Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

October 30, 2014

The 2015 IndyCar Schedule is Released…Verdict?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 6:38 pm

New Foyt Full TimeThe 2015 IndyCar schedule was released today and for the most part it remains underwhelming. Most of us understand the difficulty of piecing together that puzzle and appreciate the hard work that goes into it. Still, it remains troubling and here is why:

-There are only 17 events, and that is a stretch because it includes two races in one weekend in downtown Detroit and the two events in Indianapolis.

-The schedule is 65% non-oval. Perhaps the people in charge still feel that shoving something that has repeatedly failed down the throats of potential fans they are mostly unsuccessfully trying to attract will somehow have a different outcome.

-It still ends before Labor Day. Hindsight screams about how ludicrous a notion that is.

-The primary TV partner is doing IndyCar no favors. Oh sure, IndyCar will blow smoke up everyones’ arses about how six events are on ABC, but the reality is they are only in three physical places: St. Pete during spring break, Indy in May (cherry-picked again), and Detroit the week after. Everything else is NBCSN and nothing elevated to NBC (as F1 has done). ESPN/ABC’s lack of commitment is obvious. Why IMS/IndyCar won’t push for a change to the terms that allows the brand on NBC is beyond me. That kind of exposure would be good for all parties.

NOPotentially good:

-Spacing seems about right.

-The sole foreign money grab event is in the fringe. What happened with Dubai?

-New Orleans in April works for us.

-Neither Pocono nor Fontana is scheduled on a holiday weekend.

How IndyCar can improve its fortunes, even with such a limited schedule:

-Get off your corporate, pompous arses and do something meaningful for a change with the presentation and promotion of events, especially the few remaining ovals. Give people a full weekend of reasons to show up. A small number of IndyCars and Michael Young screaming into a microphone no longer works, as evidenced by the increasingly paltry attendance.

-Run the entire ladder as well as outside series at EVERY event, even if you have to use another part of a facility (like a road course configuration at Pocono for some of the rungs).

-Invest in and promote the hell out of two triple crowns: One for the big ovals that includes Indy, Pocono and Fontana, and one that emphasizes diversity: Long Beach (street), Texas (oval) and Barber or MO (road). Offer 3 million to any triple crown winner. Chances are you’ll hang on to the money.

Looking toward the future:

-There are so many great unused ovals it is ridiculous. No one expects much as long as IndyCar sticks to the dated notion that having the series just show up is worth a couple of million. That has not been a good approach for many years. Should IndyCar suddenly develop creativity and alternative approaches to revenue generation that is not ‘traditional’ perhaps we will see forward progress. Two striking examples of unused ovals are Kentucky and Chicagoland. I do not buy the Mark Miles notion that such tracks are too geographically close. That is, bluntly, a load of horse shIt. What I believe he is really saying is that IndyCar does not have the means or ability to self-promote in a manner sufficient to generate revenue. Therefore it is easier simply not to pursue such opportunities. Trying to be an IndyCar fan remains frustrating at almost masochistic levels.

Kentucky is ideally located geographically between the population centers of Louisville and Cincinnati. Add to that the contingent that would drive south from Indiana and surrounding states and you have a winner. Of course re-building a winner requires promotion in the key target markets and reasons for people to attend.

Dollars funnel.Chicagoland is within the third largest media market in the country. A no-brainer.

-I would still pick up Rockingham at the asset sale then incentivize potential involvement in IndyCar by existing nearby NASCAR teams, and I wouldn’t care what the France or Smith families thought.

-Open a well-attended Barber-like experience at the Memphis Motorsports Park. No worries about Frances or Smiths there. Ditto for Gateway, both geographically underserved by everyone.

Those are all great starts for getting the schedule up over 20 events, particularly not when bending over for everyone before Labor Day.

The Disciple party has now booked New Orleans, Indy, Fontana, Pocono and one of the Midwest ovals…plus a few more tentatives. I am really hoping the presentation, particularly at oval venues, improves from the embarrassing lack of effort us die-hards were forced to endure in 2014.

Hey….they beat November for release. That’s progress.

