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February 06, 2012

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GForcePaul

There are so many talented LOCAL misicians in Indy that there would be no problem stocking a line up for Satrurday. Do the zip line AND open the garages for everybody on this slow pre-race day!

pressdog

50 old Dallaras, 50 states ringing the Pagoda Plaza in 2012 ...

Brett

First off when comparing two completely different entities such as the Super Bowl and the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race it is all in the yard stick you use. If you use TV ratings then the Super Bowl is far and away the bigger of the two however, if you use attendance at the event itself then nothing in the world comes close to the Indy 500 (The Brickyard would be 2nd even with their numbers being WAY down. IMS is just THAT big)

My idea on how the league can improve the 500 is to offer to pay something like 10% of the air time for a company to air it's commercials during the 500 IF they are the world premier of that particular commercial. I am ever so amazed how many non football fans watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials. If you offer an incentive for companies to turn the 500 into such an event then after a few years you could see HUGE dividends.

Royhobbson

The Hot Wheels car-jump thing last year didn't whet your fan whistle, Bill?

Also, I agree strongly w/ everything you wrote, for whatever that's worth. (Disclaimer: it is worth very little.)

@djcraske

Duplicate the Zipline experience. Start it north of the media center - near where they had the HotWheels jump tower last year. End it somewhere in the Turn 1 infield. Riders would then be taken over Pagoda Plaza & Gasoline Alley.

If that were to happen - even I would pay $10 to ride that thing.

twitter.com/duey23

Having been an attendee at the 500 since 1993 (except the year I got married, silly me!) My wife and I are in a rut coming every year.

We roll-in on Thursday night and go to Carb/Lights/Pitstop on Friday with Friday night drinking fest somewhere local or with friends.

Saturday we've been doing the parade for the last 2 years but after that's done, frankly we've got nothing and THAT'S where some sort of Village or whatever activity would really be nice. For the last SIX years, we go to a movie, something we could do at home. While fun, it's not "Indy" and Saturday night is dead for us, although we don't mind getting more shut-eye before an early Sunday morning.

Sunday is all day at the track with tailgating start at 8:00am and ending whenever we want to leave the backyard we park in on 24th.

_I_ have a void and I feel like I'm a hardcore enough fan to not miss a trick.

twitter.com/duey23

PS: zip line would be fun, but my fat arse won't meet the weight requirements to do it. Give me access to gasoline alley/garages, would be nice if teams could do something like the F1 pit walkabout that happened.

Katie

68k people attended the Super Bowl yesterday, 75k attended the 24 hours of Daytona, and every year, about 250k people attend the Indy 500. That's a HUGE event for Indianapolis and shouldn't be taken lightly. So to say the Super Bowl is the sun and the Indy 500 is a lighted map...that's a bit ridiculous. If you want to talk viewership, that's fine, but the fact is, Indy has to deal with far more people for the Indy 500 than for the Super Bowl.

I think Indy does a great job at attracting people. However, I don't think IMS needs to step it up so much as fans need to learn more about Indianapolis. CNN had a GREAT report about the city and all there is to do, so fans should look into that.

To me, the Indy 500 is a bucket list event for all racing fans, myself included. I don't need some awesome concerts or some hardcore partying to make it that, it's the Brickyard, it's the Indy 500...it's been around for over 100 years. The history alone draws me to the track as a racing fan!

pressdog

Just looking for ideas on how to attract more people to town for the race. Whether or not the 500 is bigger than the Super Bowl is not meant to be the issue here ...

Andhesonit

Right on, Bill! But... we gotta do MORE. The entire city of Indy has to be THE entertainment destination for Memorial Day weekend—dawn to dusk, EVERY day.

Certainly, activities at the track need to be stepped up, and I like your ideas. But when the sun goes down, the party must go on!

Light up downtown—literally and figuratively—just like the SB peeps did to make it a complete experience, so it's not just about racing, which it really isn't (see 1970's Snake Pit).

How many people that filled the streets prior to the SB do you think actually cared about the 4 quarters on the field—or ultimately attended the game? And how huge (intended) of an impression did simply putting the Lombardi on the side of that hotel make?

