Byline: Mike Spellman Daily Herald Sports Writer
What's the best way to win back open wheel racing fans?
First-year driver Kenny Brack says it's simple - just keep putting on shows like the one the CART boys provided last weekend in the Michigan 500.
"I think what this series needs is more races like Michigan," Brack said. "That's an exciting show. That's a fantastic race. We need more of them. We need four or five more."
In the Michigan race, lead changes were the norm rather than the exception. Juan Montoya held off Michael Andretti by less than a car length in a side-by-side battle to the finish in the most exciting race of the series to date.
"We need more races on high-banked tracks where we can run two or three abreast," said the 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner. "With continuous shows like that, there's no problem (attracting fans)."
Next year CART will race at Texas Motor Speedway, another high- banked track, and Brack said the series would be smart to look into venues like Las Vegas and Atlanta, which promote side-by-side racing.
The native of Sweden and last year's points champion in the Indy Racing League says fans want passing, something the other series often don't provide.
"In Formula 1, if you start on the pole, you win. If you start second, you finish second," Brack said. "We don't have that problem."
Count Mears as a Rahal fan: Count four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears as a fan of former driver and current CART president Bobby Rahal.
"He'll do well," said Mears, who works as an advisor for the Marlboro Penske team. "He understands business - he owns a few of his own - and he understands all aspects of racing."
For his part, Rahal isn't sure he wants to drop the interim label just yet.
"We've got a lot on our plate right now," said Rahal, who replaced former CART chief Andrew Craig a month ago. "We'll see what happens six months from now. It's been hard on the family. It's been an enjoyable task, but a big one."
Weight a minute: Max Papis, last year's pole sitter here, at over 6 feet tall and in the 200-pound range, is a behemoth compared to most of the drivers on the CART circuit. He says there is a built-in disadvantage for the heavier drivers in the series.
"There are definitely difficulties for a driver like me or Michael (Andretti) or Paul (Tracy) with a weight difference compared to some of the younger, lighter guys that weigh 30 or 40 kilos less," said Papis, a native of Como, Italy. "This is something that needs to be addressed because I don't think it's correct.
"It's like asking a jockey to run with 40 kilos more than the other jockeys in the race for no reason."
Different views: Juan Montoya and Michael Andretti were asked if they watched the replay of the finish of last week's Michigan 500 where Montoya edged Andretti by less than a car length.
Andretti: "It just didn't change. I didn't like it. It sucked."
Montoya: "I thought it was very cool."