By: Kobe Lambeth
Above, you see a young racer named Conor Daly. He is a very talented open wheel driver, but there is one problem. How can one as talented as Daly have trouble securing a full-time ride? The answer is lack of sponsorship. Sometimes, lack of sponsorship is why talented drivers are unable to reach their full potential. So many kids and upcoming racers have aspirations to be race car drivers. Some are extremely talented and it does not work for others. The young racers who do find success may face harsh reality. Driving a race car is supposed to be fun, but there is nothing you can do if there is no sponsorship to support you. We should be able to tell our children that any dream is possible if you put in the work and have dedication. Succeeding at the highest level and not being able to race at the highest levels of motorsports does not add up. I cannot imagine the pain that many IndyCar drivers go through.
Sage Karam and Conor Daly are the next generation of IndyCar. In the future, I see them going head to head on the last lap of the Indianapolis 500. However, that might be only a fantasy if the current sponsorship situation continues. Chip Ganassi Racing is currently searching for funding to keep the Number 8 car on track. Recently, Karam was allowed to go search for opportunities elsewhere. Sage Karam earned the nickname “danger boy” from his fellow rivals. He is not a danger on the track, but Karam is doing the right thing. In this era of IndyCar racing, you must drive aggressive if you want to have a job. Sometimes, driving your heart out is not enough to secure a future in motorsports. What else can a driver do if performing at the highest level is not enough? There must be a solution to make sure that our brightest young racers have the chance to achieve their dreams. Another racer, Conor Daly, is another talented kid who has the dream of being a full-time IndyCar driver. You may wonder why Daly is not competing against the likes of Penske and Ganassi. The answer is the lack of sponsorship. It cannot be emphasized enough that we must find a solution to help drivers like Karam and Daly find sponsorship. Both deserve to race in IndyCar as they have already proven that they belong in the sport. This past season, Karam and Daly ran select IndyCar races. Running a few races per season is better than sitting all 365 days on the sidelines, but it is obvious that both deserve to race for championships. While waiting for a ride, Conor Daly ran a few IMSA races in the Prototype Challenge class for Performance Tech Motorsports. Seeing Daly run sportscar racing is amazing, but his true home is in open wheel racing. Speaking of sportscars, there are a few problems concerning driver ratings used in Pro-am classes.
Most recently, driver ratings have become the hot topic in the sportscar racing world. Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze: this sounds more like medals you earn in a relay race. The bottom line is driver ratings are unnecessary as it puts high-quality drivers out of business. Driver ratings are helping some, but mostly hurting the best sportscar drivers. Imagine that you are new to IMSA and start a GT Daytona program with BMW. You get a factory driver as your professional and a talented young driver rated silver. Using common sense, you can infer that the professional driver is going to be faster than your amateur driver. The pairing goes on to dominate the GT Daytona class and win the championship. Winning the championship might be exciting for a little while, but it will turn to sadness when the FIA Driver Ratings are official for the next season. Your promising silver driver has been upgraded to gold and you cannot resign him. This is a devastating blow for team and driver. All-Pro classes are not suitable for every driver, so Pro-am might be their future. The promising driver, who was once a silver, career could be in jeopardy. Silver drivers are important to Pro-am classes as it is impossible to function without them. People who have funding from their daily professions are more likely to get a drive compared to a talented racer. Check the statistics, it is a fact that we should not be proud of. I respect those Pro-am drivers, but I believe that young racers who want to make racing their profession have an equal opportunity to succeed. Driver ratings should be scratched altogether as it hurts our drivers more than it actually helps them. It might be amazing to be known as a Platinum or Gold, but the continuation of careers is the main concern. IndyCar and sportscars might be two different worlds, but they share one common problem. We have seen the careers of talented drivers end due to lack of sponsorship and driver ratings. This must end today. As an entire racing community, something can and must be done to save our beloved drivers. Keep an eye out for Part Two of Kobe’s Daily Scoop when I take a look at the troubles facing stock car drivers.