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12 Comments »

  1. The schedule in every way is where supply meets (slightly “over meets”) demand. In the number of race. Over the set period of time. In what the broadcast partners are willing to show. In the types of venues where fans are most likely TP patronize the sport. As best they can in the low demand indy car world, Miles and company put together a pretty good schedule.

    By the way, fans don’t want more ovals. They vote with their declining attendance. And NBC only wants to show indy car on NBCSN. When offered the opportunity to expand to the OTR network, they declined.
    Editor’s Note: Hmmm. What explains declines at non-ovals?

    Comment by Bob Chinn — October 30, 2014 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

    • Declining demand is the reason for a shrinking schedule. It’s a combination of fewer fans, fewer sponsors, fewer tracks and promoters who want indy car, and minuscule television ratings.
      Editor’s Note: I believe you need to probe a little deeper instead of merely reciting the usual disenfranchised cart enthusiast bullet points. You are a like a bad doctor that prescribes all kinds of expensive drugs to treat symptoms without any regard for a cure. The real problem is IndyCar’s refusal to change their business practices to align themselves with 2015. IndyCar still has fans, sponsors, tracks, ratings that are higher than 80% of sports programming on television and supportive promoters. They just need more of everything and the progress is too slow for actual racing fans.

      Comment by Bob Chinn — October 30, 2014 @ 9:11 pm | Reply

      • Indy car ratings aren’t higher than 80% of sports programming on television. That’s simply false and obviously damages your credibility greatly.
        Editor’s Note: It does not matter what you think. What matters is that when taking 100% of the sports programming on cable and OTA into consideration, IndyCar rates higher than about 80% of it. As a matter of fact, most sports programming (even entire cable networks such as CBS Sports Network) are not rated at all. Perhaps you should form opinions based on numbers.

        Yes, indy car still has fans, sponsors and tracks, but they have fewer of each, necessitating a contraction of events.
        Editor’s Note: I disagree. I think it means better promotion and presentation are needed.

        Most events are losing attendees, as St. Pete, Detroit, Indy, Texas, Milwaukee, etc. make clear. Fewer and fewer tracks want to host indy car because the economics simply don’t work.
        Editor’s Note: The TRADITIONAL economics; i.e., IndyCar saying ‘hand over a couple of mil’ do not work. The first IMS guy with the courage to re-invent the revenue model can make the economics work.

        And quality promoters are rare and certainly not in abundance in indy car. Your generic call to “change their business practices to align themselves with 2015” and “they just need more of everything . . .” provides absolutely nothing of substance and is akin to a doctor prescribing sugar pills for serios ailments. It’s laughably absent of any workable solution. In the end, I’ve drawn the only reasonable conclusion: Demand for the product has shrunk, necessitating a corresponding reduction in the schedule.
        Editor’s Note: The cowardly, unimaginative way out. No thanks. We have had to deal with that long enough.

        Comment by Bob Chinn — October 31, 2014 @ 12:26 am

      • You’ve offered absolutely no support for your 80% figure, simce it incorrect. Your credibility is destroyed here.
        Editor’s Note: Should my credibility be ‘destroyed’ with you and your little basement buddies I have to provide full disclosure. I will not lose any sleep over it. Meantime, in the world of adults, you could do what any intelligent person (like me) would and/or have done. Sign in to Excel or similar tool then make a column for each channel that carries sports programming, whether it is cable or OTA. Next, select a period of time. A week. A series of weeks. A month. It does not matter. Next, in column A, state the name of the sports programming. Next, place it’s 12+ rating in the row box under the correct channel. If no 12+ ratings are available for a particular program, that program is what we in the business refer to as ‘unrated.’ In other words, that row box would get a ‘0.’ Finally, after all these numbers for all sports programming have been placed, use arithmetic and sorting functions to rank order all sports programming. Your results will conform to my previously stated fact and will have the additional benefit of being independently verified? Got enough courage or intelligence to tackle such a project as I did? I doubt it.

