SHARE

It’s been a wild week for AP reporter, Jenna Fryer. Known for her coverage of NASCAR, the daring journo waded into the tepid waters of Formula 1 and Indycar to offer her editorial on the big news that 2-time world champion, Fernando Alonso, would be skipping Monaco to participate in this year’s Indy 500.

The article was titled, “So what that Alonso is racing the Indy 500?” and It has unleashed a mob of Indycar and F1 fans on social media. The article, in basic summation, equated this to a publicity stunt and proffered that it would be far better to have Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart or the Taylor duo in the race than Alonso…a man who hasn’t achieved anything in the last few years.

The mobocracy has been untethered and it comprises of F1 and Indycar fans, two camps that don’t often coalesce, against Fryer on Twitter and other social media. With pitchforks, torches and anger, they storm Castle Fryer to take down the walls and expose her evil ways. Now it seems that the leader of the mob is none other than racing legend Mario Andretti himself.

“I really resent the fact that the story is giving the impression that this is just a publicity stunt. Don’t get me wrong, it is great publicity for IndyCar, but that is just a by-product of a totally legitimate and valid attempt by a great champion, Fernando Alonso, to try and win the second part of the Triple Crown.”

“Quite honestly, I think she [Fryer] owes Alonso an apology, because the initial motivation for this whole thing came from him; he wants to do it, and would never do it just to help any series gain publicity or to gain publicity for himself. He doesn’t need it.

“He’s doing this as a pure racer and follows a great tradition of some of the best F1 drivers trying to win Indy – some succeeded, some didn’t – and I find it reassuring that Indy still carries that aura, a feather in the cap, as it were.”

A cursory look at Fryer’s Twitter account will find many scathing comments about her story, as well as her personally, that have been met with a churlish and sometimes flippant response by her—including a picture of her giving the middle finger. Not passing judgment but she is literally flipping off fans about an article she wrote for AP and this brings up the ridiculous notion that the Twitter account is her own opinion and doesn’t represent AP. Many reporters these days tweet during the day and hide behind the caveat that their Twitter account doesn’t represent their publication. I find that a rule that will be challenged legally someday soon.

Reading articles from Fryer regarding Danica Patrick or Tony Stewart, I find her support of their efforts standard fare and it’s to be expected. Those are the drivers she follows in the series she covers. Nothing wrong with that. Imagine if someone dared say Patrick is nothing more than a publicity stunt. I assume Fryer would have plenty to say about that and so she should.

The challenge here is that her article regarding Alonso suggests that she is not an F1 fan and doesn’t follow the series very closely or the career of Alonso with much interest beyond basic informational reads. Most F1 fans, by contrast, have watched Alonso’s entire career and would tell you, like Mario did, that he is one of, if not the, best drivers on the grid. Alonso has more skill and credentials than many of the Indycar rookies, as Mario points out, and I would argue some of the regulars. He knows his way around the business end of a race car. So did Jim Clark and Graham Hill.

Her diatribe also fails to take into account the risk that Alonso, McLaren and Andretti Autosport are all taking to make this happen. They wouldn’t do that for a cheap publicity stunt. The risks are too high in F1 terms as Alonso has already suffered concussion twice in his career and this is no matter to be toyed with but then if she were a follower of F1, she’d know that. McLaren are taking a huge risk—just ask Renault about Robert Kubica.

Alonso has always wanted to be the renaissance driver and go for the hat trick. This may be the last chance he gets while he’s still at the sharp end of his skills. The 24 Hours of Le Mans can’t be far behind. She would also know that if she had been following Alonso’s career like most F1 fans do.

I try not to offer wide-ranging editorial about a racing series or driver I am not familiar with. It does no good for me to throw stones at BTCC, I don’t watch the series with any regularity and don’t have an editorial knife in the fight. Fryer’s responses to her critics on Twitter read like a boorish, petulant person but then she asked for this derision when she chose to implicate Indycar for cheap publicity stunts and denigrate Alonso in the process as a hack who hasn’t done anything recently. If she saw him drive the McLaren in 2016 and 2017, she’d know that was wrong. He’s driving his *** off out there.

Out of the pan and into the Fryer

Jenna probably didn’t expect to get the kind of F1 outrage usually reserved for the #TeamLH mob but she hit a nerve that crosses many lines in the F1/Indycar sand. This is why America can’t have nice things, folks. We eviscerate F1 in our press because it’s not “American” and not NASCAR. You’re right, it’s not…but if you ask an avid American F1 fan, they’ll tell you that’s because it’s better than NASCAR and Indycar.

The issue at hand, and Mario alluded to it, is that Indycar isn’t doing as well as it used to and having F1 lend it credibility by suggesting that the Indy 500 is still a jewel in the racing crown’s royalty goes a long way for the series. For Alonso and McLaren, it’s an opportunity to deepen their working relationship and do more together given the trajectory of their current F1 season. They have an Alonso contract to renew this year as well.

