Chip Ganassi has been involved in American open wheel racing for over 40 years, first as a racer and then as successful team owner since 1990.
He has seen the sport go through many different changes in that time, including many increases and decreases in the sport’s popularity.
As one of the most tenured figures in the IndyCar paddock, Ganassi is keenly aware of how some of the bigger decisions play out, including the series’ recent attempts to bring in a third engine manufacturer and the upcoming addition of hybrid to the engine formula.
Ganassi talked with a select group of journalists recently, and NBC Sports reports the long-time team owner’s thoughts about how the current state of the series compares to years past.
“Everyone wants to take a snapshot that in 1996, we had three chassis, three engine manufacturers and two tire companies fighting for the championship at the last race [of the CART Champ Car season],” Ganassi said.
“Was that great? Unquestionably it was great. But times are different today. I remember there were 60 driver-car combinations when I tried to qualify [for the Indy 500] in 1982. There were 60 [expletive] drivers there, OK? I mean, it’s different today.
“But I don’t sit there and say we need to go back. These are the glory days. The days we’re in are the glory days, OK? Can we do a better job? Sure we can do a better job.
“I’ll come over to your office and show you how you can do a better job. You can come over to mine and tell me how I can do a better job. We can all do that. But that’s not the benchmark for me. The benchmark for me is we are where we are, and we want to go to that next step.
“Doing a better job marketing, getting the word out that this is a great racing series and some of the greatest racing. It’s real racing. The real thing.
“It’s not NASCAR. It’s not Formula 1. I mean, let’s face it: Formula 1 is about everything but the racing. OK? It’s like the racing is almost an afterthought.”
Ganassi is obviously happy with where IndyCar sits currently, and with his star drivers giving him three of the past five series championships, it’s hard not to see why. His personal motto after all is ‘I like winners.’
And if the the series continues to iterate on what it has rather than contemplate any radical changes in direction, the successful owner will likely continue to be happy.
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