Friday, October 8, 2010

IndyCar Fans: Making The Offseason Count

It’s a long winter for IndyCar fans; we live off the rumors of silly season, YouTube clips of seasons and races past, and our own hope and speculation for the year to come. If you’re like me, going without IndyCar makes you appreciate it all the more. Rather than sit around pining away all offseason, I’m going to try to do my part to create a stronger, more popular series, one fan at a time. Here’s a few of the things I plan to do:

Brush Up On My History: The IMS Blog has truly fascinating features wherein Donald Davidson will describe the history portrayed in a photo. Numerous places online are a repository for stats and stories not just of Indy, but of Nazareth, Milwaukee, and hundreds of historical tracks in between. I don’t just want to know more about Andretti, Unser, and Foyt; I want to know about open-wheelers who maybe got their one shot at the 500, and that was it. I want to know more about what Eddie Sachs was like, and why he was so loved. I want to know about guys like Spider Webb, Howdy Wilcox (both of them), Norm Houser, Jim Hurtubise, Duke Nalon—names we might hear once or twice a year on The Talk of Gasoline Alley, but otherwise remain a mystery to many of us. I want to study the livery of cars, from the early sponsors to those of today.

A man or woman could study the 500, open-wheel racing, and IndyCar his entire life, and still not know all there is to know. It’s a massive subject, one that frequently rewards with dazzling, sharp insights and sudden revelations.

Take Time To Write Sponsors: Dad’s Root Beer, Fuzzy’s Premium Vodka, Venom Energy Drink, HP, Roll Coater, Meijer, Verizon, Target, Dollar General, IZOD, Z-Line, ABC Supply—all of these sponsors and more can be contacted to express our appreciation of their continued sponsorship in the series. Sponsors that left the series or reduced their role, such as Menards or 7-Eleven, can also be contacted. A polite, well-worded letter or email informing them of your appreciation of their previous support and hopes in doing it again can’t hurt anything.

Maybe it will make a difference, and maybe it won’t. But if I had my choice, I’d rather they get feedback from fans who love the sport, and admire and appreciate the investment they’ve made.

Make My Voice Heard: Feedback doesn't just go to sponsors.  IndyCar wants to hear from you.  Tell them what you want, be it via their homepage, Randy Bernard's Facebook, a handwritten letter, or on their blog.  We know they're listening.  The more constructive commentary they get, the better.  If you aren't happy with something or feel it can be improved, let it out.  They won't know how you feel if you don't put it out there.

Work To Recruit New Fans: The IMS Hall of Fame Museum is open year-round. Road trips can be planned, be it to Milwaukee, Kentucky, or Sonoma. Plan a viewing party for the first race of the year. Get people emotionally involved—talk about the drivers, form a fantasy racing league—give them a reason to tune in.

This year marks the Centennial Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. Get people committed now. Tell them what a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this is. Make plans to go to Opening Day with a group of friends. Meet up with the relatives on Pole Day. Plan decorations and contests at the office for the Month of May. Most of all, share the love of the sport, if you really do love it. We have a history, a legacy, and a story unmatched in autosports. I can think of no story more riveting, wonderful and sad, thrilling and thought-provoking, than the story of the Indianapolis 500. And I can’t think of any sport I’d rather follow than IndyCar. Enthusiasm is contagious!

Here and now, I’m making a promise to do all of these things. The IZOD IndyCar Series needs to do its part, too, but I plan on doing mine. How about you?

The Speedway might be quiet for a few months, but we don't need to be.

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