MAY 21, 2002

This week

This week is the biggest of the year in motor racing.

Monaco GP 2001
© The Cahier Archive

THIS week is the biggest of the year in motor racing. On Sunday there is the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race from Charlotte.

It is insane. Go out into the world and ask the people which motor races they know and they will come up with three answers: the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours. To hold two of the three events on the same day is bad planning.

It is no different from holding the Prix de Triomphe on the same day as The Derby and The Kentucky Derby. It is like holding the Oscars on the same day as the Golden Globes and the Cannes Film Festival.

Motor racing has yet to understand that there are more important things than attacking other motor racing series. The pressure is on all leisure activities to produce a good show in order to attract supporters (or more importantly TV spectators). That goes for every sport and entertainment. Religion is competing for souls on Sundays with any number of sports and pastimes.

The sport seems to be too busy diving up the spoils to worry about the bigger picture. In American CART and IRL are quibbling away and worrying that NASCAR is getting ahead of them in the ratings. That illustrates the blindness. It is not about the success of NASCAR or the failure of the egocentrics of open-wheeler racing, it is about how the sport is doing against American football, against baseball or golf. These are the biggest worries for the future.

Right now in F1 politics is swirling evil in the F1 paddock at a time when the sport should be working out how to produce a better TV show for the mass markets. The pay-per-view programs may be great but no-one is paying to watch them and after fives or trying to sign up subscribers one would think that the sport would have got the message that it is not going to work.

How difficult would it be for Formula 1, IRL and NASCAR get together to discuss the dates. F1 will say that Monaco is always on the Ascension Day weekend, IRL will say that the Indianapolis 500 is on the Memorial Day weekend. But that does not mean that things cannot change. This year Monaco is NOT on the Ascension Day weekend and no-one is making much of a fuss about it.

What is wrong with the big events being spaced so that motor racing fans across the world can see all three events without having to spend the whole day switching backwards and forwards on different TV channels.

Surely that would be a good idea?