Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

February 2, 2015

Fresh Helping of Failure for IndyCar Leadership

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 7:49 pm

MilesThe IndyCar Series, except for a far-too-brief period under the Randy Bernard regime (and even then not 100%) remains tone deaf to the wishes of its fans. Over recent years many of them have simply vanished. That is a shame. Making announcements involving Brian Barnhart and cancelling a previously highly touted race do not endear the management to the ticket buyers, particularly when the government upon which IndyCar relies for their vig refers to the event as ‘detrimental’ to their society.

On one hand many frequent critics seem appeased by manner in which the Hulman descendants have had themselves extricated from the daily operations of their family companies, even taking minority board positions, in favor of proven leaders with solid business chops.

On the other hand the same type of clueless arrogance (the only words that seem adequate) that causes fans to wonder about the leadership of their favorite sport prevails.

IndyCarDespite touting advancements in the area of marketing both in terms of people and strategies nothing tangible has occurred unless the current staff takes credit for Verizon title sponsorship.  IndyCar fans are currently in the middle of the black hole that is the IndyCar off season, and nothing apparent is being done to keep the sport within reach of casual fans.

This complete lack of effort takes many forms. On Super Bowl Sunday I finally turned on the NBC coverage at 2:00pm. Between then and the start of the game IndyCar partner NBC Sports included lengthy cross-promotional segments for each sport that is a partner on either NBC or NBCSN. Every sport EXCEPT IndyCar. That is right. We saw in depth features for European soccer, upcoming Olympics, the NHL and NASCAR. Zero for IndyCar. Nothing. Not one peep. NBC has even been promoting the fact they will promote NASCAR during the Super Bowl and that portion of their season does not even begin until July. NASCAR got the first promo break after the close game ended.

One of the most talked about commercials during the game was a Nissan spot that featured a story about a sports car racing dad and his family and featured the Nissan race car.

The game itself was presented by IndyCar title sponsor Verizon. IndyCar manufacturer partners GM and Honda chose not to air spots in the game, but ran extensively in the pre-game.

Even a marketing novice might experience difficulty comprehending how the marketing arm of IMS with all of its supposedly talented professionals would not be able to leverage anything in the off season at all from any of its broadcast partners, manufacturing partners or series title sponsors. One word describes it: Failure. Complete and abject failure.

IndyCar off seasonIf anyone takes an honest look at the IndyCar season just passed most of the races were compelling, exciting and featured many winners. A very popular, marketable American driver won the 500. The story of Will Power’s struggle to win the title has become nearly legendary. Neither of these fellows, however, are very visible at all.

The only portion of IndyCar’s system that is showing positive growth and garnering attention are the ladder series, and they are not owned or controlled by IMS. Dan Anderson most recently rescued Indy Lights from certain death at the hands of IMS and that series has renewed vigor headed into the 2015 season.

Perhaps it is time for IMS to let go of the series and concentrate on the main event. IndyCar outside Indy needs to be operated by a group or individual who is at least capable of effectively marketing it into a self-sustaining business with the HG family’s 500 as the centerpiece. The only conditions I would enforce would be the ratio of oval to non-oval, which I would place at 50/50, and I would not allow a sale to the France family for a variety of reasons. It would be interesting to see what a motivated outside group might do with a Pocono or a Fontana without the completely uninspired nonsense to which fans have been subjected the past few years.

The failure to meaningfully grow IndyCar is simply no longer tolerable.

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2 Comments »

  1. Someone else runs the series and Hulmans run the 500? What a novel idea. Wonder if anyone thought of that before? I know I’d be rushing to that opportunity seeing how well arrangements worked in the past. Good to see the last 20 years weren’t a worthless exercise.

    Comment by dat azz — February 3, 2015 @ 12:04 pm | Reply

  2. I read the comments of Randy Bernard in the Indy2018 series. If I was sad to see him leave before, I am much more upset that he left after reading the comments. He did have the right ideas. One comment he made was you need the product before you begin the promotion. And the product: More American Drivers. More Ovals. New track records on Pole Day in Indianapolis. At least 24 races. So many of the things many of us have asked for in the past.

    If only………….

    Comment by Bob F. — February 5, 2015 @ 1:55 pm | Reply


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