50 FALL 2013
north AmericAn roAd rAcing
endangering the sport. Beyond the soft
economy and the rising cost of fielding
open-wheel or sports car programs, a
general disinterest in the automobile
among the Millennial Generation is
having an impact on everything
associated with cars and racing.
a long and boring proposition.
How does racing, in the abstract sense,
adjust itself to appeal to the “must look
down at my phone every 15 seconds”
environment we live in?
With some of the symptoms explained,
selling tickets to road racing events, including
the handful of ovals on the open-wheel
calendar, is an increasing challenge.
TV ratings are down and, as the market
research confirms, the average racing fan
in North America is getting old and gray. It
all points to fewer 20-somethings turning
up to watch Dario, Hinch, Taylor or Milner
at their craft, and like a band that was at
its peak 20 years ago, North American
road racing must find a way to stay
relevant or risk playing in front of
audiences at dive bars and county fairs.
Road racing’s failure to keep touch with
those societal changes has still gone
unrecognized by many within the sport.
It’s an esoteric topic that can’t be fixed
with a bigger rear wing or wider tire, yet
requires full and immediate attention from
every track owner and sanctioning body.
Sponsorship dollars that once flowed
freely into road racing have slowed to a
trickle, with business-to-business dealings
becoming a vital tool for completing a
bigger portion of a team’s budget. Coupled
with an economy recovering at a glacial
pace, 2013 has epitomized the struggle
many teams now face to stay afloat.
Finding a sponsor of any magnitude to
Austrian Felix Baumgartner,
who free-fell 24 miles and
reached supersonic speeds,
epitomizes a new type of hero
for the Millennial Generation.
With the rise and rise
of action sports, it’s
easier for most
teenagers to relate to
a streetstyle skater
than an IndyCar
driver hitting his
marks for 250 laps
at Iowa Speedway.
“Selling tickets to road racing
events, including the handful
of ovals in open-wheel, is an
With the rise of popular action sports –
the types that that draw massive crowds
to watch skateboarders and BMX bike
riders attempt neck-breaking aerial flips
on equipment a kid can buy with their
own allowance – has the reverie for
racecar drivers become a thing of the
past? With the captivating perils of Felix
Baumgartner’s space jump in mind, is it
possible a Red Bull-drinking teenager
might struggle to find the brilliance in an
IndyCar driver going around in circles in
Iowa…or to stay awake as Sebring enters
its 11th hour of competition?
The minimum threshold for excitement
has hit the stratosphere; You Tube is
clogged with videos of thrill seekers risking
their lives – which makes something as
nuanced as appreciating the driving
differences between ALMS P2 teammates m a r