Q: What do you think of the blocking call on pit lane? Would you predict even lower ratings for next year’s 500?
Eric Morris, Home Place, IN
RM: I thought it was too harsh. No, I think being back in May will help restore the audience.
Q: Is there a law that says there cannot be any promotion of the IndyCar series during the telecast of the Indy 500? I ask with some sarcasm, but I am continually amazed (year-after-year) how IndyCar does not promote the series during its most-watched race of the year. I thought ABC was bad, but NBC was worse this year. (I understand the ratings are skewed this year because of the race being in August.)
Did they show the point standings going into the 500? Did they show the entire calendar with the race winners listed? Did they show the point standings after the race? Why wasn’t there a video montage showing highlights from the first six races of the season? That could have been shown during the pre-race and during a long yellow during the race (Rossi’s yellow comes to mind).
Finally, how do you not promote the next race (let alone the rest of the season) at all during the coverage until the last five seconds of the broadcast? Shouldn’t we have heard Leigh Diffey say, “If you are enjoying what you are seeing today, I have good news, the next IndyCar race is only six days away!” ABC would promote the Duel in Detroit doing in and out of commercial breaks during the race and before signoff – both verbally and with an on-screen graphic. NBC only had a graphic on screen, but didn’t talk about WWTR. I’m at a loss as to why IndyCar misses out on the biggest chance at self-promotion in order to grow the sport.
Bewildered in L.A.
RM: I can’t really tell you why, but it’s surprising because NBC does such a good job of promoting Indy all across its properties. But thanks for pointing out those other things, because they’re vital to the product and production.
Q: In the UK where I watch the IndyCar races, when there is a commercial stateside we see the continuing action but with no commentary. From a British viewer’s point of view, the American audience has one hell of a lot of commercials to contend with. Seems this is shooting themselves in the foot when you look at the viewing ratings. Too many commercials, I would suggest.
RM: That’s a major complaint about IndyCar and NASCAR, but somebody has to help pay for all the money NBC spends and we have the two box (commercial in one and racing with no commentary in the other), so fans don’t miss much.
Q: One thing I never thought about until listening to the Dale Jr. podcast was his observation on how different IndyCar drivers view the “code” on the racetrack. Dale Jr. stated how most of NASCAR’s drivers are on the same page since most are from North America, but he noticed during iRacing that IndyCar is not like that since it’s more international. Apparently what goes and doesn’t go is very debatable. Hinch was on the show and confirmed that observation, even commenting about how entertaining drivers meetings can be because of this.
My question is, does IndyCar notice this and pick stewards based on this? I noticed in the Indy 500 there was a North American and a European steward (Luydendyk and Papis).
Andrew Bane, Odessa, TX
RM: No, I think IndyCar just tries to find a couple of ex-drivers that understand situations and are willing to take on this thankless job. Arie grew up racing in Europe and Max was in F1 before coming to CART, so they’ve got a good reference for what some of the foreign rookies might do or think they can go.
Q: Let me add thank-yous to Messers Penske, Miles, Boles and many others for doing as well as possible in this difficult time. I was surprised to see the drop-off in TV viewers for the 500.
That said, I also read that Mr. Sato’s family watched from the UK and Japan, which led me to wonder why worldwide viewing numbers are never shown? A review of the grid showed drivers from 12 different countries, led by the U.S. which had 15, or less than half the field. There were drivers from North America, South America, Asia, Europe and Australia/NZ. Combined with the fact that the series is sponsored by a Japanese corporation and ran on tires by an American brand of a Japanese company and the 500 won by a Japanese manufacturer, clearly the IndyCar series is much more international than most sports in the U.S. It would seem to me that viewer numbers on TV and/or streaming international are as important as those in Cincy and other domestic markets. Who would have these numbers, because I think the sport is followed more than is reported and larger than U.S.-only sports?
Jim Exline, Sullivan, IN
RM: I would like to know those numbers as well and I’ve asked IndyCar, but I don’t think they’re readily available or easy to find.
Q: Prior to this crazy year, the Indy 500 box score with payout was published on Indycar.com, and sometimes the Star, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday. Haven’t seen that yet. I’m wondering if this is going to be the norm? Maybe IndyCar under Mr. Penske doesn’t feel the need to publish the payout, especially considering that the purse had to be halved this year. Also, there were multiple session reports published by RACER.com sooner than available on Indycar.com. The IMS.com and IndyCar.com websites were never as good as they could be. Maybe this is something that IndyCar can work on this coming off-season.
RM: The Star ran the payout on Aug. 24 and it was half of what had been promised prior to the pandemic. Sato made $1.3 million – half of what Pagenaud earned a year ago.