Reader feedback on 4-Ps articleUPDATE Another reader writes, Mr. Wood is totally correct in his Champ Car (CC) assessment - in all 4-Ps. Hardcore longtime Champ Car fans know that the product is a great product, one of the best in the racing world - NASCAR has always known it. When Mr. Wood says "Champ Car as a spec series has no brand supporters showing up and due to a seeming inability to keep drivers has little support from the driver followers" is correct again. Their are a few drivers in Champ Car that have been around for 3 or more years - but only a few.
And what about a Champ Car? Does the U.S.A. fan know there is such a thing, or might it be confused with an IndyCar - probably. The first BIG mistake Champ Car did was to remove CART from its identity. In the '80s and '90s when I would talk racing with a non-racing fan I could insert CART and get a "oh yeah, now I know which series" answer - now there is confusion and in casual conversation I will say "the series that races in Denver." Then I get the "now I know what your talking about" - I live in Colorado Springs. Remember this series has been around since 1979? Let's talk about the people. Champ Car has been a revolving door at different levels of its organization since OWRS took over. Only with people continuity can a business implement a long term plan - houses are not built with hammers, they are built by people."
Now perspective, when Mr. Wood says "Champ Car is visible maybe 20 weeks out of the year and basically invisible the remainder" he is also correct. Champ Car has become more invisible since OWRS took over. There has not been a dime spent on marketing - the LPGA has more presence than Champ Car, and that is sad. When is the last time you saw an ad running during a show you were watching?
What kind of a plan is to say "we have a great plan", sure sounds good. The fact is that all the owners of OWRS are from the B2B background, not business to consumer which is what top level auto racing and marketing is about. When a plan is properly laid out to the products stakeholders they in effect become your best sales force because they know the product is great and they want to tell everyone about the "greatest kept secret in the world". Champ Car fans (the OWRS sales force) are tired of having to re-sell their product every year and that is not good for the future of a great product. Great analysis Mr. Wood. Brian Kellione
Dear Brian, The name probably had to be changed because CART as an entity was being dissolved. Indeed the title CART at least was somewhat known, having been used for 25 years. If the series was going to change the name we would have never chosen Champ Car, as we said this many times - the word "Champ" connects with absolutely no one. The series has suffered with that decision ever since. We said it then and we say it again, the name should have contained the words 'Grand Prix' in it. Grand Prix is a name 90% of the world population identifies with. Mark C.
Finally, there is the Plan (or the lack thereof). A fairly common failure in a turnaround company is the lack of any real plan even though management is vehemently defending the lack by saying there is a plan and it is on track. A plan is not a plan if it is a) not articulated and b) not understood by the stakeholders.
Mr. Wood needs to look no further than Mark Cipolloni’s article he wrote on March 24, 2005. Mark presented the plan Champ Car announced for the next three years.
Mr. Wood claims the following again:
In the case of Champ Car they keep saying there is a plan, but they have not actually laid out even the rudimentary steps to people who have a lot of influence regarding the success of the plan - the media and the fans. Of course (as with other entities who do not really have a plan), the plan is proprietary or in the bosses head, or too complicated to explain, or whatever. But, when there appears to be a lack of any real plan it is most often because there is no real plan.
I would cut-n-paste the plan but will keep it simple and provide the link for all people to read.
I agree that some of the steps Champ Car has followed haven’t produced dramatic results. This will be a long journey to bring it back to its greatest heights. Results aren’t overnight and plans will change as new difficulties are faced or created.
One final thought – Why should Champ Car fully disclose the game plan to all people? Shouldn’t Champ Car be somewhat protective of plans that can be used by competitors to gain advantages? Do we get to see the 5-year plan for NASCAR or plans for Formula 1? Did the upcoming F1 Concord Agreement get released to the public, media and fans?
I think that some of the plans can be withheld and just a general outline will do as long has the appropriate people are educated. Robert Fetsch
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