In Fryer’s case, let be honest. She wrote a piece that was probably not her finest moment but nonetheless, it was an editorial piece and written from the perspective of a NASCAR racing fan and American-centric view of what Indycar could have done to cross-pollinate the two American series. After all, F1 doesn’t even race at Indy anymore. Fryer is supporting the two series that still do.

I understand how she might feel this was a bit of a show. It’s easy to draw that conclusion if you aren’t a F1 nerd who knows Alonso’s shoe size, the total weight of the current McLaren in kilograms and can name 20 drivers by their helmets as well as most of the technical directors in the series. She’s looking at this from 60,000 feet. I get it.

I also have to say that her opinion is simply that. She was a bit ham-fisted in her approach and didn’t make the most cogent argument but some of the vitriol she’s receiving from F1 fans on Twitter is incredibly base behavior and quite honestly, beneath F1 fans. Sure, Mario was incandescent about it but he’s got a knife in the fight…namely his son’s ownership of the team Alonso will drive for. Context people. Mario’s outrage doesn’t give free license to become vile just because Jenna thinks the Alonso move is not as big of a deal as getting some NASCAR drivers in the 500. You would expect a big NASCAR fan to think that way. What’s F1 to them? Not much.

I say Jenna is entitled to her opinion and I certainly don’t think Alonso gives a rats *** about her rant nor would an apology be something he felt he deserved. He’s a tough cookie and has had much worse in his career and at the hands of F1 fans no less—just ask the Singapore wall in 2008 or Ron Dennis in 2007.

I have no idea how Fernando will do. Indycar is a different discipline but keep in mind, the last guy that came from F1 to try Indycar at the 500 won the damn thing and that was last year. I’ve nothing at all against Alexander Rossi but he’s no Alonso. Then again, maybe he won’t do well but I would avoid gloating if he doesn’t because you’ll be missing the point entirely. He’s that good, you’re just going to have to take our word for it because we’ve seen things from him that few drivers have ever been able to do. Remember 7-time champ Michael Schumacher and Ferrari? Yeah, he beat them…twice. That’s not easy.

My message to Jenna? Just chill. You shared an opinion from a NASCAR-centric view and while it may not be the best supported argument, it is, after all, just your opinion. Your responses to Tweeple are not very becoming and I think it just adds to the inflammatory nature of the entire situation. The RT of the Billy Monger situation as something people should focus on instead of your article was a bit odd given the gravity of the situation.

I get the impression that Jenna isn’t interested in my opinion or advice on the matter…just as I suspect Alonso, Andretti, McLaren, F1 and Indycar fans aren’t interested in hers either. Just my unsolicited two cents, Jenna. Keep up the great work on NASCAR and tell Danica we all said hello. You’ll get no hate tweets from me.

Hat Tip: Motorsport and AP

SHARE
An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • jcn115

    “proffered that it would be far better to have Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart or the Taylor duo in the race than Alonso…a man who hasn’t achieved anything gin the last few years.”
    I have not read the article, but if Jenna said that Danica would be better than Alonso due to the fact that Alonso lack of success during the recent years, then I call to question her credibility as a reporter. What has Danica done? Only 1 race win between IndyCar and NASCAR. Danica is nothing but a publicity stunt.

    • Bill Cape Coral

      She was not even in contention for that win that day but got lucky on fuel mileage. If not for that Danica Patrick would not even have that one win.

      That fuel mileage win was not a planned effort either it was pure luck.

  • Daniel Johnson

    I’d like to point out here that racing as a whole is nothing but a publicity stunt. You literally get money from a company that says “go get my name on TV”. If you don’t do that one thing you won’t be in racing very long.

  • Dr T

    Maybe Fernado just wants a bottle of milk

  • Chester

    Jenna is another pudding-head journalist. Nothing new here. Lets move on from this fat-fingered person.

  • Bill Cape Coral

    Danicka Patrick is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

    Jenna Fryer is a NASCAR hack, she writes what NASCAR tells her to write just like the other NASCAR writers as how dare anyone call out NASCAR for it they do they will lose their NASCAR press pass.

    NASCAR controls the traveling press that covers NASCAR.

  • SteveB

    Great article NC, very well said. You are a true professional, it would seem like NASCAR can use someone like you.

  • Salvu Borg

    My opinion only, Alonso might “essentially have left the team and the INDY 500 deal was dreamed-up as a smoke screen to hide that. No F1 team would ever let their top driver, especially a 2 time WC miss Monaco. I don’t buy the “I want to win the triple crown ” BS from Alonso, he wants another F1 WC more than anything. it’s just an American made marketing BS from Zak Brown to mask what is really going on at McLaren. the McLaren team is crumbling and possibly may not survive.

