IndyCar Fontana postscript, and so much more
To begin, however, we received a fair amount of response to last week’s article on Dario Franchitti’s at Houston, some of which was positive, some of which took exception. One executive with an internationally renowned track design company, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote the following:
As you might imagine, not every respondent sang the praises of AutoRacing1.com. And while we welcome differences of opinion, allow me to be very clear on the following.
Any suggestion that AutoRacing1.com would advantageously incorporate Franchitti’s accident, which featured deadly objects flying in the direction of spectators at high speeds, as part of some larger, ongoing agenda to discredit IndyCar, is moronic. The agenda of AutoRacing1.com is to provide our readers with informed commentary of the happenings within a sport we love.
Now, if the result of that commentary so happens to reveal a less-than-favorable portrayal of IndyCar, well then, so be it. I will simply offer the thesis that IndyCar has repeatedly displayed an uncanny ability to paint a less than favorable picture of themselves, often in the absence of any assistance from AR1.
I’d also like to point out that the most comprehensive discussion of what happened on the final lap at Houston two-and-a-half weeks ago appeared in this very space. Whereas one longtime IndyCar journalist, who professes to be an “expert,” responded to fence poles flying at spectators by saying “the fence did its job,” AR1 either directly or indirectly brought attention to the following pertinent questions:
Is there a written standard that IndyCar has with all its facilities? Does IndyCar simply go by the FIA's approval or non-approval? If so, what standard does the FIA apply? Is that standard written? Was Houston in compliance with that standard? Is that standard different in America than elsewhere?
However, when there are deadly objects flying at spectators, the questions raised by AR1 last week were more than fair. In fact, it arguably would have been immoral to have not asked them.
And as we have come to expect with the Dallara DW 12 chassis, the racing at Fontana was stupendous. The question for IndyCar going forward with ACS centers around the crowd.
Speaking of the Season Ending Ceremony:
But it didn't take a rocket-scientist to figure out Sunday evening was going to be, by any measure, the biggest regular-season game in the history of the Indianapolis Colts, with Denver Broncos quarterback and Colts legend Peyton Manning playing his first game at Lucas Oil Stadium as a Bronco.
Please, someone tell me: how if you are IndyCar do you respond to such a question?
While it’s good to see any new sponsor come into the sport, the UFD announcement represents the continuation of a trend that has probably been ongoing for about a decade and a half: the ever-widening chasm between IndyCar and consumer brand companies.
Simply put, if the sport is going to reach a broader audience, it needs to be relevant to companies that produce brand products a broad audience uses. Thus, finding a way to lure consumer brands back to the sport is vital.
Of course, consumer brand companies will return to the sport in greater numbers if and when the television value improves to a level that makes their participation appealing.
Now, as a general practice, I tend to be philosophically opposed to the idea of purchasing television time, something AR1 President Mark Cipolloni suggests in this article. Simply put, purchasing time on TV takes what should be a cash-producing asset (TV rights) and turns them into an expense that requires selling ad time to offset that expense. In addition, IndyCar does get paid by ABC for the five races it currently broadcasts, so we'll not talking about buying TV time for all the races.
That said, the numbers Mark cites are incredibly compelling. And the fact IMS and IndyCar continue to bank the measly checks they receive from NBCSN while sponsors such as Go Daddy, HP and Izod head for the hills, makes you wonder whether Hulman and Co., is serious about growing IndyCar going forward. Or are they……
Waiting for NASCAR:
I continue to be flabbergasted by members of the IndyCar media, who persist in articulating the fallacy that NASCAR’s arrival at NBC Sports in 2015 will help IndyCar. One IndyCar media member noted that IndyCar “awaits,” NASCAR’s moving to NBCSN in 2015.
Yes, I can barely contain myself.
While I make this point in more detail here, let the record show there is no historical evidence of any kind supporting this preposterous notion. None! Contrarily, there exists a preponderance of evidence suggesting NASCAR will use its prominence at NBCSN to further marginalize IndyCar.
Sure, I suppose some unforeseen scenario may occur, where there is integration and promotion between the two. I also imagine there may be an opportunity here and there to use a NASCAR race as a lead-in to promote an IndyCar race here and there.
But I know this for certain: The next time NASCAR and IndyCar collaborate in way that commercially benefits each party will be the first. I also know NASCAR did not go to NBCSN for the purposes of IndyCar. And if you remember NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France made it very clear this summer: NASCAR has zero interest in any collaboration with IndyCar. In fact you can bet NASCAR would like nothing better than to kill off IndyCar and take whatever sponsors, teams and events are left behind, including making the Indy 500 a stock car event.
A Few Quick Things:
--Rahal Letterman Lanigan had something of a forgettable season in 2013. If they are to take a step forward in 2014, a good place to start would be the ovals. Other than Graham Rahal’s fifth place finish at Iowa, RLL scored no finish better than twelfth in the oval races between James Jakes and Rahal.
--If NAPA is so morally opposed to the actions of Michael Waltrip Racing earlier this season at Richmond, why are their logos still on Martin Truex’s car?
Brian Carroccio is an IndyCar Columnist for AutoRacing1.com. He can be contacted at BrianC@AutoRacing1.com.
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