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USA - A Question for you


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#1 FordPrefect

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 01:39

Fact: You are hosting an F1 race this year.

Fact: The F1 season is about to begin just at the same time that NASCAR seems to be in a slump.

Do you think that any of these 'facts' will result in more 'Americans' being interested in F1 this season?

All the Best FP

by 'Americans' I mean the people south of me and North of Mexico, plus Alaska and a few Islands :)

by NASCAR being in a slump I mean BORING.

Even NASCAR admits it. Only three races in and they have now started adjusting the rules to let the Chevs have a bigger spoiler.




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#2 Todd

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 02:16

No. NASCAR is on Sunday afternoons live. Most US racing fans can't even get F1 live. Fox Sports shows the races taped and who the hell knows when? That isn't how you capitalize on an opportunity. If you don't already know the players, an F1 race is one boring procession with worthless commentators. If NASCAR is considered to be having a boring season because only 8 or 9 cars can win, just think what the US perception of F1 would be.

#3 Mr. Salty

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 02:21

I agree with the BORING part. As for US interest, I don't see it happening. I have seen ZERO promotion for the US Grand Prix, and only occasional blurbs in USA Today mention it. :(

#4 Toxicant

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 03:11

I'm wondering how Nascar compares to F1 in the bottom line. I know it's a big business but considering it's only real base is here in America and F1 is world wide does anyone have any figures?

For some reason I think Bernie and Max drool when they look at what the good old boys from down south are doing!

Just my opinion, I may be wrong.

Tox!

#5 Psychoman

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 03:41

I think F1 makes a few billion every year, while NASCAR still makes "only" a few hundred million...

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#6 BRiff

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 03:50

Two comments.

First off, F1 will never be big here unless we get a stud driver into the series. That's obvious. Unfortunately, your average American can't seem to find any interest in brilliant German or Finnish drivers. But I think F1 had a chance a couple years ago to crack into American consciousness when it was on ESPN. ESPN doesn't just cover particular sports, it nurtures them. They showed qualifying and had the races live then replayed them several times during the following week. At the end of the year, they replayed every race at night over three weeks or so–you could watch the entire season over again! (At least in 1996). On RPM Tonight, their daily racing show, they would have little bits on F1 with Jonathan Allen (before he went to ITV) as well as test reports and race previews. When Bernie bolted to FOX, it was F1's loss. We now get tape delayed coverage, a 9am and 1am showing on Sunday, with cynical and condescending coverage on FOX's sports shows. They hide F1 on that network.

The second point about NASCAR vs. F1 is related to Toxicant's paragraph above. In the early 80s, NASCAR was a regional phenomenon with only a handful of raced being televised. ESPN needed programming so they bought the rights to a bunch of races. Over the next decade, ESPN made NASCAR–live coverage of all the races they televised, pre-race shows and RPM Tonight devoted the bulk of their coverage to that series. When Bernie left, they basically shut down any coverage. On a channel that is a household name, watched by millions, that is bad news. (FOX is still a very distant second).

The moral of the story? NASCAR just signed a television deal worth $400 million annually. That's in the US alone. Bernie runs all over the world negotiating TV contracts to show F1 to the entire world and how much can he raise? $300 million. (According to RaceFax online and "The Business of Formula One," by Russell Hotten). Add in the fact that they sell out most of their 34 races (including 300,000 or so at the Brickyard and up to 140,000 to 180,000 for Daytona and Bristol), and do at least $1 billion in merchandising, I think NASCAR is a few car lengths ahead of F1 in general, unfortunately.

#7 Psychoman

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 04:03

For the millionth time, I am going to propose that the guys at Fox transfer their coverage from tapedelayed at 10am on FSN to a tapedelay at 1pm--exceptions being Canada, Brazil, and America, all live--on the Fox network, with support of advertising during other sporting events (baseball Game of the Week, figure skating, etc...) and prime-time TV. However, this time I am actually going to email them--and I urge on any of my fellow Yanks on this board to follow suit. Any takers???

------------------
"Hey there, all you middle men
Throw away your fancy clothes
And while you're out there sittin' on a fence
So get off your ass and come down here
'Cause rock 'n' roll ain't no riddle man
To me it makes good, good sense"
-Brian Johnson


#8 Junior

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 09:43

What a minute... ...you mean to tell me the US has an F1 race this year? Why, I had no idea. You'd think a sporting event of this magnitude would be getting a load of publicity and press.

:rolleyes: I hope I don't have to mention I'm being EXTREMELY sarcastic. Mr.Salty hit the nail on the head, they're doing absolutely zero to promote F1 in the US. An American driver or team would help, but I'm not holding my breath.

#9 Ricardo F1

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 09:50

F1 won't be successful here for the numerous reasons above and because it's not a native US sport nor will it ever become one. Having a US driver won't be enough, even having a US driver worth his salt who could win a race is unlikely to. They would all have to American, all driving American cars.

