Category Archives: In Case You're Confused

In Case You’re Confused: Brickyard Edition

A funny thing happened on my way to nowhere yesterday. I hopped on the treadmill, which I hate, but it was hot as Satan’s nipples in Indy. Usually I turn on ESPN but as I flipped channels, I happened to catch a local news station’s pre-race coverage of the Brickyard 400. Lucky me. In the hour that followed, I was privy to some of the most breath-taking nonsense this side of the Mississippi.

And so I bring you… the top three interviews that make you proud to be an IndyCar fan:

Interview #1: The women of NASCAR.
I can only imagine that this story idea went something like this:
Dude 1: “We need some story ideas.”
Dude 2: “What? I wasn’t listening. There are girls here.”
Dude 1: “Here? At the Brickyard?”
Dude 2: “Yea. Weird. Let’s go talk to them.”

So here’s the premise for the story: The reporters went around asking women at the track about why they were there. The questions ranged from “How long have you been coming?” to “Who’s your favorite driver?” As you can imagine, in true redneck fashion, the women were beautiful. And none of their answers made them sound like flippin’ idiots. Psych. It was a modern-day marvel.

The women liked the drivers because they were cute. They didn’t really enjoy the racing but the cars were “cool.” And then, low and behold, came my personal favorite. When asked about brand loyalty, and whether the advertising mattered at all to them, not one of the women said it did. ARE YOU HEARING ME, MARKETING DIRECTORS? For the thousands of you who are spending millions on advertising in the NASCAR market, the decision-makers of the house are tuning you out. Compare that to the extremely brand-loyal, higher-educated, higher-tax-bracket demographic of the IZOD IndyCar Series and let’s see some of that money roll in the right direction. Just sayin. Man, this soap box is high. Can someone get me a step stool?

IndyCar – 1, NASCAR – 0.

Interview #2: When beer is more important than your friends…
So we move on to the next interview, which takes place in what can only be described as a regular-tent-turned-beer-tent. The shot is of five or six lonely-looking people who have about $750 worth of ribs cooking on their grill. The backdrop is 40+ cases of beer, neatly stacked as if they were building some kind of Coors Light compound. Pfft. Your first mistake is the Coors Light. When building a beer fortress, always go with imports. Rookie mistake.

Anyway, here’s the theme of this gem: These people used to have a HUGE group of party comrades who united at the Brickyard each year to drink and enjoy the race (really, just drink… let’s be honest). This year, because of the economy, most of their friends just couldn’t afford it. Three things that come to mind: 1) Racing (despite the fact that it’s NASCAR, which I’m willing to forgive) is life. If your friends don’t recognize that, get new friends. 2) I heard that general admission Brickyard 400 tickets are $40. You can get into the infield at the 500 for $20. Something is wrong here. 3) You losers have clearly spent more than a grand on meat and beer. You couldn’t have donated some of that money to your poor friend’s outreach program so they can be there too?

IndyCar – 2, NASCAR – 0.

Interview #3: If your perception of reality is THIS far off, you might be a redneck.
The bad news is that I never caught the name of the guy in this last interview. The good news is that he’s so far removed from reality that it doesn’t really matter.

The reporters seemed excited to be able to introduce this guy, who appeared to be one of the higher-ups in the NASCAR executive team. However, he said he was spending his day going from suite to suite, encouraging people to keep coming out. They already have people to do that, sir. They’re called beer girls.

Best part of the interview: When asked about the Brickyard 400 and whether or not there had been talks of adding a NASCAR road course race, he says, “The Brickyard 400 is the crown jewel at IMS,” but there have been talks about the possibility of another race. Crown… effing… jewel. This just after they interviewed the traffic lady who said, “Surprisingly, the roads are all clear. Feel free to come on out – you shouldn’t have a problem. Or you can watch it on tv from the comfort of your couch and not have to worry about heat and dehydration.” That’s one way to advertise. Well, lady, if you put it that way…

And thus, the result was 150,000 fans in attendance (a generous estimate, according to the Indy Star’s Curt Cavin). Yes, clearly the 350,000 fans that come out for the Indy 500 are missing out on this “crown jewel.” How silly of us.

In comparison, Randy Bernard was asked almost the same question at the Carb Night Burger Bash this year. When the possibility of adding an IndyCar road course at IMS came up, he simply stated that it wasn’t likely, as he didn’t want to take away from the prestige of the Indy 500.

IndyCar – 3, NASCAR – 0.

Well, that about does it for this edition of “Why NASCAR Blows.” To sum up, you should be an IndyCar fan. Thanks for tuning in. Stay classy, San Diego. Back to you.

Hey Charles… This track ain’t big enough for the both of us

Photo by Paul Dalbey

In Case You’re Confused: She’s a Driver, Not a Savior

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.