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"Core" fans versus "floaters''

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  • "Core" fans versus "floaters''

    I think this is the essential issue going forward. Some here would say that the sport has lost its core fans in the last 30 yrs. (core being defined as those who followed the grassroots oval path to Indianapolis). This statement is, IMHO, only partially true. It assumes that the base fans that followed the sport a) made up a sizable plurality of the overall fan base and b) that this is/was the only "core" group. I think both suppositions are questionable.

    This has been debated ad nauseum, but at the very least, attendance in the early 90's was certainly respectable (along w/TV ratings). By that time, the grassroots oval path had been dead for yrs. Yet, until the split/unpleasantness , there was still decent attendance (with some slippage in the last couple yrs. pre-split).

    The question is: In reality, how prominent were these folks really? I know that some of these folks didn't disappear until the final retirements of AJ, Big Al, JR, etc., so I concede some validity to the argument that the sport had screwed these fans, but the reaction was, understandably, delayed.

    Does this account for all of it though? The sport had been going in a different direction for some time, but people kept watching. I would suggest that, for some time, the open-wheel fan base has been far more of a mosaic than a monolithic thing. For years, we had people who now watch NASCAR, not b/c of the grassroots thing (the folks I'm thinking of wouldn't know a sports car from a sprint car), but b/c NASCAR has become acceptable in the mainstream. That coincided with the issues in OW, and NASCAR swooped in. In short, NASCAR got "sophistication," OW split. If you're a "floater" (someone who has motorsports sympathies, but is somewhat casual), that's a simple choice.

    I contend that the loss of these folks has been far more devastating than the loss of the grassroots crowd.

    Beyond that, the simple fact, like it or not, is that the sport is not going back to those roots. TPTB have made that pretty clear. Maybe this isn't a good thing, but I don't see it changing. With that said, is there hope?

    I say YES. I think the product will need to improve, we definitely need to see fewer ride-buyers (something we all agree on), marketing must improve. But a single series eliminates one important thing: confusion. The confusion that has alienated fans for years is gone. Earning their trust and interest will NOT be easy.

    But a sport going in one direction can do positive things. Going back to a bygone era strikes me as the wrong move. Building up the positives (superspeedways, short ovals, natural rcs, good street courses) is, IMHO, where we need to go.
    "Why do we do this? Because we love it, don't want to be anywhere else but a race car. We will keep your legacy my friend. Racers race."

    Tony Kanaan

  • #2
    The group you speak of are a selfish little lot. They won't be happy until someone else spends their money to build a racing series to fulfill their dreams of some bygone era from 50 years ago that has long since passed them by.

    When you start to realize that Indy racing has always been about the quest to build the best race specific machine, incorporating the latest in technology and the drivers to drive them to the limits, then you start to realize how ridiculous it is to try and take Indycar racing back 45 years to some feel good era that most can't even remember anymore.

    That stuff is best seen in the Museum and when they roll the old cars out and let them take a lap on raceday.
    Trump, he's one of the nicest, most decent human beings possibly ever to walk the planet..

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    • #3
      I think a whole lot of people will have to get past a lot of issues on both sides. On the CCWS side it will be tougher, because they lost something, but if they were fans of the teams and drivers, most of them will still be racing, and if they were true fans, how can they not watch? A bit of a two-series rivalry might spice things up a little anyway. They also have to get past the perception that these are bad cars, they are not. Roger Penske once called the Dallara "one of the best customer cars he had ever raced." Penske had Panoz cars, and GdF won Indy with one IIRC (and Helio once said in front of an Indy PC that he wouldn't practice in one unless Roger made him, he didn't).

      On the ICS side, people that are oval-centric like me will have to get over a close to 50/50 mix of ovals and streets/roads. I have always said that if TG ever went past his promised "4 or 5 street and road races," I would become Indy only AGAIN. Luckily I added a disclaimer that if that was what it took to end the split I would live with it.

      The hardcore haters, mostly from the CCWS side, will hang at their sicko site and berate, but most of the rest of us will get over it. I'm looking forward to Indy again, with a lot of cars. I would love to see a return of the days when garage space was in shortage, but I'm not that crazy as to ever expect to see that again.
      It's always been about the Indy 500!
      I realize I have the right to remain silent, but don't have the ability or enough common sense to do so.:rolleyes:

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      • #4
        Well said.

        Some complainers will always be complainers. Some will progress and move onward.

        I suspect the majority are the latter.
        Rest in Peace, Miles Nelson

        Never forget, 'Mackie' was here.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by dreamracer
          Well said.

          Some complainers will always be complainers. Some will progress and move onward.

          I suspect the majority are the latter.
          Indeed. I guess my ultimate question is how big was the short-track, oval crowd in the 1st place?
          "Why do we do this? Because we love it, don't want to be anywhere else but a race car. We will keep your legacy my friend. Racers race."

          Tony Kanaan

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Racing Truth
            Indeed. I guess my ultimate question is how big was the short-track, oval crowd in the 1st place?
            My opinion is that it is not road racers vs. oval fans. Most like both. There's just a fringe of one or the other type fans that have so much energy.

            I love road racing through and through, but some of the Indycar ovals are just fantastic to watch. I would NOT want the good ovals to go away or be reduced. They're both great and I want to see them both!
            And don't forget the heat!

