Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

November 11, 2014

New Faces in the Fancy Offices at IMS

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:01 pm

MafiosoMark Miles is said to be nearly finished with his overhaul of all things Hulman. Just last week the ‘retirement’ of Jeff Belskus was announced, and just as quickly he was replaced by Cindy Lucchese, who is part of the ‘Miles Mafia.’ Given the level of outright hysteria on the Internet about IndyCar and the certainty, according to most, that it is doomed to die is it not ironic that IMS has hired an executive whose last job was CEO of a casket company?

Now that all of these new executives are in place and the ‘aw shucks’ old guard is elsewhere perhaps it is time for the new leadership to ponder the following basic, common sense observations from many IndyCar fans:

-IndyCar now has marketing professionals on board with impeccable credentials. When will the work they are doing not be such a secret?

-If the IndyCar car leadership feels that filling up seats at race tracks is something that is important why would a 4:00pm start time on a Sunday afternoon ever be considered a good idea?

Good crowd-If ovals are part of the heritage of IndyCar why try so hard to kill them? When will an Indy-in-May assortment of fan-attracting diversions get added to other big ovals at Pocono, Fontana and Texas? IndyCars and vintage hobbyists simply do not cut it.

-If bridges have been burned with ISC and SMI why not get creative with geographically complementary ovals just begging for the kind of racing IndyCar can offer? There are plenty of choices.

-What is wrong with marketing meaningful ‘triple crowns’ with a $3 million dollar prize? There could be a ‘big oval’ triple crown featuring Indy, Pocono and Fontana, and a ‘diversity challenge’ triple crown featuring Texas, Long Beach and a natural terrain road course. What are the odds they would have to part with the 3 mil?

-When will IndyCar demand the same sort of treatment from their television partners afforded to NASCAR and F1? If they consider what they have acceptable they are mentally challenged.

-Aero kits are a step in the right direction but how long will the general homogenization of the entire sport be allowed to continue? Spec racing is consistently in the top three of complaints casual fans express.

The one thing Miles has in common with the previous regime is being tight lipped, except for flowery press releases that contain all sorts of business-speak. Race fans do not care about that. They care about a compelling product on the track, and wider accessibility to it.

Is it too much or too soon to begin demanding meaningful results?

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10 Comments »

  1. No one ever listens to you over there, do they?
    Editor’s Note: No one ever listens to anyone over there for the most part. It is what we in the professional world refer to as ‘insular.’

    Why dont you stop in or a visit with Miles?
    Editor’s Note: Perhaps I may next time I’m in Indy. They are always welcome in my New York office, however.

    Comment by Youowemeabeerasshole — November 11, 2014 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

  2. Why should your views matter to them?
    Editor’s Note: Because I am a paying customer who attends over 65% of the events and brings others. (smirk)So according to the marketing-speak I’m one of the most important puzzle pieces.(/smirk)

    Comment by Bob Chinn — November 12, 2014 @ 1:17 am | Reply

  3. But when you patronize a business to the degree that you claim, you actually validate (rather than repudiate) their offerings. Your words may say one thing, but your deeds are far more telling (adults understand this clearly). The reason so many have left (and continue to do so), that television can dictate late start times and provide shoddy treatment (according to you), and that sponsors are decreasing is because those stakeholders actually vote with their feet, rather than just complain. In the battle of words and deeds, deeds always win.
    Editor’s Note: I do not care about people who leave. They do not matter to me. I enjoy weekends at race tracks, like the experience and enjoy the racing. Even though there are things I wish they would do differently the in person experience still attracts me. I choose to continue being a paying customer but am not the least bit shy about offering my own opinions as to how to make it better. It is not the people who have left that IndyCar should be concerned about anyway. It is the people who have not yet discovered the sport whose potential interest needs to be cultivated. Young folks are the future. As a matter of fact the sooner the sport can actually purge itself for good of the kind of ‘fan’ who still compares everything to the early 1990s but obsessively lurks to chide IndyCar anyway in 2014 the better the sport will be. That type of ‘fan’ is a cancer that must be eviscerated. First, however, such diseased ‘fans’ would first need to learn how to not be hypocrites, and after 20 years that is a tall order.

