Q: As a long-time ticket holder for the Indy 500 (and avid reader of the Mailbag), today (February 18) I received an email under the signature of Doug Boles announcing, among other things, that as of today we are now only 100 days away from the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500, that the Speedway is anticipating a capacity crowd and several other announcements about the other activities which will occur at the Speedway during race weekend. A bit later in the email, Doug excitedly describes that during this evening’s broadcast of the Olympics on NBC, there will be a special “Back Home Again” spot about the 500 shown ostensibly to promote the race to NBC viewers in Indiana only. Really?
I realize that buying airtime on national television costs a lot of money, but considering that NBC is the broadcast partner of the NTT IndyCar Series as a whole and the Indy 500 in particular, that there are probably less than 1000 people in the entire state of Indiana that have not heard of or are aware of the Indy 500 and that the NTT IndyCar Series has been trying for years to attract a broader audience, what could have possibly been the rationale for deciding to limit the prime time viewing of the “Back Home Again” piece to Indiana residents rather than to a national television audience? Yet another opportunity lost/passed by to promote the most competitive motorsports series on the planet and the most famous race in the world to the exact target market the Series and the Speedway are trying to reach.
This email will reach you well after the airing this evening of the piece, but I do hope you will be able to find out what the thought process was to not put the “Back Home Again” segment before a national audience.
Steve L., Chicago
MP: I’d imagine Doug and the IMS team have a solid understanding of where their ticket buyers live, which ones renew, and which ones don’t. If I were in his position (which would be a sad day for the Speedway), I’d do the same exact thing and target the home audience since the majority of buyers are in the home market. With no fans in 2020 due to COVID and a limited number last year, I’d put all of my promotional effort behind getting Hoosiers to come back to the Speedway. Smart call.
Q: Can you explain or clarify if F1 is a closed shop of only 10 teams? Or do they welcome additional teams as well? The news after Andretti’s announcement is not clear.
What is the $200m fee for? Is it an entrance bond? In the past the team was supposed to get this back. Has this changed? What are the feelings among the 10 teams about any new entrants in the future?
CHRIS MEDLAND: So, it’s not a closed shop in the sense that new teams are welcomed if they’re going to add to the sport. The reason they can’t simply show up one weekend is that the logistics are so big you have to actively plan to accommodate an extra team (or two or even three) at certain venues. If we reached that level of entrants then it would impact the space and setup the existing teams could have at a track.
But more than that, it’s the way that F1’s revenues are distributed. The teams all get a chunk of money from F1 split far more equally now than in the past, but any new entrant would also be entitled to that money and therefore dilute how much the existing 10 teams get. Basically: the current teams would lose money. So the $200m fee is to be split among the teams to compensate for this, and show that it’s a serious entity coming into the sport to race with a solid business model, and not just a team that would show up for a couple of years and disappear.
Of the teams I’ve spoken to so far, they’re more than happy to have new teams. It means more competition, a financial bump when they arrive but also potentially more customers too if they’re an engine supplier. And if it brings more eyeballs to the sport, even better.
THE FINAL WORD
From Robin Miller’s Mailbag, February 25, 2015
(ED’s note: In case a little extra context is needed for newer readers, the following letter was one of many we received that week in response to Chevy’s newly-unveiled aero kit ).
Q: I didn’t think they could make the Dallara uglier, but Chevrolet has gone and done it. The rear bumper is so enormous! It may perform better, but it sure is hideous. Look no farther than Ferrari’s F1 concept to get an idea how stylish the rear bumper area could be. How fragile will the front wing be? I see a lot more full course cautions in our future.
Don Dahler, Minneapolis
ROBIN MILLER: But it’s got a great personality.