    • Godfather

      McLaren are fine as a team, the engine is the only thing crumbling and a switch to another maker would rectify everything. Don’t forget they are owned by the Arabs so money won’t be a issue.

      Alonso on the other hand has always said that he wanted to win the triple crown. Obviously his aim was Schumachers seven titles but thats unlikely with the Honda engine anytime soon. He was always gonna do Indy and lemans but considering the engines problems, now would be a good time. For Honda it’s a way of keeping the driver happy.

  • Godfather

    This women is clueless, It’s not even worth wasting any time on this clown.

  • Paul KieferJr

    From this NASCAR fan: What Jenna did really is stupid. (A) Alonso is a great F1 champion. I understand that it’s difficult to transfer that level of knowledge, skill and experience to NASCAR and / or IndyCar (witness Juan Pablo Montoya), but that’s really no reason to denigrate the man and/or his motivation. (B) To suggest that Danica and Tony take up the challenge is not really relevant nor is it helpful. Both Danica and Tony have already been there (Danica was previously full time in IndyCar and Tony has attempted the Coke 600-Indy 500 double), so that statement was really pointless.

    From one NASCAR fan to another, Jenna, there are times when it’s best to keep your mouth shut and let everyone think that you’re a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

  • Justus Brennan

    I understand arguing that the article was written from a point of view, but what I don’t understand is forgiving the ignorance. You outlined a number of things she wasn’t aware of and I don’t understand why it’s OK that she isn’t aware of them.

    You somewhat tried to play it down by getting hyperbolic about what fans know of Alonso, but shouldn’t some level of research be required for a journalist writing a piece about something directly relevant to her area of expertise?

    At points she appears almost willfully ignorant, an example being when she references her young daughter’s lack of interest in Alonso as if meant anything to your average modern Motorsports fan. She may know what is trending, but getting too deep into that method of marketing was what hurt Nascar. If you court the person who only cares about what is trending then you are going to lose them just as fast as you got them. Perhaps the fact that her daughter doesn’t know him is a good thing(something new I mean) or a flag for just how insular American racing is?

    Another example is bringing up the Honda engine? Does she honestly believe there any reasonable similarity between the engines in the different series or was it just a snide remark of someone understanding the difference, but ignorant of the bigger picture?

    And she continues to talk about Alonso’s involvement as a publicity stunt. Again as if this is all about making more people watch the Indy 500. This was clearly from the Alonso/Mclaren camp and frankly this will be the first Indy 500 I will ever watch. There are literally millions of fans of motor racing who don’t watch American racing, what if that could change?

    I guarantee that there are people in this thread, perhaps even pure Indycar fans who did more research before commenting than she did before writing that article. A cursory glance at F1 news would show just how badly Alonso wants this for himself, not for Indycar, about one thumbnail down on any news aggregate site would give a clearer picture of why he has not been successful lately.

    It comes down to two things. First, as much as her article was garbage no one should be harassing this woman. Even if she wrote it explicitly to piss people off you do not get to threaten or personally attack this woman.

    The second is that this is about motor racing and she is trying to argue for putting one driver with little success and one driver well past his prime in the car over one the greatest drivers of all time because it would give better headlines. If you look at it she isn’t really talking about the racing she is talking about the headlines.

    If your Motorsport cannot succeed by trying to put the best drivers in cars to race for victory then it doesn’t deserve to succeed.

    • I agree and that’s why I said it isn’t a cogent argument. It’s not well supported and a ham-fisted article. I think I’ve been clear about my thoughts on her lack of being an F1 fan or Alonso fan and that her knowledge isn’t much beyond “informational reading”. I think I’ve covered the bases here.

      On the other side of that coin, it is an editorial and no matter how researched it is or isn’t, it’s her opinion so I understand that as well. I think most F1 fans read this and clearly understood this is coming from a person who knows very little about the sport or Alonso. It would be like me opining negatively about a NASCAR driver I know nothing about…take Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Don’t know a thing about him and if I tee’d off on him, NASCAR fans would know instantly that Iw as talking out of my backside and dismiss the article.

      Difference is, I would never tee off on Ricky, I know very little about him.

      • Bill Cape Coral

        Come on mod that reply is every bit as bad as the Fryer piece, you just happen to pick the NASCAR driver who has achieved no success in NASCAR top series to this date and who just happens to be the boyfriend of one Danica Patrick.

        Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is not exactly very well known as a driver outside that he is Danica Patrick’s boyfriend and lover, you would have been better served to have picked one of the well known drivers like Earnhardt Jr., Jimmy Johnson or one of the Bush brothers for that matter even Joey Lagano who has achieved success in NASCAR.

  • Shocks&Awe

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and to express it. But that in no way implies that the opinion is worth spit, and that it shouldn’t be called out for being just that. IMO…