Jenna Fryer from the AP posted a less than well received article Monday in which she said Fernando Alonso will ultimately do nothing for Indycar and the Indy 500 post May. She argued that someone like Tony Stewart or Dancia Patrick would have moved the needle more than Fernando.
For people outside of the United States Alonso is the biggest name next to Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel that could have entered this race. Alonso is a HUGE name for the Indianapolis 500 and the speedway is more than happy to have him. Does it do much for the casual fan in the states? No probably not but the amount of eyes that will watch the race outside of the states far outnumbers the casual fan in the US. According to Fryer though her 13 year didn’t know who Fernando was thus he isn’t a big name. I’m not here to bash her kid but to think a 13 year old is the pulse of what’s relevant in racing is a stretch.
Can’t believe we are even talking about this. Fernando Alonso is the biggest ambassador for the Indy 500 since Nigel Mansell came over. Europe will once again have someone to cheer for in the 500 and someone that can win. Dan Wheldon was a brit for sure but he wasn’t racing in F1 and a staple of the motorsports culture in England. Fernando will bring so many foreign viewers to the 500 there’s no way this couldn’t be a good thing.
A 2-time World Champion is coming to race the Indy 500 and skipping the biggest race of the F1 season. That’s mind boggling and says volumes for how big the Indy 500 is in a lot of racers minds. It’s still the biggest race in the world that everyone still wants to win.
If Fernando does win the race it will be huge for him, the Indy 500 and Indycar. The front page of every paper and sports website around the world will have Fernando on the front, smiling with a glass of mild, the Borg Warner and his Indycar. It’s a win for literally everyone involved.
Marco Winning Would Be Massive
Jenna said that Marco winning would be a bigger story than Fernando winning. That’s certainly debatable because I think both are close to being equal in massiveness. Marco winning though would make headlines around the world as well.
Andretti Wins The Indy 500
People have waited since 1970 to print that headline again, Marco could give them a reason to print it. The Andretti name is still massive around the world. Everyone knows Mario Andretti, every says you “drive like Andretti” it’s a pop culture reference at this point.
Marco winning would probably help the series more than if Fernando won it. An American with that last name that’s actually competing for the championship would definitely get people to come out to more races. Globally everyone would forget by Tuesday in all likelihood.
Who Would Move Your Needle?
For me Fernando coming to the 500 is the biggest racing story in the last 5 years. Probably since Kurt came to the 500 and ran so well. Not every year does news as shocking as this happen. Fernando coming only got me even more excited about the 500 this season. A rookie is coming who could easily win this race on driving merit.
Outside of Fernando though who would move the needle for you? Jenna named two drivers that likely wouldn’t do much for the casual race fan. Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart.
Danica has already raced the 500. We’ve seen what she can do and while she ran well at the speedway why would we want to see it again? Tony has also ran at the speedway and while his name would be bigger than Danica it still doesn’t do much. Sure it could be his last major win ever and then he walks away. Say he does win, he’s not at Detroit the next weekend so all the hype is just left in the past. By the way, going to Detroit 5 days after the 500 will always be a terrible idea.
For me the only people that would really move the needle domestically and internationally is a short list.
Domestically: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson.
Internationally: Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher (if he was healthy).
Outside of those names the casual fan isn’t going to pay attention to it. Sure we’d all love to see Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski and other NASCAR guys give it a go but people outside of racing don’t care about that. They care about Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson running the race.
Same for the international crowd. No one cares if say Marcus Ericsson runs the race but you put Fernando in and all of a sudden every eye in Europe is wondering how he will do.
Jenna missed the point of Fernando coming. She then made an ass out of herself the way she handled the backlash of an article more fit for FoxSports.com/NASCAR than the AP. Missing some key facts certainly didn’t help her cause either.