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Topic 1: Rumors are circulating about drivers coming back and new drivers to the series. What rides do you see being filled and by whom? Any new teams?
TScheck- I don’t listen or care for rumors.
TonyD- We have seen a few drivers sign over the last week, doesn’t seem like Katherine Legge is going to have a full time ride but I think Jay Penske may get her in a 3rd car at Indy. I think AJ Allmendinger is a lock for a few races, the Indianapolis 500 being one. Schmidt and Townsend Bell seem to have a deal together for the 500 as well.
Nancy- I really don’t know who is going to fill the seats, but think Katherinne Legge lawsuit is going to hurt her in the long run, even if she is right.
Topic 2: By depending on social media do you think IndyCar misses a core of fans that aren’t social media savvy? If so, how do you reach these fans?
TScheck- Fans are built by the series and drivers, not by social media. They are built by the drivers and their actions. Why did Nascar all of a sudden pick up? Because there was a fight on the last lap of the Daytona 500. People want real, not social media or anything else.
Nancy- Social media is a tool not an end all to be all. I think the Series puts too much emphasis on social media. I would like to see statistics on how many “new” fans are picked up by this, all I see is the already fans following the series. I agree with Tomas you have to have a bad guy, good guy and story lines. Back in Indy’s hey day you had AJ Foyt telling people what he thought not scripted, and fights and just plain guts. Now the sport is so dumb downed by drivers watching what they say, afraid of sponsors taking money away that it takes away from the excitement.
Fans on twitter know about the exciting finishes and the drivers being fan friendly. The series needs to target more than just using social media and for instance, billboards showing close finishes. They need to get in peoples faces type of ads.
Rick- According to 2012 data, 50% of the population are on social media and a large percentage of them are very casual users of social media. I believe it is another arrow in the quiver, and should be used accordingly. Relying too heavily on social media is a mistake. To really drive the series all distribution channels need to be integrated. But we are talking about the channel for distribution. You first have to have something worthy of distributing, meaning content. I have not seen much that is interesting or meaningful coming from anyone. An information void will be filled by those interested and passionate no matter what medium they choose.
Topic 3: IndyCar has always been on the cutting edge for women race car drivers. For 2013, it looks like Simona DiSilvestro will be the only woman in all of IndyCar. The Mazda Road to Indy lost Ashley Freiberg to sports cars and Shannon McIntosh has been looking into NASCAR. That leaves zero women in the Mazda Road to Indy. Ana Beatriz and Pippa Mann haven’t been able to find the funding to get a full-time ride. It was just 5 years ago that Milka Dunno, Sarah Fisher and Leilani Munter were also in the mix. Is this issue about money, talent or something else?
TonyD- Bottom Line you have to have the money to race in any series. These ladies have the talent (most do). But some of the ladies who have had chances in Indy Car have not performed at the top level. The money right now is in Nascar so Shannon looking there is not surprising.
TScheck- If you want to look at IndyCar as the top single seater series in America, and the top single seater oval series in the world, then women or no women does not really matter. We need talent in the series! Danica was a one off and we will probably never see another one of her for a long time. There are some talented girls out there but are they talented and privileged to be behind the wheel of an IndyCar at the Indianapolis 500? That’s the question.
Nancy- I believe it is about money. It takes money to race and sponsors. I want to see the best drivers in the series, I could care less if it is a woman or man. Unfortuantely as long as money brings the drivers the sport won’t have the best drivers but can say they have the best paying drivers. I think anyone that proves theirself can drive in the 500, but I don’t want to see a person get a ride because they are a woman, black, white, red or yellow. I want to see talented drivers racing , not ride buyers.
Rick- It’s the money. Until the current culture changes it will be the money. And by the way, it affects everyone similarly. It is a shame and is the single biggest anchor keeping Indycar and the ladder system from growing.
Topic 4: What are your thoughts on IMS asking the State of Indiana for $100 million for improvements to the facility? Keep in mind, the federal government is requiring $30 million in improvements for disabled people. Should the taxpayers of Indiana fork over their tax dollars to help an iconic venue like IMS?
Tscheck- Yes! To the average fan this sounds like a lot of money. The thing with money in business is it depends on how much capital you put in and how much you get out. I might look like white collar but I am blue collar. What I mean by that is that Indianapolis has to prove to the government that the money spent will allow them to gain an increase in revenue over a certain amount of time. It’s really like all business deals, it’s a prediction of numbers. Let’s say the improvements let them host another “big” race and also increases the Indy 500 numbers. What does that bring in $ amount not only to the Speedway but to Indiana. That’s all it’s about. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a historic event that Indianapolis needs. We all don’t want it sold for real estate property. I want my children’s children to watch this race, and if it depends on the state of Indiana spending money on it and they can see the return on investment, I say they should do it with out a shadow of a doubt!
Nancy- I have had to fork over money for the stadiums in Chicago, and they do pull revenue in from the surrounding areas. The Speedway has pulled in so much money for the area that if they are being asked to make improvements that it is ok to ask for help. No one denies the hotels, restaurants etc… are making money race weekend. I would like to see a 24 of Indy race and believe that would pull in a new crowd to the area.
Topic 5: It looks like there will only be 8-10 entries for FIL in 2013. It appears that up and coming drivers burn their money up and don’t have enough left by the time they are ready for FIL. An example of this is Sage Karam. He finished second in Pro Mazda last year and was a shoe in to move up to FIL. Instead, Andretti Autosport gives it to Zach Veach and Sage is looking for an opportunity with another team due to money. What are your thoughts on eliminating 1 rung in the ladder, whether it is USF2000 or Pro Mazda so that young drivers still have money left over for FIL and which series would you eliminate? FIL has a new car coming out in 2014 which should generate interest and reduce in cost. What else can be done to increase the value of FIL so that more companies want to invest it?
Tscheck- Like with all “number 2″ series like GP2 or FIL you will always struggle with TV numbers. Where I think they both need to change is the amount it costs to drive. Like I said in my earlier answer, we want the best, most dedicated, hardest driving and most anticipated(because of their talent) drivers. Not because they could not afford to drive. They said the IndyCar series was going to be cheaper to run before the new car and now the 2nd year it’s almost double the amount. New cars are not the fix, unless they do something dramatically different. The perfect “college” series before you get to “pro” series, is a series that is cheap to run, similar to drive as a “pro” series and rules that allow all teams to be competitive. What you want is not a race with team mates at the front, you want a race of talent that teams prepare their cars for them. This allows the manufacturers and sponsors of the “pro” teams to pick and choose the best talent. If this is achieved then the fans will automatically watch the series as they trust this is the future.
Nancy- I have been reading where a lot of the IndyCar field has advanced from the FIL. I just read the announcement that there will be no new car, this may solve a problem of getting more teams in the FIL. I think that the fans, sponsors and teams want new technology but not at the higher costs. I think the ladder needs to have scholarships that mean something and each champion needs to be guaranteed to move up. When ads are done they should include drivers from all divisions not just IndyCar.