    Comment by Bob Chinn — November 12, 2014 @ 1:15 pm | Reply

  4. Interesting take, but obviously from the perspective of someone outside the business world. People who actually engage in commercial activities (at least those who are successful) always care about those who no longer use their product and / or patronize their business. It’s one important way that businesses or entities grow. Those who choose to put their heads in the sand, however, by suggesting those who leave aren’t important, nearly always meet with failure, as they aren’t concerned with the kind of candid feedback that can help them grow and improve. And it’s why newer and younger consumers won’t be likely to sample the product, either, because no one cares what they think. Again, it’s about words versus deeds, and deeds always win. Referring to patrons as “diseased” or as a “cancer that must be eviscerated” really underscores the difference between the two, as well as the uninformed thinking of someone who doesn’t understand the business world.
    Editor’s Note: In most cases I might agree with your quaint little notions (well, except for the understanding of the business world part…having been successful from college graduation to where I am now, which is near a fully funded retirement) about customer retention. But this case is different. In cases like this specific case it is far better to amputate diseased limbs before the rest of the tree gets infected. You see most of those who have departed are older demos who will eventually die off (in many cases not soon enough). If you were, say, an adult cart fanatic who believe you were living in racing heaven on earth in 1990 that was 21 years old then you would be nearing the upper end of meaningful target demos for that type of sport. The future lies not in appeasing or attracting them. Rather it is attraction of younger folks that have either not had adequate exposure to the brand or have not been foolishly deluded by the hysterical propaganda disseminated by those who claim to have left but still shriek like little girls because they haven’t actually left after all and just want to bitch out loud about their own little sphere of unhappiness. Fortunately the majority of IndyCar fans, like myself, are more even keeled. We enjoyed cart while it lasted as well as what came before and after it. IndyCar remains as it has always been: a niche in a stick and ball world, despite the mostly self-perceived utopia many enthusiasts of one period have deluded themselves into. My belief as an actual business person is that you must work to improve what you have right now and focus on the future. Turning back clocks rarely works for anyone. If chagrined people who were fans at one time do not like the product today that is their right. I have observed in over fifty years of actually being a fan that some evolutionary periods are better than others, and none of them were abhorrent enough to drive me away. Bottom line: IndyCar needs to attract fans of any age whose perceptions have not been clouded by nonsense. Nowthen, care to keep future commentary confined to actual blog topics? Here are some examples worthy of commentary: 1) A new Hulman Motorsports CFO who replaced a ‘legacy’ holdover. 2) When will marketing executives share what they have been doing for a year and a half? 3) Oval presentation. 4) Race start times. 5) Better television partnerships. 6) Alternative venues. 7) Triple crown ideas. 8) Aero kits. 9) Series transparency. In other words no one cares how you feel about the editor of the blog, his qualifications, or any other similar baiting. Stick to the topic. Simple.

    Comment by Bob Chinn — November 12, 2014 @ 4:27 pm | Reply

    • One of the points that you always seem to miss is this; a generation of fans left, for one reason or another (and we both know what that is). When they left, so did their kids-the love of sports, music, theater, etc is quite often passed on from one generation to another. Dismissing them (the parents) as a “cancer” misses the point completely. They are gone, and (most of) their kids have never, or will never be exposed to the sport because of it. You can dismiss this idea as you wish, but there is not a “younger generation” that loves this branch of the sport mainly because their parents stopped watching and attending.
      Editor’s Note: As usual you dramatically overestimate the value of disenfranchised cart enthusiasts. There is an entire world of untapped potential youthful fans out there and chances are the few remaining aformentioned enthusiasts still bitter enough to preach that special brand of irrational hatred to their children are probably raising equally nutty (and infected) children. The sport is far better off without that kind of cancer. The real problem with regard to relatively low IndyCar popularity is a lack of effective marketing, product presentation and accessibility.

      Unlike the scene in sports car racing, while also a niche product, where a race weekend at Limerock, or NJMP, or VIP always has a healthy contingent of families and kids, spread out on blankets with a picnic lunch, watching the multiple events that typically comprise a race weekend.
      Editor’s Note: It’s been that way for decades. So have lower or non-existent ratings, no meaningful national television deals, and lower costs of participation. And it does not register in the national sports consciousness (unless someone dies).

      The points you wish to discuss? If only YOU would stick to them, instead of the childish insults you hurl at those that don’t share you views.
      Editor’s Note: Climb down off the cross there Jesus. We could use the wood during this polar vortex nonsense.