        Better promotion is always a fuzzy goal , however, you’ve never defined what “better” means. Further, you’ve failed to estimate a cost for “better”, nor have you provided any source for paying for “better”. Similarly, terms such as “reinventing the model” offer no specifics but only facile rhetoric. Again, it’s a lack of substance that hurts you here.
        Editor’s Note: ‘Better’ = actually merely promoting the product or venues. Other than on their website I have seen zero external promotion of any kind for any of the 11 venues I attended in 2014. When no visible promotion occurs, anything is better than none.

        Finally, there’s nothing cowardly about the honest identification of the shortcomings of the sport. Those who refuse to candidly address the sport’s problems do far more harm than good.
        Editor’s Note: I believe most adults are cognizant of sports shortcomings. the difference between actual adults and squatting disenfranchised cart enthusiasts still refusing to budge from 1995 is the rational nature of the analysis of adults.

        Comment by Bob Chinn — October 31, 2014 @ 1:23 am

      • (Pointless, repetitive content relocated to comment section of 12/19/13 blog)

        Comment by Bob Chinn — October 31, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

    • (Off topic commentary relocated to comment section of 12/19/13 blog)

      Comment by Bob Chinn — October 31, 2014 @ 5:26 pm | Reply

  2. I’ll take an oval race any day over the snoozefest road and street course races. IndyCar not running at Kentucky and Chicagoland (and Phoenix) makes about as much sense as playing the Rose Bowl in Topeka or boxing promoters not using Las Vegas to host title fights. Stupid, stupid, stupid. The midwest is where IndyCar’s largest fanbase is and Kentucky and Chicagoland are “home tracks” for many of those fans.But hey, they give us a road course race at Indy. … Just another reason for take a nap.

    Comment by spreadoption — October 31, 2014 @ 12:29 am | Reply

    • People don’t attend those races. I was at the last Kentucky race and there was no one there. It was rediculous .
      Editor’s Note: When neither IndyCar nor the track ownership promotes the event in any of three major metropolitan areas within 90 minutes of the venue chances are very few will attend. Prospective fans have to know about such events first.

      Comment by Dan — November 3, 2014 @ 12:48 am | Reply

      • Promotion, of lack thereof, is one of the biggest problems with the IndyCar operation. I live a three-hour drive from one track that has been a longtime fixture on the schedule and another recent-add that is a five-hour drive away but in the same state as my household. There has NEVER been an television, radio or newspaper advertisement in my metro market about the IndyCar races. If you didn’t already know the schedule, then you’d never know there was a race within driving distance.

        Comment by spreadoption — November 12, 2014 @ 11:49 pm

  3. I got my notification from Indycar. It read proudly

    SEVENTEEN RACES
    6 OVALS, 6 ROAD, 5 STREET
    ONE CHAMPION

    I found their email address and reminded them that street and road courses are the same thing, and to be fair they should have shown:
    6 OVALS
    11 STREET/ROAD

    My title was NOT ENOUGH OVALS.

    That is how I feel about this schedule. There are really 2 categories, not 3. And it’s way out of balance.

    They even try to play a fast one on the printable scheduel by showing the Indy qualification days leading up to the 500 as separate events on ovals. Thus showing more ovals than there really are races on ovals. Check it out.

    The Indycar races are so much better than the Nascar races at Kentucky Speedway that I can’t believe the owners do not want Indycar back there.

    Season is ending too early but apparently Indycar management has not yet had a revelation about that.

    Comment by Bob F. — October 31, 2014 @ 3:08 pm | Reply

    • The last 2 races at Kentucky Speedway had ridiculous dates. IndyCar should never schedule a September or October race at a track that is a stone’s throw from a football-crazed area, in this case the entire state of Ohio. You’re not going to draw many people from Ohio to a racetrack in the fall. The Kentucky races should be only in June, July or the first 2/3 weeks of August. IndyCar killed that track as a solid event by giving it a bad date.

      Comment by spreadoption — November 12, 2014 @ 11:58 pm | Reply

  4. (Off topic commentary relocated to comment section of 12/19/13 blog)

    Comment by Willy Pheistergache — November 5, 2014 @ 6:21 pm | Reply


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