How is it possible that after the most unpredictable, remarkable finish in Indianapolis 500 history that the winner is promptly out of a job with an uncertain future ahead?
Racing’s unexpected new hero, Dan Wheldon, who is rapidly moving up the ranks of all-time Indianapolis 500 winners, is unemployed.
He won his second Indy 500 on Sunday and now has a three-race Indy streak of two straight second-place finishes and a victory.
It absolutely doesn’t get much better than that.
But two weeks from now, at Texas, IndyCar’s next stop, Wheldon doesn’t have a ride. In fact, he has nothing lined up for the rest of the IndyCar season.
Are you kidding me? This is a joke.
One of the world’s best drivers looking for work, a man in his prime, still with a burning desire to win. How can IndyCar build on perhaps the most dramatic finish ever witnessed if one of the starring characters in that drama can’t find a job?
IndyCar has become a place where even the unqualified, like Ryan Hunter Reay, or the incompetent, like Milka Dunno, can buy their way into a race while good drivers like former Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice and current winner Dan Wheldon can only hope for a chance to take the steering wheel.
There is something terribly wrong about that. It is a tragic paradox and a sad commentary about how far IndyCar has fallen.
If IndyCar is ever to regain its rightful place in the auto racing world, then Randy Bernard, IndyCar's CEO, must find a way to ensure that a solid core of recognizable drivers stay and prosper in the series. Bernard, the former leader of the Professional Bull Riders circuit, and is recognized by many as a sports visionary who has breathed new life into IndyCar, now faces his toughest challenge.
That said, let me take this one step further: If Dan Wheldon fails to drive at Texas and then struggles to find a ride for the remainder of the season, then Randy Bernard should be out of a job, too.