To me, elevating the event is about stretching it beyond the boundaries of 16th and Georgetown.

We HAVE the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. We need to CREATE the Greatest Spectacle in Entertainment.

—JM

Brett

Duey23

If your Saturday night is "dead" and your looking for something to really get you fired up I strongly suggest driving up to Anderson Speedway for the Little 500. It is quite the event one of a kind (not like the normal short track show they put on over at Lucas Oil Raceway [formally known as IRP]) 33 Sprint Cars for 500 laps on the worlds fastest paved 1/4 oval! Just makes your jaw drop!

jpindycar

As the Speedway redevelopment plan increases pace it think a number of good things will come of that. Tours at Sfr and the Dallara factory would be nice starts, improved dining and gathering establishments on Main street would keep people around. Dare I also add that a modern updated Museum on that strip would be a big plus, but it can' t miss the mark on attendence projections and revenue as the Charlotte version did.
If mainstreet Speedway becomes a destination, then you could think about moving the parade there, down the street, round tge corner and into the speedway itself. Then after an hour, run the lights race. The crowd and Tv shift to saturday might be a great help in getting more sponsorship into that series.
Finally, take one of the underused vendor lots outside the speedway across the street and install an amusement style go cart track like the have in pigeon forge and they would be printing $.

jpindycar

Sorry forall the typos...I hate typing on myphone...

BrianGappa

I think all of your idea's are great. However I am not one of the people who thinks that season starts the first part of May and is over on Memorial Day weekend. I think that what ever they come up with needs to be spread out across the whole schedule. I think there needs to be several different bands playing at different parts of the track any time there is not a car on the track. How about pulling some of the cars out of the basement of the Museum and run them around the track. How about if IMS buys a Ferris Wheel that goes to every venue.

Allen Wedge

A go-kart track seems like the most obvious for an inside the track attraction (lets small kids have fun and get a love of racing, lets older fans gain an appreciation for driving). Heck on one day (maybe that saturday) they could have a charity go-kart race with actual drivers (or Lights drivers since they'd be done for the weekend) in it.

Also, there's a reason Daytona and other tracks bring a Ferris Wheel for endurance events. It allows fans to get a unique look around a track from high up, why not do that?

FTHurley

I think one of the things that both helps the 500 through tough times but can hold it back in good times is its local status as a "cherished institution." That general feeling of community good-will keeps the event strong even when the top drivers suddenly vanish from the competition, but it means that when things are better and you have some ability to try new things, the fans won't let you mess with their beloved traditions. The NFL can do pretty much whatever it wants to do around the Super Bowl. Maybe they can't mess with the game itself, but they have the flexibility to try new entertainment ideas around the game, and people give them the benefit of the doubt. Contrast that with IndyCar and IMS. You mentioned the parade on Saturday. I agree; as cool as the parade is, it's not something that will push me over the edge into spending my limited travel budget and vacation time to fly to Indy. But if you tried to make something else the centerpiece of the day, you'd get tons of annoyed people (the same ones complaining that the engines are in the back) talking about how the young people today just don't appreciate the value of tradition, with everything needing to be catered to them.

But I agree, IMS and IndyCar probably need to accept that they're going to take that heat, and make the events around the 500 as strong as the race itself.

One other challenge they face is that unlike Lucas Oil Stadium, the Speedway isn't within easy walking distance of the fantastic downtown area. I attend a convention in Indy every August, and that downtown is just about the best area on Earth in which to host a large gathering of people. It's efficient, pretty clean, has lots of hotels of different levels, and lots of bars and restaurants, and it's mostly all connected via walkway bridges. The Convention Center is a great facility with tons of room. Think of what IndyCar could do down there for the week between Bump Day and the race. But to do that, they'd basically need to admit that there's no point in schlepping over to Speedway (the area, not the facility) every day to go to various events, and that's a tough political nut to crack.

Allen Wedge

Its also worth noting the time I was in Indy, there are things to do but they are too far apart from each other. Cavin's Carb Night burger Bash is no where near anything else. There was a go-kart thing at FastTimes, but again not near anything (for out of towners)

On Saturday Mrs. Wedge and I generally walk around downtown finding places to eat or she does shopping.

