I love ovals.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you. Honestly, there were like six people with their hands up 30 minutes ago. There's still six hands up.
AUDIENCE: I'll be quick. My sort of suggestion for the committee, I'm from Oakland, California, we're trying to lower costs. Wings on the Dallara of 20 or 30 thousand dollars. They're made out of carbon fiber for spec series. For whatever the future cars are, the wings, the part that Milka crashes every week, are cheap. There's no reason those shouldn't be aluminum or fiberglass.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: Thank you. We'll do the gentlemen in the red and we'll end with the gentlemen back there. I have a feeling about him.
AUDIENCE: Stu from New Jersey. This will be my 42nd race. I want to thank you or whoever arranged this. This is the first time anybody ever asked me what I thought.
Just a couple comments. Personally I'd like the car to be evolutionary, not revolutionary. That's why we have a lot of the opinion.
But relative to Versus, wonderful coverage while it's on. However, nothing the first days here. Nothing during the week. Every time I turn on to where we used to be able to get a daily report from the Speedway, what do we get, some bicycle race in California. Nobody cares in New Jersey about the bicycle race in California.
Please tell your boss, we want to go back to New Hampshire.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: He's been trying to get the Indy Racing League back into New Hampshire for about six years. So he's the wrong one for you to tell. But I'll be happy to give you Randy Bernard's phone number.
Yes, sir?
AUDIENCE: Kirk from Kansas City. My thought is somehow, and this is about drivers, somehow you have to get some linkages back to the open wheels series that are in the United States today. I don't think it's coincidental that NASCAR is as popular as it is, and they have their sanctioning thing on every dirt track in the United States that runs on Friday, Saturday or Sunday night. Where is the IRL? Where is any open-wheel sanctioning with that?
And the last part being, I'm not so sure that those drivers that we saw, some we saw at the dirt track at the fairgrounds last week, are not interested in coming here. They can't get here. So it's how do you open it up and make it possible for them to enter? It's a lot easier to get into NASCAR than it is the IRL.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: There's a gentleman sitting near you that had his hand up, no?
AUDIENCE: I'm Rick from Wisconsin. I like the talk about innovation and turbocharged engines. I just want to say I think a radical departure is the way to go. An IndyCar has looked basically the same for almost 30 years, since the mid '70s. Something new will capture the imagination, it will keep people from getting confused with Formula One cars, give it a unique product that everybody can get excited about.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: We're going to end with the distinguished gentleman sitting here in the aisle of the second row.
AUDIENCE: My name is Don and I'm from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I have several points and I'll try to do it quick.
First off, I understand why the IRL was a spec series, but we need to get away from a spec series. That's a feeder series. SECA, the Indy Lights, perfect for spec, not for the big show. How do we do that?
I'm for building rules and regulations that will allow various chassis manufacturers, not just one, various chassis manufacturers to bring innovation, because that's what this sport has always been about, about innovation.
I'm also for a variety of engine manufacturers. I would like to see four- and six-cylinder engines, that could be a straight four, a boxer four, a straight six, a boxer six. You can combine those different engines with turbochargers and moderate the turbocharging if you see inequities in the rules that you built based on their displacement or whatever.
You have an infinite number of combinations between chassis and engines that could really excite and reinvigorate this sport.
We always talk about drivers. Drivers are really key. We say, Geez, there's only a few American drivers in the series. Let me tell you, there's a heck of a lot of American mechanics and American engineers in the series, and you never see anything written about them. But when I was a kid, everybody knew who A.J. Watson, Jack Beckely and Judd Phillips were. But we don't know who Ricky Davis and Tim Coffeen and guys like that are. They're out there and they're very real people, and nobody ever writes about them.
Lastly, you talk about green. I'm not sure where that's going. But this is not necessarily been about green, it's been about motor racing, burning fuel and engines. But one thing I think does really smack in the issue of green is these doughnuts. You see people burning these doughnuts. All they're doing is wasting fuel and throwing tire smoke in the air which pollutes like mad. I think that sets a poor example.
I think it was neat when it happened and when it was originally done by Alex Zanardi. It was a cool thing. Now I think it's past its welcome. I says, We don't care about the environment, we can continue to pollute. So I would like to see that addressed.
I really appreciate having the forum here today where people could voice their opinions.
EDDIE GOSSAGE: I knew this was the right man to end with. Thank you for your comments.
I thank all of you for your time and your comments. Yet I hope that this has illustrated to you that there are so many varying points, thoughts and considerations. Just 'cause I like a ham sandwich and you like a turkey sandwich doesn't mean that I'm wrong or you're wrong. Somebody that wants the car built in a garage around the corner versus a delta wing or Swift or whatever, that doesn't mean anybody's wrong, it just means that we all have differing opinions on these things.
That's where it's hard to wrestle with and try to come up with the answers so that we best serve the Indy racing community as a whole. I just assure you we're working hard trying to determine what that is. But it's really neat to see that you have the interest and the passion to be here. It's great to see Mr. Brayton here. Appreciate that. Going to make sure that these drawings get back to the committee.
It's even interesting to hear what we as a group think competition is or isn't, you know, because I think back to when Jonathan won at Texas with Juan Paul Jr. driving. I thought that was an amazing race. It was choreographed? Choreographed is pro wrestling. It's interesting. All I'm saying is we have different perspectives.
One other thing I want to caution you or want you to think about. Just because what you said ultimately doesn't come to fruition, doesn't become reality, doesn't mean that you weren't heard. It doesn't mean that what you said wasn't important. It's just that, as you can see, you can't possibly serve all of the points of view that have been offered up here today. It's good to hear it and we appreciate your time.
We'd love to have you come see us at Texas Motor Speedway, if not next week, sometime in the future. For that matter, I want to encourage you to support everybody in this series. When you go to the store, buy the products that sponsor these racecars, these races, where IZOD shirts, clothes, buy Firestone tires. Sonoco has come onboard as the fuel. Consciously do those kinds of things. Buy tickets to the racetracks, go and support them, do everything you can to support IndyCar racing. Bring your friends, do what you can, because it's a wonderful, great sport.
Personally it's an honor to be here with you here today. It's an honor to be at Indianapolis. I will tear up tomorrow as Jim Nabors, Florence Henderson, see the balloons go up, taps, Mari Hulman George says, Gentlemen, start your engines. We try to replicate that in our own way at Texas and we can't. Tomorrow is special. I hope you enjoy tomorrow. So enjoy this year's Indy 500 and God bless you all for being here and thank you for your time.

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