I’ve never considered myself a Will Power fan.
This is where I am supposed to be honest, right? This is where my words are supposed to convey my personal truth. So there it is. But wait, there’s so much more to the story and it might not end where you think it will…
I was a fan before I was anything else in this amazing world of racing. I had my favorites – they were obvious to friends, family, followers… but I saw a social media post from a journalist yesterday, whose work I have admired for a long time, and it got me thinking about how much things have changed in a relatively short span of time for me. “We aren’t supposed to have favorites,” he said, in regards to motorsports journalists. But just as in his case, there are always exceptions, especially when you have personal friends in those racecars. But that statement resonated with me, “We aren’t supposed to have favorites.”
Maybe that seems pretty obvious – I mean, as a writer covering the Verizon IndyCar Series as a whole – we can’t write an unbiased piece on the series or a race if we are focusing on only one driver or team during the course of a weekend or an entire season; less our “fandom” for one distracts us from the rest. We need to see the bigger picture, take in as much as possible, sift through it all, find a story and then run with it. Not an easy task, I promise you that. The aspect of that statement that might not be as obvious – is that if one side of it is true, shouldn’t the other end of the spectrum also be examined? If we aren’t supposed to favor anyone, we shouldn’t be overly harsh with anyone either.
There are countless varieties of journalism in motorsports – the angles you can look at, the filter you can choose to use (or in some cases, ignore completely), and one of the most important aspects, in my opinion… the tone behind your words. In my life and my writing, I have always preferred to look at things in an optimistic way. I think there is always something positive you can pull out of situations. That doesn’t always happen immediately, but it’s usually there if you care to accept it.
Going back to my opening statement about Will Power – I just never felt connected to him as a fan, he intimidated me. When I started this writing gig, I started to see a different side of Power. He still seemed serious to a fault, and maybe it’s because I am much more prone to smile and laugh than have a serious expression most of the time, but he still kind of intimidated me. I understand he was very focused, and heck , it very seriously paid off last season so it worked for him!
But the Will Power I saw in the offseason and the Will Power I saw in a press conference yesterday is a different guy. He fielded questions after breaking the track record twice yesterday during qualifying, ultimately landing the Verizon P1 award for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for the fifth time in his career. He was cracking jokes, interacting with the crowd and even the GP of St. Pete’s volunteers more than I’ve ever seen before and just seemed genuinely relaxed and confident. It seems that a huge weight was lifted off Power’s shoulders when he achieved his goal of winning the IndyCar Series Championship. What I think is the coolest part of all of it… his demeanor has changed in a noticeable manner, but he is still absolutely dominating on the track.
He led both practice sessions (I say both because no one ran in practice 2 of 3 due to wet conditions), and advanced through the qualifications segments with ease. He captured the pole and is looking for a consecutive victory today. Even with all that on his mind, he knows that his job is so much more than just what he does in the car…
Now while I may have been converted over to liking and actually being really impressed by Will Power, I will not convert over to liking single-team dominance. I think when one particular team wins continually, than racing ceases to be sport. This series has thrived in its competitive spirit, particularly since the DW12’s were introduced 3 years ago. I don’t want to see that end. I don’t want predictability. I don’t want to be bored and able to reproduce the same article headings every week. I want variety and spontaneity – those things breed excitement and add interest. Not just for media, but for fans.
“…to me it’s the toughest open-wheel series in the world to compete in, and probably the best racing that fans can watch. We just got to get it out there because I think people would love it.” – Will Power, after winning the 2015 GP of St. Pete’s Verizon P1 Award
I think he’s right. And we are getting there, but we need consistency. The crowds I saw here yesterday in St. Pete’s were simply awesome. There were folks everywhere – adults, kids, veteran fans, newcomers – this is EXACTLY what we need. This is exactly what we have to continue to see through the year and that attraction, in my opinion, is because of the fantastic show this series provides for its spectators, and the constant action on track thanks to having multiple support series on site. It’s a two-way road when it comes to success in motorsports – without a legitimate and exciting product, we won’t draw anyone in… and without fans and peaked curiosity, we will literally cease to be a sport.
As we are at the jumping off point of a brand new race season, I urge you all: support this series that you love by coming out to a race, bring someone with you that has never experienced IndyCar before, and let yourself get lost in the greatness that IS a race weekend. This series and it’s drivers always have something to teach and something to surprise – I mean, I consider myself a Will Power fan now, which I couldn’t have imagined saying a few years ago. Nothing is forever and nothing is guaranteed, so make some plans, grab a friend, and I’ll see you at the track!
Tune in today, Sunday March 29th at 3:00pm to your local ABC network for full coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg! If you are a Verizon smartphone user, you can download the IndyCar15 app through your iOS or Android stores. And as always, live scoring and timing is available through IndyCar race control.
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I will be trackside at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg all weekend. Make sure you bookmark MTAF Wheels and my author page for all the latest news. As always, if you have requests for photos, or questions for particular drivers, send them my way and I will do my best to accommodate!
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