This time every year, NASCAR teams load up their haulers and head to the Midwest, where a jewel on the Motorsports crown sits in the center of Indiana. Gleaming and waiting, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a Mecca for fans of IndyCar, NASCAR, and Grand-Am, linking multiple branches of auto racing.
IndyCar’s visit is their most prestigious event: the Indy 500, a race that solidifies determination, heart, and victory onto a trophy covered in historic faces. It is the organization’s grandest venue.
In 1994, NASCAR decided to try Indianapolis. Dubbed The Brickyard 400, it quickly became a race within the leagues of the Daytona 500, Southern 500, and Coca-Cola 600, mostly because of the track’s past and legacy. Drivers would win, and they would talk about how special it was, how it confirmed a desire they had held for years. Childhood dream were materialized. Magic happened.
This is the 20th time we’ll experience The Brickyard, yet it has lost its magic, to some. Fans aren’t flooding to the track anymore, and cheers for drivers have been replaced with complaints and suggestions of axing the race all together. Though this debate arises every year, the twenty-year anniversary makes this a key talking point.
What has turned people away?
Has The Brickyard lost its luster? Or are the fans becoming blind to what really matters?
To me, it’s a mixture of both; although the racing tends to stretch out over the course of the race, Indianapolis is robust, rich with fulfilled goals and sweetened with iconic memories. When fans drink this coffee, however, all they pick up on are the sharp, bitter notes.
Those who have been drinking the coffee for years and years know the woes and praises are there, yet they exist equally in their minds. They continue to drink, downing a mug without even tasting. What’s the good in that?
Many drivers say that stepping into this track has a different, thick air. It makes them thirsty for Victory Lane. The esteem hasn’t been lost for those in the ring, so why is it lost among the fans? Also, this race always has the ability to give an underdog the opportunity to break the mold and shower in glory. A new face, engraved in the history books forever. Isn’t that what every driver wants?
We need to give this race another chance. With the new car, things are bound to be twenty shades darker than what we’ve seen in the past. If we keep reflecting on the past, it will always produce the same story. Moving forward, the race should be taken for what it is, not what it was long ago.
What if the racing is terrible? What if attendance keeps dropping? That’s a decision NASCAR will have to make after the Gen6 car’s debut at The Brickyard. No need to worry about it now, as ‘what if’s may never happen.
In these few days leading up to our twentieth running at Indianapolis, fans should invest some time into learning about the track. Delving into its completion and role in various racing series may open some eyes. Clear out every preconceived idea of what The Brickyard 400 has been, or what it’s supposed to be. Wait and see.
Maybe more fans will drink this coffee, twenty shades richer and sweeter than what it started out as long ago.