Well, another “old” guy is apparently on his way back to Indy cars.
Sebastien Bourdais tested this week with Dale Coyne Racing (who ran Milka Duno last year) and indications are that the ex-Champ Car World Series and Formula One ace will be in a seat when the season starts. Story link here
Now, the veteran Bourdais – like his old pal Paul Tracy (still working on financing to take to Conquest Racing for 2011) – is a wonderful driver. But if Indy car racing — which is now officially called the IZOD IndyCar Series — wants to grow, it’s got to inject some new blood to attract a younger demographic.
I was talking about this with a friend yesterday. Newman-Haas Racing has tested two drivers this winter, veteran Oriol Servia and rookie James Hinchcliffe of Oakville. According to my friend, who was talking to the team, if they get enough money to run two cars, Servia and “Hinch” will be their drivers. But if they only have money for one driver, they’ll probably (emphasis on probably) go with Servia because, or so the thinking goes, it will be better to have a veteran in the seat.
From a “crash damage” perspective, perhaps they’re right. Veterans usually don’t crash as often as rookies. But from a series marketing perspective, Oriol Servia is old news. I know who Oriol Servia is and admire his talent. But Indy car racing has already got me (and other people my age). What they have to do is attract a whole new audience. To do that, they need James Hinchcliffe.
Hinchcliffe is a wonderful “talker” (anybody who’s heard his racing TV colour work knows that). And he’s tuned right in with the Facebook and Twitter crowd. (Okay, so’s Paul Tracy but where Tracy chats with dozens of people, Hinchcliffe is connected with thousands.)
The IZOD IndyCar Series is on the cusp of greatness. The new CEO, Randy Bernard, has done wonderful things in less than a year and I (and others) expect even more great things to happen in future.
But he can't do everything and the team owners have to understand that for the sport to take off, the cast of characters in the cockpits has to change.
Guys like Servia and Bourdais are okay, but Hinchcliffe and a whole bunch of other talented 20-to-25-year-olds would be a whole lot better.