Here's another good idea, drive-in movie on Saturday night at the speedway, get a giant screen and show famous racing movies "Winning" or even "Cars" for the kids, you simply broadcast the audio on an AM channel. My college did that all the time.

KT

Coming from Iowa, I would have to leave Thursday night to see Friday Carb Day activities which I would love to do. However, there is nothing going on Saturday that would convince me to do this. My vote is to move Carb Day to Saturday, bring in a big concert to IMS on Saturday late afternoon/evening. I could care less about the parade.

redcar

The outdated? 500 Festival should take a hint from the downtown Superbowl events. The weekend of the race should be celebrated downtown with concerts and all that jazz. There were plenty of people who went downtown who never went to the game. And it shouldn't just be IMS's responsiblity, but also Indianapolis'. It is after all--still--the largest one day sporting event anywhere. Indy shouldn't take it for granted, but (buzz word alert) activate it.

Mark Wilkinson (@newtrackrecord)

I'm reminded of the UPS logistics commercial: it's not WHAT you want to do, it's HOW you are going to do it. That's the whole issue about adding activities to the month of May in Indy.

Beginning Saturday afternoon, the town of Speedway and the IMS camping areas are packed. Where do you put the people and cars if IMS hosts an event on Saturday? This is bigger than the Brickyard 400, remember. If you are IMS, do YOU want to add a Saturday event?

Downtown Indy is the natural setting for a Saturday soiree after the parade. And the parade stays. According to the 500 Festival website, over 300,000 people view the parade. That's a big deal. Out-of-towners might not appreciate it, but it is part of the local fabric. A sea change to make downtown Indy a "500 Experience" destination like the Super Bowl would be met with skepticism. The volunteerism for the Mini-Marathon, the 500 Festival, and parade are already in place. Finding more volunteers for debauchery on Saturday might be difficult. We have what we have.

My choice would be a Saturday night festival setting downtown or at White River State Park. Live bands, vendors, and a party atmosphere would draw a crowd. Would the locals show up like they did for the Super Bowl? Maybe. Would it be family friendly or a party? Many locals have their own traditions to uphold. And most race goers need SOME sober time to get ready for race day.

Missing from the equation is the value to Indianapolis of spending city money on the 500. Simply put, they don't need to do it. The value of the Super Bowl was to put downtown Indy on display to the CEO's and decision makers of American business. The 500 does not draw the same crowd. The business leaders at the Super Bowl decide on conventions, conferences, and manufacturing sites. The bosses show up at the Super Bowl. The clients show up at Indy. The fact is the city of Indianapolis LOST money hosting Super Bowl XLVI. The value is in future business activities.

My opinion? IMS and Indianapolis can make the Saturday experience more entertaining, but the Greatest Spectacle is on Sunday. And that's where it belongs.

E.M.H.

Bing, right on P-Dog.

I do admit, I *have* wondered how much more of an event the 500 would feel like if it were surrounded by a sort of "district" that could cater to race fans. You know, like many more businesses, much more lodging, many more bars, etc... and elements specific to the race itself, like a temp (or not so temp) Karting track, and so on. Or in other words, just like you said, Dog: Like Super Bowl village. The only difference between what you were thinking and what I was is that you're putting it inside the track. I was wondering if it would make the destination feel more festive to put it outside (thus not making things feel "restricted" to the track itself, which would be a subtle encouragement to visit other parts of Indianapolis. Like Broad Ripple).

I've been thinking about that for years now. But that runs into something that really raises my hackles, and that is the loss of residences. I'd hate to have folks shipped out from their homes just to make the 500 earn more money. That would feel exactly like those businesses taking over residential areas to build on. The businesses end up being seen as the bad guys, and for good reason.