      The new CFO? Are fans supposed to care who the head bean counter is in ANY organization?
      Editor’s Note: Nope. I just hope she finds enough money to keep the grass mowed and the parking lots paved.

      Oval presentation? Whatever that is supposed to mean. Not that you ever advance a realistic notion as to what you mean.
      Editor’s Note: Here are a couple of clues. The half a month of May at Indy is good oval presentation. The abominations we saw at great ovals like Pocono and Fontana; i.e., IndyCars on the track spaced hours apart, a handful of hobbyist vintage cars, and Michael Young screaming into a microphone are insulting to ticket buying fans.

      Race start times? 1 PM, 5 PM, 3PM? Are you trying to say that the overall lousy attendance is due to poor start times? Doesn’t seem to hurt most other sports, whose game day times vary all over the map.
      Editor’s Note: Most people who have to work on Monday and live, say, 100 miles from a track don’t want a race to end in the evening, then have a long drive, then get up and go to work. Use your brain.

      Better TV partnerships? They don’t exist. Given the overall poor ratings and lack of recognition of any of this leagues talent, why would any TV partner be interested? Alex Zanardi got more applause and a better interview from Letterman the other night, than the current ICS champ Will Power. Doesn’t say a lot for the name recognition factor of the current ICS lineup.
      Editor’s Note: Why, then, would television be interested in F1 or NASCAR? NASCAR ratings are falling fast, their attendance is dwindling, and F1 rates lower here than IndyCar. I suspect that had Will Power unnecessarily lost both his legs in a woefully misguided race forced by really creepy people on a weekend the rest of the world took off then came back years later and competed (and won) in some sort of special limbless triathalon deal, overcoming immense odds and serving as an inspiration to humans everywhere, that his applause might register a little more on the VU meter as well.

      Alternative venues? If these existed, don’t you think Miles and Co would be happy to take their money? The head of Watkins Glen certainly knows a thing or two about the value of the ICS, which explains the lack of any event at the Glen.
      Editor’s Note: Venues to which I refer are not affiliated with ISC or SMI. Screw them.

      Triple Crown awards? Nice idea. Where’s the money coming from? As stated by the last three heads of the series, there’s no profit, so where does that cash come from?
      Editor’s Note: What are the odds they would have to pay out? Ever heard of sponsorship? Marketing? Pretty cool concepts when actually executed.

      Aero Kits? Lipstick on a pig. The fans know that the emperor has no clothes, and under all of the appendages and twiddly bits beats the heart of the spec Dallara. Racey it may be, but the fans have pretty much voted with their feet (and wallets). They don’t care.
      Editor’s Note: As an actual racing fan I enjoy the racing provided by the Dallaras and the folks behind their wheels. I would like open specs but understand that based upon the entire history of the sport this will happen again.

      Series transparency? Like oval presentation. Sounds and looks good on paper, but what does it mean exactly, other than to fill up some space in your blog?
      Editor’s Note: Oh, let’s see….honest, open discussion about why the series refuses to get behind big oval events despite shrinking attendance for starters. Just about any of my recent blogs would also help refresh your memory.

      We all get it. You’ll go and watch, pay money to see it, all while Rome burns to the ground around you. But you’re an exceptional fan, one who will swallow just about anything . Fewer races, fewer fans in attendance, a slight uptick in ratings (which still leave the ICS lower than several years ago, when one of the broadcast partners had a far smaller market penetration), and no manufacturers clamoring to be involved, even though Cosworth has an engine design ready to go.
      Editor’s Note: Yet oddly it comes back each and every year, defying the continuous cacophony of doom. Amazing.

      But, you’re right. All of us older, “cancerous” fans ARE gone, and with us, the money and “mindshare” that this thing desparately needs. But, we’re not welcome (paraphrasing your words) since to you, we were all just a disease that needed to be cut out. Apparently though, that surgery left the patient crippled and slowly choking to death, kept alive by artificial means (the family subsidies). All while evryone stops, stares, shakes their head while mumbling “poor thing”. Adios.
      Editor’s Note: Yeah, I can tell you are gone by the way you consistently ignore commenting about it obsessively after almost every blog is written. LOL.

