Thursday, July 3, 2014

Strengths and Weaknesses

This article is mean to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of three current racing series that are prevalent in America, and one future series that could have an impact on racing, with the point being to highlight where other series thrive and how Indycar can draw on those positives and build on the negatives:

Indycar

Strengths

  • The on track racing in Indycar is second-to-none. Drama, passing, and tight racing are always found on the track. Terrific racing.
  • Indycar has some of the most personable drivers that really take time out of their days for the fans. As nice as they are, they are also great, top-class drivers.
  • Ride buying is not at a premium in Indycar. Obviously, ride buying does happen, but it isn't a main fixture of the sport.
  • Despite not being a mainstream sport, Indycar has very loyal and vocal fans.
  • The Indianapolis 500 is the sport's greatest asset.
Weaknesses
  • The TV deal is not conducive to the needs of the fans. Not everyone gets NBCSN in America, and not everyone has access to a place to watch around the world.
  • Indycar continues to be in the shadow of NASCAR and F1 in the racing world. Poor marketing, bad management, and a split can be attributed to this.
  • Indycar gets a bad rap from many racing fans around the world, and even in North America.
  • The schedule is not that good at the moment. Many great North American venues are continually left off the schedule. Doubleheaders are a bit of a joke. And a season that starts in late March and ends in early September is way too short.
  • TV ratings and attendance are not anything to brag about.

Will Power - Shell Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston - Day 3
Will Power in an Indycar (Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Images North America)
NASCAR

Strengths 
  • Marketing is top-notch. Everyone interested in NASCAR knows when and where the racing is taking place and who's driving. 
  • The drivers in the field are the best are what they do.
  • A long schedule gives fans plenty of opportunities to make it to a race. The venues they use are some of the best in North America.
  • NASCAR knows how to put on a good show and to please the fans.
  • The Daytona 500 is a great race and a great spectacle for the sport.
Weaknesses
  • Over the past decade, the racing has become artificial. Lucky dog awards, competition cautions, double-file restarts, The Chase, phantom debris cautions, and green-white-checkered finishes have all made sure that if the racing is subpar, it won't be because of a lack of effort.
  • The racing on the track has become so stale in the Car of Tomorrow and Gen-6 era. Low downforce makes for little to no side-by-side racing. A lack of short tracks also makes the product lackluster. NASCAR can't strut their stuff on 1.5 mile cookie-cutter tracks.
  • Despite the hardcore fanbase, NASCAR gets a bad rap in America and around the world for being nothing but a bunch of rednecks making left turns. Doesn't help when people like Donovan McNabb say the drivers aren't athletes.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Kentucky Speedway: Day 2
Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a NASCAR (Photo: Christian Petersen / Getty Images North America)

Formula 1

Strengths
  • The amount of interest in Formula 1 is always high. People are invested in the sport both financially and emotionally.
  • Formula 1 has a rich history of great drivers, great races, and legendary champions. It gets people to come back.
  • The technology used in F1 is always top-notch and can be converted and used in the motoring industry. 
  • Many of the drivers in the series are world class drivers, with several previous champions in the field.
  • F1 uses some of the most glittering venues in the world.
Weaknesses
  • Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of F1, is ruining it at the moment. He does many crazy things that most fans don't like, mainly with the schedule. His latest work of art is announcing that Monza may not be back in 2016. What a joke. That track is one of the mainstays of Formula 1. This would alienate a countless number of fans. Decisions like this continue to haunt F1.
  • With the new rules in 2014, F1 is loosing its luster. Drivers are having to conserve all the time thanks to the tires, fuel, and engine regulations. That is not what F1 is about. F1 has always been about pushing the edge of what is possible. I don't get that sense with the new regulations.
  • Formula 1 is expensive. The bigger the budget, the better the team. The teams with more money do better. That's just a fact. Smaller teams have to look for drivers who can bring money to the team, thus setting up a bad precedent of ride buying. Often, the most qualified drivers lose out to drivers with more money.
  • I honestly feel that if F1 continues down its current path, they will be gone in 10 years max.

Lewis Hamilton - F1 Grand Prix of Austria
Lewis Hamilton in a Formula 1 car (Photo: Mark Thompson / Getty Images Europe)

Formula E

Strengths
  • On paper, it is the best looking series in the history of racing. The idea is to use electric engines on the racing cars with venues all across the world.
  • The drivers on the Formula E list are very good. A lot of drivers are experience and have some of high level racing experience.
  • FE has captivated so many fans and people everywhere. Some of these people, like Leonardo DiCaprio, have invested into the sport.
  • The technology used in Formula E can help make a difference for the future of the motoring industry.
Weaknesses
  • Formula E almost seems like it is too good to be true. We will have to wait for the inaugural season to judge how good the series is.
  • Battery powered cars are minimally tested and unknown about reliability. It remains to be seen how reliable the cars will be.
  • FE has a Push-to-Pass system that gives a driver a boost in horsepower for a select amount of time. This driver who gets to use it is voted on by the fans at home. That's a bit of a joke really. 
  • Will Formula E's on track product be able to captivate fans everywhere?

Jarno Trulli in a Formula E car (Photo credit not given)

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

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