IndyCar’s Present and Ideal Future
We’ve entered week two, of the IndyCar off-season. Needless to say, I’m stir crazy come the weekends. I’m a die-hard. I live for cars and racing. Particularly IndyCar. Knowing that I have a solid 5 months before another race, kills a little part of me every time I think about it. With the silly season here though, it’s always a good time to start thinking about the “what if’s”. It brought me some thoughts on particular ideas that I think may help keep fans engaged, interacting and chomping at the bit for St. Pete 2018. Not only that, I want to dive into some ideas on certain tracks I’d like to see, manufactures I’d like to see, and other changes that’d be quite interesting in my opinion.
First thing is: marketing and branding. I’ve written to a point of exaustion here on the blog, about Indycar getting more attention. Ratings are up. Social media interaction has improved ten-fold. But it’s still not NASCAR. I’m not saying IndyCar can become NASCAR with a couple well placed commercials. But it needs to be just as recognizable by the average American. NASCAR is known from LA to NY and from Seattle to Miami. It doesn’t matter if it’s downtown LA or Time Square, the average Joe knows what NASCAR is. Partnering with brands, ESPN, and that “good ol boy” persona has helped ingrain NASCAR, its drivers and (maybe most importantly) its sponsors in the brains of Joe Blow Citizen. They’ve done a fantastic job of this. Better than any other racing series in North America. Formula 1 is king, worldwide, second to only soccer. But say “racecar driver” in America? They’ll shout “Dale Jr.” or “Jimmie Johnson” way before Vettle or Hamilton. No where else on the planet would that be the case. Here in the States, it’s not even a question. IndyCar needs to be on the short list of “off the top of the head” names. IndyCar has a prime opportunity with the 2017 Champion being right from Hendersonville, TN. The last time an American won, in 2012, they spoiled the chance badly. There was little to no marketing or driver placement, in anything. Not even Andretti Autosport’s sponsors ran ads with Ryan Hunter-Rhey in them. This can’t happen again. It’s only been two weeks, buy Chevy is running ads on social media featuring it’s newest Champion. That’s a start. As great of job that IndyCar has done with all of it’s various social platforms I would love to see them seek the counsel of a bigger name. Namely, Vayner Media. Yes, Gary Vaynerchuck’s company. Vayner seems to be running the show when it comes to brand building and establishing brand recognition. IndyCar has always rested on it’s laurels and had this heir that “we’re IndyCar. We have the Indy 500. The most amazing motor racing event in the world” and that’s all true. But now is the time to kick the momentum into gear. Double down. Triple down, on the social platforms and get your product, drivers and sponsors on every phone, tablet and computer in the world. It’s easy and possible when you have people who do this for a living to run it for you. Adding to it commercial spots, and product placements with the great personalities the series already has, it’s a win win. I do not see how Vayner Media fails at continuing the revitalization of a once American staple. Mark Miles, if you’re reading this, call Gary Vee, please.
Another idea I was thinking would be awesome: IndyCar e-Sports league. This was just adopted by Formula 1. Their e-sports league being ran by Codemasters F1 2017 with a grand prize being able to travel to the season finale in Abu Dhabi and be crowned the first ever, Formula 1 e-sports champion. IndyCar needs to do the same thing, but up the stakes. I’d love to see Project Cars 2 or maybe Forza Motorsport, partner with IndyCar to create a e-sports league that runs the length of the off-season. Winners get to face off at the Indy 500 with the winner having a chance to run a season in USF2000 or Formula 4. It will work. Hands down, without a doubt. It couldn’t fail, would cost very little money and will engage the young fans and gamer crowd. Formula 1 has seen massive success with it’s e-sports league. Gran Turismo, through it’s GT Academy, has put a driver at Le Mans. All of this is one or two phone calls away. Project Cars or Forza would LOVE to be apart of the fanfare of the Indy 500. They’re going to market it. Sony or Microsoft,will in-turn, market it. Putting a chance to actually earn your way up the ladder in the Mazda Road to Indy is something unlike any other opportunity in the world. I hope someone out there is listening.
This is the first couple ideas I had about some growth potential within the series. What are your thoughts on IndyCar hiring a media company? How about an e-sports league? Would you or someone you know, be interested in earning your chance to race in front of the world at the Indy 500? Let me know in the comments. You can also hit me up on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.