      Comment by Olderfan — November 12, 2014 @ 8:37 pm | Reply

      • Hey , let’s not let actual truth get in the way there, D-Man. They aren’t “disenfranchised cart enthusiasts”. “They” are FORMER open wheel fans. And they left and took their children (you know, the “future fan base”) with them. You don’t think you need them? Fine. The reality says otherwise.

        The excuse of the “100 mile drive” is just that, an excuse. If the product was compelling they’d go, screw the time. Takes me 2.5 hrs to get to Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, yet I attend a bunch of games every year, on any given night of the week. If the product is worth it, the fans will attend.

        The alternative venues you speak of have had plenty of opportunity to host an ICS race. They choose not to. If it was worth their while, then they would. So, nice try but it’s got nothing to do with SMI and ISC.

        F1 , in fact has gotten the same, or better ratings this year than Indycar, despite what is generally a very challenging timeslot, and its demographic is far and away more valuable, so again, nice try.

        The ICS is here year after year. So what? As has been stated probably a million times, it will be here as long as the speedway and family are willing to subsidize it. Yippee. A true welfare existance.

        And be grateful that I, and a handful of others still read your tripe. Otherwise you’d be shouting into a vacuum. But don’t worry. If you don’t want engaged readers, we’ll go. As we have as actual PAYING members of any ICS race “crowd”
        Editor’s Note: I’d settle for even minimally intelligent discussion of topics raised in the blog.

        Comment by Olderfan — November 12, 2014 @ 11:36 pm

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

        Comment by Olderfan — November 13, 2014 @ 10:33 am

  5. Specific to your points:

    1. One of Tony George’s long ago hires got pushed out in favor of someone who lacks any experience in racing. I’m sure she’s a fine administrator, however, but it’s not in any way obvious that she’ll enhance indy car in a meaningful way;
    Editor’s Note: If she finds the money and common sense to keep the grass mowed and the parking lots paved I’ll be happy.

    2. Why should marketing executives share with you (or anyone, other than the Hulman BOD) their activities for the last year and a half?
    Editor’s Note: Beeeecccaaaauuuussseeee that is what MARKETING is all about?

    3. Ovals are well presented bit poorly attended, essentially destroying the myth that they’re in great (or even greater) demand. People know the product. They’ve simply rejected it;
    Editor’s Note: Only Indianapolis is well presented. Everything else is essentially phoned in. How do I know this? Because I attend. The differences between presentation at Indy and presentation anywhere else is night and day. Especially at Pocono and Fontana. The current management seems to WANT oval venues to fail. Clues include the whining of various people about danger and crash damage and other such prattling.

    4. Television overwhelmingly dictates start times, as most sports people understand. Those sports with leverage in their broadcast partnerships have a far greater ability to dictate those times, while the weak properties exercise little influence over their own product. To the victors go the spoils;
    Editor’s Note: Management must decide what is more important: Bending over for television partners enamored of other variations of the sport or scheduling live events so that it is convenient for potential fans to attend. Scheduling a race at 4pm on a Sunday anywhere; e.g., Milwaukee, is crazy. It would be far more prudent to opt for delayed broadcasts if television is allowed to make the airtime calls.

    5. Better television partnerships are a function of more desirable sports properties. Exciting, growing, in demand sports are attractive to broadcasters and advertisers alike. Fading sports are not. ABC wants the 500 and nothing else. NBC chose to not compete for that property when they were most recently solicited. NBCSN has now become something of a racing network, with F1 and (soon) NASCAR. Perhaps those entities will lift indy car, perhaps they won’t. But, for the foreseeable future, it’s really the best home (along with ABC) that they can hope for. And at least they get paid something, however modest it may be;
    Editor’s Note: How amusingly quaint your little missive become over time. It’s just so cute in a nonsense way. LOL. NASCAR and F1 are exciting, growing and in-demand? The ratings disagree. LOL. It is true ESPN on ABD wants only the 500. That has been true for decades. NBC did not choose ‘not to complete’ for that property (LOL) primarily because there was no bidding process. IMS simply re-upped with Disney through 2016. NBC never had a shot. Those of us actually engaged in the commerce of national television understand the value today of two paid network contracts that account for tens of millions every year and what a potential calamity overpaying for underdelivering products like F1 and NASCAR could occur. If both parties were not as shortsighted as they are the bang for the buck possible with IndyCar could be heavily exploited (refer back to item 2).

