When IndyCar goes into hiding

Now that the season is over, what will we see in this seven month offseason?

When IndyCar goes into hiding
New IndyCar logo
New IndyCar logo
Will Power, Penske Racing Chevrolet
Will Power, Penske Racing Chevrolet
Will Power, Penske Racing Chevrolet
Start: Will Power leads
Post race celebrations with Tony Kanaan, Mike Conway and Will Power
Helio Castroneves, Penske Racing Chevrolet and Sébastien Bourdais, KVSH Racing Chevrolet and Tony Kanaan, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Penske Racing Chevrolet and Sèbastien Bourdais, KVSH Racing Chevrolet celebrate
Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport Honda and Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske Racing Chevrolet and Helio Castroneves, Penske Racing Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves wins
Helio Castroneves wins
Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda crashes
Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda celebrates
Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda crashes

Now that the checkered flag has flown on the 2014 IndyCar season, I feel that series is up against is biggest challenge yet.

The offseason.

This year marks a new pattern for the IndyCar series and its reach it its fans. 5 months on, 7 months off…

Will Power will not get you through the offseason.

While I feel integrity in officiating is one of the most important things in a sport like racing, but if IndyCar could see their future champion stumbling out of his car and celebrating as if his mother just died ahead of time…maybe they would have looked into a sneaky way of fixing that race.

Fan favorite Helio Castroneves or Simon Pagenaud, would both guarantee a championship celebration worth the 30 minutes it gets on television.

Power on the other hand, without a bottle of Fuzzie’s Zodka in Victory Lane for some confidence, is just a lame duck personality when he is solely in the spotlight. Unless of course you restart a race under wet conditions, you wont see much for magnetic emotion from the Aussie.

At the same time, Will Power’s championship is truly a feel good story. The guy has been around American open-wheel racing forever, and with the last four year’s of finales not going his way, a championship is true redemption. I just hope the new IndyCar fans were able to read into those facts enough to make Power’s oddly un-excited celebration Sunday night worth sticking around seven more months for.

How do you advertise a product that does, well, nothing?

Seven months of offseason is a very long time. Sure, there will be show cars making their way around suburban North America, stopping at corner stores that sell Snapple or a fibre and data company that I have never heard of. (I wonder if their grid girls go to those appearances too?)

But let’s face it. The best type of advertising is the racing action itself. We have highlights of another great season of IndyCar Racing…but how does the conversation go with that friend who you convinced to watch a three minute highlight package from the 2014 season when he says, “Wow! That’s really cool! When is the next race…?”

Crickets.

Unless IndyCar comes out with something genuinely interesting (like their shows that followed a driver for a race weekend, with cameras EVERYWHERE) how do they plan on keeping their product and their sponsors in front of enough eyes that you don’t have to treat your season opener like an exhibition sport at the Olympics.

No wonder the ‘pay driver’ phenomenon is as big as ever in IndyCar.

Is the NFL IndyCar’s true rival?

I am Canadian and we do have a football league up here.

It’s pitiful.

I am sure there is something incredibly alluring about the NFL, but I haven’t caught the bug. I feel the NFL is not IndyCar’s true television rival, but rather, every other racing series that is televised during IndyCar’s offseason.

Football is engrained in the psyche of the everyday American. It is a rough and tumble sport with tons of history, feel good grassroots stories and never a lack of controversy. So admitting that you are NOT going to run races that would at all conflict with the NFL schedule is admitting defeat.

Not towards the NFL though, but to NASCAR, Formula 1, World Rally, V8 Supercars….and every single other racing series that’s season is not molded after a completely different sport's season.

I bet that if you polled 100 fans of all sorts of demographics at ANY racing event in North America, and many abroad, I would say at least half of them will be football fans…and serious football fans. It is engrained in their upbringing and in their culture.

Seven months off is bad. IndyCar needs to look at what makes the NFL so successful. It already has the ingredients that makes a better product than a NASCAR and F1 race combined; it just needs to exploit them.

Someone once said, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” They need to compete with Football, take advantage of all those butts on couches and in pubs. They need to work with promoters to set race times so they can correspond with that tailgate party or that off day.

What I covered simply skims the surface of the challenges of this long offseason. Do teams pay employees to do nothing for 7 months? Do the pay drivers go back to working at 7/11?

Offseasons in any sport are dangerous, but an offseason that lasts two months longer than its active time…that can spell disaster.

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