I really think the IZOD IndyCar series needs to step up its game. We've seen a series of errors, blunders and problems that have seriously detracted from the pure racing excitement I know the sport can deliver. First it was problems with the Lotus engines that made the cars using them non-competitive. It took several races before Lotus had the good sense to pull out of most of their leases, allowing teams to go with Chevy or Honda power and have a chance of winning some races.
Detroit track disintegration
Then there was the dissolving race track in Detroit. On June 3, at the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, chunks of the track started coming up, causing at least one accident. The race was then stopped for several hours while crews repaired the problem areas, only to have the race be shortened, adding more controversy. The track problems caused driver James Hinchcliffe to crash, which then prompted officials to stop the race. Hinchcliffe commented on how bad the track really was: "I've never seen anything like it before. Between turn five and turn nine, giant pieces of this tar have been ripped up and I guess there was nothing they could do about it. It was like playing Russian Roulette and I just pulled the bullet."
Why was this surface not tested? The surface reportedly had not been maintained for four years. I think the fault lies with IndyCar. They need to set higher standards for track construction and implement a more rigorous pre-race inspection process to prevent an embarrassment like that from ever happening again.
Scott Dixon penalty
The most recent blunder happened Saturday, June 16 at the Milwaukee Mile race.Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon (who won the shortened Detroit race) was penalized for jumping a restart during the race. Only he never jumped the restart, it turns out the race officials were watching the wrong replay. There was another restart, which was waved off by officials and not counted. Dixon did jump the gun on that restart, but it didn't count and they did another restart, which was clean. The officials somehow watched the wrong replay and issued the penalty based on that review. Dixon went on to finish 11th in the race, but I have to wonder if we would have placed much higher without the bogus penalty.
The sport has such great potential, yet always seems to be struggling for sponsors, struggling for viewers and just struggling to pull off a race without any problems. The personalities are there, the technology is there and the fans are there, if IndyCar will just deliver problem-free races.
A lifetime auto racing fan, Freddy Sherman collects vintage muscle cars and attends races and rally events in the U.S. and around the world. He writes about Formula 1 and IndyCar racing and you can follow him on Twitter -@thefredsherman
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