Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

August 17, 2015

Open Contempt by IndyCar for Fans Continues Unabated

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:28 pm

The latest indelicate groin kick IndyCar Management delivered to some of its best fans was the far-too-casual announcement that California’s Auto Club Speedway annual IndyCar event would not be on the schedule in 2016. Never mind Fontana this year unleashed one of the most compelling, exciting IndyCar races in thirty years and possibly ever. That does not seem to matter and is not even acknowledged.

BuhByeNowThe concocted excuse trotted out involved an inability to identify a start time and broadcast window that would not adversely affect east coast viewership. Huh?

IndyCar evidently feels its fan base is stupid and will accept most any flowery press release lip service as gospel. A safe bet is to surmise that despite hard work proclamations by both sides no midnight oil was burned, no sweat hit brows, and arrogance no doubt surpassed intelligence.

The ‘window’ copout is particularly disingenuous. If the big Cup weekend is factored with ample space on either side that STILL leaves about 150 possible days in a year in which to consider CONSISTENTLY scheduling an IndyCar event at that track, especially if you get creative with perhaps a Friday night approach. Who says television has to be live on the east coast in a desirable time slot? Why not run a night race, broadcast it live, then re-air in a favorable time slot a day or two later? The replay approach can work well, as it did for the most recently held IndyCar event at Mid-Ohio. It also works for F-1, NASCAR and others who have broadcast partners who take those partnerships seriously. And oh, by the way, no one else has a problem running in the early portion of football season.

IndyCar must also realize that in the case of Fontana use of the ‘drunk guy throwing darts’ approach to date and time scheduling will almost always guarantee failure over time, and Fontana has been victimized by such carelessness more than about anyone (and they are far from alone). Failure also occurs when not meaningfully marketing/promoting the event in the second largest domestic media market. Half-assed presentation effort is also a precursor to failure. It is simply not enough to charge a lot for tickets then have just IndyCars, a handful of vintage hobbyists and Michael Young with a microphone at a track that great. Presentation of both Fontana and Pocono over the past three years is an embarrassing exercise of abysmal. ‘Triple crown’ potential is limitless but has been completely squandered.

MilesIt would not surprise me to see the same atrocious management remove Pocono for equally logic defiant reasons. The glimmer of hope meant to appease folks is enthusiasm about a possible return of Phoenix. I prefer to ground myself in reality. Phoenix is not a done deal and given the contentious relationship that track and its owner have with IndyCar, not to mention the fact that track still hosts two Cup events, wide eyed optimism about Phoenix is on par with the fantasies a three year old might have about Santa Claus, chimneys and toys. Even if the politics get squared away IndyCar will not suddenly develop an ability to market/promote professionally, create presentation efforts worthy of the Indy brand or offer fan pricing or amenities packages that will inspire fans to appear in droves. Given current management proclivity Phoenix is far more likely to resemble the last time IndyCar tried Loudon.

You know what would be refreshing? Honesty and transparency. One cannot help but wonder how much of an effect the incessant cackling of the current crop of squatting road racers after Fontana’s latest IndyCar race has to do with the decision. The emergence of young talent like a Josef Newgarden makes many miss a Dario Franchitti far less. It is also my belief that the inevitable retirements of the last of the cart contingent will be better for the sport.

My advice for Mark Miles and Dave Allen: Spend more time powering through and solving arbitrarily created problems and less time publishing flowery, excuse laden press releases. You will never retain fans by alienating them so completely. Adding road races like Road America is fine but series popularity will not be enhanced long term by adding non-oval races and dumping ovals, particularly when virtually no effort is spent building the latter.


August 12, 2015

IndyCar Expands Its Wisconsin Presence

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:47 pm

Wet DreamDuring the past week Road America was announced as the latest addition to the IndyCar schedule. The event will take place about one month after Indy the weekend of June 24. On the surface this is a good thing. It adds a legacy natural terrain road circuit known for its hospitality and has caused widespread glee among the IndyCar enthusiast faction that prefers that type of track activity.

The management has even openly discussed some sort of package plan with the legendary oval at Milwaukee. That particular situation became more complicated with news the principals involved in Andretti Sports Marketing are suing Michael and the parent organization after the top brass got let go. This follows litigation involving what turned out to be a fiasco in New Orleans. If Milwaukee is to return (and we all hope it does) it will no doubt be promoted by MoneyGrabanother entity.

As bits and pieces of the 2016 schedule are trickled out there is newfound enthusiasm for yet another street circuit in Boston. The IndyCar visions of creating a new Long Beach must be tempered by the reality that odds are stacked against it. A new Baltimore is far more likely.

All the while quality short ovals in geographically underserved markets just sit there. Gateway. Memphis. Richmond. That list is long. I would be very curious to see what kind of deal was struck with Road America, and why whatever model they crafted could not be used for ovals.

It is the hope of many that this year will not be the last for Pocono. That is my next stop. Can’t wait!

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