It may well be too late
Every year, the officials from Formula One threaten to move the U.S. Grand Prix on from Indianapolis and every year the city responds with a collective shrug. This year was no exception.
F1 honcho Bernie Ecclestone threatened to move the race somewhere else, anywhere else, made fun of the host city and condemned Americans for not caring about his sport. He does that every year as well.
Bob Kravitz already wrote the definitive “Go to hell, F1, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass” piece for the Indy Star, so I won’t try to duplicate his efforts. Instead, I want to look at the ways the race can be improved and saved.
Getting rid of the race would hurt a few downtown businesses, but most of Indianapolis wouldn’t even notice that it was gone, probably because almost nobody understands F1 racing.
There was nothing American about Sunday’s race, at least in terms of the action. There were no triple-wide passes, no drunken hillbillies throwing beer cans onto the track, no psychotic fights between drivers — in other words, it was nothing like what we’d expect from racing.
They make both right- and left-hand turns. We Americans just don’t understand that concept. Racing means driving in a circle for as long as it takes for a 250-pound man to drink a case of Pabst.
Sure, the race is very popular on television in England but, then again, this is a country that televises darts tournaments, eats kidney pie and worships Posh Spice as a goddess, so we can disregard them without too much worry.
In order to save Grand Prix racing in Indianapolis, obviously some changes need to be made, both in the way the race is conducted and in its location.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a nice venue, but Grand Prix races should be conducted on city streets. And there needs to be some violence added in as well.
The first obvious change would be in the course itself. Start off the race on Monument Circle, head north on Meridian to Fall Creek, go south on Keystone through the hood and then head east on Massachusetts Avenue back downtown. That would be an exciting course.
It’d be not only a test of the cars but of the drivers, because then the race would literally be a life-or-death contest. Just making it through the race alive would be the goal.
I’m sure the fellas at 25th and Olney would love to have a bunch of rich Europeans driving through their neighborhood, and the drivers would achieve record speeds just trying to avoid being carjacked as they passed through the ghetto.
Give out a prize to the first bystander to yank a driver out of his race car and thousands would pay for the chance to trick out their new F1 ride with some spinning rims and a booming sound system.
Better yet, arm the drivers with automatic weapons and even the balance of power. Those French drivers would look a lot more masculine if they were tearing down Fall Creek Parkway blasting at spectators. They’d look more American, too.
Turning the race into a real-life version of the Grand Theft Auto videogames would make it so much more exciting. Who wouldn’t want to watch millionaire Europeans shoot out each other’s tires at 300 mph, or watch as brave spectators try to steal the vehicles?
If they really wanted to make the race more American, make the drivers drink a 12-pack of beer during the race. Post a few police officers along the route to pull over the drunkest driver to add a little excitement.
Maybe none of these changes would save F1 in Indianapolis. It’s a sport very few of us know or care anything about, hardly anyone understands the rules and the leaders of the sport hate our city and want to get out as soon as possible.
There’s something very punk rock about swooping into a city, mocking everyone in it, taking its cash and then waving your middle finger as you leave. Ecclestone deserves some sort of Sex Pistols award for his hubris.
But there’s a limit to how many times even we Hoosiers can be told to go to hell before we get pissed off. We may have reached that point. Their contract is up, no new agreement is in sight and the city couldn’t care less.
But implement my suggested improvements and we may be able to keep the F1 race in Indianapolis and some much-needed drama, too.
Otherwise, it looks like we’ve seen the last U.S. Grand Prix in our city. Goodbye, Formula One. Come back when your race is interesting to watch.