Nascar blows chunks, and I would guess F1 revenue is far greater across the globe. I live here in San Francisco and hate the fact that I have to wait until Sunday at 10am to watch it on Fox, but hey, it's better than not at all! And avoiding the result is easy!!

[This message has been edited by Ricardo F1 (edited 03-08-2000).]

#10 Piquet_1

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 10:14

F1 was relatively huge in the US when there were two events on each coast. I'd vehemently argue the statement that all the cars and drivers would have to be American. For sure an American driver is required, but hardly a soul in Germany ever followed the sport either until MS came along a few years ago - they prefered touring car racing which, surprise, surprise, offered most German Cars!

SInce the time there were bi-coastal races, F1 became nomadic for seemingly the proverbial 40 years and went from top-notch racec courses like the original Watkins Glen and Long Beach courses, to rinky-dink tracks like Pheonix, Dallas, Detroit and Las Vegas. There was no identity in the States for which to appeal to the consumers. But when the season started (more or less) in Long Beach and concluded in Watkins Glen, the races drew huge crowds (it took around five years or more for the LB CART race to gain back the attendance) and the names were even recognised - Andretti (of course), Lauda, Villeneuve, Fittipaldi - they were relatively well known drivers without the media saturation we have today.

But Bernie took the series out of the US for close to 10 years. You won't gain exposure that way. Since Senna (and to a lesser extent, since Honda withdrew officially) died, fewer Brazilians and Japanese watch. When Schumacher retires, and assuming there isn't a killer replacement in the guise of HHF, RS or Heidfeld, I'd expect Germany to lose the "Luxembourg GP" in a moment's notice, and for national interest to fall faster than the Dow did last week. Look at the UK's seeming desperation for Button to do well, or the rallying around the manufactured "Jaguar" name this season. Having personalities to which one (or hopefully many) can relate is not only an idiosyncracy of the US, but it sure helps when you have local participation. It also helps when the sport's officials actively promote said sport, which I don't think Ecclestone does whatsoever, aside from splashing TV contracts across the globe.

F1 can be big here, but Ford changing their name to "Jaguar" doesn't help, and likewise it would help further if some of the US money which sponsors so much of F1, would back a driver - you see it from the Spanish sponsors, but not here. It WILL help that the USGP now has a permanent home, or so it seems, but it would also help if there were two races here as they did around 1980 - it's a big country, and if you're a race fan who lives in the Bay Area for instance, there are too many CART and NASCAR races run locally (within the State) to draw people who must travel a couple thousand miles. That cost/benefit ratio is not pragmatic for many race fans, especially those who have families.

There's a lot of work to be done, but I think Bernie Ecclestone needs to actively get moving and not rely on the deeds of the individual racetrack promotors to raise the interest. Pheonix, for example, was a much better race than many gave it credit for being, but the promotors were new to the game and didn't promote the race well. I see the same problem with Tony George - when has he ever had to actually promote a race??Bernie should know how, and if so, he should lend a hand. That would include lobbying Ford to retain that name in F1 (even if it's with a 'B' effort in a lesser team) and getting US sponsors to actively back US drivers into road racing and F1.

#11 mono-posto

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 10:25

A good barometer may be Road & Track, a very popular US magazine. Any given issue from the late '70's, and I have dozens, had very extensive race reviews of each and every Grand Prix. Up to 5 or 6 full pages. Plus extensive season reviews and always pages of statistics at the end of the season. A great refrence source.

Today they utilize but a couple columns of text and a couple half-assed pictures to cover Formula 1 in any given issue. Though I must admit that the same coverage more or less applys to all of the motorsports that they cover.

In any event, it really represents how interest in F1 in this country has declined and it is going to be a very tough battle to win it back.

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#12 Piquet_1

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 10:29

mono-posto,

Excellent example. I too have those mags and Rob Walker's reports were, at the time, my main source of information. Of course, they could justify the lesser coverage due to the fact there is more info out there now, but at the same time they never covered Indycars, stockcars or anything else - F1 was all they regularly covered.

[This message has been edited by Piquet_1 (edited 03-08-2000).]

#13 SKL

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 10:58

Monoposto- you just made me go up in the attic and find R&T's from high school and college days in the '60's!! (My wife always says I don't throw anything away!) Their reports were great! And I loved Rob Walker. (Is he still alive?)
Can't wait till Fri nite... :)

#14 f1speed

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 12:24

I agree with everyone above and will add that most Americans (like most people in the world) are too narrow minded to look outside thier little shell to see what's going on somewhere else. But sometimes things change, after Morgan Grenfell( with European interests) failed to take up its option on the remainder of 50 percent of Formula 1, Hellman & Friedman, a San Frisco-based equity firm has just purched 37.5 percent of Formula 1 from Bernie Eccletone. Over one third of Formula 1 is now US owned.

