I can’t hold it in any longer. I’m so tired of hearing about the “doomed future of the IRL” as a result of Danica’s departure. Note that this is just the race gIRL’s opinion, but let’s take a deep breath and gather some perspective, all you Crabby Appletons.
Did the IRL exist before Danica came along? Yes, I think it did. Are there currently fans of the Series who are not DP fans? Yes, I think there are. Will those fantastic, elite machines continue to run the circuits even after she leaves? Yes, I think they will.
I’m not a Danica-hater. I think she’s got talent, but WAY beyond that, I think she’s got marketing savvy. She has built a brand, which will exist and flourish no matter what type of car she’s in. So we’re clear, it is NOT her skill, her determination, or even her track record that has made her the face of the IRL. It is her story, her fiery personality and yes, even her cute little body that has landed her smack in the middle of the media frenzy. This Danica Mania has, of course, done good things for the promotion of the IndyCar Series, but the lack of this one woman will not be the end of this great sport.
It has been suggested that we could throw in other females to replace her. I say this with the utmost amount of respect, but I guaran-damn-tee that no Milka, Ana, Pippa or Sarah will ever reach the height of popularity as Danica (Miss Patrick if you’re nasty). It is her MARKETABILITY that makes her a star… and none of these other ladies has proven to compare. Could someone else come along and trump her? Absolutely. But let’s focus on what we can do now, instead of whining and waiting.
Moving forward, it’s going to be all about marketing the Series correctly. There’s an entire grid of drivers out there with “untapped” personalities. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, if the field was filled with Tony Kanaans, fan interaction would be through the roof, and the “soap opera” appeal similar to the likes of NASCAR and WWE would certainly be attracting fans. We like drivers when we feel like we know them… when we feel a connection. Helio is a prime example because of DWTS, and TK should get a twitter trophy for his fan interaction.
I’d love to see other drivers step up to the plate and give a little love for the benefit of the IRL’s future. Even fun contests like the “Find Hideki an American Girlfriend” adventure are great for developing that connection. Naturally, I’ve got a ton of ideas for marketing the Series – I’m sure you do too – but that’s for another day.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to focusing on the last races of the season. Because I, for one, won’t let Danica’s race for market share get in the way of the REAL race.