Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

January 11, 2012

How To Make Indy Car #1 Again, Including Ovals

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:40 am

Here are portions of the Disciple suggested game plan to return Indy Car to prominence in motor sports. I am certain lots of cloud toting critics will be along to inform us how the plan could never work, but hear me out anyway.

It is, and always has been, about what you can control. NASCAR gets a pass for being basically more spec than most, owning a lot of their own venues, and to a lot of people slow and boring. The Disciple Plan requires the courage it will take for Indy Car to grab their own destiny and ride to new heights. NASCAR controls their own destiny. Why shouldn’t Indy Car?

Jeff Belskus (and Randy Bernard by association) has his nose so far up Brian France’s arse that Brian’s larynx tickles. That must cease immediately despite the easy alternative (and thus typical IMS preferred choice) of simply maintaining status quo and a brown nose.

Indy Car could strengthen an alliance with SMI or do it on their own. The series I would build would include:

-Indy Cars, called Indy Pro (or some other suitable name). The Indy Cars would be much like we know them today.

-Indy Stock (or some other suitable name). This division would mimic NASCAR stock cars. Instead of mostly vanilla brand nameplates, the Indy Stocks would incorporate the more sporty models of participating automaker offerings . . . Corvettes, Acura NSX, etc.

-If a manufacturer desires to provide power to one branch, they must provide power for the other. Same with tires and other equipment.

-Those two marquees would run together every weekend except Indy. If this idea got off the ground one of the first things the Frances might do is pull out of the Brickyard. The lone exception to running the two series together every weekend would be Indy Stocks and associated series taking over on Brickyard weekend.

-In addition to the primary open wheel and the primary stock car series, each would have a ‘junior varsity.’ Indy Cars would have Indy Lights and Indy Stock would have Stock Lights. Both would also run every weekend except Indy. Already we are up to four series events every weekend.

-Each Indy Car ladder would also run most weekends, especially twisties.

-Indy Car must also invent an oval-only ladder rung that runs on ALL ovals in cars that have the same balance and power ratio characteristics as Indy Cars.

-Each venue would have a minimum of six races every weekend.

-Incorporate a meaningful, sponsored, high dollar ‘Triple Crown’ that includes one of each type of venue: Oval, natural terrain road course and festival o’ speed.

-Turn manufacturer partners into activating sponsors. Make each venue a mini-auto show that features all the new makes of all the participating manufacturers. Encourage manufacturers to give away, say, different denominations of vouchers that allow race fans to buy new cars at local dealers for, say, $500 to $1,000 off depending on a voucher they pick. Have tire manufacturers give away $50 coupons off a new set of their tires. Use local dealers in active promotion.

-Get all sponsors involved every weekend.

-Offer realistic weekend and single event pricing for individuals and families. Make every weekend ticket a garage pass on Fridays and Saturdays.

-Incorporate sponsor-driven, SHADY and PROTECTED hospitality and picnic areas for all patrons and not just VIPS (who would still have their own areas as well).

-Price merchandise realistically. Instead of selling $50 polo shirts, sell $25 polo shirts.

-Provide musical entertainment by name bands at every single event.

-Incorporate some form of extreme sport at every event.

-Cultivate (finally) a meaningful relationship with a television partner, preferably not ESPN, who has been in the tank for NASCAR since the mid-1990s. This would be a perfect opportunity for a new NBC Sports brand.

-What about venues? If aligned with SMI, all of their tracks could be involved. If not so aligned he would be happy to either rent or make some other arrangement.

-Forget ISC. That relationship should take a back seat to an Indy Car return to prominence.

-Hire a staff that knows how to manage an effective Web presence.

-Employ dedicated feet-on-the-ground personnel to occupy venue cities weeks before each event solely to create buzz.

Possible venues:

Ovals:

-Pocono

-Rockingham

-WDW

-Indy

-Milwaukee

-Memphis

-Nashville

-Gateway

-Iowa

-Texas

-Pikes Peak (go to court to re-open and promote heavily only in Colorado Springs and Pueblo)

-Other SMI venues such as Charlotte, Atlanta and Loudon.

-If common sense rules, Chicagoland and Kentucky are must haves.

Road courses:

-Mid Ohio

-Road America

-Barber

-Virginia Motorsports Park

-Austin (if it ever opens)

-Miller Motorsports Park

-Portland

-Something in Canada

-Something in Mexico

-Laguna Seca

Festivals o’ Speed:

-Long Beach

-St. Pete

-Cleveland

-Belle Isle

-Something in Canada

-Craft a schedule of ten ovals and ten non-ovals and we have a WINNER.

One great aspect of the plan is every car that races is controlled by Indy Car. No outside series will have to be paid to run. Manufacturers get a meaningful stage on which to promote their wares, and the fan experience will be consistent regardless of venue.

