The Indianapolis 500 is one of the most quintessentially American events on the annual sporting calendar, converging 300K visitors to the city’s storied Motor Speedway and gluing million pairs of eyeballs to television sets globally. We watch for many reasons. Many invariably tune in for the potential excitement of fiery wrecks and pit crew brawls. But then there are others who root for favorite driver or are mesmerized by the poetry of pit stops and the sheer engineering brilliance fueling cars that reach an excess of 225 mph.
Much is also on the line with the 99th iteration of the Indy 500 – both on and off the track. Indy Car racing must fight to stay relevant in the face of Formula One competition, fading ratings and lackluster sponsorship. “As global television becomes the norm, the growth of Formula One in the U.S. may begin to compete even more so with Indy Car for consumer and sponsor attention,” says Joe Cobbs, assistant professor of sports business at Northern Kentucky University. As a result, “the Indy 500 must leverage technology to provide fans the most exciting viewing experience whether at the race, watching it on television, or on a mobile device,” according to Doug Blais, professor of sports management at Southern New Hampshire University.
In order to help you better comprehend the scale of this super sporting spectacle as well as the underlying storylines and supporting economics, we compiled a list of some of the most revealing statistics about it. We also polled a panel of leading sports business and auto racing experts about their feelings on fantasy sports, the economic impact of the Indy 500 and who will be drinking the milk when the engines stop roaring.
Ask The Experts: The Business of IndyCar & Winner’s Picks
Casual observation – not to mention television ratings information – seem to indicate a declining interest in IndyCar racing among U.S. sports fans, especially in comparison to the rampant following that NASCAR has amassed. Most people couldn’t name more than a couple of drivers – if that, and the annual rite of tuning into the action at Indianapolis Motor Speedway seems to be fading from the consciousness of the average American family.
What does this mean for the future of the IndyCar business? For insight into that, as well as some picks for drivers to root for this weekend, we turned to a panel of distinguished sports business and motorsports experts. You can check out their comments below.
- To what do you attribute the Indy 500’s poor ratings last year? What measures can be undertaken to increase viewership?
- What are your predictions in terms of TV ratings and sponsorship revenue for this year’s Indy 500?
- How did Indy Car’s sponsorship hold up during the recession? How did this differ with other sports and to what do you ascribe the difference?
- What’s your take on the new car shapes?
- Could we ever see an all-electric Indy 500?
- What are the biggest issues facing the business of Indy Car Racing?
- Who is your pick to win? Will Helio Castroneves ever get his 4th Indy win?