Tag Archives: Indycar

Brainstorming; Finding The Next Generation of IndyCar Fan

28 Sep
Push to WHAT?

Push to WHAT?

As the off season rolls onward, I like to start posting on the ‘ol blog again. Typically, I leave the season reporting and opinionating to the ‘professional’ blogging word smiths. I always say “why put up my second best to their best efforts?” and enjoy the season. There is only so much one can write about a race and provide true insight, hence I take a back seat to my fellow bloggers.

Today, I want to begin my off season musings with a repost of an article I wrote for the current Dean of IndyCar Bloggers, George Phillips of Oilpressure Blog. A few months back he had asked me to cover an episode for him called “Brainstorming”. I had a few ideas about putting butts in seats so I decided to provide the below transcript of that post. From George’s blog dated July 27, 2015.

My first exposure to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was as an eighth grader, spending some quality time with my father on an all-day field trip. We drove from northern Indiana down to Indianapolis and the speedway that day to experience qualifications. Little did I know that seeing the wedge shaped, brilliant hot red STP turbine cars would become my version of crack. All I knew was that afterward, I had ringing ears from the screaming Novis¹, tingling fingers from gripping my seat and the aroma of high speed rated industrial lubricants swirling through my nasal passages. In short, for some reason I did not want the day to end.

Fast forward 30 years, if you will. I am pulling my 6 year old son around the speedway in his red Radio Flyer. Strolling through the newly relocated snake pit in turn 4, I realize that in a few more years the gentrification of all snake pit activities at IMS will be in full swing. One would think that my son, who now is in the sweet spot of that all-important marketing demographic, would be a bigger motor head than I. Not close, folks; not even close.
What makes up the difference between the current crop of open wheel racing fan and the ones that roamed the hallowed grounds of 16th and Georgetown back in the 70’s and 80’s? Geese, there must be a gazillion differences! Kids today (read; new millennial marketing demographic) have very little interest in anything automotive. To my point, Uber makes far more sense than car payments, insurance and ad valorem taxes. Just ask any millennial which they would prefer and be prepared to be shocked. Frankly, I am just stating the facts here. For a brief, technical info graphic on the topic of New Millennials, hit this link that is brought to you by Goldman Sachs. It is a great summary and comes off as Millennials 101.

http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/millennials/

So here is the crux of the problem; how to involve, engage and ensnare the next generation of IndyCar fans? How does one go about harvesting all that soon to be disposable cash that the largest, single generation since we baby boomers, will supposedly have? Well….I certainly have a few ideas! Let’s start with the presumption that we are not just selling the race. We are going to MARKET to this generation that couldn’t care less about cars and motor sport, and we are going to be very successful in doing so.

The Vegas Effect:

Las Vegas offers and sells one thing and one thing only; games of chance. I do not care if the gambling hall (casino) is red, purple or black; nor do I care if they are an oval casino, an urban located casino or a natural terrain casino. All a casino is offering is games of chance. In fact, the only thing Vegas really has to offer is a game of chance. Get my point? Each casino has as its manifest, the goal of separating you from your cash, because, as we all know, the only thing that stays in Vegas …..drum roll please….is YOUR MONEY.

So how do they succeed? I don’t recall much in the news lately informing me that Vegas seems to be running out of visitors. So how did they differentiate and separate from one another? As an example, the older casino, Circus Circus, pandered to people with children. An encompassing circus theme, complete with actual circus acts running 24/7 made it easier for both mommy and daddy to try their hand at games of chance, all the while making it a “family” vacation. I believe they call that marketing.
Vegas also was very successful in playing the E card; big name entertainment galore. These acts do not have their access fee rolled up into one big casino visit price tag. They are add on value to the cost of the room, which of course, is located pretty near the gaming tables. Say you get hungry while happily being parted from your money. How about we open a buffet line? Why not locate that buffet line in close proximity to the gaming tables? Yeah, let’s do that as it makes pretty good sense.
So now we have a city that offers only one true product, wrapped within several other products that contribute to the differentiation of one gaming house from the next one. As Charlie Sheen used to mumble: WINNING!

The Speedway Effect:

I want to go and see a race but my spouse and son couldn’t care less. But I DO know that my spouse is hell-bent on seeing a good DJ or nationally famous band and dancing the afternoon away. How about we set up a KILLER mosh pit with more than just one internationally famous DJ? Smoke, fire and a BIG show? Heck yeah! Park that puppy smack in the middle of the short shoot, just behind the (insert your favorite light beer brand here) Party Deck. Now, I admit that this is not a new idea. I just want to take a more aggressive approach with the musical act and the possibilities because as I have learned, these Millennials are not coming to the speedway just for the cars.

