Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

April 19, 2015

IndyCar NOLA Recap (With The Benefit of Time)

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 6:25 pm
NOLA Race Course

NOLA Race Course

Better late than never and perhaps it is a great idea to compare the event this weekend with what took place last weekend. Full disclosure: Disciple party of six attended the very first NOLA IndyCar GP outside Avondale. Two of us had team credentials and two had media credentials; both allowed essentially the same access. Usually. Although we attended Long Beach last year we have to rely on television coverage in 2015. We have also had the opportunity to retrieve and review the broadcast of last week from the occasionally trusty DVR.

If most people bothered to seek comparison a good one might be NOLA and Long Beach. The west coast institution has a 41-year head start and if there is an event in IndyCar second in stature to the 500 that is probably it. The NOLA folks have a stated goal of making their event the second most attended/popular/watched in IndyCar. They have a really long way to go.

20 parkingAs a drenched attendee most of us had a great time despite the wet, mud, race control micromanagement, and the whimsical, mostly consistently clueless crowd marshalling by yellow shirt wearing minimum wage superstars entrusted with organization there. Expounding on each point:

-The wet. Steady rain most of the weekend exacerbated the primary problem with the venue. It is not yet finished nor ready for prime time. When drainage systems are unable to keep up with the rain that fell or do not exist at all scheduling an event in any weekend that might feature rain is foolhardy.  Since rain is as likely to fall in Avondale as it is not in Long Beach the drainage situation must be addressed at the professional engineering level. Immediately.

-The race. IndyCar bringing wet tires to go along with the slicks is fine, but there is no intermediate compound. As a result sudden transition from wets to slicks began a string of yellows that turned a potentially great event into a head-scratching yawnfest.

-It has been my tendency to defend Brian Barnhart as an experienced referee-type voice in race control. Many people who are far smarter than I am still spend a great deal of time either laughing at or explaining the lunacy of Barnhart’s stewardship. Perhaps it is time I started listening. What we have seen thus far this year has not justified previous votes of confidence.

-We are willing to cut the NOLA folks a lot of slack for a first time event. After all they were phenomenal hosts, were as friendly as they could be and went out of their way for the paying customers. That said attempts to get from, say, the garage to the pit area, the pit area to the paddock, the paddock back to the garage, etc., were consistently met with abject stupidity by contractors clueless about access, even though at each entry way it was all clearly posted. With pictures. They made IMS yellow shirts look courteous and knowledgeable by comparison. Here is an example. The first time we attempted to enter the staging area with team credentials that said ‘garage’ we were rebuffed. Evidently we needed wristbands. When we told the wristband people we needed one they indicated we did not. We asked if they minded informing the folks at the gate of that fact. Evidently they minded and just gave us a wristband. Once we made our way through the staging area tents attached to the transporters (no garages actually exist where the IndyCars are) our intent was to walk pit lane (credentials also said ‘pit’ and were on their ‘credentials for dummies’ pictures). But because we were wearing wristbands we were told we were not allowed out of the area in which we were standing (between staging and pits in the paddock). Never mind the credentials. We were wearing wristbands. We turned around, took the wristbands off then walked right through with the same credentials as before.

This type of clumsy cluelessness was rampant all weekend. The same mental giants were also rigidly enforcing access to all grandstands all weekend, even during rainfall. No ticket for a particular stand or section? Access not allowed. Never mind there might only be five people in the entire grandstand. At most tracks folks who attend on Friday or Saturday try to hit all the stands to judge the best viewing locations. We cut them slack, however, figuring someone will have a talk with them before next season about using what is often referred to as common sense.

Here are a few observations lamented by members of our party. The majority of parking (as in 99.9%) was allowed only in remote lots serviced by busses (kind of like the way Barber does it). Unless you were credentialed (and even then it was usually remote) the charge was $20.00 per day. $20.00 each day. Folks that went all three days had to cough up $60.00.

??????????????????????????????????????Kudos to the Andretti group for staging quality events every year but their reputation for mercilessly nickel and diming race fans was well earned at NOLA. Some members of the party purchased general admission and indicated they felt their money was completely wasted. They were unwilling to stand/sit in mud puddles or wet grass on a small flat area next to two temporary stands. On the other side of the stands, however, suites used by the Andretti sports folks for higher paying customers were fabulous. Seating at the track was positioned as being able to see the whole track. That is not a true statement. If you happened to sit in the pit stands your view of turn one was blocked by the media building. Regardless of stand, just as IndyCar needs intermediate tires the Andretti sports marketing folks need intermediate pricing for, oh, average racing fans. They should also perhaps put a lid on the aggressive ‘upgrade’ pitches once folks determine they got screwed by purchasing lower priced tickets.

Next year all constituents may want to avoid scheduling the event directly opposite a music festival that rivals Mardi Gras in terms of attendance.

The race itself, once run, was highly forgettable. I yawned while there and yawned when the DVR was fired up. Once the Hey sonstars n’ cars commenced to wreckin’ there was no turning back. Eventually a timed race resulted and the best part of wading through that nonsense was the verbal tap dancing of the NBCSN on-air crew.

