Monday, August 02, 2010

IndyCar and Helio Castroneves Prove That Fame and Popularity Help You Avoid Punishment

I just saw that IndyCar hero Helio Castroneves was fined $60,000 — or as Helio calls it, "money I found in my couch" — and placed him on probation for his outburst at the Edmonton Indy race on July 25th.

Helio was black flagged for blocking his Penske teammate, Will Power, but instead of taking the drive through pit penalty, he was docked 20 seconds, which dropped him to 10th. The call resulted in, what Bill Zahren over at called, "Helio losing his shit." That's when Helio grabbed two different IndyCar officials by the collar, shook them, and shouted at them.

I understand his outburst, although I think there are rules about physical contact that just need to be honored. But Randy Bernard, CEO of IndyCar said something that rather disturbed me.

"This is a very serious matter and we weighed all options, including suspension. But we felt suspension would hurt the fans more than anyone else. Fans have paid their hard-earned money to watch the best drivers in the world and many bought their tickets for upcoming events with the expectation of watching Helio."

In other words, if Helio wasn't a big-name racer, he would have been suspended. What kind of message does this send to everyone else? If you're famous, you get a free ride? If you're not one of the Big 7, you're on thin ice?

Do I think Helio is a good driver? Yes. Did he deserve the fine? Absolutely? Suspension? No, because while he was out of line, he wasn't out of hand.

Randy Bernard said, and I agree, that "(Helio) is a great ambassador for this sport and we know his actions after the race in Edmonton are not indicative of his normal behavior."

Absolutely. I'm a big Helio fan, and appreciate all he does for the sport. But Randy Bernard may have just created bigger problems by admitting there is a separate standard for top-notch drivers than there are for lesser drivers.

What do you think? Suspension? Fine? Nothing at all? Watch the video and let me know your thoughts.


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