off-road & CART: not "selling the sizzle"?

Shoemaker is the worst, on covering races lately, Starting from the Baja 2000 to present day. They stand by every road crossing, or somewhere that is road accessable, by the course and cover the race there. No more aerial footage, or someplace out in the sticks with some technical sections. The best bet is to take your own camera and cover it yourself like I do !!!!!!!!!!!!

You should see the old ESPN coverage back in the 80's & early 90's, I still have these on tape if anyone wants a copy. Man, they SUCK! They show the cars launching off the start line, with the proverbial BORING commentary "there goes xxxx...". Absolutely, no effort to get to prime locations for action footage. The 1 hr broadcasts are BORING. There was a peak time ('92 -'93, not exactly sure), when Jerry Garret put in-car cameras in select vehicles in various classes (Class 5, Class 1, etc), so you got bitchin' coverage of many cars. It gave you a racer;s view, ala Nascar. I think it went away, because there was simply no sponsoship funding to support it. Same old story.

"Money is the Lubrication [ motor oil ]that Makes the World Go 'Round"
-- anonymous business saying

In all fairness to Shoemaker, they may not be getting the $$ funds, so there coverage reflects that (limited budget). I saw a CBS piece on NASCAR over the weekend, this thing is the NUMBER 1 spectator sport in America!! It has displaced baseball. 2 lucrative TV contracts have been signed, corporate America is there in droves: Viagra (there's a freakin Viagra semi-truck display, with medical center to check your testerone levels. Got Ballz?), Consco Investing (there's a freakin' semi-truck display, selling investment funds, which have NASCAR corporate companies). I was with George Seeley & team at a gas station/food store in Barstow (after the '99 Fireworks 250 race), & George pointed & said "Wow, there;'s a Nascar model over there". See? Nascar is a household word, it has a presence EVERYWHERE. I buy Frito's, & who is on the bag endorsing it? Jeff Gordon, aka Paint Boy. Who is on the commercial endorsing Chef Boyar Dee spaghetti (?), it's Tony Stewart, aka Pasta Boy. NASCAR has pulled off the Sacred Cow of business: they demonstrate a vehicle for Return on Invesment. Investment = coporate advertising dollars, Return = market-share & big sales.

People complain about NASCAR not being racing, just a "parade". Well, it's a bilboard parade (ADVERTISING), via V8 powered racecars. Companies want Brand Recognition, NASCAR + TV is the vehicle. This is mass-market advertising, something off=road can never do(I think)'s a niche sport in a selective area (SW deserts: CA, NV, AZ, Baja). Any major corporation is going to measure Return on investment, & probably reject off-road, because it is a narrow market. The curse of off-road racing: it's not mainstream. I think MTEG with its nationwide stadium races, which penetrated as far as Indiana & Houston, was on the verge of something. But, for whatever reason, it went away. the murders didn't help.

CART is going thru, what offroad is going thru. It lacks audience appeal (mostly foreign drivers), TV ratings suck, TV coverage kinda sucks (starts & finishes get superseded by idiotic Golf), many races are gone (the Mnichigan 500 is history). They fird the CEO Andrew Craig, hired some new marketing people..but they STILL DON'T GET IT.

****** Even Robin Miller thinks CART is all but history!
"Robin Miller, long time CART supporter and IRL basher,
hero of RASCART and quoted by many as its gospel, seems
to think CART is not long for this world. Check out:</A>

Even old Ed Hinton is quoted as saying CART is headed for
oblivion. Aren't you guys worried at all?"

Here are some excerpts:

CART's future is in jeopardy
By Robin Miller

CART is in the epicenter of the Gloom & Doom Report these days. Two canceled
races, a major caulk-up with its three engine manufacturers, suspicion about a new
television contract, losing its best show at Michigan, a huge lack of racing
knowledge in the front office, the implosion of the Indy Lights series, uncertainty
about engine rules and an alarming number of empty seats at certain tracks have
brought out the vultures.

From respected writers like Ed Hinton, who penned a brilliant evaluation of open
wheel racing's plight in last Sunday's Chicago Tribune, to every "expert" on the
Internet, the general theme is that the FedEx Championship has all but been fitted
for a casket.