Speaking of season scheduling Mark Miles was not visible so it was not possible to ask him if he had been talked into again having a normal sized season. The other intended point we wanted to make was the absolute necessity of at least one oval prior to Indy. Not having one slotted early is ludicrous.

Overall reaction for NOLA in year one: Meh. Optimism for the future? High.  Very high. The people who run the track have the right idea and seem committed. If they do not eventually get screwed by the gypsy-like snake oil purveyors in charge of IndyCar and its connected entities this even stands an excellent chance of long term success. The location cannot be beat for entertainment and food (even at the track). My feeling is that things will improve dramatically each year for the next few, and this venue may take a regular slot. The Disciple party had an enjoyable weekend.

April 7, 2015

NOLA: IndyCar Gets a Red Carpet in a Great New Market!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 8:40 pm

Bring It OnAs the IndyCar Series makes its way for the first time to the outskirts of New Orleans to a club track with higher aspirations, the weather forecast looks unfavorable. That’s OK. It will be a warm rain with parties and great food nearby. Whether IndyCar will run in it remains to be seen. The D party of six will be there rain or shine. This is a potentially great market going forward. The management and ownership of the track, designed by the same guy who did Barber and Miller, is extremely enthusiastic. Too bad they cannot build an oval in that park as well.

A quick check of the web site of IndyCar’s cable television partner at 4pm on 04/07/15 again revealed glaring editorial deficiencies against IndyCar now that NASCAR will start in July and F1 events are being broadcast.

-On the front page European soccer is front and center.

-Top headlines: IndyCar is 0 for 10.

-The ‘Motorsports Talk’ headline? F1 in China.

When an IndyCar or other casual fan finds the ‘Motors’ link (not to be confused with the dedicated ‘NASCAR’ link) the top stories are:

NBCSNF1

NASCAR

NASCAR

NASCAR

F1

Holy shit! ONE IndyCar story!

NASCAR

NASCAR

NASCAR

NASCAR

NASCAR

A person would have to dig all the way down to ‘Motorsports Talk’ to find minimal IndyCar coverage.

Also as originally reported on March 12, the NBC Sports Network Marketing Print and Digital Archive links page at nbcsportsnetwork.net continues to contain a glaring omission, as displayed on the right.

Whether blame for such failures should be directed toward NBCSN is debatable. I suspect IndyCar simply does not market itself as effectively as NASCAR or F1, both of which have been successful to the point of brainwashing otherwise ignorant decision makers in media. IndyCar managed to forge a coverage deal with USA Today and Gannett, but they cannot stop there. Electronic and digital media platforms must get exponentially more attention.

In any event fans are weary of seeing IndyCar pushed aside as the red-headed bastard stepchild.

April 1, 2015

New IndyCar Season Underway; So Is The Onslaught of Obsessed Chatterers

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:55 pm

The ITEThe legion of squatting Internet Television Executives have gotten neither more enlightened nor less deranged this year despite the long off season. Predictably these Einsteins have pronounced the St. Pete season opener final 12+ number (anything less than a 1) a failure. No rationale. No coherency. No justification. It’s just, well, a failure. LOL. Even funnier are the ITEs who offer their thoughts on what WOULD constitute success; e.g., 1.0 or so on network and .5 or so on cable. Again, no rationale, coherency or justification of any sort of like proclamation. Simply ‘higher is better.’

Those of us who earn livings in the commerce of television advertising spend a lot of time laughing out loud at the childlike blissful ignorance of people who really do believe they are knowledgeable about topics completely out of their scope of thought.

Just once it might be interesting for ITEs to examine ALL sporting events in a given week then tell us how many of them ranked lower (or not at all) than IndyCar in any chosen week. Or how it is possible for some sports entities and/or networks Jackieto be profitable with NO Nielsen ratings. Or how advertising in IndyCar (or any other sport) is proposed, bought and stewarded. Or what numbers are actually used in such commerce. Or what demographic breakouts show. Or how rapidly evolving concepts such as programmatic selling or an expanding range of non-linear options have begun to affect the process. Or how if one of the partners is spending an exponentially higher amount for Formula 1 than it does for IndyCar why the lower ratings F-1 gets would not be equally indicative of failure. It is highly unlikely this small group of pounding typists will yield any such intelligence any time soon.

In the meantime I predict we will see page after page of the willful retardation that makes such special children the object of ridicule by those in the know and the laughter will ensue all season.

If the ITE’s are not enough of an entertaining diversion, the ‘sky is falling’ gaggle of blithering idiots have pronounced this year, surprise, a failure. At the center of their predictable lashing out are aero kits. Personally I enjoyed the event at St. pieces and partsPete. It remains obvious to rationally thinking humans that the event continues to grow. Crowds, sponsorship and community involvement are up and ratings are steady. In defense of the simplistically thinking naysayers IndyCar is very adept at self-infliction of wounds. Introducing over-engineered aero kits on a closed street course is an example.

Despite the obvious the race still managed to entertain. Penske dominated and Ganassi whined. So did Graham, who has become more adept at blaming anyone else than any Andretti who has ever lived. Lots of folks, such as Foyt’s new 41 team with Jack Hawksworth, made lemonade out of their lemons. A review of the DVR playback confirmed the optimism of those who attended.

We are off to a great start. The season needs to be longer however.

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