But still... I can't like, there are times I wonder if commercial development of the surrounding area would make the spot an even more desireable destination. Meh... that's just my musing over the topic. It's just that you, P-Dog, ended up bringing it to mind with your own thoughts.

pressdog

Appreciate the ideas. I don't think this has to be an either-or deal. I think you could keep most of what you have now and just do something more with Saturday as a good start. If there is parking etc. for 250,000 on race day, seems to me there would be parking for 100,000 on Saturday at IMS. As for the parade, if you don't want to compete directly with it, have the stuff at IMS or elsewhere start after the parade. In general ... in general ... IMS spends so much time protecting traditions it gets bogged down, stuck and stale. If everyone is content on having the weekend by a mainly local affair, that's a legit decision and "keep everything like it is" will get you there in a hurry. My money spends just fine in Iowa if Indy doesn't want it that weekend. Also, really like the idea of a dramatic new museum, either in Speedway or on IMS property. I was thinking of that as well. Again, appreciate all the ideas, even those I, personally, don't agree with.

Keith Waye

Last year IMS did A lot of events the day before the 500. We went to them and had a blast. I think IMS said they would do some of the same things for 2012. Fans like to get free stuff even if its something small. To me the Team sponsors could do a bit more for the fan who is not a millionaire, and have some give a ways. Last year I walked right by Parnelli Jones and saw many other X drivers and got there autographs. We took a free ride in the pace car from a Indy Light driver, that was fun. So more or less do some of the same as last year but add some more for fans to do that are free or cost very little.

redcar

Maybe it's just me. But If I'm from out of town, I'm staying in downtown Indy, I want stuff going on close to where I'm staying. And I want a shuttle to and from IMS. That's me. Downtown. More cowbell.

There's plenty going on at the track already. I'll go there on Sunday. But good topic, P-Dog and I'm shuttin' up now.

DZ

For our 8-12 (of the thousands) that camp at IMS every year, our primary limitation is that we're fairly captive to the grounds.

Typically;
Thurs night - camp set-up, 'meet the neighbors', past Indy 500 video highlights.

Friday - practice, Freedom 100, concert, museum and gift shop, movie in campsite. Always miss Burger Bash due to its timing and location.

Saturday - We miss the parade (again due to timing and location), but manage make our own fun (depending on weather). Make intrepid night journey up Georgetown Road, then settle in.

Raceday Sunday.

Ideally, I would love to see Burger Bash somewhere in Speedway and, as I've noted in my blog of Dec. 8, 2011, more of a modern festival approach to Saturday's (or even weekend long) music.

For us, our experience overall is pretty good except we could certainly welcome an expansion upon what is happening around Speedway.

DZ

We would be all for a '500 Village' (sim to SuperBowl) type of set up without question were it located in IMS or nearby in Speedway.

Megan Bickel

To be honest there was not a whole lot "to do" down in Super Bowl village, but look at the response to a few well thought out and VERY WELL PUBLICIZED things. It was the place to be because people were told it was the place to be.

I think the challenge for Indycar right now is to capitalize on the media/celebrity interest and connection and then advertize the heck out of it. Mike Epps was on my TV promoting the Super Bowl Village every 15 minutes. News programs, radio programs, award shows, and late night shows were broadcasting from downtown. So, even when they weren't talking about Indy, they were promoting Indy.

My #1 suggestion is getting Jimmy Fallon back and involved. Pace car driver? Starter? Something. He targets that ideal demographic and we've already established a relationship with him (Marco & IMS). Run with it!

WhateverJoel

If Indianapolis wants to see how to make a one day event into a two week festival, all it needs to do is look how Louisville handles the two weeks leading up to the Derby. It's almost a two week long party.

Zach

I like PDog's idea. Some thoughts.

Do the zipline, even if it's just across Pagoda Plaza. I don't think across half the infield would be feasible (think about meeting up with your party afterward?)

Pave some parts (paths) around where the trailers, vendors, etc are in the infield (directly West of Hulman Blvd) and have that be the bigger chunk of your village. One idea here would be to have activities like a driver sim, "be a pit crew member" where you can change a tire, attach a fuel hose, etc.

Invite the food trucks! They were downtown and add a little variety to the track day menu.

From a bit of a running guy, knowing they have the mini, a morning 5k would be great with some drivers/team members participating at some point during late may or race weekend.

Have the street legal Dallara rolling around town, it was giving $20~ rides around Speedway for the Super Bowl.