#15 FordPrefect

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 08:10

thanks, you've raised some really good points.

I can't understand what Bernie was thinking of when he took the broadcast rights away from ESPN and sold them to Fox. TSN in Canada carries a lot of ESPN programming and I think it's very well done. To enjoy the race IMO it must be live, tape delays just don't do it for most people.

Also you need a national carrier not a regional one. Does anyone know how/why Bernie made the decision, I would guess it was all about $$$$$$.

hang in there

All the Best FP

#16 MattB

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 21:02

I live in Maine, and I travel to Montreal each year for the GP. Indy won't make much difference to an American fan who just doesn't comprehend the aspects of F1 as a technologically advanced sport. I believe the U.S. likes NASCAR because it is accessible, just like baseball. Most NASCAR fans can see a possibility of driving a stockcar, there are alot of feeder series across the US for stockers, even our open wheel series graduates are moving to stockers, J. Gordon, R. Gordon Stewart, Blaney, Bliss, Pruett, etc. Open wheelers are just not deemed "SAFE".
It is really interesting to hear Andretti speak of why he left F1, he said that F1 just wasn't safe enough. Of course it had nothing to do with the fact that he stunk, and that F1 was too big of a challenge for his America Centric Identity. CART has had more driver deaths than F1 since Andretti fled from F1. I believe it really comes down to understanding the sport. Most Americans don't understand it, and don't want to understand it.

#17 Nick

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Posted 08 March 2000 - 22:40

In the States the usual will take place. The initial racing hoopla will center around Indy for the general non-racing or casual racing fan.

Racing Fans will already be watching Cart/IRL and be anxiously waiting for the GT Championships to get moving.

Speedvision Fans will already have seen IRL/Cart testing and racing and seen 24 hrs of Daytona and Sebring and be high on Racing by the time October rolls around for the GP of the United States

So I think the interest will be very strong. The issue will really be trying to identify with Drivers who most americans won't recognize.

;)

#18 f1speed

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 03:50

Sennafan, you are right, when Nascar racing started they used "stock" cars with modifications to make them more raceable. This made (us) fans fanticize that we could race cars just like we were driving. Then it was televised while we were all sitting around drinking beer presto, instant success. In the 1970's these cars were declared too dangerous to race at high speeds and special race cars were designed and also special race engines for more relibality. Now if you took the name off the car you could not tell what it was. Unless they made a rule change since I stopped watching, not the first part on them is manufactured by Ford or Chevrolet, but people still think they are watching Fords & Chevy's and want to fight if told differently. Being a Formula 1 fan in Alabama is a solitude existence! :cool:

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#19 John B

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 04:19

I'm a fan of both series who recognizes they are totally different forms of the sport and doesn't spend much time worrying about comparisions. To add to Todd's point, not only every Sunday but 35+ times a year counting exhibition races = that much more exposure. And it's well marketed U.S. drivers in well-known U.S. model cars, so it's really no surprise that F1 gets the short end of the coverage.

And I don't agree totally about the racing being boring. I thought the Vegas race was pretty good before the end, you had Dale Jr, Burton, Martin going at it and Stewart driving through the field to challenge; there would have had a good battle for the win if the race had kept going. Keep in mind the races are part eudurance/strategy.



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#20 John B

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 04:24

In response to the question, even when the US had THREE races in a single year including the title decider coverage was minimal, and this in the era when NASCAR was not nearly as well-marketed or popular. I wouldn't expect that situation to change. The Grand Prix may well be third in the Indy pecking order, given the 500's history and NASCAR's popularity. An American presence would definitely help, as might some creative marketing - play up characters of F1, create a McLaren/Ferrari war of conflict, etc.....

#21 Yelnats

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 05:20

BRiff, I don't know where you get your figures for television rights but if your implying that huge TV rights make a autosport big, then perhaps Ferrari is wasing it's money by spending about the same on it's team as the front half of the NASCAR grid spends! They should just get a NASCAR racer, paint it red spend 10 millions and and get into the big time!

There is no comparison as NASCAR is still a Regional sport compared to F1 and F1 viewership is way into the hundreds of millions per event and billions per season! Some F1 sponsors have commited hundreds millions to a team, NASCAR sponsors operate in the tens of millions, an order of magnitude different.

No comparison.



#22 PDA

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 06:56

The problem, yelnats, is that the US company gets (or percieves that it gets) very good value for the 10 mill invested in a NASCAR WC team. In F1, one tends only to see US companies which are international in character, such as Hewlett Packard and Compaq.

#23 Chris G.

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 07:23

I didn't realize nascar was in a slump here. They seem to be doing quite well (as sad as that may be). The guy across the street from me flys his Dale Earnhart flag every weekend and I see nascar junk/ads everywhere.

