In 1911, the NYT had a reporter present at the first Indy 500, who gave the turn-by-turn on Roy Harroun's win despite a fiery accident.
Yesterday, for the first time anyone can remember, the NYT had no reporter present at the Indy 500 -- in which Dario Franchitti won the race, despite a fiery accident. It ran a wire story from the Associated Press.
Now known as the "Greatest Spectacle In Racing," the Indy 500 attracts crowds of more than 400,000 to Indianapolis every Memorial weekend, and is considered one of the sport's three biggest events.
We know, we know -- sports coverage has fallen on hard times, too. The NYT has cut back on its coverage of events, in favor of broader stories that play to the paper's national audience. It's the right approach. We still like the NYT's sports section. We miss Harvey Araton's column, but we get it.
Still, it seems an odd decision for the NYT to keep its reporters home this year, from an event it had covered in person for decades.
For one thing, it sent an downbeat message to the nation's many auto racing fans -- millions of Americans who spend billions of dollars on licensed products, many of whom flock to Indianapolis each year in annual pilgrimage to worship their sport.
Paul Newman even made a movie about the Indy 500, called "Winning." Come on, guys -- Paul Newman!
In recent years, Dave Caldwell (last seen reporting on the hockey playoffs in Philadelphia on May 19) covered the event. Bill Pennington, Lynn Zinser and Liz Robbins have been known to turn up in the press box. Ira Berkow, the NYT's former columnist, stopped by in 2003.
We've emailed Tom Jolly, the sports editor, for comment. We'll update when we hear from him. We're curious to know how the NYT picked this one to skip.