Q: You are spot on with your commentary about the ovals. After spending most of my adult life in advertising and marketing (and fighting against a lot of the nonsense marketing gurus pass off as gospel) there is one aspect of marketing wisdom that is utterly true now. You cannot expect today's consumer to only want the THING...it's not enough. Today, people want the whole EXPERIENCE, and that's why the road and street courses are successful and the ovals are not. I grew up going to a lot of short track races but have been converted to a road racing enthusiast because it is so much more involving to be able to wander around to different vantage points and not just be stuck in an aluminum bleacher for hours leading up to the show. To your point, there are many things the series must do to reinvigorate the oval part of the schedule, but until they figure out a way to allow the spectators more up close and personal experiences, they have a tough road to hoe.
Steve C., Ithaca, NY
RM: The great thing about IndyCar is that anybody can buy a paddock/pit pass and get access not allowed in NASCAR or F1, but expecting people to sit around for a few hours waiting on ONE race (unless it’s the Indianapolis 500) just isn’t happening. I know it costs the tracks extra to run Indy Lights or Star Mazda and that’s why IndyCar needs to be a co-promoter of ovals. Robby Gordon’s high-flying trucks keep people entertained at St. Pete, Long Beach, Detroit and Toronto (and they were at Indy this year) so an oval promoter has got to branch out. Eddie Gossage has used Red Bull Global Rallycross and other forms of motorsports through the years at Texas because he learned from Bruton Smith that there’s more than the main event.
Q: I was just wondering why the series does not consider doubleheaders at Iowa or Milwaukee. It is obvious that IndyCar has a problem giving fans a lot of on track action on ovals. It is crazy to have a race at 7:30pm and have no activity beforehand. Why not shorten the distance of an oval and run one Saturday and one Sunday?
Also, with NASCAR coming over to NBC and NBCSN, would IndyCar ever consider working a buyout with NBCSN to get out of the deal? The idea would be to keep the 5-6 races that ABC pays for and buy airtime with the proceeds of any NBCSN buyout for the remaining races that ABC would not be willing to pay. I know what the series would get in any buyout would not cover all the airtime to purchase but it would help. My thought process is that 300,000-400,000 viewers a race is killing the series and it would be easier for the teams to get sponsors if they averaged 900,000-1,300,000 viewers a race.
Brian, Joliet, Illinois
RM: I’ve written this many times but the old twin 150s at Michigan or Trenton were some of the best races and bargains for fans ever. Randy Bernard tried it at Texas (at night) a couple years back but it really needs to be a noon opener, a 90-minute intermission and then the second race at 4 o’clock. Practice in the morning (using those speeds to set the lineup) and give the paying customers some bang for their buck. I think we want to wait and see how many people NASCAR drives to NBCSN next year before talking about bailing. Sure, NASCAR will be front and center but it will also create an awareness of NBCSN as the motorsports network and maybe IndyCar and F1 will reap the benefits. If NBC was ever allowed to run 3-4 IndyCar races (like F1 does) it would draw a couple million viewers just like ABC does.
Q: Your oval commentary was dead on! I say we need at least one oval prior to Indy and go deeper into the year with scheduling. Run Saturdays w/Sunday back up. (Saying this because I think more people watch pro football than college football). Also, paying attention to what the individual races are up against regarding other events in the same area at the same time. I know a person who doesn't like road or street courses because she says she just sees the cars go by...gone, then come again – only watches ovals. Bring "retired" racecars ahead of a race in malls or grocery stores with former or current drivers. Let people have a Q&A session, pass out hats and cater to kids. Wine and dine local sports media guys/gals WITH some drivers in attendance.
Dan Gallion, Ft. Worth, Texas
RM: I remember Johnny Rutherford and Chuck Rodee coming to slot car Indy 500 one year at Southern Plaza and they probably made more fans in two hours at that shopping mall than can be imagined. I’d bring back something like the Champion Spark Plug High School Safety Team (Indy drivers speaking to schools during the off-season). And I’ve never met a sportswriter who’d would turn down a free meal with a driver. It’s promotion and it’s all been done before but it’s not being done anymore. At least not enough.
Q: The way to fix IndyCar Racing 101? Just listen. Horsepower must be the largest in auto racing. Put drivers in TV commercials for Verizon, Snapple, DHL, Target, etc. in prime time TV. Put out a line of toys with the drivers cars and names. Stop rotating drivers; drivers should stay with the same teams and sponsors and car numbers. Double file restarts on ovals and street/road and standing starts on all street/road courses. Larger Indy 500 purse, no speed limits in the pits and bring back apron. Lower infield tickets by 50%. More races on the East coast like Watkins Glen, Loudon, NH and Port Imperial N.J. The series must be on NBC, FOX or ABC not CNBC or NBCSN.
Tony, Mamaroneck, NY
RM: Can’t stop drivers from switching rides or teams from stealing them and it would be great if NBC was allowed to show a few races but ABC has a clause that prevents it (as it stands today). The Glen and Road America are musts and need to be doubleheaders with the TUDOR sports car championship. And I’d rather go back to Richmond than Loudon.
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