Maybe it's just me, but somehow the month of May as it pertains to the Indianapolis 500 has become something of a mess. For an event that has been around 100 years you would think each day during the month would be something stupendous, outstanding, and electrifying. Instead, the excitement leading up to the race has rivaled that of paint drying.
I realize times are a changing, but this historic event seems to have lost all kinds of luster in the last 10-15 years. Some blame it on driver recognition. Ok, so there is no longer an AJ Font or a Rick Mears or Al Unser. Big deal, like any sport, drivers come in and move on. You really didn't think Mario and Parnelli would be around forever driving until their deaths did you? No, so maybe it's the economy. Well, it seems for as long as I have lived in this statefans attending sporting events have always battled the economy. Ticket prices are always going up; gas to get there has always been high. You name it, there has always been some kind of problem working as it relates to money.
So what is it? Why has this race gone from being one of the most talked about and anticipated events for the month to something now that has been reduced to mere chatter around the water cooler. Maybe it's not to that extreme but the overall interest has been waning in the last ten years that thoughts of ever returning to the race's glory days status is as about likely to happen as me driving a car in the race.
The problems are evident yet the solutions are like trying to guess who will be on the pole for this year's race. The qualifying has been tweaked to spark renewed interest amongst drivers yet the fans don't seem to be buying into the formula. Practice times have been reduced to help out the teams with money problems. The month long events have been condensed to about a week to 10 days, allowing people to be focused on the event and the activities leading up to it.
So is there an answer to renewing the interest in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing"? I believe it starts and ends with the fans. Some like me have never attended the race due to other obligations. Some don't care enough because there is nothing in it for them. We have become a society of agitated fans who want instant gratification and can't sit still for more than 20 minutes at a time. What was once enjoyed by our parents and grandparents is now a big time bore to us. We can't get out of our own way to get to the next thing even if the next thing is worse than what we were doing or attending.
With so many cutbacks on every level, it would seem the PR department of the Speedway would do anything and everything possible to make sure the mass appeal of the race is there. Unfortunately if we fans don't embrace the race, then the Greatest Spectacle in Racing will soon fade into the history books and never be heard from again.