This sport could be headed toward the highest heights ever right now. 

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9 Comments »

  1. I can’t see any way Nascar would approve of this idea because you’re basically setting up a competing stock car series. So no Nascar ovals. And no Nascar sponsors. My initial thought is that this would take (much like your idea of replacing the seats at IMS) MASSIVE amounts of money–something the series doesn’t have. And it seems like–in creating the stock car portion– you’re basically admitting that no one likes open-wheel, and it’s tagging along on the heels of a new stock car series. But I’m all for thinking outside the box…

    I’d rather see Indycar add some dirt tracks like USAC in the olden days of yore.

    Comment by redcar — January 11, 2012 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

  2. This is a good idea. The manufacturers get behind it, it is doable.

    Comment by Mike Miller — January 11, 2012 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

  3. It’s too bad we cannot make Tony Stewart president of Indycar. The man loves racing. He will be racing in the Chili Bowl in midgets. He loves sprint cars and races in them when he can.

    Somehow we need to begin to work these kinds of things into indy car. Team up again with USAC. Whatever it takes. But it has to stay open wheel and on ovals as much as possible.

    I agree totally with redcar that we need to add dirt tracks if possible.

    I like the idea of tying some of these races together. But the emphasis has to be on ovals. A 50-50 mix to me won’t work in the long run. The fans of the two types of racing are just too different. Have enough there to spice the schedule, but I think a 75%oval -25% road course mix would work the best.

    The best drivers today, I am sad to say, are in NASCAR. But a plan like this could get some crossover from drivers like Tony Stewart,and that is what this league desperately needs.

    Comment by Bob F. — January 11, 2012 @ 4:03 pm | Reply

  4. Sounds a little like a return to the days of the 60’s and 70’s, when USAC had its own stock car series. It was entertaining, but no match against NASCAR. All the same, I like your ideas, although, no offense meant, much of it sounds like a pipe dream. I think a good basic start would be a return to the “Triple Crown”, using only the big tracks in addition to Indy–such as Pocono, Michigan, or Fontana. I don’t know why that couldn’t work, especially if they offer a “gimmick” such as was offered at Las Vegas.

    Comment by DOUG — January 11, 2012 @ 4:31 pm | Reply

  5. yea….like that would ever happen. Remember, this is the IRL you’re talking about. Aim as low as you can, and you’ll still be underwhelmed…..
    Editor’s Note: Oddly, it continues to hold your rapt attention though.

    P.S. why delete my post on little Al…no dumber than yours.
    Editor’s Note: I rarely delete comments unless they are stupid, pointless or off the topic. Sometimes some of the kids who use profanity and/or are not exactly literate get caught in a spam folder. In general, some helpful hints I might suggest would be to emulate the style of most any of the contributors above. I may not always agree with what they have to say, but their points are made in straightforward, adult fashion, and they usually don’t spout off without points about ‘the IRL’ and other such obsessions.

    Comment by J.B. — January 11, 2012 @ 4:37 pm | Reply

  6. Dear Defender:

    Whatever your smoking this New Year, please pass some along….I have given some thought to the reasons behind the steady but certain decline of Indy Car and, apart from the usual bashing that we engage in by blaming TG or CART’s leadership or the new economy or whatever, we continue to run into the same two reasons for the demise of not only the ovals but all types of events…Indy Car’s outrageous sanctioning fees, which drive away track owners, and the failure of Indy Car’s TV product, whether the substandard promotion on ABC/ESPN or the poorly viewed but improved telecasts on Versus (now NBC Sports Network)…we know that the stick and ball sports and NASCAR rely heavily on the income produced by their lucrative TV contracts with the Big 4 on air networks and ESPN and are less reliant on gate receipts and other forms of income such as merchandising, etc….in the years since the heyday of American Open Wheel back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, we have witnesses an erosion in the sport’s TV presence to the point where nobody but ABC/ESPN even bid on the rights to telecast the Indy 500 and a few select races on the schedule…we already know that the Versus/NBC package brings in little income so the question remains: how does the series make ends meet?

    This question leads into the growing problem of sanctioning fees….if Indycar continues relying on this method of generating income, we may have no events left on the schedule other than the 500 since track owners have been turning away from Indy Car events in droves and even the road/street events are having financial difficulty paying bills after paying out millions to the series…Ropin’ Randy bucked the trend by renting out LVMS for this season’s disastrous finale but even this tactic and perhaps having the series take the same approach to bring back some of our old favorite ovals (and even road/street events such as Cleveland) by paying the track owners instead of having the track owners pay the series. Of course, the pennies the series earns from its TV contracts makes this approach problematic but I cannot envision another way to ensure that ovals and even popular road/street events do not vanish from our memory.