"There are so many good things
about CART, I don't understand
why people spend so much time
running it down," said Anita
Brack late last Sunday afternoon
in Victory Lane as her hubby,
Kenny, sprayed champagne.

Anita's observation is spot on in
that there is no finer test of
motorsports on this planet than
champ cars and no organization
with more snipers taking shots at
it -- from the media to fans to its
own members.

But what this lovely lady can't
know is all the dimwitted decisions that were made before the Bracks came to
CART in 2000. And all the ones it continues to make, which, in turn, makes it such
an easy punching bag.

It's not a stretch to say if these major issues mentioned above aren't handled
properly, it could be life or death for this series.

For now, CART's heart is still beating, it simply needs a frontal lobotomy.

So here's a common sense (not a term usually associated with open wheel racing
these days) critique from someone who loves the competition, hates the politics and
is very concerned with the future of his passion for the past five decades.

Does anybody speak the language?
Las Vegas Motor Speedway currently hosts a little driving exercise called CART
101. For a nominal fee, men and women can either drive this rough copy of a
champ car at 140 mph or take a ride in a two-seater. The intent is to educate the
general public on what exactly is CART racing.

For some reason this course hasn't been made mandatory to the current CART
staff in Troy, Mich., but it certainly should be because many of them are very
much in the dark about their product.

From CEO Joe Heitzler to new marketing director, Rich Henley, to promoter
relations director, Rena Shanaman, to the senior vice president of racing
operations, Tim Mayer, this group is a learning curve in progress.
CART needs to take a page from NASCAR, Formula One and the Indy Racing
League. They all have former mechanics (something Russell never was) as tech
chiefs and all three do a nice job.
Are they in, out or bluffing?
CART's three engine manufacturers are the most important food group in the
paddock because Ford, Honda and Toyota provide horsepower, promote the series
on TV and in print and also sponsor races. In addition, Honda and Toyota are
propping up a couple teams financially.

They've split up the 26 cars this year but they also appear very much divided on
what they want to do down the road.
The bottom line is CART has allowed this trio to become dangerously powerful.

"If we lose those guys, we're toast," said one CART owner.

Things look stable through 2002 but, after that, it's anybody's guess on whether
they'll stay or go.
Neither series gets much in the way of TV ratings and the return of CART
stalwarts Andretti and Team Penske to Indianapolis last May helped drive up that
number for the first time since the split.
Heitzler's detractors say he hasn't announced a TV package because he still doesn't
have one, while Joe claims he wants to hear from all interested parties before
signing on the dotted line.

Many of CART's sponsors are anxiously awaiting a TV package and some, like
Miller Brewing Company, are thought to be on the fence on whether it's worth
sticking around.
"Yes, I'm very concerned with CART's direction," said Bert Kremer, the
marketing director for KOOL. "We don't care about more and more international
races, we care about racing in the United States."

The sad dichotomy of CART is that its best races (the ovals plus Cleveland) are the
worst crowds and the worst races draw huge turnouts at Long Beach, Toronto,
Vancouver, Monterrey, Mexico and Australia. But, even though the oval crowds
continue to dwindle at Chicago and Milwaukee, it's CART's diversity
(superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and road courses) that's given it a
respected niche in worldwide motorsports.

Losing that identity would relegate CART to Formula One Lite.

Still angry about finding out CART was leaving its track at Homestead, Fla., on the
Internet, ISC supposedly ended CART's 20-year partnership with Michigan
International Speedway when George offered the IRL at a much lower price
beginning in 2002.

True, there were only 40,000 spectators at CART's final Michigan 500 last month
but, for the fourth straight year, it was a magnificent race that showcased the skill
and technology of champ car racing. Losing Michigan and possibly going back to
Detroit left many CART loyalists incensed and most of the teams distraught. Roger
Penske is furious CART didn't put up much of a fight to save the oval he once
As for fans, CART is much more popular in Canada, Mexico and Brazil than it is
in this country. Other than Michael Andretti, CART's lineup is nameless and
faceless to most of the American public.

There are still a few CART bastions like Elkhart Lake, Mid-Ohio and Long Beach
but, clearly, this most exciting series doesn't register with the general public or
young people. Sadly, it's a secret.

In the next few weeks and months, CART cannot afford to make a mistake when it
comes to management, rules and a game plan for the future. Sure, it's got enough
successful events and good sponsors to keep plodding along but it can only hope to
get back to where it was in 1995 with smarts.

