I’ve been reading Robin Miller’s ‘mailbag’ on Racer.com. Every week, fans write in with questions about open-wheel racing, mainly focusing on IndyCar. This one caught my eye.
Where will new IndyCar fans come from? If the average age of USAC fans are 50-plus, and concerts will not draw new fans, is it possible that new fans, and drivers, will come from the karting world? I don’t know the numbers in karting but it seems it might be a growing sport, and that observation is just from following the Wheldon boys, Montoya’s boy, Rubens Barrichello’s boys and the karting championship in Vegas this year (which had some IndyCar drivers participate).
How visible is IndyCar in the karting world? More or less so than MLB in little league? NFL and Pee Wee? Are they all F1 dreamers?
Mike in Avon
I was interested to see how someone in the media, like Robin Miller, would answer the question about the visibility of IndyCar in karting. Here was his reply:
The Road to Indy doesn’t get a lot of national publicity but much more than karting, and I’m not sure if IndyCar even resonates in karting’s world. I went to Vegas for the SKUZA Nationals a decade ago and watched Michael Schumacher, Dan Wheldon and Buddy Rice compete, but other than SPEED and a story in the local Vegas paper, there wasn’t much coverage outside the karting magazines. Between midgets, sprints, super-modifieds, karting and all the formula series there are thousands and thousands of spectators, but how many of them are IndyCar fans? And how do you get an F2000 champion to keep advancing to IndyCar and earn a following? Or how does a karting star make it to cars without a big backer? It was easy in the ‘50s and ‘60s – drivers ran USAC and advanced if they had the talent (and sometimes even if they didn’t), and we followed them all the way. I have no idea how to grow IndyCar fans through grassroots because there are so many options….but maybe IndyCar needs a scholarship tied to karting to reward a kid and move he or she up.
Old men like Miller are the problem. Jeez…if I ever have to read about the ’50s and ’60s golden era of IndyCar racing I’m going to puke! Back when men were men, and the engine was in the front of the racecar! This old man couldn’t even get the acronym for SKUSA right!
Old man Miller is going to tell the public that IndyCar doesn’t ‘resonate’ in the karting world? I guess nobody told him about the Battle at the Brickyard!
Every kid in karting follows Indycar. The racers at the kart tracks are huge IndyCar fans. Just walk around the paddock between events and you’ll see every kid is decked out in IndyCar hats, shirts…right down to their Hinchcliffe green and red socks!
In the past year, my son Daniel met Hinchcliffe and Wickens at a promotional event at Goodwood Kartways. This summer, he shared the track with Zachary Claman De Melo at a race at Mosport Kartways. IndyCar even partnered up with HotWheels to host an event at K1 Speed in Toronto. It’s not hard to find new IndyCar fans, but how much does the series do to engage karters when the circus rolls into town? Very little.
IndyCar can’t figure out where its fans are? It’s real simple. Head to a karting track any weekend from April until October and see what real racing fans, and the future of IndyCar, looks like.
Chris ‘#16’ Demaras