I can’t believe I’m discussing this topic; the mere mention of a standing start in IndyCar is often enough to cause eyeballs to bulge out of their sockets and veins in the forehead to begin to pulse angrily. And yes, I agree that the rolling start is a part of American open wheel heritage; it’s something I enjoy and value as part of the IZOD IndyCar Series.
The standing start is contentious, intriguing, and exotic all at once. Would it hurt to try it at perhaps one race in 2012?
Let’s think about this in terms of Sonoma. The race at Infineon is wildly popular with sponsors, and we understand why it’s on the schedule. Yet in terms of the fan watching at home, the race has traditionally been somewhat of a parade, with minimal passing.
I’m not saying incorporating a standing start at a race like Sonoma will turn it into a barn-burner, but I do think it could very easily add a level of interest and uniqueness to the race that could make one of the least popular circuits in terms of fan interest have a bit of a storyline. Will it go cleanly? Will the drivers accustomed to standing starts be able to take advantage of it? Will it shake things up?
No, it isn’t a cure-all, and it could easily be called just a gimmick. And I’m certainly not advocating it across all twisties on the schedule. Of course, you’re also taking a risk in doing it; the same voices that usually pen vitriol in online forums or to Robin Miller’s mailbag will accuse you of everything from murdering the tradition of American open wheel to stomping on the grave of Carl Fisher. But then again, that’s going to happen for some real or imagined slight at some point this season, anyhow. (Remind me to send you a hip flask, by the way).
Right now, we’ve got a race that’s a non-starter among many fans. We also have the potential to try something new, which at the least will excite comment among fans. Let’s put the two together and see what happens. If it doesn’t catch on, then oh well, you’ve still got an event the sponsors love, don’t you?
Let’s retain our unique identity as the top series in American open wheel racing, but be secure enough in that identity to change things up for a race. I’m not sure if it will pan out, but it can’t hurt to try.