The 2014 IndyCar season is already a wash

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Next season is going to another rough one for IndyCar

This isn’t a season review that you see each and every outlet publishing this time of year. This is a season preview. Or a season diagnosis, I am still not sure yet.

IndyCar will run an 18-race schedule in 2014. That’s fair. There are 5 races on temporary street courses, 4 on purpose built road courses, and six ovals. That also seems good. The big historic events are accounted for, you have your visit to Canada in July, an attempt at keeping the Milwaukee fan base interested in IndyCars in August, and the usual Month of May but this year with a twist.

I have heard nothing but bellyaching about the road race at Indy. It’s been set in stone. Move on people. This race will help the Indy 500, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar grow.

Why move on from the bellyaching? Because that new road race is ALL IndyCar is doing to grow the sport.

JR Hildebrand, Barracuda Racing Honda
JR Hildebrand, Barracuda Racing Honda

Photo by: Covy Moore

Motorsport.com learned that it takes approximately $6 million to run an IndyCar for a full season competitively. I find that to be a ridiculous amount of money considering the hopes of cost cutting and safety that was supposed to be built into the DW12 Dallara chassis.

With a six million dollar investment in mind, lets look at the other variables from a layman’s point of view that are hurting the IndyCar success story.

Racing takes sponsorship. Sponsors want exposure for their dollar. Sponsors don’t have THAT much money, apparently, because of “the way the economy is.”

I find that the first interesting fact.

I am a bit of an information nerd, and enjoy looking up the earnings of top companies all over the world. I suppose certain industries took a hit in the big downfall, but things have gotten better. Period.

“Good afternoon sir, or madam. My name is Covy Moore and I am a race car driver. I compete in a high speed, high excitement racing series and am hoping I can provide a great advertising platform for your company, in exchange for the funds to help it run. The cost to you is 5 million dollars, and this will get you 90 per cent coverage of my Dallara car, 25 hospitality passes per weekend at every race, and pit tours with our PR director at each event.”

$5 million is a drop in the bucket for the following corporations: Walmart, Eni, Apple, Samsung Electronics, Total, IBM, BP, Chevron…

Now, some of these have subsidiaries involved in racing. But it seems the biggest earners in the world are plain old oil and gas conglomerates. I think a lot of these companies don’t want to get involved in racing because nobody has ever heard of Cenovus or Pemex.

Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Covy Moore

Because there is some apparent lack of sponsorship dollars floating around, teams are expecting their drivers to get it for them. That is ass backwards, period.

Now, whether it’s a team, or a driver going to this big oil and gas company asking for money in return for advertising and hospitality, they will always ask who the demographic is for the racing series, and what sort of exposure it gets.

And that is where I move back into the 2014 schedule. It’s 5 months long. Five. Out of a 12-month year…

The brass at IndyCar feel that not competing with the football schedule will somehow bring the fans out in droves. It won’t. Football fans are just that. I hear they pay ridiculous prices to go seem games…

The brass at IndyCar feel that a shorter season might take away some of the internal stresses of paying a large staff. It won’t. A short season means 7 months with nothing to do. That means layoffs.

Sponsors want exposure. 5 months, and 18 races on who knows what channel? That is not television advertising. Mediocre fan turnout at most events… also not really what the sponsor is looking for.

IndyCar is still breathing through a tube on its deathbed, in my opinion. And it’s the brass and the capitalist world failing. The teams are always looking for partners and sponsors. The drivers are always looking for seat time to get better at their craft, but it seems the IndyCar organization always overlooks the bigger picture.

I applaud them for their initiatives back at home in Indiana. That road race is going to be a great way to kick off May, and will not doubt bring fans. But this series cannot be run at one track with 3 different configurations. It needs destinations, it needs exposure, but most of all it needs marketability, and 2014 is not a good platform to market the sport.

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About this article
Series INDYCAR
Article type Commentary
Tags andretti, castroneves, dixon, ganassi, hinchcliffe, indy 500, indycar, market, montoya, season, sponsor, toronto