Feature: January Fab 5

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Tomas Scheckter- driver perspective

Tomas Scheckter- driver perspective

Topic 1:Reports from multiple sources have emerged that Pole Day for the Indy 500 will be moved from Saturday to Sunday. Is this a good move or should the powers that be stay with tradition? Please explain why or why not.

Tomas: I don’t know.

TonyD: I think IMS will have something in place to get fans out to the Speedway on that Saturday, maybe a big concert perhaps. I think they should qualify cars 1-23 on Saturday; then on Sunday from noon-4, qualify cars 24-33. At 5 o’clock, take the top 9 qualifiers from Saturday and let them run for the Pole. Usually it is at 6pm on Saturday when they do the shootout, but moving it to 5 allows for families and fans to leave the race track around 630 EST. You don’t want to keep fans too late on a Sunday evening.

Lauren: While I understood why they are making this move, I’m not sold. My biggest question is what happens in the case of inclement weather? They will have a big problem getting any kind of crowd to return on Monday.

Rick: I am not sure I understand the logic behind this move, but suspect there is a good reason for it. I too am resistant to change in many things, as it is comforting to have things remain the same, a tradition. But if it increases the exposure for the industry, then I have to with it. I am not sure the major downside here, but really consider it a non starter. As long as there is drama in achieving the pole, then it won’t make that big of a difference.

Nancy: I don’t like the fact that Pole Day is on a Sunday, if it rains the fans from out of town get screwed, they should have had this on Saturday to have a plan “:B”. It really irritates me that they talk about the fans and make decisions that seem to be against growing a fan base.

Nancy Gass- Avid Fan Perspective

Nancy Gass- Avid Fan Perspective

 

Topic 2: Andretti Autosport made a marketing splash unveiling their 2014 liveries along with the new Andrettitv.com AA seems to be on the cutting edge of marketing, drawing attention to their team and IndyCar. Do other teams need to step their games up and what did you think of what AA did?

Tomas: I think it is a good thing. Formula 1 use to have very big car unveilings but now they are doing it in the garage at the first tests. This is the reason they get enough media attention with car unveilings without having to make a big show about it. I think it’s good the way AA is doing it because they are not getting the right recognition or attention from current IndyCar fans and the national media, plus its great for sponsors.

TonyD: I love what Andretti did. In all honesty they made a big deal out of something that isn’t that big of a deal. I like the way they implemented their sponsor Cinsay and were able to telecast the livery unveiling. They implemented all other sponsors of their cars and made a big event for every driver, sponsor and crew member involved. I think Andretti TV is a great idea and I cannot wait to see some of the behind the scenes videos they post from races.

Lauren: Yes! I love the moves AA is making toward better fan involvement and media involvement in an oh-so-slow off-season.

Rick: Andretti has made some serious moves, especially with the unveiling of the liveries. I really like it! They have stepped up their game. I am not sure I would call it cutting edge, but they certainly are creating value for their sponsors. Everyone needs to step it up. The tv thing is a little over the top as it sounds like there is an Andretti Channel somewhere, when it is a handful of cameras in their shop. Not sure that is “must see tv”, but good for them.

Nancy: There is a lot of talk of how AA made a splash, while it is certainly a step in the right direction, I live in Chicago and they never market here for the Milwaukee Race. I don’t understand that! People in Milwaukee know a race is coming up, in Chicago not so much. I had heard that IndyCar has asked teams to help promote and believe they should. Yet I am still waiting for IndyCar to spend some marketing bucks and promote themselves. When the fan club first merged with IndyCar we were told it was up to the tracks to market the event, my response was most people wear underwear but they still advertise..

Tony Donohue- sport radio perspective

Tony Donohue- sport radio perspective

Topic 3: Sage Karam, the 2013 Indy Lights Champ, still has not finalized a deal for the 2014 IndyCar Season. Does he get a full-time ride and if not, what does that say about the Mazda Road to Indy Ladder?

 

Tomas: I’m not sure about Sage but there are many talented guys like Conor Daly without a drive too. Wining in the lower formulas does not guarantee a drive in the top series no matter if its IndyCar or F1.

TonyD: I think he could get a one off with a team at the 500. It just goes to show the talent level in the Indy Car Series. It is tough to break into and not a lot of rookies from Lights have had great success in Indy Car over the years.

Lauren: Unfortunately, I don’t think Sage lands a full time ride for 2014. The money is just not there. But, I do think he is easily in the 500. I’m not sure the ladder series is the particular problem, but more so the cost that it takes to be a player in the IndyCar Series, regardless of talent or resume.

Rick: I am not sure it says anything about the ladder system. It is nothing new. JK Vernay won the Lights championship and had no ride the following year. Unfortunately, Sage will probably not be the last to have it happen. If it says anything, it should highlight the deep impact of how drivers need to bring funding. In any event, it is sad for the business as a whole.

