Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tomas Scheckter Stirs It Up

I’m a big fan of Tomas Scheckter. I think he’s one of the most entertaining drivers to watch, and I was thrilled when he led laps at last year’s 500. Does he still make some crazy moves out there at times? Ask Davy Hamilton. But he also is fearless, takes the high line around the track like few do, and usually makes any race that much more entertaining.

So it was with no small amount of enthusiasm and interest that I read his “Uncensored” thoughts over on the IndyCar blog. He says some good things about running on that ragged edge, and getting the speeds at Indy back to the 230-240 mph range.

Then he goes on to say this:

"I fully understand that racing is expensive and sponsors want a certain image but I think for the overall popularity of the sport everyone needs to loosen up. I would love to go back to the ‘70s or ‘80s and drive past the Snake Pit after a long day at the track. I would love to not be afraid to tell someone to stop “crying like a baby,” even though I’ve done that anyway. I read Graham Rahal’s tweets. He is a great kid and super talented but he is about as exciting as British politics. He is in his 20s, he drives the fastest cars in the world and he’s speaking about holding hands and getting double frappaccino with whipped cream. I’m not saying rob a liquor store or anything crazy like that but let loose, live a little".

Now, I think a lot of people took Tomas’ comments the wrong way, and Graham is probably a bad example, because he’s got this nice guy-next-door/legacy image that I think works for him. Plus, by all accounts, he’s just a super-nice, normal guy who happens to have a famous last name and drives incredibly fast cars for a living. But does it hurt to have a few drivers who raise some hell? It’s why we keep coming back for some more Paul Tracy, or push for more aggressive, occasionally infuriating drivers like Scheckter.

I think you need a mix in the series, and nowhere did I see Tomas claiming everyone had to be a party animal. Unless I’m mistaken, he’s not suggesting that the league issue Bertrand Baguette a bottle of Jim Beam, a hooker, and a gun at the start of May. But it is good to have differing personalities in the series. You’ve got have heroes and villains. To compare, personally, I think NASCAR has lost something by having so many of their drivers be cookie-cutter corporate shills, and I know a lot of NASCAR fans (right or wrong) find the Reign of Jimmie Johnson so boring in part because of his generally even, polished, automatic nature and machine-like consistency. It’s great to be a nice guy; it’s less great when everyone is bland.

Go get 'em, Tomas!
At the same time, I think at times as fans we see a driver or drivers as sort of boring or milquetoast when they really aren’t. Ryan Briscoe gets nailed for this a lot, but he’s pretty funny and personable on some of the interviews I’ve seen. I think the league needs to really push to focus on highlighting the assets they have. Helio is Helio. Everything Danica does riles up someone out there. EJ Viso is extremely, eccentrically funny. James Hinchcliffe is a prospect this year, and he’s as much of an entertainer as a driver at times. And for heaven’s sake, let’s make sure Paul Tracy and Tomas Scheckter are in a car. Those of us die-hard fans who are very close to the pulse of the league know what we have; it’s a matter of making sure the casual and new fan knows that, too.

Photo again courtesy of Curtis and his awesome 2009 Indianapolis 500 Shutterfly site!


  1. Great post! I think together we covered the subject pretty well! ;--) I've also linked you to my page, hope it helps!

  2. Yeah, nice article, Mike! Keep up the good work over there, and thanks for the link! I feel in august company! :)