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May 02, 2013

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JPIndyCar

A couple things:

What never seems to sink in sometimes is an acknowledgement that IndyCar is primarily funded by B2B marketing and not consumer marketing. While measures exist for measuring the effectiveness of consumer ROI, none exist for measuring whether or not the Target employees and vendors that receive perk admission to the races and hospitality tents are digging their VIP access. Only Target might be able to gauge that through employee retention or favorable vendor deals.

The teams that learn to deliver on this type of marketing opportunity to their sponsors will succeed, those that can offer nothing more than impressions on a 23rd place car during a race that pulls a .3 rating will fail.

Yes, everything becomes easier for everyone if race broadcasts actually delivered GRP's which are the easiest form of marketing to sell and YES that does require fans. But for me, the time to gauge progress on that metric is during the ABC races From Indy to Pocono. If those can deliver north of a 1.2 or 1.3 the ability of teams to sell impression based sponsorship for 2014 will improve.

Thesmartestguyintheroom

THANK YOU, Bill, for finally coming to a conclusion I agree with. Rather than getting bent out of shape over things I cannot control-ratings, attendance, tracks, etc,-I have just learned to accept that fact and go forward.

As a fan of INDYCAR, as well as many other sports, I realize that, unless I have billions of dollars-which I do not-or know billions of people-which I also do not-there is very little I can do to change certain things. In regards to the debate over how to change things, the problem I find is that like all debates, it eventually devolves into an ESPN First Take/24 Hour news channel cycle of a bunch of people talkin' loud and saying nothing, people talking AT each other rather than TO each other. People take very hardline stands-including myself-and are unwilling to listen to the other person's point of view, even when they do have something intelligent to say. So, why engage in this nonsense? Nothing will get solved, and the only result is hard feelings on both sides. I appreciate your newfound willingness to avoid this trap.

pressdog

I know, Thesmartest. I did so well for so long and then just fell off the don't get bunched up about it wagon. Relapsed. I've staged my own intervention and now I'm back on the wagon.

Bob Calandrino

The mental midgets at 16th & Georgetown have missed or blown every possible opportunity to begin fixing the destruction of the sport originally foisted back in 1995 by the mindless idiot and then further harmed (if that's even possible) by the ham-fisted "unification" attempt a few year ago.

There is literally nothing attractive or interesting about the series as it exists today.

The horrendous TV ratings and minuscule fan base are merely the symptomatic results of the atrocious decisions that have been made (and not made) by the various ignoramuses in charge of all aspects of the sport over the last 15 years.

The only was I can envision the sport ever having the opportunity to successfully resurrect itself starts with having the current series sold or shut down.

Maybe (and that's a big maybe) someone with some intelligence, brains and know-how can come up with a compelling plan to bring north american based formula car racing back to some level of mainstream relevance. I can tell you it won't happen with ugly, underpowered spec cars and a multitude of slow speed street races comprising the bulk of the schedule.

If they do not, this version of "indycar" will ultimately fail in due time and the sports landscape will be a better place for it. One has to wonder how long the H-G family will continue funding what most everyone else sees as just a massive turd that needs to be flushed.


redcar

Maybe people (as a massive audience) aren't that interested in automobile races anymore. Yeah, Nascar--and it's Detroit backing and rolling billboards that act as DVR-proof commercials--does okay, but even it is dropping off from it's peak.

Automobile racing seems to be going the way of horse racing, prizefighting and dance marathons. People will attend "event" races--Kentucky Derby, Indy 500--but the grassroots support is vanishing. I don't think it's about engines or spec cars or any of that. You could let fans in for free and offer to wash their cars and babysit their kids, but I don't think it'd help all that much.

Ted Wolfram

Pressdog...get off that wagon and join in a discussion (you need to monitor) of NOT what is wrong, hell we all know that, but what WILL work.

I'll throw the first rock in the pond.....let's agree that if the product demands a lower price of entry....then a lower cost of the car and engine (that is our basic product) needs to be developed...agree?

Maybe we need to first define what IndyCar is and is not..It is NOT F1. It is NOT a developmental series for new ideas. It is a US based racing series for open wheel cars. Any INNOVATION is for the express purpose of winning races. The cars need to have an approved safety cell and develop 900 HP and demand driving skills not just bravery. Am I even close to what fans want and the series can afford?