My son is pretty geeked about virtual reality. I have discovered that Millennials tend to shun reality anyway! That being the case, consider fulfilling one of his wants. He wants to try his hand at competing with the cars on the track and the drivers IN REAL TIME. After all, life is one big virtual reality to the Millennials anyway. I will bet you lunch every Monday for a year that Verizon could “hook him up” with the technology in a tent somewhere on the premises, for a value added on fee of course!

I have a friend that is interested in cars but not all that much in watching them go around in circles all day. I do know he and his spouse are back to nature types that love being outdoors and camping. His wife is not all that rustic a camper (actually her idea of the wilderness is a paved parking lot without any lines painted on it yet). However, they are intrigued with Glamping, but without all that glam. Stick them on the golf course, out of sight of the glamorous campers, but do not deny them the experience. Don’t relegate them to the Coke lot with all the crazies! They have cash to spend so…..

Everybody I come into contact with that discovers I have, in a previous life, been involved in the television production of motorsport mistakenly believe that that must have been a glamorous activity. To a man and woman, they are smitten with the idea of behind the scenes access. This is the last commodity that has not really been exploited with the exception of the Bronze Badge program. I can take that one step further and for no more capital outlay, you grant access to true behind the scenes locations. Why not open a viewing window next to Race Control so the masses can see the decision makers hard at work? I would consider going even further. Open the side of one of the television broadcast control trailers in the TV compound and include that on the tour called “Behind the Scenes at Indy”. Send folks up the pagoda to enjoy the magnificent view next to the team spotters. Then, enter a chance to win and be present at Victory Lane at the end of the race. Exploit, Exploit, EXPLOIT!

Since the Millennials are bane to drive, let alone own an automobile, how would they even get to the track? Not to answer a question with a question but; how come there are not any Uber or Lyft lines and designated drop off points? Stage them in the north lot since the number of cars coming to the speedway should, in theory at least, be diminishing over time. Refer back to the infographic if this point seems fuzzy.

The Food Effect:

Last but not least, I like food. I mean, I really, REALLY like food. Keep your current line-up of tenderloin fry houses sprinkled about the hallowed grounds. Give up on the caterer brought in to give Jugs a run for their money, charging out-of-sight prices for a very average tenderloin. I WANT TO SEE A BUFFET LINE, centrally located and opened from sun-up to sun-down. Make the hungry masses come to you and just keep changing out the hotel pans on the hot line. I would venture an uneducated guess that Jonathan Byrd and family would like a piece of that action. I would just advise a menu slated towards the highbrow Millennial taste buds.
I would like to end this tirade of mine with a question to the other tracks and events out there. Why did it take the promotional arm of the Andretti organization several years to put a beer garden inside of the fairgrounds facility in Milwaukee during race weekend? Do you think it was well received this year? Do you think any of these ideas have validity? I certainly do. So hey Mr. Miles, got a minute? I have an idea…..

Footnote(1):
In consultation with an acquaintance of mine it was discovered that there were not any Novi’s at Indy in 1968. Specifically, he wrote the following when being given an opportunity to review my draft. Chuck Walden wrote:
A technical point that I must point out as I’m sure some of your readers will know this: there were no Novis at the track in 1968. The last Novi to lap the hallowed course did so in 1966 with Greg Weld at the wheel. When he hit the wall on the final day of ‘66 quals, Andy Granatelli was already planning/building the first turbine which appeared in 1967 and he reluctantly moth-balled the Novi. However, there were a variety of engines in 1968 to make your ears ring: Turbocharged Offenhausers, Turbocharged Fords, Normally aspirated racing Fords and Offys, Stock block Fords, Repco powered Brabhams, and I think there may have been a stock block Chevy or two on the entry list as well. And of course, Granatelli had his turbines and the Shelby turbines were there as well (at least briefly.) 1968 was one of the most varied entry lists in the history of IMS in terms of equipment. Unfortunately, just no Novis.

So, having said all of that, as always thanks for stopping by! Lots to go over this off season so let’s make it appoint to talk to you next time!

GForcePaul

Advertisements

Anybody Seen Honda’s Aero Bits Yet? How do IndyCar Drivers Keep Their Sanity During the Off Season? How Does IndyCar Keep Up Interest?

