In the most unlikely of places (Uno’s Pizzaria) and with the most unlikely of people, I had one of the most thought-provoking conversations about IndyCar to date. As I dined with two girlfriends, I was asked what my weekend plans are. It’s race weekend, people. Seriously. You call yourselves my friends.
I digress. I would have shared my plan to sneak onto a transporter and hitch a ride to Edmonton, but some people just don’t get it, you know? So as I explained that I’d be watching the qualifying and race on good old Versus (still shaking fist at ABC), my girlfriends’ noses scrunched and their eyeballs rolled.
“We just don’t get it,” one said. “Every time I think of IndyCar fans, I picture my dad… with a mullet.”
And there it was.
Of course that’s what my girlfriends picture. Why wouldn’t they? What has this sport done to peak the interest of anyone my age… or gender? Sure, in the Age of Danica, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of girls entering karts, but what about the fans?
Recently, during coverage of the race at The Glen, Graham Rahal was asked about the “repositioning” of Tony George. He stated, “I think this might be a good thing to get a fresh face in here.” Amen, brother.
You may or may not know that the race girl – by day – is a marketing/advertising professional. So for the moment, I must don my PR cap. As we begin to usher in a new era (post-Tony George, Joie Chitwood, and whoever else is next, as these things come in threes, right?) I can only hope that those working in any promotional aspect remember to focus as much on the kids (male AND female) of IndyCar fans as they do on the originals.
I’m happy to help. Heck, I’ll even move to Indy. As a side note, if Tony Kanaan wasn’t a driver, he would be my first hire, as he is the best Twitterer ever. I bet if you Googled “fantastic fan interaction,” you’d just get a big ol’ picture of TK’s smilin’ mug. There I go again.
Do I think it’s a challenge? Of course. But will the future of IndyCar depend on it? Absolutely. More fans, more money, more sponsorship, more possibilities. Then hopefully there will come a day when I can mention IRL without people pretending to have a clue by saying, “Oh, so you like that Danica girl?”