Author Topic: Bringing spectators out to WCMA Races  (Read 7929 times)

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January 05, 2016, 11:54:22 AM
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TrentO

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Hi all. I was recently reading an article on Mazdaspeed Motorsports around promotion.
Here are just a few quick ideas for making our events better:

Before an Event
1) Some Radio ads - announce the event, the top cars competing, the place, the time, the cost
2) Website update -  announce the event, the top cars competing, the place, the time, the cost
3) Sponsor feature - put up a display up at our major sponsors

During the Event:
1) A commentator / announcer - have someone talking over the PA about our ongoing race, talk about the cars, the rivalries
2) A podium - We need a podium and a pictures session.  This needs to be posted to an ongoing website which tracks the season as it develops
3) A meet and greet the drivers session where the fans can meet the drivers and talk to them
4) Car boards for every car in every pit, like what Willox had at the Indy, describe the car, the mods to it, the sponsors and the class it races in.  Try and pit classes together
5) A press location / presence - let's invite some press out, give them a great seat and have drivers/stewards/volunteers drop by for interviews

January 05, 2016, 12:03:49 PM
Reply #1

TrentO

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Post event
1) e-mail out an event summary, talk about the class victors, the quality racing and the performance of the cars.
2) Send photos and results to local media, provide them with any additional information you need.

January 05, 2016, 05:42:33 PM
Reply #2

giantkiller

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All good ideas however amateur racing - even pro level sports car racing - doesn't draw in North America. You would be surprised how few people actually attend races like the 24 hours of Daytona. The tracks that do draw tend to be more spectator friendly road courses with long history (Road America, Watkins, VIR, Mosport) of the events. Race City and Castrol are not great spectator tracks, as they weren't built with this in mind.

Instead of trying to increase spectator counts, focus on increasing car counts and the spectators will follow at a prescribed rate (even if it is pretty low). It is always more fun to race with more people. Don't get me wrong having more people at races is good, but focusing on events to drive more enthusiasts to the sport is better - IE Lapping, Club parade laps, Lunchtime discovery laps, Car shows in conjunction with racing brings the people that are already pre-disposed to catching the racing bug.

BMW, Porsche,  Miata and VW clubs are a good place to start.

AK

January 06, 2016, 02:53:42 AM
Reply #3

10cc

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Anthony, I agree completely. There aren't good viewpoints for spectators, Castrol charges a lot to get in, and some of the races have few cars. Focus needs to be on increasing car count so we have an actual product to sell.
G. Brooke Carter
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ARCA Race Director

January 06, 2016, 06:44:03 AM
Reply #4

ChrisS

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I think a lot of Trent's ideas do work towards increasing the quality of our product.  The overarching theme seems to be thinking about and improving the experience of those who aren't actually there racing.  Generally raising awareness of our events, and ensure anyone who does drop by has a good time can't do anything but improve car counts.

And of course the WSCC could implement a lot of these suggestions immediately; Gimli is pretty good for spectators, has a great infield area for camping, bbqing, and fun.  Plus no gate fee.

Chris
Spec Miata #13

January 06, 2016, 12:23:45 PM
Reply #5

10cc

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Don't misunderstand this, bit of devil's advocate stuff, but what is the over-riding need for spectators anyway? What we need is more cars. If we have a great product, it is more likely we can sell it. Current layout, car count, economics are not favourable. We can't even get the dates we want! Let's focus our energy on what we can do now !
G. Brooke Carter
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ARCA Race Director

January 06, 2016, 06:37:58 PM
Reply #6

Tachyon

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The questions most competitors never ask: What would a spectator like to see at an amateur sports car race? Are there different types of spectators? If a spectator came to  watch an amateur sports car race why would they come back? Or Why would they tell others to go and watch?

How many amateur sports car competitors have  ever gone and watch an amateur sporting event? If they have or would…why?

January 07, 2016, 02:38:38 PM
Reply #7

TrentO

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We had a number of spectators come out to the Time Attack series at Stratotech (free is hard to beat), but the fans had fun and hung out with the drivers.  We also had a big fan interaction at the various Indy races over the years.  (admittedly, we were the undercard)
We bitch about not getting track dates and about how we are bottom of the priority list for Castrol, but we don't do anything about it.  Castrol is in the business of selling entertainment and at the moment our entertainment experience sucks. 
We have nothing to lose by improving our entertainment experience.