If a substantial majority of FANS agree and based on a 300,000 TV audience for most venues except Indy...For the series to succeed...the cost needs to be NO MORE than what? I'll throw out $1.25 million per car, that is a complete car...chassis and engine. No leases..OWNED!

I await incoming roacks!!


bradman

I agree with redcar's comments. I've noticed a definite disinterest in motorsports in recent years. And, the SCCA has been worried about the "graying" of its ranks (and decline in club racers) for at least a decade. I really think that underlying this is that young people today just aren't as connected to their cars (motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles) as those of us who are now middle-aged. We often changed our own oil (and still do), and did our own tune-ups (remember those?) and other car repairs. Where I work has many 20 and 30 somethings, and I don't know of a single one who does their own car maintenance. (Admittedly, however, there's not much to maintain on modern cars.) I really don't think there is much of a car culture anymore. When was the last time you heard a car-related song on the radio that wasn't on an oldies station? Hmmm, now I wish I hadn't responded to this thread. I'm bummed out now. I'm a dinosaur...

DZ

I'm beginning to wonder if Indycar fans (and Mssrs. Belskus and Miles, don't call us 'core' or 'die-hard', because we essentially are all that remains - just call us 'the fans' please) aren't the most emotionally invested of all autosport fans in the world. Perhaps emotion is all many of us have left.

The more I try to take a step back and look at it with fresh eyes, the more I see autosport in many forms on a general and steady decline in viewership (which I suspect has much to do with the vast number of other diversions and a waning interest in car culture in the US).

If we assume the above is true (and a waning interest in cars in general by younger demographics), two options remain: market a new product to the younger demographics and gain their attention/interest or reduce the cost of participation so the ROI on 350k people is feasible.

I'm now on the wagon too Bill. Believe it or not, my head finally hurts from the wall-bashing it's been doing.

Love the racing, but if it can't survive, it won't matter.

Chiefswon

Redcar's idea may be right. I had not given that much thought before.... I even see it with my kids. As far as B2B vs B2C...If the end consumer and target market is Business Organizations....take down the Stands and put up Hospitality Tents. Wish I had an answer....

Indy

an approved tub and 900 h.p. so they can unleash a beast and do 236mph lap speeds around Indy,michigan and fontana. That's a recipe for success. How can fans not want to see and hear that Jack

Ron Ford

I agree with what redcar, bradman, and dc had to say, so I will not repeat much of that. I think it is much too simplistic to just focus on "fans". For a variety of reasons, there is simply not the interest in cars by young people (potential fans) as there used to be. I can't remember the last time I saw a young person in my neighborhood working on a car, modifying a car, etc. What are they doing instead? Mostly texting it seems like.

NASCAR is becoming more like a reality show than a racing series. Perhaps therein lies whatever remaining popularity it enjoys.

In addition, the way people watch entertainment and when is undergoing a steady shift. Cable will continue to lose viewership in favor of internet related sources.

Finally Bill, can you say your life is really better with a twitter account? There is hardly a day that goes by without some twit apologizing for or regretting some tweet. Why has it become necessary for us to transmit every waking thought out to the general public? Some people actually evaluate their self-worth by the amount of twitter followers they have. Sheesh!

pressdog

I like Twitter 99% of the time. It is a great way for people who share an interest like racing to interact.

Phil Kaiser

Uncle pressdog, here is some anecdotal evidence how INDYCAR just doesn't get it when it comes to fan outreach. On St. Valentine's Day my wife bought me an IndyCarNation (the official INDYCAR Fan Club) membership for the second year in a row. Last year I got a cool membership kit in a couple of weeks and won some paddock passes @ Milwaukee with it and generally loved and used my membership. Fast Forward to this year and when my membership was renewed I got an email stating the kits would be sent out in late March. Today is May 3rd and I have yet to get it. The woman who ran IndyCarNation last year is gone, and after contacting them every Monday (very nicely) since April 2 the new person running it has become very snarky as if I'VE done something wrong while I still have no kit after being asked to give her five business days three times for the past three weeks! All we did was pay our $35 for the membership and I'VE done something wrong? You know, I love and hate the fact that 16th & Georgetown is a family-run operation, but it's become so rinky-dink now and they really don't have a freaking clue how to attract fans out there. It's SO IRRITATING, because Indy Car has been my passionately favorite sport since I was four(1966, GO AJ!)!

