Cheesy sayings might get annoying over time, but that doesn’t make them any less true. Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched, after all, would’ve been great advice for those in charge of booking McLaren’s Indy 500 hospitality—now an extravagant monument to its own amazing failure to make the race.
McLaren decided to run the Indianapolis 500 as a one-off race this year with semi-retired Formula One star Fernando Alonso at the wheel, as an idea of what a full-time IndyCar team under the company’s banner could look like if it joins the series. Alonso ran the race in 2017 with Andretti backing, but came to this one with all of his faith in McLaren. (He should know, by now, not to do this.)
Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern tweeted on Tuesday that McLaren also tacked a 150-guest hospitality program and a $50,000 hospitality chalet rental onto its race attempt, despite the fact that 36 drivers entered and only 33 could race. After all, what could go wrong with a prestigious carmaker and global racing star’s attempt to qualify for a race he did so well in two years ago?
As it turns out, everything can go wrong, and did. Alonso wound up at No. 34 in qualifying, after McLaren monumentally failed to put together a good enough program to stay above the cut line. If McLaren’s saga of errors, like its mistake in converting inches to the metric system while making car changes, was part of a racing-oriented sitcom, viewers would think the writers got carried away.
The hospitality must go on, though, since Stern said McLaren already paid for it. But rather than a celebration of McLaren’s success on the IndyCar grid, it’ll now be a reminder of how ambition means nothing without thorough preparation.
If anyone asks which team or driver the guests are cheering for now that there is no McLaren, though, they can always stuff some lobster in their mouths and wait until the subject changes.