Ideally, some day open wheel racing will be back under one roof but, with CART
a publicly-traded company run by greed and George a Bill France wanna-be with
more money than sense, that's not looking very promising.

And while both of these dysfunctional groups try to drive each other to
destruction, NASCAR is miles down the road, counting money, playing to full
houses, looking in the rear-view mirror and laughing. Uncontrollably.

The above comments are hauntingly similar to that of the state of offroad racing.

*****Open Letter to CART


I am a long time motor sport fan, particularly open-wheeled racing, and have
followed the US open-wheeled series since the mid-seventies. The reason for
my e-mail is to voice my concern with the direction and vision of CART.
What are you guys thinking? I mean okay, the change in management, and the
early departure of Bobby Rahal were probably tough to deal with, but still
you have some of the world's best filet mignon and you're not even selling
the sizzle! For the last two years marketing has been flat, the drivers too
foreign and the announcing, well that's been a high point, frankly, I think
the announcing crew does a fabulous job, even Paul Page! No, it is the crew
at the bridge of the ship that I think are floundering, and yeah, given the
automotive press for the last couple months that is a no brain conclusion.
Here's the thing, IRL has commercial grade stewing beef and they are selling
a better sizzle than you fools, and they get more respect from the networks!
Don't get me started on NASCAR, but you get the point, the netowrks are
fighting over those guys, why aren't they fighting over you? Find a cable
outlet that will really respect you guys, the fans will follow you, okay?
The only reason I have digital cable is to watch F1, period, start catering
to the fan like me, and the masses will follow! You have the coolest racing
series in the US, stop acting like uncool dorks! Oh yeah I am really mad
that I recorded two hours of race yesterday only to see whimp footing!
Elkhart lake is the Spa of the US, I was expecting so much, and I got
Women's basketball.....



Offroad Racing ought to take a look at how CART is going to get out of their hole, maybe it would help in finding a solution for off-road's woes. Maybe CART & offroad ought to start a coalition together "We got COOL racing, but UNCOOL marketing".

The Product [ very interesting racing ] is there, but the Marketing ain;'t

"90% of the game [ marketing ], is played above the shoulders [ get organized & do some strategic planning for the future ]"
-- Yogi Berra, New York Yankees, Hall of Famer

"Peopl don't buy good products, they buy good MARKETING"
-- business saying

"Go for the Gusto, Go for the Overall"
-- Robby Gordon, SCORE off-road champion


Well-Known Member
Re: off-road & CART: not \"selling the sizzle\"?

Thanks for showing my Post... It's greatly appreciated. I have the whole 95 & 96 Season's and there both 10 times better than Shoemaker, just from the aerial shots alone !!!!!!!!!!!!


Well-Known Member
Re: off-road & CART: not \"selling the sizzle\"?

so you see why cart is taking a dive? foreign drivers, niche sport, no brand recognition, and way too much money to participate. one reason nascar has made it is because every saturday night across this country, tens of thousands of people race on local tracks and probably over a million go to sit in the stands and watch. they can relate to the tv show on sunday because they become involved in some way on saturday night. the sport is approachable by the masses because everyone drives or rides in cars. everyone can relate to driving on pavement. nascar and the media have done a fantastic job to educate the general public about what a tight car is or what change=ing air pressure does. 2 tires or 4? the public can scrutinize the decisions if their favorite driver doesn't win. marketing? nascar is in every fast food restaraunt, store, even on the net. nascar did their homework, cinched up the belt, got their fingers dirty, and made something that is great. yet the general public still buys it as the guy next door with a sportsman on the trailer that races at xyz track saturday night. and they can dream that someday they may hear..."start your engines." that is what sells the sport.
the fact that we have tried to sell trophy trucks at 250k a pop doesn't help. folks all complain about how slow a 9 car is or how 5-1600s or class 3's should be eliminated, but those are the classes we should be introducing the general public to. when just about anyone could afford to race a (old) budget baja or 9 car, hundreds did. now your lucky to put even a competitive 11 car on the trailer for less than 10,000.00 bucks. we need to drive the public into involvement by making the sport accessible to them. would you try something out to see if you liked it if it was gonna cost you 10,000.00 dollars? you can race at orangeshow speedway for less than a grand, and that includes car ownership! the challenger was suppose to get people behind the wheel for less than 5k. it worked until the costs went up. now if you are gonna spend 10k, you might as well spend 12-15 and buy a used 1600 car. but then you spend a fortune on your learning curve and get frustrated and go do something else. we have priced ourselves out of the publics eye.