    6. At present, there are no alternative venues that see value in hosting indy car. Perhaps the new CFO will adjust the sanctioning fee to better meet the lack of demand for the product;
    Editor’s Note: Please name the non-ISC/SMI venues on record as saying anything like that. No alternatives have been identified because they have either not been contacted or have not had telephone calls returned.

    7. A Triple Crown with a large payout would be great, but no one is clamor get for it. Worse yet, pie in the sky prize figures aren’t attainable unless paid in Monopoly money. There simply isn’t value;
    Editor’s Note: You started back down the illiteracy path again….but let me see if I can decipher your cryptic lingo. $3 million is chump change to bet on something far more likely to not happen than happen. (Back to point 2 again)…what if such ‘triple crowns were, gasp, MARKETED? You know, with sponsors and such?

    8. Unless they radically change the aesthetics of the spec racers, aero kits aren’t likely to have any greater impact than Turbo or the cars on display at the Super Bowl. Cool looking cars competing on the edge would have far greater appeal;
    Editor’s Note: Don’t they need fans in the stands and better ratings to be able to afford that? After all, you just said even $3 million is ‘pie in the sky.’ It would cost much more than that to open the specs. For the record I am all for that, by the way.

    9. What do you think they’re hiding? There’s a schedule out with firm race dates and details regarding ticket packages. Drivers and their backgrounds can be easily accessed in the digital space. What sort of transparent information would enhance the experience for you?
    Editor’s Note: Oh, let’s see….honest, open discussion about why the series refuses to get behind big oval events despite shrinking attendance for starters. Just about any of my recent blogs would also help refresh your memory.

    Hope this helps.
    Editor’s Note: Not really. I listed nine items as potentially valid commentary topics for future intelligent, on-topic commentary but that concept appears to have eluded your grasp. Your point-by-point rebuttal was charming as usual but a little over the top.

    Comment by Bob Chinn — November 12, 2014 @ 8:21 pm | Reply

    • I suppose if you had offered thoughtful responses, the discussion might have legs. Unfortunately, your responses were trite and cliched without adding anything of real substance. Nonetheless, I’ll try to help you out a bit:

      1. The physical plant at IMS has been in decay for a couple of decades. A trip to the restroom on race easily confirms that reality;
      2. That’s not marketing. It’s not remotely close to marketing;
      3. Ridiculously high sanction fees for a low demand product prevent track owners and promoters from adding additional events to oval weekends. It’s all about supply, demand, cost and value;
      4. Go right ahead and tape delay telecasts. I’m sure that will chase away the few remaining fans and sponsors;
      5. NBC was solicited to make an offer for the 500 (and the series) and they politely declined, due to their lack of interest. That’s not in dispute by anyone. And F1 and NASCAR are infinitely more popular than indy car, with both sports in demand by broadcasters;
      6. Please share with me any venue that has expressed interest in hosting an indy car race that isn’t on the current schedule, and provide any verifiable support for your assertion. Thanks;
      7. No one would be willing to put u a large prize for a triple crown winner. No one. The sport, in its current form, has been sampled and rejected. Soundly, I might add;
      8. If they want to reverse the obvious decline, they’d better remember they’re a racing series and give people cars and drivers that they can embrace. Start with the cars and the drivers will come;
      9. It’s well known why they don’t get behind oval events. Nobody shows up and they’re tired of putting on big events with minuscule crowds and tiny ratings.

      Hope this helps.
      Editor’s Note: Not really and your repetitive posting of mostly nonsense is tiresome and boring. What is abundantly clear to us is that you do not understand marketing, how IndyCar gets paid for events, how the television and national advertising business actually works, scheduling of events, promotion of the series or much of anything else. Your only purpose seems to be arguing like some four year old would. We understood your observations the first few times you made them. Just once I wish one of your kind could tell me when all this woe will lead to being out of business. According to the handful of you it seems like it has been teetering on the edge for twenty years. I also know IndyCar appreciates your continuing interest in the series. Thanks for being fans.

      Comment by Bob Chinn — November 12, 2014 @ 10:59 pm | Reply

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

        Comment by Bob Chinn — November 13, 2014 @ 1:08 am


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