Thursday, March 3, 2011

10 ideas to help INDYCAR heading into 2011 - Part 2

10 ideas to help INDYCAR heading into 2011 – Part 2

Part 2 on: Oval racing, 2011 Indy 500, Bang for your buck, Brand development for your drivers, and VEGAS BABY

6. Don’t lose your oval base

Motegi is off the 2012 schedule, therefore reducing the number of ovals to 7, assuming that Vegas and Milwaukee are back in 2012. INDYCAR is slipping and if you asked others, already slipped, into the type of schedule that dominated CART in the early 1990’s. Bernard has said it’s important to maintain a balance of oval and road/street courses, but he might have his work cut out for him on the oval part. Lets count the ovals real quick that have maintained good crowds on ovals since the merger. Indy, Iowa and Texas would be the three headliners, Kentucky, Milwaukee, and Motegi have been decent. Chicago’s last race was bad, as was Kansas’s attendance in 2010. INDYCAR needs tracks that want them and want to promote them, in the case of most ovals in the country , they are owned by NASCAR based ISC, not a good combination. Look for maybe Nashville, California, or Phoenix to come back into the mix in 2012.
7. Blow the lid off the 2011 Indy 500

May 29th 2011, will mark the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500 and mark the biggest race of the INDYCAR season. The Indy 500 has struggled since the split and T.V. ratings have been largely overshadowed by the Daytona 500, but INDYCAR has a chance this year to truly showcase its premier event. While I am not a huge fan of the slogan “The Most Important Race Ever” , Several events are planned for this year's 500. Among the highlights, a parade lap of all former living winners and the world’s largest autograph session. Check out on how too vote for the greatest 33 drivers ever to race in the Indy 500. At the state of INDYCAR address, IMS marketing staff promised one of the largest stunts ever attempted, we don’t really know what that means yet, but I am sure we will find out soon. Randy Bernard has casually mentioned breaking the track record this year in a made for T.V. special, still no official word though. All in all, this year promises too be great and hopefully INDYCAR and IMS will have their acts together too produce a great month of events and race track activity. Dream winners for this year? In no particular order, Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, and for T.V. ratings purposes, Danica Patrick. Start praying for good weather.
8. Give fans as much bang for their buck as possible

The economy is tight and motorsports in general have suffered over the past year, so getting fans too the track is a much more difficult task than it used too be. Fans at the track have to get the best bang for their buck as possible. For example, at Iowa last year, I witnessed USF2000 qualifying and race, Star Mazda qualifying and race, IZOD IndyCar qualifying, and the Indy Lights qualifying and race, 9 A.M. till 9 P.M., cars were on the track at IOWA. INDYCAR needs to bring their ladder system with them to as many venues as possible in order to fill up the time on the track and expose their younger drivers as much as possible. Robin Miller even suggested that you could almost pack everything into one day, while I disagree, I do think you could have some very exciting two day events. From the time the gates open for fans to the time they close, cars need to be on the track. INDYCAR is doing a good job at giving their fans bang for their buck, but they need too start doing a great job.

9. Develop a brand for your drivers

Foyt, Mears, Unser, Andretti, Rahal, Sullivan, Sneva, Unser Jr, and the list could go on for awhile depending on who you rooted for, but the bottom line for INDYCAR is that back in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, drivers had brand identity. Most of those names where developed as superstars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and that is what brought them media attention to the secondary markets of INDYCAR’s other races. The split did no-one any favors on developing your drivers, and the wounds are just starting to heal, but INDYCAR could position themselves around a core of young brand drivers so that fans can grow with them. The reason the Tony Kanaan story is so saddening is that common fans won’t be able to identify him as the IndyCar driver in the e green 7/11 driver this year. Generations of fans grow up rooting for drivers and their cars, the more the drivers and the cars change, the more fans get confused or turned off.

10. 100,000k for Vegas

I don’t know exactly how the 80,000 free tickets will work for the season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but hopefully INDYCAR has a strong plan behind it. Some details are starting to come out and can be found at

With the free tickets and the other 44,000 INDYCAR is hoping to sell, there should be a huge crowd for the last race of the 2011 season. A reasonable goal would be 100,000 for Vegas, and that would easily be the second highest attended race of the year after Indy, Texas usually draws around 80,000 – 90,000. Randy Bernard and his staff will have too work hard to promote this, but with race on network T.V. and the championship usually decide on the last few laps of the last race, all of the stories should be in place for an exciting event. INDYCAR also needs to capture some decent names for the five, one off non-INDYCAR drivers for the five million bonus, but that’s another story for another day.