Saturday, June 16, 2007

Foreign Invasion

No, I am not talking about our southern border with Mexico, with holes large enough to drive an earth mover through undetected. And I am not talking about our border to the north, where Canadians pass through to avoid the long waits for medical care.

I am talking about Europeans. No, the Spanish Armada is not anchored in the harbor outside the port of Baltimore, either. The invasion I speak of is that of F-1 fans invading the fair city of Indianapolis for what looks like could be the last U.S Grand Prix, at least at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

From day one, Tony George has bent over backwards to accommodate Bernie Ecclestone, the arrogant and flamboyant leader of F-1. From the very first USGP at IMS, the aristocracy of the organization has tried to make the entire effort look like some kind of bumbling peasant's operation that is not worthy of their presence. From the very outset of the F-1 relationship, the Formula One officials have acted as if the IMS needed them, more than they needed the speedway.

F-1 officials stayed at the very best hotels Chicago had to offer and flew down daily, as if Indianapolis had no four star hotels that could accommodate their delusions of being royalty. They secluded themselves from the press, certainly more so than was expected of a group that wanted to open F-1 up to a lucrative market that craved more racing, on an international level.

Then, there was the great 2005 tire controversy. That debacle saw a whopping six cars race around a track that has seen many great races over the decades, over a safety issue caused by bad tires.

So in essence, the F-1 crowd can certainly say this is a two-bit operation if it makes them feel better. That's fine with me.

But as I think about F-1 at the IMS, I remember this is where the largest crowd ever in the history of the series, gathered to watch a Grand Prix. When the three top finishers of the opening race stood on the podium to the cheers of over 250,000 people, I saw the awe in the faces of Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barichello, and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. I watched as they were amazed that so many people could be interested enough in shelling out the enormous ticket prices to watch a bunch of Europeans play "follow the leader" behind Schumacher.

So here we are at what could be the last U.S. Grand Prix for a long while. Ecclestone has made it clear that he doesn't need F-1 to be in the States for it to be successful. And in reality, he's right. But when you drive down Georgetown Road alongside the west side of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you see the many banners of the great racing legends that have driven at that track, over the many years. It is then that it becomes strikingly apparent, the U.S. doesn't need F-1 either.


Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star seems to agree with me somewhat on this. Here is his column from today's paper.


BEING HAD said...

Bill Cosby said that if you want to become a millionaire in racing, you need to start out with five million. Me, I ride bicycles. The only tire controversy I know of is when I have to fix a flat on the road.

LASunsett said...


//Me, I ride bicycles. The only tire controversy I know of is when I have to fix a flat on the road.//

Does that mean you like the Tour de France?


ms. miami said...

las- don't forget about americans going in droves both north to canada and south to mexico for more affordable dental work, eye exams, prescription medication, etc. ;)

LASunsett said...


I'd be interested to see those numbers and see them compared to the numbers I referred to. ;)

ms. miami said...

las- i'll see if i can find anything. i know that organizations in the northern states put together bus trips for seniors to go to canada for such reasons.

i've also seen a '60 minutes' type story on the back-and-forth dynamic of the texas-mexico border, with texans going across for eyeglasses or dental work while northern mexicans come over to go to wal-mart.

my point is that it definitely goes both ways.

ms. miami said...

las- here's a link from the minnesota senior federation:

LASunsett said...


It is well documented that many seniors that live near the Canadian border go for the prescriptions. But I would be interested to see the numbers and how they relate to those that come here, so they don't have to wait months to see a specialist.

There is no doubt that we need some kind of healthcare reform here, but Hillary care is not what we need. The federal government cannot run a hot dog stand efficiently, why would we think they could run healthcare any better than other governments that run their own?

Prescription costs are just one component to healthcare. Necessary, yes. But only one component.

ms. miami said...

las- sure, as long as a large portion of the american population assumes that federal government can't assume certain functions, it won't happen.

some other governments do a really good job, others not so much.

of course, other societies have a few other advantages in that their new doctors aren't saddled with debt & don't require such large salaries to begin with, their doctors don't have to pay for teams of lawyers to fight questionable lawsuits, and their doctors' offices don't require a few staff people just to deal with the web of insurance paperwork. all of this keeps their costs down significantly.

btw- i thought of you the other day. vh1 had a show about the african-american presence on tv in the 1980s. the 'magical negro' trope came up with regards to the 'nell' character on 'gimme a break' and the 'benson' character. ;)