Is IndyCar Racing in Las Vegas?

A reader writes, Dear AR1, Indy Car is coming to Las Vegas for the season finale correct? Therefore you would expect to see some hype, awareness, marketing, etc. I can tell you that I was in Vegas Saturday and Sunday in a restaurant/bar and casino, both well name venues.

On Saturday night at the first stop, restaurant and brewery, there were several TV’s on in the bar area with everything from baseball to soccer. No Indy car in sight. I asked our waitress if they would change one TV to the Indy Car race on Versus. She was bewildered but asked the bar tender. After channel surfing, they finally found the race.

We watched the first race to conclusion with no one else in the bar paying the slightest attention to the race. Soccer and NCAA baseball captured the crowd. We then left for one of the major casino properties hoping to catch race # 2 on TV before our concert.

We arrived at the casino and while walking thru we noted several bars with all TV's tuned to soccer and NCAA baseball again. Even the sports book did not have the Indy Car race on TV. Zero interest from the crowds. Needless to say , we did not get too watch race #2. Amazing.

Indy Car aka IRL has a major uphill climb to gain any consistent fan base that will come anywhere near CART's numbers before the split. It is even a sadder state of affairs that your Indy 500 winner cannot or chooses not to take a ride for the race at Texas. Imagine Jimmy Johnson winning Daytona and then find himself without a ride for the rest of the season. Sadly, Danica Patrick is the only draw for Indy car, and the Indy 500 has become akin to the Kentucky Derby where few know the horses or jockeys, but watch because it is tradition.

The IRL founders wanted it this way, that it is all about Indy, and CART proved that Indy Cars could race anywhere, ovals, roads, and streets with Indy as your marquee event , but that the whole Indy Car series could be bigger and reach a global market.

Dan Gurney was right in his famous White Paper and the IRL founders were absolutely wrong. Fast forward to 2011 and where you are is where your at……swimming against a very strong current of multi media entertainment options for a global market with no real measurable performance standards other than a slight occasional bump in horrible TV ratings, a few more thinly structured and underfunded teams with wanker ride buyers, and a slight bump in attendance at your marquee event that still had a lot of empty seats when TV panned the speedway. The upcoming venues will be even worse.

I know that many want to get past the split and close the old wounds, but the root cause of continued failure lies at the feet of Tony George and the IRL, of which many of the IRL loyalist remained in place after the so called merger. Hope this provides a little insight to what is happening out in the real world outside of racing. I am seeing it as a fan sitting on the sidelines now. Good luck to Indy Car as there are many good people trying to get back all that was lost. Bill Kinsey

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