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It's time to promote motorsports

It’s time NASCAR, Indy Car, WRC, WEC, IMSA, F1, etc. stop looking at each other as competition. On a Wednesday in early May a 2 time world champion did his rookie orientation for the Indianapolis 500. This may be news to some of you, but I doubt it because over 2 million people watched it.

Let me give you some perspective on that. The Long Beach Indy Car race had a 0.2 rating (approximately 321,000 viewers). A single car test on a WEDNESDAY had more SIX times more eyes on it than the Long Beach Grand Prix. When Alonso was in attendance at Barber Motorsports Park the TV rating went up from 0.25 in 2016 to 0.39 in 2017*. A more than 50% increase (*NASCAR’s Bristol race got rained out).

It gets even more interesting when you look at where the numbers are coming from. The rookie test for Alonso had 30% of their viewers located in Europe. Presumably there are some small percentages from the rest of the world, but that means over a million Americans tuned in to see this.

It is at this point you have to wonder. Is it F1 fans interested in seeing how their driver does in an Indy Car? Is it Indy Car fans interested in seeing how a world champion does on an oval? Ultimately I think it is race fans interested in seeing how a racer does in a major crossover.

There is clearly a lot of interest in Alonso running the 101st Indy 500 later this month. It is obviously a big deal that he is missing the Monaco Grand Prix in order to compete. I propose that it is time major sanctioning bodies get together to promote racing. Indy Car is growing steadily, but it is probably one of the best kept secrets in motorsports. There are new owners in Formula 1 who want to change the culture of saying no to ideas. I have some suggestions for both of them.

I’ll start with Indy Car. They’ve been discussing an international non-points race or two to start their season. I would like to suggest two venues. The first is Barcelona. The first Formula 1 pre-season test runs Monday through Thursday. I suggest Indy Car take to the track on Friday. Invite some Formula 1 drivers to participate. I hear there’s a popular Spanish Formula 1 driver who would possibly be interested, maybe even two.

My second suggestion is a race in Australia. The Australian Grand Prix might be too late in March to accommodate this idea. It might be possible though to run a week ahead of time. Invite smiley to run in an Indy Car and invite some V8SC drivers while you’re at it. These international races can be about selling your product internationally. If that’s their actual goal they’re going to need to give people a reason to take a look at them. Scott McLaughlin in a Penske along side Will Power and Daniel Ricciardo running for Ganassi along side Scott Dixon would give Aussie/NZ V8SC and F1 fans a reason to care.

My final suggestion for Indy Car is to expand their schedule at the end of the season. They’ve been insistent on not competing with the NFL. I’ve got a proposal that will allow them to do just that. Run Fontana on a Friday night in early October and finish the season as a Saturday opener for F1 at Circuit of the Americas.

My suggestions for formula 1 have been touched on in my suggestions for Indy Car. A partnership in their current U.S. Grand Prix is one of them. Allowing their drivers to crossover if they want to is another. One of the primary goals for the new Formula 1 management team is how to tap into the untapped American market.

There is currently one race in the U.S. A second race or even a third race makes sense. I propose that second race is the second week of May at Indianapolis. Currently the second week of May is occupied, on Saturday, by the Indy Car Grand Prix at Indianapolis. The track should be able to fit in the Formula 1 weekend schedule with no real issues. It has hosted a Formula 1 race before and is likely the only existing American venue certified by the FIA to host a Formula 1 race.

This displaces the Spanish Grand Prix. I suggest running the Canadian Grand Prix the week before the US Indy Grand Prix. The Canadian Grand Prix is currently run two weeks after Memorial Day. I do not know what the typical weather conditions are the first week of May, but the reason I suggest the week before instead of the week after is to allow drivers who wish to compete in the 500 the opportunity to do so. Unless Formula 1 were willing to run their qualifying on Saturday early enough in the day to allow drivers to catch a flight to Indy and qualify later on Saturday the logistics would be too much of a challenge. Indy Car could move pole day back to Saturday to allow everything to be done in one day, but it may be more complicated than things need to be if the Canadian GP is the first week of May.

The biggest change though, would be to move the Spanish and Monaco Grand Prix into the first two weeks of June. I would run the Monaco Grand Prix the first week of June just 1 week removed from its current date. Alternatively teams could be asked if they would like to make their late summer break in August a Spring break in May/June. This would grant additional scheduling flexibility, but would further displace the Monaco Grand Prix.

There are some easier solutions for cross promoting each other as well. Indy Car runs the 500 on Memorial Day, Detroit the week after, and why not share the track in Montreal the week after that? The WEC comes to COTA as well and V8SC has run there in the past as well. Attendance at these races doesn’t typically result in a sold out crowd. However, if you’d like more fans to show up give more types of fans a reason to be there. The only reason I follow IMSA is because I saw them race on an Indy Car weekend and the series was extremely open to the fans. I became a fan. I now follow the series.

In the end there are some people who like one series and hate others. However, this isn’t like being a fan of NASCAR is like being a fan of the Yankees so being a fan of Indy Car is taboo because it would be like being a fan of the Red Sox. Indy Car and NASCAR are not competitors. In fact Indy Car often attempts to avoid broadcast conflicts with NASCAR. Attendance is down at NASCAR races across the board. F1 wants to expand in America. Indy Car is not getting the attention the great racing in that series deserves. We’re all race fans let’s figure it out together.

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