3 Mar

 

1996 Honda design that never raced

1996 Honda design that never raced

 

One thing I have found to be true as I dabble in the world of word smithy; should people not be given the facts, they tend to make them up as they go along. Once that synergy kicks in, a rumor, yarn or outright lie begins to smell like the truth over time. This is called operating in a vacuum.

Hence, I have seen and heard more about 2015 Honda aero bits then I care to forward on to you, just to help keep down spam in your inbox. HPD aero bits are square; no, they are round; NO! They are more elliptical and so on and so on. See my point? Remember the old game of I heard that…? One person relates a story and tells it to another. That person passes it on to a third party and then the story returns to the original sender. That story in no way resembles the first tale as told. And so it is with Honda Aero Bits. Here are some of the visual suggestions I have seen on the interweb so far , and since no one is showing the actual pieces, imagination has run rampant. Interestingly, these “suggestions” are all older cars that used to run in that dying off series known as Formula One.

 

More Down Force? Less Down Force?

More Down Force? Less Down Force?

 

Perhaps this one is a little more streamlined which results in better air flow around the driver’s head…..We all know they need cooler heads! Could the Honda’s follow this design logic? I hope not.

 

Credit Racer Magazine

Better Aero but,,,,

 

Some truths about Honda’s development program were posted in Racer Magazine, as written by the incomparable Marshall Pruett. This was published back on December 9, 2014. In this article Marshall wrote:

HPD vice president Steve Eriksen tells RACER the process has been meeting their targets.
“Surprisingly, I thoroughly thought we’d have [spy] shots out by now…” he said with a laugh. “The testing has gone very well, and has mainly been focused on correlation more than anything. It’s about checking the virtual world versus what we’ve seen in the wind tunnel versus what we’re seeing on track. We’ve coordinated the configurations as such so that we can prove the data across each of the three points.”
“When you’re testing, you’re ultimately trying parts or pieces that were designed a little while ago – it takes time to tool up and manufacture the parts – and seeing how those snapshots in times match what we expected. Does this predicted performance match reality? Do the forces match? Does the aero balance match what we’d expect? And then there’s the unexpected part in the real world with a driver in the car giving you feedback on how it’s performing.”

Now folks, that would be known as coming from the horses’ mouth. When one considers that HPD hooked their wagon up to just one autosport team, whereas Chevy spread the R and D over two remaining juggernauts, the time to completion is going to be a little longer for HPD. I get that and also realize that the expense of development spread over the number of engine badged machines is not an equal number between the two manufacturers. The oldest of mathematical truisms states that the lesser the number of customers, the higher the development cost per unit sold. This applies to both the new IL-15 Indy Lights car as well as the DW12 ‘Engine Manufacturer’ 2015 Aero Updates. From my personal perspective, I would like to see 20 Lights teams and 24 IndyCar teams on the grid every weekend. More cars sold lowers the unit cost and more butts in seats raises the promoter’s return so the question begs to be asked, how will the new look big cars and the new look smaller cars affect the turnstile?

Off Season Fun and Driver Engagement

During the past week, Josef Newgarden and Sage Karam received an invite to the NFL’s annual pre-draft combine held in Indianapolis. They were asked to try their hands at four NFL skills tests to see where they would rank among the years’ potential draft picks. From what the Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin wrote following the test, the two young shoes held their own, especially considering they did not do event specific training as part of their normal conditioning routines. The boys of IndyCar humor posted some pretty funny stuff on the IndyCar channel on youtube. Give it a look see here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjoI9A21emQ

That Joe, he sure gets around a lot! At about the same time as the NFL combine’s run, Mardi Gras took place and just prior to that IndyCar conducted track testing at the new NOLA circuit. While all of this was taking place, Joe found time to hit Mardi Gras with his on camera buddy James Hinchliffe. IndyCar had the foresight to get a place on a prominent krewe’s float and loaded it up with both IndyCar and Indy Lights drivers. This is, by definition, great product placement. I mean Great.Product.Placement. The shot in the street interview video, where Hinch is given a microphone and Newgarden for a sidekick, made for some interesting comedy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzswm6lBQCM