More anecdotal evidence: have you seen the ticket prices for the 60th Hoosier Hundred, to be run on the THURSDAY night before Carb Day this year? Twenty-five dollars a ticket, $30 at the door! In THIS economy? REALLY? Are these people HIGH? $25-$30 a ticket for a dirt race on a one-groove track with no big-name drivers on a Thursday night on the busiest race weekend in the area???? That's barely worth $15 a ticket! Idiotic, I tell you, and no way to get new fans, imho.

Btw, I just discovered you a few months ago and cannot wait to read your stuff, LOVE your sense of humor!

vern

"Pressdog...get off that wagon and join in a discussion (you need to monitor) of NOT what is wrong, hell we all know that, but what WILL work."

Regarding that comment--have you been paying attention to whats happened and is happening to Indycar? NO ONE cares--certainly not enough and you cant force feed a series or a sport to the mainstream America. The main issue is there is nothing to draw in the fans to Indycar anymore. The old fans love the oval racing as that's what Indycar is about--NOT a low class road course series. Regardless of tv ratings here F1 is infact the premium in road course racing and Indycar is simply playing 2nd fiddle to F1 as they have no choice as they lost their ovals that the older fans yrs ago were interested in that made this series what it was. Now not enough are left that care as they once did and not enough new fans care enough about the series either--end of story.

There is NO remedy as Ive said many times before--you can promote a dead horse all you want but if the GP & mainstream audience doesn't want a dead horse, there is nothing you can do to make them like it--period. The new cars, different engines etc drew about as much attention as a dead horse, as there is nothing or no one in Indycar that interests the mainstream GP/viewers anymore--not enough anyway.

Indycar is what it is and the fans they have is what it is, so until sponsors start dropping the series will motor along just fine as it has been for yrs now, but for how long is the question?

GeorgeK

"For a variety of reasons, there is simply not the interest in cars by young people (potential fans) as there used to be. I can't remember the last time I saw a young person in my neighborhood working on a car, modifying a car, etc. What are they doing instead? Mostly texting it seems like."

Ron Ford wins the Kewpie doll for scoring best reason for lack of fan interest!

Historically people raced against each other for the sheer competition; Racing "fans" evolved from the car enthusiasts who related to that competitive spirit.

I think all forms of racing may be heading the way of the Dodo, as another extinct activity and quaint historical footnote of 20th century life.

pressdog

I see where you are all going with the "car culture" discussion, and don't disagree, but I was in high school in the very early '80s and neither I nor many of my friends were doing all the maintenance and modifying that you describe above. Of course nobody I knew then was a big NASCAR or IndyCar fan either. We'd go to the dirt track a few times a month and listen to/view the 500 but that was it. Similarly, a love of the automobile is not what made me care again about IndyCar around about 2000 either. Sarah Fisher doing well in a male-dominated sport is what got my attention again, and the speed and thrills of IndyCar two-wide at 221 is what hooked me. In fact, I don't even like cars. I see them as expensive machines waiting to drain you of your cash. Maybe it is because my father was an auto mechanic and I grew up seeing cars in various states of disassemble and realized they're just machines and nothing to get romantic about. For me it has always been the drivers and the competition, not the vehicle. So while the "nobody loves cars anymore" is probably part of the reason racing in general and IndyCar in particular are losing interest, it's not all of it, or even most of it in my view. I would say the shortening attention span of people in general and the younger generations in particular is more of a culprit here. Asking my daughters (18 and 21) to invest two hours in watching ANYTHING on TV that's not a movie is like asking to win the lottery. Not going to happen. And there is no way on the planet they would watch a road/street race for more than 10 minutes. My daughters and 78-year-old parents are, however, always interested in how Danica did. I still think it's about the drivers, and IndyCar drivers just can't get traction with big audiences. Chicken and egg ... nobody sees the drivers so the drivers can't excite anyone to get them to tune in. I continue to believe that building an exceptional fan experience at the track is one of the best approaches here, and I outlined some ideas for that in the post that is linked above. As always, I super appreciate the comments and discussion here.

Ted Wolfram

NBC Sports really loves IndyCar (and they have 6 more years on the contract)....qualifying for the Brazil Parade...er, race takes place at 1:35 PM EDT TODAY, and NBC Sports will broadcast it at 1:00 AM Sunday Morning!!

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