Just as Americans can be close-minded to euro-based sports like F1, non-US posters seem to have an almost elitist bias against anything American. It's easy to say the USGP will suck, no one will show up, etc. What if it doesn't suck, what if it's a sellout? What will they say then (rather, what feeble rationalizations will they grasp at)?

We all are speculating, and while I was skeptical at first I am now of the opinion that the USGP will be a hugely successful event as measured by attendance - I BELIEVE IT WILL SELLOUT. Indy LOVES racing. If you've never lived in Indy and been involved in the racing community, don't bother saying otherwise cause you just don't know.

I agree, the weak link right now is press coverage. The main newspaper in Indy has a sportswriter so dumb, it must be painful for him (robin miller). But, the race is months away and I think Tony will pick up the advertising prior to the race.

#24 Psychoman

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 07:41

I think it will sell out. The true racing fans in America will know that this is a big event and will go to Indy. Besides, if Americans don't go, Canadians will :)

------------------
"Hey there, all you middle men
Throw away your fancy clothes
And while you're out there sittin' on a fence
So get off your ass and come down here
'Cause rock 'n' roll ain't no riddle man
To me it makes good, good sense"
-Brian Johnson


#25 mono-posto

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 07:47

I've no doubt that the USGP will sell out, but the bigger question is how many Americans will be watching it on TV? Not as many as Bernie may think. IMO

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#26 Chris G.

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 08:00

True, doubt the TV viewership will be very high.

I would guess Indy will get a lot of Canadians and a good euro contingent. But, they will have to draw heavily from the immediate area and surrounding states. One good thing about indy, it has the infrastructure to handle a tremendous amount of visitors.

#27 FordPrefect

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 09:17

Chris,
I think it will be a sellout, Indy is a great city for supporting auto racing, great track and great people. I have been there many times for the Indy Nationals and it has always been a great experience.

As for NASCAR being 'boring', well that's just my current view. I'll admit I didn't see the last race as it wasn't carried on tv here. I like NASCAR but this year just hasn't been as good as previus years IMO.

I think the problem is one of exposure, you can't like something if you aren't exposed to it. If it's not in the media or being showcased on TV it's only going to get a cult following relative to NASCAR and CART. I don't see that changing until F1 gets shown nationwide instead of on a regional carried

I don't have any kind of a bias against Americans... (well except Tony George) I enjoy their company, ...... but not their beer :)

All the best FP



[This message has been edited by FordPrefect (edited 03-09-2000).]

#28 Mary

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 10:41

Good thread, my thoughts:

1) F1 will never be extremely popular in the USA simply because of logistics. The time zone problem is a hard one to overcome.

2) I think that F1 can become a top niche sport if someone in F1 captures the popular public imagination. How do you know when that will happen? You don't, it just happens. BTW, that person does not have to be an American, IMO (remember Olga Korbut!)but something about him just has to "click" in the public imagination.

3) The USGP at Indy won't be a sellout, IMO, but I can see a crowd of over 100,000 maybe even 150,000 for the first race. If the powers that be in F1 make any gesture toward the fans, they can maintain that. I despise what Tony George has done to American racing, but the smartest thing he did in years was to keep the ticket cost down. From what I've read, the whole thing is a real bargain.

4) We Americans like technology as well as most people, but I don't think that most Americans look to racing for their technology fix (I happen to like F1, in part, for the technology). Nobody still drives cars like NASCAR races--they know that (they're not stupid). Hell, I'd bet that a lot of those NASCAR fans drive home in Toyotas, BMWs & Hondas. If F1 wants to attrack NASCAR fans (a lost cause, IMO) they need to offer something more than high-tech cars. If they want to see hi-tech, they'll go watch a stealth fighter (that we paid for, BTW) or something.

5) It was said at the time that Bernie ditched ESPN because they didn't send people to the races (the hired local stringers) and only ran a 15-minute pre-game show. Smart move, Bernie-baby! So Fox hires a higher up local stringer--Peter Windsor--and adds 15 minutes to the pre-game. Big deal. Actually Windsor is great, but nothing else is really different and ESPN showed the races live! I think Bernie's misplaced paranoia about CART (and a gross mis-perception of the amount of coverage CART gets--virtually none, compared to NASCAR--although a lot compared to F1) caused him to make this rash, foolish switch. If the race were on ESPN/ABC, ABC would be showing it on Wide World of Sports, the most famous sports show in the USA (ABC does not broadcast the NFL on Sunday during the season). Now we (might) get some dumb Fox cable affiliate.

6) Indianapolis is a good place to have the race in that the devil's spawn, Tony-boy does know how to stage a world-class event, and there is a large motor racing fan base there. Personally, however, I was pulling for Vegas. I can only afford one, brief vacation every year (or usually every two-three years) and I ain't spendin' it in Indian-no-place. Not for anything. (Might show up in Montreal one day, however!)

Mary