Tony George's ruling on
the Team Green appeal of this years Indy 500 has resulted in a
resounding negative reaction from the motorsports press. In
George's attempt to put an end to this years controversial finish,
George's ill-considered decision has created a firestorm of
controversy. By so doing, he has forever tainted the
Penske/Castroneves victory, and done irreparable harm to what little
remains of IRL's integrity.
In this RPM.ESPN.com
article, Robin Miller spells out the total
disregard the IRL and Tony George had for their own rulebook
when ruling on this years Indy 500 finish.
Miller: Asked why he
bothered to continue with the appeal process, George replied:
"Given the circumstances and the fact the Indianapolis 500 is
the largest motorsports event, I felt it was important to
allow the process to be played out." Played out to the tune of
$100,000 in expenses, according to Green, who countered by
stating his case was all about Tracy being ahead of
Castroneves before any yellow lights came on and he then
showed the media a copy of his denied protest on May 26 and
the appeal procedure (signed by Barnhart).
Comment that document
signed by Barnhart said the decision was appealable...to Tony
George. Barnhart signed it, now the IRL says it's not
appealable. Barry Green put it best - "I think Tony
George lost his way."
Miller: Immediately after
the race, Barnhart acknowledged he would use Rule 7.14 as one
of the determining factors. It states: "The yellow caution
period starts with the display of the yellow flag and/or
yellow lights and ends with the display of the green flag
and/or green lights. Racing ceases immediately upon display of
the yellow flag and/or yellow light. Officials may call a
yellow caution period at any time for any reason. Their
decision to call, not to call, or end a yellow caution period
may not be protested or appealed." But, surprise, surprise
Gomer, the IRL is now saying a yellow caution period begins
when race control calls it on the radio. In other words, act
like the old United States Auto Club (former Indy 500
sanctioning body) and ignore the rulebook whenever it doesn't
work in your favor. Racing ceases upon display of the yellow
flag or yellow light! Not when two cars first smack the wall
or an observer calls in to race control or when Barnhart asks
his observers for details.
Comment: Rule 7.14
does not say the caution period starts when they call for the
yellow, it states it starts when the yellow light or flag is
displayed. Again, the IRL doesn't understand their own
rulebook, making up rules as they go to suit their whim, in
this case Roger Penske, Tony George's good 'friend' as Penske
described the relationship himself.
In legal terms this is called 'Ex
Post Facto Laws' - "Any law (in this case ruling) implemented
AFTER the occurrence of a fact or commission of an act, which
retrospectively changes the legal consequences or relations of
such fact or deed." Ex Post Facto Laws are prohibited under
the Constitution of the United States, however, the IRL
rulebook is not subjected to the Constitution of the USA.
One minute before the 2002 Indy 500 green flag dropped, the
IRL rulebook stated that racing ceases when the yellow light
appears. However, since that time and today's ruling, a
new standard that does not appear in the IRL rulebook suddenly
has taken precedence over and obviated the rule that was
clearly set forth in the IRL rule 7.14.
Now racing ceases when Brian
Barnhart says it ceases, or in his own mind thinks it ceases.
One has to wonder how Honda and any new team or sponsor will
now perceive the IRL's implementation of its own rules since
it now appears that any ruling is subject to the discretion of
the Chief Steward and his discretion is not subject to an
appeal. Ordinarily, in cases involving Administrative
Law Hearings, the only means to overturn a discretionary
ruling is to demonstrate that said ruling was "arbitrary and
capricious." We would like to refresh your memory that
Honda has already been shafted by IMS and USAC back 95. The
year USAC flagged the race green with the pace car still on
the track, which the Tasman Team Honda powered car driven by
Scott Goodyear passed (they could have kept the caution out
and started the next lap), and was subsequently black flagged,
and the race was handed to the Players sponsored Ford team and
driver Jacques Villeneuve.
Miller: Watching George
stumble and stammer through his prepared speech was painful
enough, but the saddest part is that he didn't sound like he
understood the process -- and he was judge and jury. When he
realized he didn't have the last page of his notes, he looked
to Fred Nation like a third-grader in his first Christmas play
and was told to wrap it up. Green said he felt like George had
lost his way. I don't think anybody who saw that news
conference would disagree.
Comment: And this is
the same man who recently said he was going to make the IRL
bigger than NASCAR and F1 in five years, the same man who
brings his hammer to work everyday. The same man who
split Indy Car racing in two and has practically destroyed the
sport. A very sad commentary indeed.
In this Indy Star
article, Bob Kravitz has this to say about the IRL
Indy 500 appeals process
"Here's what this was: a charade. A shameful, expensive,
time-consuming charade. And it's one that drives yet another wedge
into the IRL-Championship Auto Racing Teams split, virtually
ensuring that Green will not come over to the IRL next season unless
his sponsors take him kicking and screaming. The race is over now.
The fight is not."
with Robin Miller's article referenced above, this is another must
read article. Based on the motorsports press reaction to
the decision, this can only be reasonably construed as a major blow
to the IRL's integrity and the implementation of its own rulebook.
Rulebooks, rules, and
evidence have no place in GEORGE-town. What Tony George says
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