-Trent

January 08, 2016, 08:09:41 AM
Reply #8

10cc

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I agree partly Trent, we have nothing to lose by enhancing our show, but the issues with Castrol go way deeper than that. Don't think that there isn't a constant effort on the part of the organizers to enhance our relationship with the track. Castrol is in the business of renting the track.
G. Brooke Carter
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ARCA Race Director

January 08, 2016, 08:47:06 AM
Reply #9

Ital1

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All great points, we first need a show which means proper car counts, then you need a proper race schedule, (something to get excited about), when you have 3 races in one day, that doesn't create excitement. It all start wilth a plan. What does the club want from these weekend, if the client (us racers agree) then you will have car counts. If not like myself you will travel to other events that you want to be at.
If you have a show the spectator will come. Something I learned from CASCAR is they work on the show,(they cause the drama between drivers which excited the fans) most people can't even remember who won the last race...

January 08, 2016, 11:50:37 AM
Reply #10

ChrisS

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I agree partly Trent, we have nothing to lose by enhancing our show, but the issues with Castrol go way deeper than that. Don't think that there isn't a constant effort on the part of the organizers to enhance our relationship with the track. Castrol is in the business of renting the track.

Actually I'd say that Castrol is in the business of making money.  I believe the road course is the only track at their facility that they rent out; they run their own events at the rest.  They also make money from gate fees, concessions, etc.  I suspect we would be amiss if we assumed track rentals were their only (and perhaps even primary) interest.

It also seems like they are looking for 'partners' not just customers.  What else do we bring to the table because some rental income?  Perhaps prestige and publicity would be value-add to their business.

On a side note, I saw some clips of a darts tournament at lunch yesterday.  The place was packed with cheering fans.  For darts.

Chris

Spec Miata #13

January 10, 2016, 08:47:40 AM
Reply #11

Al36rx7

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Agree Chris.  Castrol at some point may want to put on their own road course events. 
A. Brown
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Pistons??.....I Don't need no Stinkin' Pistons!!

February 02, 2016, 11:09:46 AM
Reply #12

TrentO

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I think the answer here is we need to put on a better show, which we can do some easy high payoff things to improve. I think prestige and publicity could go a long way, consider partnering with a local auto dealership or tow and have them bring a few performance cars out to put on display.  Have the podium between the display cars.  Sell the previous races as feeding into the "big" WCMA points race. 

-Trent

February 02, 2016, 04:01:12 PM
Reply #13

Spec Volcanic

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I think the answer here is we need to put on a better show, which we can do some easy high payoff things to improve. I think prestige and publicity could go a long way, consider partnering with a local auto dealership or tow and have them bring a few performance cars out to put on display.  Have the podium between the display cars.  Sell the previous races as feeding into the "big" WCMA points race. 

-Trent

I think this is a good, point.
the previous race is the a qualifying race.
Or (and i do it sounds crazies) less races.
more clearly defined the groups of cars (ie ones that race each other) on the track and have one or two races a day that matter.

Across NA it is very common to see The Saturday Practice(10-15 mins)/Qualifying(15-20 mins)/race (30 mins)followed by Mini-endro (separate entry) and then Sunday  Qualifying(15-20 mins)/Race or Qualifying Race (20-30 mins)/race (30 mins).

the most watched races are SM and FC, the classes where you know how is racing how.

March 09, 2016, 10:33:58 AM
Reply #14

GTcalgary

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Thinking about the Tudor series and the SCCA Runoffs and the fact that the stands were empty. Rather than TV coverage, Tudor started to live stream/webcast their events.  One event had 60,000 viewers. That would look impressive if those viewers were all in the stands but they weren't.  Maybe times have changed in terms of attracting the public to road racing events.  The spectator experience at certain venues is not very hospitable, in a number of categories.  I think we should re-calibrate our expectations for public spectators and focus on building a stronger friends and families spectator group.  If we can manage to show them a good experience, I think word will spread from there.  We should also think about a low-cost and relatively convenient way to live-stream events.

How to improve the spectator experience:
Publish a schedule of the event including run groups and times at least two weeks prior to the event date
Set aside some track time for charity ride-alongs or a "Race Experience" by being passenger in a race car whle it dices back and forth around the track with a second race car (since our "lapping" opportunity in order to increase exposure to our sport has been taken away)
Work with venue to have a "grassy hill" equivalent where spectators can watch from various angles around the track. A "goat trail" etc would be necessary for access.  Safety considerations a priority in design.
Hold a social function on Saturday night of a race weekend where everyone can get together for low cost (might have to be off-site)
Hand out free foam earplugs
Hand out brochures describing car classes and each competitor (mini-program)
Have series t-shirts available at cost
Improve food and beverage selection
Have a big TV with live timing, in-car feeds, schedule, points standings etc on rotation near main grandstand
Use an announcer
Post details of how to access Race Monitor app for their smartphones