Howdy. What be up, besides me at 5:30 a.m.? Just another day in self-employed paradise. Picture me in my unfinished basement, at my messy, build-it-yourself $99 Office Depot desk, next to my blazing space heater. GLAMOR! It’s really a sad sight and would greatly damage my professional rep (insert chortle here) if a photo got out. So let’s DRINK (dark roast), ye BASTARDS and discuss.
Indianapolis Racing League —Let’s start with the one that will get me called the most names, specifically a mini-rant against the navel-gazing of IndyCar. According today’s Indianapolis Star, new über-boss Mark Miles is strongly considering having a season-ending race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014. Read it here.
But, since I live in Des Moines, Iowa, which is eight hours from Indianapolis, let’s just say I’m not enthused about this “fall back to fortified Indy” move we seem to be have going here. Plus, ending the season on a road course? Welcome to Champ Car. Yeah, I said it. I mean, it’s OK to like ovals, right? Sometime I wonder. Every time I express affection for ovals I get some form of “YOU HATE ROAD RACES! WE KNEW IT ALL LONG” feedback. It’s not either/or for me, but Judas H. Priest on a palomino, throw me an oval bone before WEEK 5.
Plus basically every fan event etc. etc. etc. is in Indianapolis. Again, rationally I get it. You have you fan events where the fans are, and that’s overwhelmingly in Indy. But insert chicken and egg here. How do you grow fans outside of Indy — where clearly the most opportunity for growth is — if you focus heavily on Indy?
No doubt Indianapolis is The Market for IndyCar. The Indy 500 on ABC gets about SIXTEEN TIMES the TV ratings of a non-Indy race on NBC Sports Network and about four or five times a non-Indy race on ABC. It seems to be the one race sponsors are interested in and the huge money maker for the whole enterprise. So do you focus on making your biggest fish in the pond bigger, or try to fatten up the little fishes?
There are concerns among fans about IndyCar going to the well (expecting Indy fans to pony up for tickets) too often. It’s probably a good bet by Miles that IMS-loving IndyCar fans will turn out in enough numbers to make the finale profitable, and probably higher numbers than they turn out for a finale at Fontana.
Bottom line for me and probably others of us who live out here in the sticks (outside Indiana) just more “we don’t care as much about you as we do about Indianapolis fans” vibe. Look, I appreciate everything IndyCar does out side of Indianapolis and I am NOT saying they don't do anything. But compared to what goes on in Indy, well, it's incredibly lopsided.So maybe it's like a sibling who gets a nice, two-year-old used car and then her sister gets a brand new Porsche. Sibling one is grateful, yet envious.
I hear your “you’re just jealous” and “cry me a river,” response. Harsh, but fair. But instead of crying or learning to be OK with it or sucking it up, or hoping next time we'll get the goodies or whatever helpful advice we get, it’s more likely we just say “fine then” and move along with our viewership and dollars to one of the million options we have for both. Judging by TV ratings and attendance at non-Indy races, many have already moved along for whatever reason. But, hey, #Indy500orBust, right?
(I can pretty much gurantee this is the last such "you don't love us as much" rant you'll see from me, so fear not the continuous whining.)
IndyCar is in Long Beach this weekend. Some talk in this SPEED.com article about Kim Green and Kevin Savoree trying to buy the operating rights to Long Beach. They own Green-Savoree Racing Promotions, which owns the Mid-Ohio road course and also operates races at St. Petersburg and Toronto. F1’s Bernie Ecclestone is also thought to be interested in buying what Robin Miller calls “the second most prestigious event in the IZOD IndyCar series.” Read the details here.
At least one fan from Toronto says she’d appreciate if Green-Savoree promoted that race properly before acquiring another. WHAMMY. The Long Beach race is April 21 at 4 p.m. Eastern on NBC Sports Network.
F1 TV Ratings -- On April 17, my new close, personal friend Austin Karp (@AustinKarp), Assistant Managing Editor at SportsBusiness Daily tweeted out some info on the number of viewers for F1 so far. In two tweets he said ...
Thru 3 races, F1 on NBCSN averaging 119K viewers for live telecasts (all early morning). Last year on Speed = 250K . For replays on Sunday afternoons, F1 races on NBCSN averaging 145K viewers. Last year on Speed = 260K
So figure average of 264,000 viewers for an F1 race so far, when you combine watching live and watching replay. Earlier in April Jenna Fryer of the AP tweeted some mathematics that I figured equated to 250,000 viewers for IndyCar at Barber this year. (Details here.)
So we’re looking at a ratings dead heat between F1 and IndyCar. Useful information and I appreciate Austin sharing. It also shows that NBC Sports Network is still below SPEED numbers. To be expected in some sense because when you move something from one station to another it takes a while for people to catch up. Also, not as many people have NBC Sports Network on the cable or satellite programming packages.
Not sure what it tells us, besides that IndyCar is keeping up, viewer-wise, with the best road and street racers in the world here in America so far this year. It also tells us that not a ton of people here in America watch F1 or IndyCar road and street races. Don’t hate on me; I’m just looking at the numbers. Last year F1 on SPEED, which had the programming forever and is in more homes (I am assuming) than NBC Sports Network, hardly drilled it out of the park averaging 510,000 viewers for the first three races of 2012. That’s about double the average viewers for an IndyCar of any kind on NBC Sports Network last year. The next bit of interesting info will be TV ratings from the F1 race in America later this year.
NASCAR Nukes Penske --NASCAR is at Kansas Speedway this weekend. It’s the first race since NASCAR dropped the hammer on Penske Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and Ron Hornaday Wednesday. Basically, there were fines and such involved. The biggest napalm drop was on Penske Racing. Full details here, but the upshot is the crew chiefs and “car chiefs” and engineers for Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano were each suspended for six races and fined $100,000 each. Keselowski and Logano lost some points but not money.
The allegation is that Penske was trying to use some illegal rear end parts. Penske is appealing. The thing is, NASCAR don’t play. It’s clear who the boss is in NASCAR, and that would be the commissioner-like France family. If you don’t like it, there’s the door.
Keselowski, in particular, seems vocally pissed and told the KC media “Our team operates with a continuous chip on our shoulder, so maybe it’s a little bit bigger,” Keselowski said. Read more here
I don’t know if this was a just penalty or not, but I do know who the alpha is in NASCAR. Ironically Roger Penske himself called for a similar no-bullshit approach from IndyCar leadership in late March when he told MotorsportsTalk.com:
“We’ve never had a strong enough leader as they do in NASCAR,” Penske said. “They say, ‘Hey, guys, here’s the rules, here’s how we’re going to race. Guess what? If you don’t like it you can park your car outside and sit in the stands.’ And that’s what we need. We need some leadership. And I think that we can develop that as we go forward over the next 12 months.”
That is the definition if irony. But I agree with Roger in general. IndyCar needs a leader who doesn’t genuflect to the owners and approaches things from the motivation of doing what’s best to attract fans to the sport overall.
Kansas Speedway is a great track and only three hours from my house. I mulled driving down there for the April race but decided to stick with going to the Oct. 6 race there only. NASCAR at Kansas is Sunday, 4/21 at 1 p.m. on FOX
Sunday will be a big race day! F1 from Bahrain airs live at 7:30 a.m. Eastern on NBC Sports Network with a noon replay.
That’s it. Day job calls. Have a good one.