IndyCar: Despite the naysayers, there are many benefits to Liberty buying IndyCar (Update)
–by Mark Cipolloni–
When the recent rumor came out from Peter Windsor that he heard Liberty Media was looking to buy IndyCar, the rumor was quickly denied by both sides.
Of course, if you are indeed negotiating such a deal, you would not want to admit to it until the deal was done.
So at the time, we labelled the rumor ‘false’ and moved on.
However, something was said after this weekend’s Miami GP by Mark Miles of Penske Entertainment that made us go hmm……
And then hmm…..again.
No one else picked up on it because they were so focussed on why Mark Miles was making a statement to the media about the Miami GP, they missed a potential hidden nugget in his words.
Miles had criticized the claim that Formula 1 is the “greatest motorsport spectacle”, made by Rapper LL Cool J during the driver introductions, labelling it as a “crock of shit”.
The Indianapolis 500, which takes place every May, is known to carry the tag of ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’, which is trademarked.
“I heard that,” Miles told IndyStar. “And my reaction was, ‘I’ll bet you race fans know that’s a crock of s***.
“And I don’t expect [the potential trademark breach] to continue.”
Miles said that he contacted F1 over its promotion of the upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix, as it advertised the event as “the greatest racing spectacle on the planet”
“We had a little conversation with them when it was popping up around Vegas, and it was very informal and quick, so I was surprised by [the pre-race ceremony in Miami].
“But I don’t think that’s their general MO [modus operandi]. I’m not sure who the chain of people is for writing something like that that gets said on the mic, but I don’t believe it would come from as high up as [Stefano Domenicali].
“I didn’t consider it a corporate policy, given our relationship.”
Those 3 words- given our relationship, are what got my attention.
What relationship would that be given the two series are in competition with each other, and they currently hold no joint events, and are not sanctioned by the same sanctioning body.
IndyCar does have a deal with Sky Sports to televise its races in Europe (it also televises F1 races), but Liberty Media does not own Sky Sports. Comcast owns Sky Sports.
So, just what is that relationship Miles refers to all about?
Might there be discussions ongoing in the background, given Roger Penske’s advanced age and the need for succession planning?
I’ll leave it at that for now and keep my ear to the ground.
But where there’s smoke, there certainly can be fire.
May 1, 2023
–by Mark Cipolloni–
When the rumors surfaced that Liberty Media was interested in buying IndyCar, there was the usual pushback from the naysayers who think IndyCar is perfect just the way it is, thank you.
Well, without dwelling on the weaknesses of IndyCar, let’s instead focus on what could be the benefits of Liberty Media buying IndyCar.
Take off the blinders, sit back, take a deep breath, and imagine the possibilities:
- IndyCar races on Saturday at the Miami GP in front of huge sponsors and huge F1 fanbase
- IndyCar races on Saturday at the Canadian GP in Montreal in front of huge sponsors and huge F1 fanbase
- IndyCar races on Saturday at the Mexican GP in Mexico City in front of huge sponsors and huge F1 fanbase
- IndyCar races on Saturday at the USGP in Austin in front of huge sponsors and huge F1 fanbase
- IndyCar races on the Las Vegas strip before the Las Vegas GP in front of huge sponsors and huge F1 fanbase
- The Long Beach GP becomes an F1/IndyCar doubleheader
- Some F1 teams (besides McLaren) will start an IndyCar team to train mechanics, engineers and drivers
- IndyCar drivers get to show their skills to F1 team owners in #1 thru #6 above, which may lead to an F1 ride later
- F1 piggybacks IndyCar on its global TV deals – Global IndyCar viewership increases to 10 million per race minimum
- Sponsors begin to knock down the doors of IndyCar teams because of global TV numbers
- Some F1 drivers will be inclined to enter the Indy 500 each year as Liberty would ensure there will be no conflict with Monaco GP
- The remainder of the IndyCar schedule stays the same, except for conflicts with #1 thru #5 above
- The top 10 drivers in the IndyCar championship get a full 1 or 2-day F1 test with an F1 team at the end of each season. Make an impression and it could lead to an F1 Reserve role or maybe even a ride.
- The IndyCar engine formula is made similar to F1’s hybrid power units, but with standardization to reduce cost. As a result, some F1 engine manufacturers decide to also enter an engine in IndyCar
- Liberty Media implements an annual Cost Cap for IndyCar, similar to F1, with all the benefits that come along with it.
- Some F1 teams agree to design an IndyCar chassis’ to compete with Dallara. Teams can buy a Dallara, or, say, a Ferrari chassis, but they must still meet the Cost Cap. All alternate chassis’ must be within 10% of the cost of the spec Dallara. Add-on benefit – Theoretically a Ferrari Chassis with a Ferrari engine (could be the Ganassi team running them for example) could compete in and win the Indy 500!. Ditto for Mercedes
I can go on – the benefits are endless for IndyCar. It just takes one to have an open mind to change.
Reap the long-term rewards.