    Paying track owners, whether ISC, SMI, Dover Motorsports, etc., will remove the stigma currently associated with having to pay heavy sanctioning fees only to lose money on hosting a series event…why would any track owner in the business of making money want to pay Indy Car to host a race that draws an awful gate and few dollars in vending, parking, etc. However, if the series is paying the bill, you could potentially put Michigan, Phoenix, Chicagoland back onto the schedule….

    Comment by Neil Rubin — January 11, 2012 @ 11:45 pm | Reply

  7. Dumbest idea ever. Why don’t you focus your efforts into creating a viable open wheel series instead of wishing IMS become king of the racing world?
    Editor’s Note: IMS is already king of the racing world.

    So, if this idea ever happened (0.00000001% chance) would you consider any Nascar driver who didn’t show up to the Brickyard 400 (now an ‘indy stock’) event to be a ‘boycotter’?
    Editor’s Note: Why would I do that?

    Comment by TroyM — January 13, 2012 @ 12:40 pm | Reply

  8. How do you pay for even a single one of your ideas?
    Editor’s Note: I don’t unless I buy tickets or merchandise. Business partners and sponsors provide meaningful funding.

    Comment by SaveUsJerebko — January 18, 2012 @ 1:11 pm | Reply

  9. “Craft a schedule of ten ovals and ten non-ovals and we have a WINNER….”

    Oh, yeah? So why couldn’t you and Tony George wait ONE MORE SEASON for that?

    The 1995 CART schedule had 6 oval races and 11 road/street events. For 1996, the IRL took Indy, Loudon and Phoenix in forming its schedule. IF the IRL had never happened, all you would have had to do was wait…since both Homestead and Rio came on board for the 1996 CART season and Gateway and Fontana were in place in 1997. All of them ovals…and voilà….10 ovals and 10 road/streets (with Homestead replacing the Bicentennial Park street race in Miami).

    The next change in CART was 1998, with a street race in downtown Houston AND an oval race in Motegi, Japan. Still an even split between the roundys and the roadies.

    Go ahead, Defender…edit away. Spin these facts to make TG look like a genius in creating his racing league when the ovals in 1995 were full of fans and the Nielsens for Indy was beating the Daytona 500.
    Editor’s Note: So I suppose you are one of the deluded few who believe that had Tony George not formed the IRL cart would still be at that lofty height? Couple of things….1) None of you ever consider fundamental aspects of evolution, and 2) Whe left to their own devices, cart killed itself. Twice. Besides, what relevant point can possibly be achieved in 2012 by arguing about events that occurred in 1996?

    Comment by Indy1969 — February 9, 2012 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

  10. No delusions…just presenting facts. Tell me where I’m wrong on them, if you would.

    Ten ovals and ten road/temp courses were destined for CART in 1997. Period. YOU’RE the one making prognostications about the series’ future from there…not me. CART in 1995 was doing quite well for itself then…and no, it WAS NOT left to fail on its own as you contend. IMHO, its best bullring oval (Phoenix), its signature speedway (Indy) and a rising star (Loudon) were gone the next year; up until then, the series had been on a course of growth. If you want to project into anyone’s future, think of Winston Cup had Bruton Smith decided to take his SMI tracks to do the same thing that Tony George had in splitting American open wheel…and THEN tell me that it wouldn’t have had any effect on the continued growth of NASCAR to where it is now.

    You presented a scenario of 10 roundys and 10 roadys that is absolute pie-in-the-sky at this point. I merely showed where your “WINNER” formula could have been reality had TG left well enough alone back in the mid-90s. Where we would have gone from there is anyone’s guess…certainly your own and mine included. Doesn’t mean a damn thing when it’s 2012; then again, given the realities we have today, neither does your dream.
    Editor’s Note: Anything that happened in 1995, be it cart or Indy Car, is completely irrelevant sixteen years down the road. What is the point? Ten ovals (or more) and an equal balance of road courses IS a good balance/compromise. Why wouldn’t any actual racing fan try in the context of 20121 to make it a reality?

    Comment by Indy1969 — February 9, 2012 @ 6:44 pm | Reply

    • Because today, your 10/10 is a myth…your personal pipe dream. It very well could have been reality fifteen seasons ago, but as John Lennon once sang, you can imagine it if you try.

      And completely irrelevant sixteen years down the road? Well, sixteen seasons down the road from its beginning, CART in 1994 was thriving and growing. The IRL/Indycar? Not so much. In fact, IIRC, there has never been a single season where tRL/IC made a profit. Constant infusions from the Hulman family fortune are the only reason it even exists at this point.
      Editor’s Note: Well thank goodness, then, for such infusions. Obviously it did not work out that well for cart. Twice. Are you one of the gullible who believe the number is over 3/4 of a billion then parrot it as if it’s gospel? LOL.

      Comment by Indy1969 — February 10, 2012 @ 3:36 pm | Reply


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