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Autoweek: State of sports-car racing in the U.S: There's work to do...


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#1 AustinF1

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 20:27

Confirming what we heard over the ALMS/WEC weekend, Autoweek just released an article on the state of sportscar racing in the U.S:
 
 

 

Several nights before the International Sports Car Weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas—the American Le Mans Series on Saturday, Sept. 21, the FIA World Endurance Championship on Sunday, Sept. 22—FIA officials summoned COTA management to a hastily called meeting. The officials proceeded to slam them mercilessly, claiming this was one of the worst-promoted, worst-run races they've seen; that they expected this in China, but in America? Where their sophisticated Audis and Toyotas should be playing to a packed house in their only appearance here this year? Not acceptable, and we wondered if the WEC's three-year contract would see year two. This was days before the races even started.Friday, rain trimmed the crowd, but on Saturday and Sunday, the weather was perfect. COTA claimed a three-day crowd of about 35,000, which seems optimistic. Near the end of Sunday's WEC race, it is simply not possible to claim there were more than 5,500 fans there. The ALMS, with its familiar Corvettes and Vipers and comparably loud cars, outdrew the WEC significantly. That's item No. 1 you should know about.

Edited by AustinF1, 02 October 2013 - 20:33.


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#2 gm914

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 20:57

Perhaps they should've scheduled the race to take place in a month where it's not football season. 

 

5.500 is bloody sad.  :(



#3 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 21:14

Is WEC selling out at other tracks or something? 



#4 AustinF1

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 21:22

Is WEC selling out at other tracks or something? 

No I don't think so, but apparently they get much bigger crowds than the 33K COTA announced for the weekend (which seemed very generous). The 3 permanent grandstands there only hold about 24-25K, and they were never more than about 10% full at any given time all weekend.

 

Apparently COTA themselves expected a much larger crowd, as they projected 116K for the weekend and 55K for WEC Sunday in their State Funding ($1.5M METF subsidy) application.

 

Also, as is alluded to in the article, apparently the FIA not only had a beef about the attendance & promotion, but about the way the event was run. This isn't new. We heard pretty much the same thing after V8SC.


Edited by AustinF1, 02 October 2013 - 21:27.


#5 KingTiger

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 23:40

What a surprise, nobody in America cares about those horrible, ugly, dull diesels.



#6 Jeeves

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 10:15

What a surprise, nobody in America cares about those horrible, ugly, dull diesels.

 

Like there's nothing more about WEC than those 'horrible, ugly, dull diesels'.. :rolleyes:


Edited by Jeeves, 03 October 2013 - 10:15.


#7 AustinF1

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 10:20

Like there's nothing more about WEC than those 'horrible, ugly, dull diesels'.. :rolleyes:

Yep. Personally, I enjoyed the ALMS race. Always have. But those WEC P1 cars just took everything up several notches. Very impressive, imho, and the GT racing was great also.


Edited by AustinF1, 03 October 2013 - 10:21.


#8 fastwriter

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 10:36

It's not only an american problem, it's a problem for motorsports in most countries in the western hemisphere: The interest in Racing drops, the young generation has not that kind of love affair with cars like us in our 30's and 40's and older have. A Smartphone is the new status symbol when you are young. Not a car anymore. A lot of the kids don't even get their driving licence anymore - at least in the bigger cities in germany, where I live.

 

So if they are not interested in cars, why should they be interested in Motor Racing? And less interest means less sponsorship. I was active in Endurance Racing in Germany a couple of years ago. Our team had to quit, because we lost our sponsor due to the financial crisis. Up to today it was impossible to find another one. So what's left: A few enthusiastic millionaires and rich men who pay for their driving - and a couple of manufacturers who think they can sell more cars through motorsport success. On the other hand to many racing series, especially in the endurance part.

 

I predict a lot of series will fail, a lot of teams will go bancrupt the next couple of years. Racing will change, and it will not change to the better.



#9 AustinF1

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 10:41

It's not only an american problem, it's a problem for motorsports in most countries in the western hemisphere: The interest in Racing drops, the young generation has not that kind of love affair with cars like us in our 30's and 40's and older have. A Smartphone is the new status symbol when you are young. Not a car anymore. A lot of the kids don't even get their driving licence anymore - at least in the bigger cities in germany, where I live.

 

So if they are not interested in cars, why should they be interested in Motor Racing? And less interest means less sponsorship. I was active in Endurance Racing in Germany a couple of years ago. Our team had to quit, because we lost our sponsor due to the financial crisis. Up to today it was impossible to find another one. So what's left: A few enthusiastic millionaires and rich men who pay for their driving - and a couple of manufacturers who think they can sell more cars through motorsport success. On the other hand to many racing series, especially in the endurance part.

 

I predict a lot of series will fail, a lot of teams will go bancrupt the next couple of years. Racing will change, and it will not change to the better.

I was blown away when my nephew turned 16 and had zero interest in learning to drive. Unthinkable mindset in my youth.



#10 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 12:10

And it's not like cars have been replaced by efficient mass transit. I'm guessing that because they can talk to their friends online/via phones they don't need the driver's license to go 'hang out'.



#11 fastwriter

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 12:29

Well, we in Europe have at least something that you could call "efficient" mass transit. That makes it even easier for the kids to abstain from driving themselves.


Edited by fastwriter, 03 October 2013 - 12:30.


#12 billm99uk

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 13:02

Well, we in Europe have at least something that you could call "efficient" mass transit. That makes it even easier for the kids to abstain from driving themselves.

 

Well you've obviously never used the train service in Wales. "Efficient" ain't the word I'd use anyway ;)

 

Sports car audiences have always been a bit erratic though - I can remember Autosport moaning about the occasional "three men and a dog" type crowds at Siverstone from back in the eighties. Where they're good, they're good, but when they're bad, they're non-existant. Doesn't seem to have the hard-core base of F1, bikes or touring cars for the lean times and "unfashionable" events.



#13 AustinF1

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 13:16

And it's not like cars have been replaced by efficient mass transit. I'm guessing that because they can talk to their friends online/via phones they don't need the driver's license to go 'hang out'.

Yeah. They hang out virtually now. Little do they know it's not the same.



#14 Option1

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 13:16

Sadly, I think billm has nailed one of the primary reasons.  I much prefer sportscar racing over open wheel, but my interest also waxes and wanes.  To my mind there's no doubt that sportscar racing is in a slump, particularly in the US.

 

The article has a pretty obvious anti-FIA/WEC bias, but I do agree with the point made about the lack of media coverage.

 

Neil



#15 AustinF1

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Posted 04 October 2013 - 17:22

Wow. Some pretty scathing (and spot-on) comments below the article.


Edited by AustinF1, 04 October 2013 - 17:22.