Alonso’s popularity made IndyCar realize the impact of a real hero

Alonso is now gone and IndyCar has returned to its small domestic stage
Alonso is now gone and IndyCar has returned to its small domestic stage

Fernando Alonso's popular participation in this year's Indy 500 has made IndyCar realize that on the international stage it is minuscule. IndyCar may feature better racing, but when Tony George took his hammer to the sport, IndyCar went from being right up there with F1 to not even being a blemish on its posterior.

It went from being an international series to a small domestic series with a shrinking fan base, a shrinking sponsor base, and a shrinking TV ratings. It will be Tony George's legacy.

Alonso was the star attraction of the 101st running of the famous race, which he contested instead of the Monaco Grand Prix. Why was he the star attraction? Because he is a true racing hero with a big international fanbase. When Gorge took IndyCar domestic and inward looking the drivers became invisible and IndyCar to this day has no true hero's.

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles says Alonso's participation had a huge impact on viewing figures in some key markets in Europe.

"I'm told by our broadcaster in Spain, which is Movistar, that their broadcast of the Indy 500 achieved nearly twice the audiences of their broadcast of Monaco," he told ESPN. "They've been pretty much on par in previous years, so it represents a very significant increase in attention and viewership. Then we know there was a very marked increase in audience in Italy and France as well."

"If anything it has reawakened us to communicating internationally. We have very broad television distribution (thanks to its ESPN International deal for all races), we have the same broadcasters in Italy and Spain as Formula One does but will be looking for opportunities for further exposure both broadcast and digitally. I think we can be a lot more effective at connecting with international audiences beyond those mechanisms and communicating with international media. I think when people see IndyCar, they love it. I expect we can make a lot more fans."

Miles is also open to exploring the series' options in Europe.

"We hadn't seen much of a possibility in Europe, simply because there are so few places where the climate is accommodating in February. But there's some places in the southern part of Western Europe which we should take a look at. But while most of the attention was in Spain and in Europe, Fernando's engagement wasn't lost on fans in South America and all over the world.

" So you take that, plus Takuma Sato being the first ever Japanese winner in a country where there's a significant automobile and racing culture… the sum of all that is likely to mean that we have a better chance of finding a couple of good opportunities to host the championship in terms of where to host events."

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