Nancy: I would like to see Sage in a car, he is a down to earth kid and good with the fans. With that being said, I think now that Anderson Promotions has a say that things will be changing and you will see a plan to get these future stars up the ladder. I am going to watch this season to see what happens. A pet peeve of mine is the Road to Indy was originally started with the short track stars in mind, really they haven’t done anything to include these short trackers in the mix. I know Bryan Clauson got something like $300,000.00 to spend for a Indy Ride (I may be wrong on the figure) yet heard he didn’t have an engine lease. If you are going to advertise the USAC Champion gets a ride or whatever, it should be a full ride engine lease and all. It seems the Road to Indy is all about the twisties.

Lauren Kanaan- PR/Media Perspective

Lauren Kanaan- PR/Media Perspective

Topic 4: There appears to be more IndyCar drivers (Vautier, Jakes) looking at the Tudor Sports Car Series because it’s cheaper than IndyCar. Should IndyCar be concerned and is there anything IndyCar can do to prevent other series from poaching their drivers?

Tomas: I have no idea what the Tudor sports car series is and to put “Tudor” and IndyCar in the same sentence to compare is a joke. I never heard of the Tudor 500 but everybody and there dog knows about the Indy 500. If drivers want to become Tudor 500 winners instead of Indy 500 winners then show them where the door is and don’t ask questions.

TonyD: Sports cars are cheaper because for one ride, you can have 3-4 drivers throwing money in. Vautier and Jakes are looking at Sports Cars I feel because they have not had the results in IndyCar.

IndyCar should definitely care that drivers have left the series, but I don’t think other series have “poached” these drivers. The drivers themselves have most likely sought out these more economical options on their own. For the price of racing full-time in the Tudor Series, they would get an Indy Lights ride, at best. Why would drivers like Vautier or Jakes want to take a step back?

Rick: The unified sports car series is becoming more of a player in the motorsports industry and seems to be impacting IndyCar more than any other series. Drivers can find rides in competitive equipment which is either funded, or requires far less seed money. I expect this will continue in bigger and bigger ways in season to come, especially in the short term. Their tv numbers are incredible worldwide. The Tudor series appears to be becoming the soccer of the US motorsports community: largely ignored nationally but a huge following internationally.

Nancy: IndyCar should be very concerned. Last week at the Chili Bowl, three drivers were there, Bryan Clauson won, Christopher Bell and Rico Abreu put on a show. I tweeted hey IndyCar I bet NASCAR will be knocking on the door or something to that effect. Someone from IndyCar told me that Bryan Caluson had a chance in NASCAR already, my thought is he can get one again. I then asked the person at IndyCar if the teams know they are trying to grow the sport why did TCGR put Kule Larson in a NASCAR ride vs. IndyCar. BTW: The next day Ray Evernham does a radio interview and what does he say? Bryan Clauson deserves another chance and Christopher Bell and Rico Abreu should get a ride in NASCAR.

Rick M

Rick Maas- Team/Owner perspective

Topic 5: IndyCar drivers spent time learning about the power of twitter. Some drivers only tweet what they are doing while others interact by replying to fan’s tweets daily. How much interaction should drivers have with fans on twitter and what drivers are the best with fan interaction?

Tomas: I heard Tscheck use to be amazing at twitter! Jokes aside it needs to be a natural thing. You can’t force twitter on drivers and how they interact. Some drivers like Kimi Raikonin or Scott Dixon twitter is not really there thing and it does not change the popularity of them or the series. Other drivers do well with it like Josef Newgarden. Each should be able to do their own thing, it’s nothing the series should force on drivers. We don’t want robots, we want individuals.

TonyD: I think whatever they are comfortable with. I feel Graham Rahal does really well interacting with fans. With Graham, he keeps you up to speed with his racing career, has plenty of giveaways, interacts with the fans and also lets you into his personal life a bit. I think fans love that type of behind the scenes action and more drivers should do that.

Lauren:T he drivers should be interacting with the fans as often as they are able. To that point, it is a fact that certain people have a knack for engaging the fans, while others do not. Regardless of how natural it comes, I think it’s also true that many of them do not have the free time to be constantly on their social media accounts as some would think. And wouldn’t we all rather hear from drivers themselves, as opposed to paid PR ghost to do it for them? I think this may be a case of quality over quantity, in terms of what we should hope to get.

Rick: Drivers should have as much contact as they are willing to live with. It is a great way to let fans see behind the curtain as the Great and Powerful Oz, but if the content is really not interesting, it will fade quickly. Some drivers are going to be good at it, others not so much. And both are okay. I really want my driver to have a following because they are good at their craft and not because they are good at tweeting.

Nancy: I think it’s great when a driver interacts with the fans. Ryan Briscoe, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Ray, Dario, Graham and Scott Dixon all seem to be very interactive with the fans. I think the best interactions are the personal ones ie… TK posting a picture of Leo and him with the Baby Borgs, both Ryan’s showing pictures of their babies and Emma Davies Dixon tweeting about Scott singing to the Disney CD with the girls. I think it makes the fans want to cheer more for these drivers.

Tony Tellez

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