Cup fans due refund after debacle


When you buy a ticket for a show, you expect to see one.

You'd expect a refund if the lead singer of your favorite band was too sick to perform every song at a concert.

You'd deserve to get your money back if the digital whatever at a movie theater skipped every other frame.

And when you spend what amounts to a few days of pay for a race ticket, you deserve compensation if the race becomes a comedy without laughter.

Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was an insult to those dedicated race fans who bought tickets.

They came to see a 400-mile endurance race but, instead, got stuck watching a bunch of 10- to 12-lap sprints separated by NASCAR-inflicted restarts to guard against exploding Goodyear tires.

A couple hundred thousand folks got the shaft at the Brickyard.

And no one seems to care. Really care.

Goodyear doesn't.

NASCAR doesn't.

Neither does the speedway.

The only ones quick to apologize to fans for the poor showing were the drivers.

Goodyear's official statement: "Certainly Sunday's race results are not what Goodyear wanted, nor what it expected, and we are committed to working with NASCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway to correct it. As an industry, we will solve this problem, and we've already started this process.''

NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton apologized in a national teleconference call Tuesday.

"I can't say enough how sorry we are, and it's our responsibility being NASCAR that we don't go through this situation again," he said.

"The race didn't come off like we had hoped, the fans didn't get what they exactly wanted and we'll do everything in our power -- it won't happen again, I can tell you that much."

Great words, though shallow in content. So what will NASCAR and Goodyear do to compensate those fans?

If this is what NASCAR means when it says it wants to put the emphasis back on its fans, then I'd hate to see what it would do if it wanted to cheat them.

Speedway chairman Tony George didn't even show up to the race Sunday, opting to spend the weekend with his IndyCar series in Edmonton, Alberta.

"The problem is solely (NASCAR's), and by that I mean it's theirs to figure out," he told the Indianapolis Star.

"The track won't change next year, so if they (NASCAR) want to come back, they better figure it out because I don't think the fans want to come back and see that."

By George, now that's being fan friendly.

A statement by George's track president, Joie Chitwood, sounds as if he cares even less about his customers.

"There's something about the checkered flag for each event that gives you closure and turns you toward the next one," he told the Star.

It's the second recent tire calamity at Indy.

Three years ago, Formula One teams shod with Michelin tires deemed them to be potentially unsafe on the grooved, gritty Indy surface. Only six cars -- those running Bridgestone rubber -- started the 2005 U.S. Grand Prix.

To appease the disgruntled fans, Michelin offered refunds to 120,000 spectators and gave away 20,000 tickets to the following year's race.

"We hope through these gestures to encourage the further development of Formula One in the United States," a Michelin official said at the time.

Formula One quit running at Indy two years ago, but Michelin's gesture has not been forgotten.

And race fans have excellent memories, and not just for statistics.

If this is the best Goodyear can do, then it should roll away from the sport.

Maybe Allstate, which sponsored Sunday's blowout at Indy, can offer a bad-tire rider on future ticket purchases.

Someone should pay for Sunday's debacle, and it shouldn't be the spectators.

Jeff Wolf's motor sports column is published Friday. He can be reached at 383-0247 or jwolf@reviewjournal.com. Visit Wolf's motor sports blog at lvrj.com/blogs/heavypedal/ throughout the week.

 

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