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            • #7
              Grassroots fans did not drift away when we lost A.J. Foyt, Robby Unser, Mario Andretti. We lost them when we gained Alex Zenardi, Gil DeFarin, Emerson Fittipaldi.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by NoviVespa
                Grassroots fans did not drift away when we lost A.J. Foyt, Robby Unser, Mario Andretti. We lost them when we gained Alex Zenardi, Gil DeFarin, Emerson Fittipaldi.
                With the exception of Emmo, that also coincides with the split, which throws everything off, in my view.
                "Why do we do this? Because we love it, don't want to be anywhere else but a race car. We will keep your legacy my friend. Racers race."

                Tony Kanaan

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by NoviVespa
                  Grassroots fans did not drift away when we lost A.J. Foyt, Robby Unser, Mario Andretti. We lost them when we gained Alex Zenardi, Gil DeFarin, Emerson Fittipaldi.
                  Which is quite ironic really.

                  The average grassroots proponent around here complains that Indy car racing became a road racing club that excluded those grassroots racers, regardless of their talent level. In fact, what they propose is an oval racing club that would exclude drivers from any racing discipline or nationality.
                  Trump, he's one of the nicest, most decent human beings possibly ever to walk the planet..

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Racing Truth
                    at the very least, attendance in the early 90's was certainly respectable (along w/TV ratings). By that time, the grassroots oval path had been dead for yrs. Yet, until the split/unpleasantness, there was still decent attendance (with some slippage in the last couple yrs. pre-split).
                    Maybe it just seems so wonderful in comparison with today - maybe it was all just Indy plus the cigarette / B-B sponsorships providing air time and free tickets, and mostly before the last 20 years of mainstream TV ratings erosion. The top teams got some good guys, sometimes, but the bottom still had ridebuyers. Are there any ridebuyers in Sprint Cup's 43-spot grid?
                    "Each day well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this one day for it, and it alone, is life"
                    ~ Sanskrit poem attributed to Kalidasa, "Salutation to the Dawn"


                    Brian's Wish

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                    • #11
                      Call me any kind of fan you want, just don't call me late for a green flag.
                      ...---...

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                      • #12
                        "This has been debated ad nauseum, but at the very least, attendance in the early 90's was certainly respectable (along w/TV ratings). By that time, the grassroots oval path had been dead for yrs."

                        No, not true at all.

                        Perhaps the 'grassroots oval path to big time open wheel racing' was dead. And if so, it was dead of a self inflicted wound.

                        The career paths of people like Jan Opperman, Sheldon Kinser, Mark Martin, Tim Richmond, Kenny Schrader, Geoff Bodine, Dave Blaney, and of course Jeff and Tony clearly show that there was TALENT at the grassroots oval track level that was ABLE and to varying degrees willing to move up to the big time.

                        And that is where the big disconnect happens. And its not about "aero" training, its about the closed culture of "big time open wheel" and specifically its owners group, and the more open culture of Nascar.

                        And to discount that as a relevent factor in the fan appeal of the two entities is to continue to follow the yellow brick road to Oz.

                        And other street venues.

                        Cue the Who. . ."Won't get fooled again."

                        Not doom and gloom, JMTCW.
                        "A lot of information on the Internet quickly occupies niche spaces, for specialized audiences, which use it for their own purposes."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by NoviVespa
                          Grassroots fans did not drift away when we lost A.J. Foyt, Robby Unser, Mario Andretti. We lost them when we gained Alex Zenardi, Gil DeFarin, Emerson Fittipaldi.
                          What does that say about the grass roots fans that they didn't appreciate Alex Zanardi, Gil de Ferran and Emerson Fittipaldi?

                          However, one good thing about the merger is that the ambassadors and other malcontents seemed to have cleared out of here pretty fast. I would think this pretty much leaves real racing fans who are willing to give the new arrangement a chance.
                          "Is that my *** that I smell burning?" ... Helmet Stogie from "Death spasms of the Mabuchi"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I feel sorry that I never got to see Zanardi at Indy. One thing the sharp PR guy at Ganassi did when Zanardi came to the U.S. was "Americanize" him. He was known as "Sandro," short for "Alessandro," his real name, before he came here and that name is Alex in English and he immediately became Alex.

                            Some of these drivers become "Americanized," like Arie Luyendyk and Roberto Guerrero were very popular drivers because of themselves. Luyendyk and his family moved to the U.S., engaged in many activities, even had an art gallery in Indy at one time. Guerrero married an American lady and Katie is still one of the prettiest ever to set foot on pit road and the two of them organized tennis tournaments for the benefit of CARA. Guerrero became a U.S. citizen.

                            It isn't guys like those that a short-track fan objects to. I think even Jimmy Hendricks might agree with that and he's pretty vocal in that respect. The short-track fan objects to the ride buyer and the short-track driver getting the short end of consideration, even if they're a good racer.
                            "The lunatic fringes on both sides need to be written off." -- stnky pete

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by dreamracer

                              Some complainers will always be complainers. Some will progress and move onward.
                              Your font sucks - go suck a railroad spike!
                              Some people are like a Slinky .... Not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile
                              when you shove them down the stairs.

                              Comment

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