Q: So with the new car, new crop of talent and new TV package, what will IndyCar need to do to get top line title sponsor? With demise of GRC due unpaid bills and the move to get rid of manufacturers in the top class in favor of spec formula, I think it’s time for Jay to contact his old friends at Red Bull and see if he can facilitate a meeting. The series needs a big player to be title sponsor akin to Verizon, yet Red Bull has a better chance of helping IndyCar reach the millennials through it’s advertising and the Red Bull TV app. It would be major victory for IndyCar if they can get them for 2019 onwards.
RM: Better television ratings would be the No.1 way to attract a big corporation and I think NBC will deliver them, but not overnight (except for Indy). As for Red Bull, they got a taste of Indy with Eddie Cheever’s team [above] but they’ve moved on to other sports, and I doubt Jay would have much luck in bringing them back. (I’m sure he tried when he was in IndyCar marketing).
Q: With Verizon being in the last year of sponsoring the IndyCar Series, is there any word on a potential new series sponsor? How much did Verizon spend annually sponsoring the series, and where does that money go? I don’t recall ever seeing Verizon use IndyCar in any of its television ads, and it seems to me it would be easy and relatively inexpensive to promote their brand and the series in some kind of ad campaign. Honda is currently running a great ad with Hinch, so why didn’t Verizon do the same – and how important is it to IndyCar to have a series sponsor?
Steve Sporer, Chicago
RM: Nobody on the horizon, to my knowledge. I’ve always heard $10 million for Verizon (half in money and half in activation) but that’s just a rumor, no official confirmation. When Verizon changed CEOs a couple years ago, the new boss was not an IndyCar fan and reportedly gave the order not to spend a penny more than had been budgeted until the contract expired. Verizon did some advertising early on, but nothing the past two years. Yes, a good title sponsor that wants to be IndyCar’s partner is imperative. But Izod, FedEx, Pep Boys and Northern Lights all failed to deliver the national exposure that IndyCar needed.
Q: I’m really disappointed with Mark Miles’s performance. He doesn’t pay the right attention to marketing, specifically product development. Randy Bernard did great on this area, taking risks and finding creative ways to change the product, like double sided restarts, the return of the Triple Crown, aero kits, etc. Instead of Bernard, Miles works as if he were on ATP, focusing on well-organized, cost-effective series and on advertising. I remember when he was ATP’s chief, he did nothing, or almost nothing, to change the product. He could have done things to make tennis more attractive to the fans, like one service instead of two, and change the racquet and ball technology to make the player’s technical ability become even more important.
RM: Mark really doesn’t have much say in rules or cars, he’s left that to Jay Frye (who has done a good job) and I think Miles did a good job with the new TV contract, and he tried to breathe some life into May with the road race – although it’s still better than all the pole days since 1996, it’s not much a draw. His job is to run Hulman & Company and make as much money as possible, while also keeping IndyCar afloat. I think Randy could have been really successful had he been surrounded with a couple of good racing people, but he had no chance to thrive against the owners or the politics.
Q: Seb’s Long Beach penalty is a perfect example of why all of the three main racing groups have trouble drawing crowds. Too many rules! It takes until Tuesday or Wednesday for NASCAR to get all its penalties sorted out but they can still miss an obvious loose tire on pit lane, F1 has a penalty for almost every situation except when it really needs one, and now IndyCar ruins the best pass I have seen in its series in at least a dozen years. Wonder what would have happened if they had called that penalty back in the day on Foyt, Mario or any other the other frontrunners? My guess is the person who called it would have gone home with a black eye, or worse. Oh well, I’ll just go back to my seat at Knoxville Raceway and ignore the big boys and all their rules!
RM: You are preaching to the choir, Andy. A situation like Seb’s is easy to judge. He was forced to make a move at 175 mph because Scott Dixon was making a move, and Bourdais wasn’t sure Scott saw him. It was a racing reaction at high speed, and Seb was forced over the line (which is really for the pit exit anyway). The 1960s and 1970s never had penalties and judgment calls because the drivers policed themselves.
Q: I read your article, but respectfully I have to disagree here. I seriously don’t think Bourdais would of attempted that pass had there been a concrete wall where the blue line is. He attempted it because his drivers’ mind saw “space” there for him to put his car when there really wasn’t any. Maybe IndyCar needs to put concrete barriers the whole way down the pit exit lane. That would solve the problem.
Doug, Stafford, VA
RM: With the run he had on Dixon I think he would have always gone for it with or without a wall and, as I wrote and said after watching he replay 100 times, Scott’s move was enough to make Seb react. Neither did anything wrong, it was hard racing and a pass for the ages on a street course that offers very little opportunity for something that spectacular.