What a great way to kick off the Indycar season.
So I’m sitting here browsing articles and I run across a piece that attempts to name the “worst drivers in Indycar history,” as if such a determination was possible. I figured it was a waste of time, so I passed.
I continue browsing. Surely, I thought, there is no cosmic miracle sufficient to cause two or more equally disturbed authors to write on such a topic.
I was wrong.
A search for “worst Indycar driver” turned up pieces including “Worst Drivers Hall of Fame,” “Worst Indycar Driver of All Time,” “Worst Drivers of the Past 20 Years,” and scores more.
Consumed by the same demented curiosity that drives people to watch reality television, I eventually broke down and read one. Big mistake. There is apparently a shocking number of racing journalists ready to anoint themselves judge and jury over the careers of their betters who accomplished vastly more in the sport than did they.
Now don’t get me wrong. We do not live in a fluffy unicorn rainbow world where everyone speaks nicely about everyone else all the time. What fun would that be? Sometimes drivers just drive badly. Sometimes they goof up. Nothing wrong with observing that.
And it’s utterly impossible for a journalist – even a well-intentioned one – to write much of anything without offending someone somewhere. I know that from experience.
But the first article I read qualified as none of the above. It was simply a bad collection of second-rate cheap shots at decent people who tried hard. I would compare it to the National Enquirer but that would give tabloids a bad name.
The second article apparently held a contest in which sufficiently unbalanced “fans” could vote for the worst Indycar driver in history, as if any genuine fan would consider such a thing. This piece had all the intelligence of an episode of Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo but none of the suspense.
For crying out loud. No matter how these drivers may have performed on the track, what did any of them (or us) do to deserve this level of toilet-bowl journalism?
Journalists frequently hide behind the excuse that drivers are “public figures.” Well, by my reckoning, journalists are public figures, too. So why doesn’t this work both ways?
I’m going to do a search in the hopes of finding an article titled, “The 20 Most Pathetic Indycar Journalists in History” by Hiro Matsushita. Now that would be an article worth reading. I bet Hiro has stories that would melt concrete… stories we would already know if any of these journalists had ever bothered to actually do their jobs.
So perhaps this is not a “public figure” issue. Perhaps it’s a character issue. Seriously, what kind of a person even writes this stuff?
An even dumber defense is the claim that these articles are “just for fun.” Really? For whom? I wonder how much fun the people on the receiving end of this nonsense are having.
But I can roll with that. This article is just for fun, too. Fair enough?
I have long held a particular distaste for those who are outside the game yet somehow feel qualified to perpetually criticize those in it, all while cowering behind the safety of a keyboard where their real talents can never be tested.
Nevertheless, in the spirit of good fun, I say we give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they simply lack sufficient knowledge of the sport to write anything else. Or perhaps their skill set only allows them to advance by stepping on others.
Either way, the only thing these “Worst Driver” articles really proves is the one thing we knew all along…
You can still make a nice living in journalism by hacking up other people.
Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions
#20 Boschett Timepieces/Ed & Co. Racing Supplies ARCA Truck
Co-host, Mecum Auto Auctions