George Webster of racefantv.com sounded the alarm at the beginning of the week. In reply to a question, “Are we going to be able to see Indy pole and bump days on TV this year?” he wrote:
“The Indy 500 race (on May 29) will be broadcast on ABC and TSN. Everything else (qualifying, etc., the weekend of May 21-22) will be on Versus, which we can't get here.”
I have it on good authority that Mr. Webster’s friend went into shock when he read that answer.
For years and years — just about forever, in fact — auto racing fans in Canada have been able to watch at least some of the qualifying action from Indianapolis because ABC showed it and Canadians could get those telecasts on cable.
The last couple of years, if the trials weren’t shown on TV, hard-core fans could still watch the action via live streaming on the Internet.
This year, as of this writing, we are %$&*^% out of luck because Canadians can’t get Versus (a U.S. specialty channel) and the contract that IndyCar has with Versus forbids any live streaming.
So this is truly shaping up to be a disaster.
Because for the first time in years, qualifying — and particularly the last two hours on the last day of qualifying, known as “Bump Day,” when already qualified cars can be “bumped” out of the field — will be terribly exciting and terribly important.
Because three Canadians — Alex Tagliani, Paul Tracy and James Hinchcliffe — will be among more than 40 highly qualified drivers trying for 33 starting spots and two of them — Tracy and Hinchcliffe — could very well wind up on the bubble.
So there will be tension, excitement, danger — everything that live TV should be about - plus Canadian content!
I asked a source I have at TSN whether something might be in the works to get all, or at least some, of this programming on the air and what I heard back wasn’t encouraging. Simply put, there are no plans.
So I went after someone associated with the Honda Indy Toronto at a reception we attended the other night and he seemed somewhat lukewarm to my concern (which I found somewhat disconcerting because there are two IZOD IndyCar Series races in Canada — Toronto and Edmonton — and you would think the people who own those races would be moving Heaven and Earth to get anything and everything associated with Indy car racing front and centre on every TV set in the country, if possible).
I am not the only one upset and I have a friend who decided that moaning and groaning and bitching would not prove anything so he decided to go to the top.
He sent an email to Randy Bernard, CEO of IndyCar, pointing out that it was a disgrace that qualifying for the Indy 500 was not available in Canada and Bernard messaged him back that he would look into it.
I can give him some help.
On Sunday, May 22, at 4:30 in the afternoon on TSN2, they have a repeat scheduled of that day’s Spanish Grand Prix.
I guarantee that racing fans would rather watch the last live hours of Bump Day from Indianapolis, which will be frantic, than a repeat of something — anything — that has already happened.