Don't expect Simmons to give IRL a popularity boost
Posted: Tuesday January 17, 2006 11:57AM; Updated: Tuesday January 17, 2006 11:57AM
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The Indy Racing League would like nothing more than to turn the wayback machine to the 1970s, when the Indy 500 was still the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and Indy drivers were celebrated for their death-defying derring-do in an open-wheel cockpit.
Of course, it's the Daytona 500 and NASCAR's more marketable drivers that dominate America's motorsports consciousness, while Indy and its half-brother CART are relegated to the second team, save for the occasional curiosity of Danica Patrick.
But in hopes of reclaiming past glory, the IRL has reached back to an icon from the '70s --- rock star Gene Simmons of KISS. It's either an act of desperation ... or an act of sheer genius.
I happen to think it's the former ... and I take that stance with much regret.
Full disclosure: I was a huge KISS fan during my high school days, and Simmons was my favorite member of the group. On numerous occasions I would extol the virtues of their music, arguing that only true fans could see past the kabuki makeup, fire-breathing antics and seven-inch leather heels and fully appreciate the nuances of such classics as Love Gun and Plaster Caster.
But even I have to admit the relevancy of Simmons and the KISS name is lost on anybody who doesn't consider it a watershed event when Gene and the boys first took off the makeup.
I'm sure Simmons, who has already co-authored the IRL's official theme song, will bring unbridled enthusiasm to its marketing campaign. "We intend to go places where perhaps no one initially thought of going," Simmons said at a recent news conference.
Hopefully, that means more than spewing fire and sticking out a ridiculously long tongue.
But despite being a former member of the KISS Army, I just don't think Simmons wields the kind of magic to make the IRL significantly more popular. In fact, I'm not sure anybody short of Bono can save the IRL --- and I'm pretty sure Bono has more important issues to work on.
Simmons and KISS once sang of putting the X in Sex. Just don't expect him to put the relevancy in the IRL.