If your gonna go, go BIG
Re: off-road & CART: not \"selling the sizzle\"?


I'm not the biggest Rahal fan, but I like him 10000000003% more than I
like fuzzy foreigners.

Another reason to skip the USGP.
"The USA is the largest consumer market in the world. Mercedes, BMW, and
Ferrari want to be in this market. F1 fans might think they do not need the
USA, but the Manufacures supporting F1 know they need a presense here. Win
on Sunday Sell on Monday."
-- from

On that note, what was that rumor last year about a crazy Class 1, based on a Ferrari sponsorship? (claims of them testing out in the desert) Or, was that vapor-ware?

You wanna go BIG? Go for Mercedes, BMS, Ferrari. If the poster is correct, they should be hungry for US market. Mark McMillin was invited to the Porsche factory in Germany, the year he won the championship (? long time ago... Porsche powered Chenowth). George Seeley is sporting a new VW body, so Volkswagen is another candidate. All those Type 4 motors being used. Jean Calvin (?) began the term "Formula Desert Cars", for Class 1. They sure as heck look like Formula 1 cars, adapted to the desert. Class 1 unlimited would be an ideal class, where technology could run wild (remember when Formula 1 had active suspensions a few yrs back? it's banned now. they have automatic gear boxes now)

Doesn't SCORE use ELF fuels? That's European. Robby Gordon was sponsored by Tecate one year (that ultra cool Ford Ranger TT). ABC News did a profile on Robby (succeeding AJ Foyt) in '93, where they showed that Ranger ripping thru a pit area. "..there's no stopping Robby Gordon.." I have that on video tape, btw. With Baja races footing the major part of SCORE, I think Mexican sponsorship should be studied. CART had their first GP race in Mexico, this year.

On that note, I will now bombard you with some quotes on Winning in the Game of Life:
(I just saw today's ESPN show on Jim Valvano, whose '83 NC State Wolfpack became NCAA champions (cinderella team, came out of nowhere, like the '69 Miracle Mets)

Nothing can happen if it's not first a dream. If you have someone with a dream, if you have a motivated person with a goal and a vision, if you have someone who never gives up, who has great hope, Anything can happen."
-- Jim Valvano (NC State coach)

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone is omnipotent. The slogan "Press On" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
-- George Allen (Washington Redskins coach)

Those who work the hardest are the last to surrender."
-- Rick Pitino (Boston Celtics, coach)

"Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer."
-- Rick Pitino (Boston Celtics, coach)

"If you get tough mentally, you can get tough physically and overcome fatigue."
-- Pat Riley (Los Angeles Lakers coach)

The most important quality I look for in a player is accountability. You've got to be accountable for who you are. It's too easy to blame things on someone else."
-- Lenny Wilkins (Atlanta Hawks coach)

" No rebounds-no rings"
-- Pat Riley (Los Angeles Lakers coach)

" Do what you are supposed to and success will follow"
-- John Wooden (UCLA Bruins coach, 7 straight NCAA champsionships)

" You aren't a loser until you quit trying"
-- Mike Ditka (Chicago Bears coach)

" There are no traffic jams along the extra mile"
-- Roger Stauback (Dallas Cowboys quarter back)
"Good players know exactly what they can and can't do. The best players know there's not a skill that can elude them. The minute they detect a weakness in their own game, they go out there and work on it until the weakness becomes a strength. The best players also spend a lot of time worrying how they're going to make their teammates better.
- Bill Walton (UCLAS Bruins & Portland Trailblazers champ)  
Do not let what you cannot do interfer with what you can do.
-- John Wooden

I just saw John Wooden & Bill Walton on PBS, where they rapped on "How to Win". Totally cool.

Hopefully, the above quotes will resonate thru offroad racing, & it will make it into NASCAR.

One can dream, right?

"Go for the Gusto, Go for the Overall"
-- Robby Gordon, SCORE off-road champion