IndyCar: Series eyes new venues and added marketing

IndyCar faced criticism from some stakeholders over the offseason for the perception that it wasn’t being aggressive enough in the face of rising competition from F1, but CEO Mark Miles thinks that’s set to quickly subside as the series shows off its plans for growth in 2023.

The Indianapolis-based series has begun airing a $17 million marketing campaign while working on other initiatives such as promoting its new docuseries with The CW and Vice Media that will debut in April.

Miles said that his property is focused on schedule innovation and is in talks to add races in the Southern and Eastern regions of America (good luck with that as historically fans in those states have rejected IndyCar by not buying many race tickets). He said the series is in ongoing talks with three businesses that are interested in becoming race promoters in IndyCar, plus some keen on hosting an event overseas (good luck with that).

The series has long been the most popular form of open-wheel racing in America, but that’s being put to the test by the rising stature of Formula One. IndyCar last season averaged 1.3 million viewers on NBC Sports channels (much less when you remove the Indy 500), while F1 averaged 1.2 million on ABC and ESPN channels with most races aired in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

“To the extent that it was a thing months ago, it’s dated — now that we’re racing and we have these initiatives, you won’t be hearing that criticism (that we were not being aggressive enough),” Miles said. “We were in this period of development and financial planning for these initiatives and we weren’t going to talk about specifics during the offseason, so we’re doing our thing and people will be impressed [by the new moves].”

The marketing campaign sees media buys in 20 markets that either are now traditionally strong for IndyCar or have been in the past.