Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Time To Get That IndyCar Viewing Party Going

If you're like me, come the weekend of the IZOD IndyCar Series season finale at Fontana, unless some philanthropic soul comes through with airfare and hotel, you'll be watching the MAVTV 500 as a couch  warrior, cheering the championship fight from within your living room.

True, it stinks not to be headed out to Fontana for this one, but it seems like a prime opportunity at the same time. It's a Saturday night race, on at a reasonable hour (8:30 ET), with a car that should make it a lively event indeed. Throw in an easy-to-follow championship storyline, and you have the perfect opportunity to invite those novice or casual fans over for an IndyCar Viewing Party.

True, not every has NBC Sports, which is why you could consider having a get-together for your local crew at a nearby tavern or eatery. What's important is highlighting a race that should be, by all accounts, a very good showcase event, and having fun doing it.

If you're going to have a get-together, here a few fun tips to get things off on the right foot.

-Put out a couple of checkered flags, souvenirs, or other racing memorabilia. That piece of wrecked carbon fiber you picked out of a dumpster after Pole Day a few years ago? Normally the spouse might object to your displaying it so prominently in the living room, but this just might be your big night.

-Sell the basics beforehand. No one likes being lost, whether it's watching IndyCar, ALMS, or the Olympics for that matter. Talk up the championship battle--drop a few names and teams to set up the scenario--but don't overwhelm them.

-If you have foodies in attendance, feel free to throw out some charmingly stupid names for your appetizers. "Buffalo Front Wings", "Viso Veggie Dip", and "Ryan Hunter-Raisin Bread" can't go wrong (can they?).

-Just as we've talked about with getting the family involved in racing, give them a personal stake. Grab a spotter's guide beforehand, let everyone draw out 2-3 drivers, and maybe even have a little prize for the winner. Give them something not only to watch, but to cheer for. 

-Feel free to take (friendly) bets on random things in the race. Make up a chart with everyone's pick for items like First Car Out, First Caution Lap, Lap 100 Leader, Number Of Cars Finishing On Lead Lap, etc. That's more of that investment thing.

-If games and the like aren't your thing, that's ok, too. IndyCar is pretty awesome all by itself, and will do fine in reeling in a few fans. But the extra mile certainly never hurts.

-Remember, answering questions and showing off your knowledge is cool, but talking over the entire race doesn't make any new fans. It makes for an irritated and confused audience.

-Set realistic expectations. Some folks will simply never be fans, even if they have fun. Others might be casual fans at best. Remember, true die-hard fans are rare in most sports. Just have fun with it, and don't cross the line from friendly superfan to cloying, unwelcome evangelist.

Look at it this way: after this race, we're in for a long, loooooong offseason. Don't you want to make the last race of the year count? End your season on a high note. Organizing a viewing party, getting friends together, and enjoying what has been an amazing year on-track are some of the best ways to close out this season I can think of.

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