Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The IndyCar Series...

Welcome to IndyCar Garage's official blog and the first post!

Obviously, if you're even remotely interested in the IndyCar series, you were given a great surprise today with the "serious" merger talks. I know, I know, you're all thinking "heard that one before" but it appears that this time the deal could be for real. And I couldn't be happier.

I love IndyCar racing. I think it's the most exciting racing around - better than NASCAR, F1 and any other style of racing around. However, until the league starts doing some basic things right, it will remain in second place to NASCAR in the US. I've got an example that really bothered me with the announcement of the IndyCar Downforce Fan Club....

IndyCar.com just released their new fan club. A fee-based fan club. A $30 fee-based fan club with $15 per year after that. Now, assuming we can all afford the membership fee, I still ask the question...why? Now, some would be quick to point out that there are several advantages to becoming a member and that the membership fee is quickly recouped in merchandise/tickets/etc. traded for points earned by simply being a member and watching the races. And they would be right. But -- for one of the most popular trends in sports right now - fantasy sports - to only be available to paying fans is completely and totally backwards. Fantasy sports turn occasional fans into die-hard fans because fantasy sports engage the audience. You begin to not only care about what your driver is doing, but how every driver in the series is doing. Not only are you tracking your favorite, your tracking who you have racing on your team that week and who your competitor has. It engages fans in a way that just watching the race on TV can't match. And right now, the IndyCar series has a large audience of less than engaged fans. There are plenty of people who get excited about IndyCar when it comes to their city, or around the Indy 500 time and then lose interest. Why not engage those people in a fantasy league? If I'm one of those people and I log on hoping to get started in a fantasy league but see that in order to access that feature, it will cost me money, I may decide that it's not worth it for a race that only comes around once a year. Or, what if I'm a previous ChampCar fan who is interested in switching over and following the IRL series --- a $30 fee right off the bat could be enough to turn me off to the series completely. The IRL is building "one race" fans and not "series" fans. NASCAR, to its credit, has done the opposite.

Future posts will not be so negative, I promise. I have 10x more positive things to say about the series than negative - this was just something that caught my attention today.

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