The day and night that make up Mardi Gras is worth consideration as a candidate on your bucket list. It really is an iconic event, similar in scope to the Indianapolis 500. Just the fact that Lights and IndyCar drivers got on a highly regarded float in this year’s Mardi Gras parade was quite a coup. Some PR peeps somewhere pulled one off; Big Time and so props to them. Some of the best photos from the day were posted on the IndyCar site so I suggest you follow yet another link and rush here to spend some quality time on a cold winter’s eve. Lots of snow in Indy on the first day of March feels like it is a cold winter’s eve anyway so drop by here for the good stuff about IndyCar in New Orleans. I call it
THIS WEEK’S HOT LINK

http://www.indycar.com/Photos/Gallery?g=2682

So I usually end each week’s posting with a hot link but wanted to share something near and dear with you instead as this week’s installment draws to a close. The folks at Chippy’s shop in Indy (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) hosted a fundraiser this weekend for Honor Flight (IndyHonorFlight.org). This is an organization whose mission is to transport American Veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit memorials dedicated to honor their sacrifices. My employer got involved in this cause a few months back and Chip hosted an open house at his shop on the 28th of February. The silent auction had some unbelievable memorabilia and the event was well received. Even though the event has passed’ I wanted to share their flyer link as it references a pretty special veteran that has left quite an impression on the IndyCar racing community. Study the picture closely because that veteran is no longer with us…..
http://www.indyhonorflight.org/sites/default/files/documents/Ganassi%20Flyer%202015%282%29.pdf

As always, thanks for hitting the blog and we will talk to you next time!

GForcePaul

Tuesday 05/14/2013 Brickyard Cliff Notes: A Toe IS A Tow Is A Race Set Up Tow

14 May

 

 

credit gforcepaul

credit gforcepaul

Based on all that transpired today at the Hallowed Ground (5565 miles ran in a 6 hour period by 34 different driver/car combinations) it sure smelled like a race set up kind of throw away day on the speed charts for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. Let me be clear; long range forecast for Sunday, May 26th look a lot warmer than the 52 degree temperature experienced early in the opening gambit of this year’s race. So, with engine miles running out on some leased engines it makes sense to see what your car will do with track temperatures approaching 130 degrees amidst 30 mile an hour buffeting winds coming out of the south. When I left the day job to hit the track today it truly did feel like we went from late spring to mid-summer in Indianapolis, all within a 24 hour period. If I am an Indy Car engineer I am either pulling my hair out or referring to last year’s notes when it was unseasonably warm (sauna like to be exact).

Kanaan Engine Change

Kanaan Engine Change

Consequently, I found today to be reminiscent of past years in following a well laid out plan to successfully run the month of May at the Brickyard. There seems to be a slow, albeit steady rhythm to building speed for the upcoming Pole Day. Today revealed itself and the schedule (the internal metronome that is the month of May) became more apparent. Fast teams tend to let the slower teams on “short lease” engines go out and rubber the track for a few days seeking speed and car and driver  feedback. Better heeled and funded teams are able to let hold on station, run slower race set ups and when everyone gets fresh engines to qualify, out comes the qualifying trim and set ups. BOOM; down goes the smaller teams, all the while it looks like the other guys with more funding are sandbagging……

Which brings us to exhibit ‘A’;  Hizzhonour Da Mayor of Hinchtown gets into the car usually driven by Marco and posts BIG times and speed of 224.210.

To Hinch or Not to Hinch

To Hinch or Not to Hinch

(Actual speed chart for today can be found  here) . From that point, Marco gets into Hinch’s car and posts a 221.972 lap. It gets even spookier from here; then Hinch gets into his car and posts a 221.781 lap. HUH? I suspect that the set up on Hinch’s car was similar to a race set up and Marco’s car still enjoyed a qualifying set up.

From here on out I am thinking that the plan and work list for each car will be to run Wednesday in race trim and Thursday in qualifying trim. When I win the lottery and run my own race team, searching for my glass of milk after 500 miles at Indy, I certainly will use this map to get through the pre-qualifying week at Indianapolis. And on a further note, some reported seeing all of the Andretti  Autosport vehicles today sans front wing wicker bills. That is rather freaky…….

On a different note, it is easy to see and observe the aero dynamics that make up the design of an open cockpit vehicle. It almost takes on an artistic aspect that I like to call speed in motion while standing still. To wit; I present some aerodynamic eye candy of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s ride. It really does look fast standing still.

Aero Kits need not apply????

Aero Kits need not apply????

I particularly enjoy some of the body work that was so much maligned during its debut. Imagine the pole day to come this year. We already have folks knocking on the 225 mph door early in the game in RACE TRIM for God’s sake! Fast forward to when the boost is kicked up from its current 18.84 psi to a resounding 20.29 psi. I remain confident that we will see a 230mph time come pole day. This will be on display on Fast Friday, May 17th. Call in sick and drop by Friday to feel the buzz return!

Take care and we will talk to you next time!

GForcePaul