Tuesday afternoon/Wednesday morning musings with some news mixed in:
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been offering deals to customers that make you wonder if the place is having trouble selling tickets.
For instance, when Danica Patrick announced that she would drive in the ARCA race at Daytona on Feb. 6, the Speedway sent out a media release saying that if you were a new customer and Danica led 40 laps of that race, you could purchase a $90 Tower Terrace reserved ticket for the Indianapolis 500 for $50 – a $40 saving.
If she led 80 laps, they would sell you that $90 ticket for 10 bucks.
Okay, okay – it was a good gamble on their part because it was highly unlikely that she would lead any laps. But the question remains: what if she had?
In any event, the same release stated that, regardless of her ARCA success, in honour of the 19 laps she led at the Indy 500 in 2005 they would knock $19 off that $90 ticket price if you ordered during the promotion dates (Feb. 6 through 13).
Tower Terrace seats are behind the pits on the main straight. They are premium, because you can watch the pit action and see the cars exit turn four and blast right along the stretch into turn one. The press box (oops, media room) is in the tower behind the seats we’re talking about here so the view is excellent.
Ninety dollar seats for $71? It makes you wonder . . .
What got me going on this is a release I received on Monday of this week offering what I think is a pretty good deal for the Brickyard 400 in July.
The Speedway is offering to sell you a package of one reserved seat in the Northeast Vista backstretch (a regular $75 ticket) for the NASCAR race on Sunday, plus a reserved seat for the Nationwide race at O’Reilly Raceway Park the night before and a general admission ticket for the truck race on the Friday night (a ticket total of about $150) plus transportation plus food vouchers that are good at both tracks.
All that – three races (including reserved seats at two of them), transportation to and fro twice and a hot dog and a soft drink (I’m guessing what’s what the vouchers will get you) – for $95.
Okay, so that's 95 U.S. but it's still a very good deal.
But what’s behind this marketing strategy? Not that many people planning to attend, otherwise?
Gil de Ferran has landed on his feet, after all.
The 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner and two-time CART champion, who went off to run the BAR-Honda team in Formula One before forming an American Le Mans Series team, appeared to be out of racing after shutting down the ALMS effort to concentrate on an IRL team, which failed to materialize.
Then came the announcement today (Tuesday) that he would team up with Jay Penske (Roger’s son) and Steve Luczo in the Luczo Dragon Indy car team. De Ferran, who takes over as the team’s president, will start work immediately.
De Ferran brings a wealth of technical expertise and a driver's perspective to the operation while Penske and Luczo are marketers who have financial stability. De Ferran, a native of Brazil, will also be able to coach the team’s driver, Raphael Matos, who happens to be a countryman.
Although the team only has resources for one car at the moment, they are already talking about two cars for the IndyCar series as well as a possible return to the American Le Mans Series with a prototype entry.
I love ambitious people. It will be full speed ahead for those guys.
I admire racing drivers who don’t depend on chance – or other people – for their breaks. People like de Ferran, for instance, who are aggressive on the track and off.
Which is one of the many reasons I admire Alex Tagliani. He owns a team in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and part of one in the IZOD Indy Car Series. He markets himself – hats, t-shirts, sunglasses and so-on. I guarantee you that during the runup to the Grand Prix in Montreal this June, when you walk along Ste. Catherine St. downtown, you will come to a storefront full of Tagliani gear.
Add Davey Hamilton to this list. A skilled Indy 500 driver, he’s still full speed ahead in the cockpit. Midgets indoors, the USAC Silver Crown series, Oswego supermodifieds, the Indy Racing League two-seater – you name it and Hamilton’s likely to be in it.
He started and promoted the Supermodified Racing League in the western U.S. and he’s a colour commentator on Indy car radio and web broadcasts.
And he’s a profile in courage because he just about lost his feet in a grinding crash at Texas Motor Speedway in 2001. He’s had to endure 21 operations, and walks with the Indy driver’s gimp, but he’s whole and as on-the-gas as ever.
The news today is that as his race-driving days wind down – he’s 47 – he’s preparing for the future. With the help of three partners, Hamilton has purchased Menard Engine Group which builds engines, engine-management systems and electronic components for people and teams competing in Indy car racing.
Good on ya, Davey.
I can think of more than a few on-the-career-bubble racing drivers who could take a page from your book.