End Of The IRL?
April 10, 2007 | 5:02 P.M. EST
While that isn't the case for its two racing series, the Indianapolis-based sanctioning body is going out of its way to discourage media from using its name.
Normally, writers include the name of the sanctioning body with the first reference to a race series - NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, SCCA World Challenge, etc. NASCAR wouldn't mind if you included the name of the sanctioning body on ALL references.
That was once the case for the IRL, which once wanted IRL IndyCar Series on all references. Now, it's gone the opposite direction. It's officially verboten to use "IRL" with either the IndyCar Series or Indy Pro Series.
To make the point, the sanctioning body sent out a media blitz in advance of its season-opening XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
First came a post-card with a color photo of Sam Hornish Jr., with the wording on the back, Sam Hornish Jr. is the IndyCar Series Champion.
That's right, Sam is the 2006 IndyCar Series Champion. Not the IRL Champion, IRL IndyCar Series Champion or IndyCar Champion.
Remember when reporting on the top level of open-wheel racing in the U.S., please use IndyCar Series.
One week later, the afore-mentioned sanctioning body sent out a postcard of Danica Patrick, IndyCar Series Driver. That's right, Danica competes in the IndyCar Series, not the IRL, Indy Racing League or IRL IndyCar Series.
Finally came an energy INDYpendence in 2007 postcard with a photo of Jeff Simmons behind the wheel, reminding media members that the IndyCar Series will run on 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol this season, a worldwide racing first.
While I'll try to abide by the new edict, old habits die hard. It's puzzling, though, that while the IRL spent 10 years building up is brand of America's top open-wheel racing, it's spending good money discouraging use of the sanctioning body's name.
There are a lot of good stories to tell in 2007 -Danica's move to Andretti Green, Marco's sophomore season, Carpenter's development as a contender, Sharp's move to Rahal, the three women entered at Indianapolis, the continued strength of Penske and Ganassi, etc., all merit attention. Discouraging the use of the sanctioning body's name should be the least of the IRL's worries.