Indycar's lost generation

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
8:00
PM ET
Hey, NFL fans! Picture this alternate universe. What if the NFL owners got greedy and decided to form their own league? And all of your favorite players decided to switch to baseball, basketball or, dare I say, the CFL? This is exactly what Indycar fans have been dealing with for the last decade.

In the mid-’90s the now defunct CART series owners banded together against the organizers of the Indy 500, leading to the creation of an offshoot series known as the Indy Racing League. The damage done by the schism cannot be understated.

Nearly all of the young American racing talent since then has ended up in NASCAR instead of open wheel. Think of the cumulative star power of Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, AJ Allmendinger, Casey Mears, Sam Hornish and Danica Patrick. They all came from dirt or karting backgrounds, the traditional feeder series for Indycar, but every one of them made the switch to the more stable and lucrative pastures of NASCAR.

It didn’t have to be that way, but the owners of the ‘90s were short-sighted. They were doing what they thought was best for their teams, not what was best for the sport. Just last month the CEO of Indycar, Randy Bernard, revealed that certain owners were trying to get him fired, echoes of their fragmented past.

This series cannot afford to allow history to repeat itself. And it’s a shame because their product is the best it has ever been with outstanding races week in and week out, thanks to a new chassis and engine package. Now we can only hope that they don’t go down this path again, because trust me, you won’t like where it leads.

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