Sunday, October 2, 2011

IndyCar Oval Fans Step Up to Save Race in 2012

Editor's Note:  If you are new to reading this blog, be aware that a significant number of the posts here are FAKE NEWS.  This blog is to IndyCar reporting what the Onion is to CNN.  Any quotes anywhere in this blog were never said by anyone, anytime or anywhere.
With that said, and by no means speaking for IndyCar or any of it's associated properties...If you think the following fake news item might well be a good idea, send a check to IndyCar designating "Save Kentucky" in the memo section.  Have a fine afternoon.  JP.

Threatened with the prospect of losing another two ovals for the 2012 season, IndyCar and its fans banded together to do the unthinkable … Create a Fan Sponsored Race.  The IndyCar Nation 300 at Kentucky Speedway will run October 7th, 2012 and will be a race for the fans, sponsored by the fans and Owned by the fans. 
“We were in a pinch here” Said Randy Bernard CEO of IndyCar, “We had to do something different.  The financials just weren’t adding up for our return to either Kentucky or New Hampshire.  Track owners just weren't selling enough tickets locally to support these events.  We were in a situation where we needed to find title sponsors for each race or they both were done, off the schedule.”  Typically, title sponsorship runs about $300,000 for an IndyCar event.
The league resorted to the unusual business model of letting Fans monetarily support their own favorite race type as a last ditch resort.  Bernard continued “I have always thought, if I had had a $20 bill for every single person that sent me an e-mail or bitched about the lack of ovals in Miller’s mailbag or Cavin’s Q&A.  I’d be a rich man.” 
Then IndyCar PR VP Amy Konrath had an epiphany… “You know we only need 15,000 people to give $20 each to make either one of these events happen.” Things took off from there.
“We beleive there is a market for open wheel oval racing in this country, but unfortunately it is not geographically concentrated enough to make local events viable.  This funding plan is a great opportunity for all those people who say they like to watch oval racing on TV but Can't get to a track near them to see the kind of racing they like.  Through Direct fan sponsorhip, Our fans directly determine the kind of racing that we as a league do.  In many ways it’s like a pay per view event, in fact, the plan is less expensive than most pay per view events out there.” commented Bernard.
Heroic, fan sponsored efforts to have a say in the destiny of professional sports teams or events is nothing new.  In the mid 70’s the city of Indianapolis staged a telethon on behalf of the Indiana Pacers to raise the entry fee dictated by the NBA required of franchises from the defunct ABA to join the League.  Even in IndyCar racing fans voluntarily stepped up with petty cash donations to keep fan favorite Sarah Fisher running during the 2008 500. 
Bernard continued “We hope to have a website up within two weeks to begin accepting Fan support for the Kentucky event.  It will run through the end of the 2012 500 in May.  Depending on the amount raised, multiple oval events in Kentucky, New Hampshire, Milwaukee and Chicagoland could be added to the 2012 schedule.  For every $300,000 raised, we will add another oval race to the 2012 schedule.  If everyone at the 500 dropped $1 in one of the collection Jars at we plan to position around IMS in May, that would be enough to get Chicagoland back on the schedule.”
Fans who donate to the sponsorship program and attend a race in person will be allowed new levels of access to the league and the drivers themselves with invitations to special hospitality tents, driver appearances and garage access.  “The fans are our sponsors” Said Bernard “We are going to treat them as such”
When asked what he thought of the effort Bruton Smith, President of SMI, the company that owns Kentucky Speedway and New Hampshire Speedway offered “Gotta give it to these oval loving IndyCar fans, They are a dedicated bunch.  We screw ‘em for $80 a ticket and they come back for more!”

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