Have some sanctioned events on Gtown. This would help the already existing party atmosphere there and also keep it a bit under control. Car cruise-in would be awesome.

Probably enough for now. They do a good job but people have to consider that a million people hit downtown for the Super Bowl and NFL experience aside they were packed in an area about the size of the south end of the infield. And that impact now is believed to be very confined, other parts of downtown got no benefit.

Titus Pullo

Brett mentions that nothing in the world compares to the IMS for attendance. Maybe not. The 24 hour sports race at the Nurburgring in Germany sometimes gets 290,000
people. Of course at some 16 miles, The Ring makes the indy track look like a short track

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C3%BCrburgring#Nordschleife_racing_today

Felipegana

I agree with yoy pdog.

We have to think here, that this activities have to be to attract new people, fans that might not be that interested with racing, but surely are interested with free activities, shows or whatever. Maybe people that doesn't have tix or doesn't want them. They just know that the "500" is huge, but wouldn't necesarily come for the racing.

Most of us here love racing, and IMS legends, history, etc. but that won't get you a lot of new fans. IMS won't survive just with traditions. Cars and racing aren't enough for most people...for now. If they knew the sport first hand easily, then they might like what they saw and keep coming to the 500/watching IndyCar races.

We need to engage new guys, and that's what the Superbowl Village/Activities did, open the doors for people that aren't hardcore football fans and that didn't really have any possibility to get ultra-expensive tix.

I would have some activities, old cars, simulators (maybe even a celebrity/drivers/media sim race) in Downtown and have something similar open in IMS infield or near the track. The 5k race that Zach proposes is a great idea too(Daytona does it for the 24 hour race and it has been very successful). I wouldn't even show up for that concert with music dinosaurs in Carb Day. Way to miss younger fans.

The Parade might be cool, but if you really aren't into them, then Saturday is a lost day. There's cool racing @ Lucas Oil Raceway, but if you're not reaaaaally hardcore you're not considering that. If you had something to do since, let's say Wednesday, people might even arrive early to Indianapolis to enjoy them and not only for the race.

Cheers!

Mike

Dog, are you you a race fan or do you want to go to Disneyland? Give me my Bronze Badges and Race tickets and I am happy.

ramblinman

Good topic, many different ideas. Mike says it fairly well above.

IMS has no lights, so night events are out.

There is no way fans are going to be mucking about in Gasoline Alley or anywhere near the race cars before the race, thank goodness.

I'm sure that the IMS and the city of Indy can do more to generate interest for the fans, as many have suggested above.

But unlike some who want a side show atmosphere, I've been very pleased with how the Indy 500 and IMS have gotten away from the carnival and have lead the new fans into the world of open wheel racing.

If seeing 33 cars scream into turn one doesn't get one's heart pumping, then why bother?

pressdog

Again, massive ups for both the ideas and the respectful commenting. Hugely appreciated. For me, whatever happens BEFORE race day doesn't detract FROM race day. So if you enjoy what's there now, especially on race day, additional stuff shouldn't detract from your enjoyment. For me it's about 1) widening the appeal and 2) getting out-of-town interest and revenue. I have long thought that 75% of the people who attend the race now will attend the race regardless of who is racing, etc. It's just their tradition and the act of attending is enjoyable to them. Great. I think IMS should aim to make a ticket to the race a hotter commodity -- as it was in my youth when getting a ticket to the race was like getting a ticket to a home game at Lambeau. Secondly, widen the appeal. Final argument for doing more on the days before the race -- it helps convert casual "give it a try" people into IndyCar fans. For those people who don't have instant conversion -- see it once and BAM, they are hooked -- it could easy them into fan hood. In any event, again, thanks for the discussion.

Chiefswon

How about a charity raffle with licensed (past and present) drivers. Bids taken on each driver for 2 seater rides. Winning bid for each driver get's a ride and a random drawing for each driver also get's a ride. Brings the past glory and the present into alignment and would be a true fan experience all to benefit a good cause...

cartracer20


Judging from FaceBook, it appears as though your WOPD (Woman of Press Dog) Sarah Fisher's been reading the blog again too!


karting west midlands

I think they're just looking for new ideas on how to attract more people to come and watch the race.

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