🏎 Is IndyCar In Trouble?

IndyCar has enlisted Zak Brown to help with the series' marketing efforts

Good morning! It was recently announced that Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, was enlisted to help with the marketing efforts of IndyCar. And it couldn’t have come at a better time as just 300,000 people tuned in to one of IndyCar’s marquee events.

Parker’s POV

Classic Stock Car Racing!

Written by: Parker Kligerman

"I want to be like Justin Allgaier" is what a winning Xfinity driver said to me the other day. One you would think has his eyes firmly on testing his mettle in the NASCAR Cup Series. Here's the thing, something odd is happening and we at Money Lap, might just find ourselves at the forefront.

Last week on the Money Lap podcast, Landon and I talked about how the Xfinity series, which used to be essentially Cup-lite with similar cars and tons of Cup drivers each week, has slowly morphed into having its own identity. One I'm calling "classic stock car racing," and the thing is, I believe most of this has happened entirely by accident.

First, there were the restrictions on Cup drivers racing in Xfinity because they would come down, take all the money, kiss the women, and leave with the trophy. They'd drive the best, most well-funded cars and cash another check on the weekend. Maybe not the best scenario for a series being marketed as the "next generation of stars."

Then the Cup series went to a car that is a massive departure from all that we've known as a NASCAR stock car. Which meant that the Xfinity car has literally nothing to do with the current Cup car. They are so different that a couple Cup drivers have come down to race with us plebes and said to me, "holy shit these are hard to get back up to speed in."

So for some, the incentive is almost zilch. Now, enter 2025 and NASCAR's new TV deal, which the first portion of was announced months ahead of the whole deal, was the Xfinity series going to the CW. All thirty-three races will be on network television for an estimated $115 million per year over 7 years. Which has made me chuckle since I distinctly remember a TV sales executive telling me just 2-3 years ago he believed the series held zero intrinsic value. After I said - the Xfinity series must be a valuable property getting an average of 1 million viewers.

A good reminder: racing is niche.

Now with all of that, it makes sense why a driver in his prime or even beforehand would say, being in a winning ride in this series is the ultimate deal.

Think of the scenario for this driver if they don’t get a ride at Hendrick or Joe Gibbs in Cup. If things were equal, they would make 10x their current income in Xfinity, except that’s not how it works. So they will most likely barely make much more money. They will lose another day of their week, the pressure will be 100x higher, and the reward almost non-existent. All to have a patch on their suit that says "NASCAR Cup Series."

Or they stay in Xfinity. On winning years, most likely making more than 1/3 of the NASCAR Cup series drivers, Sundays off, and getting to drive a car that is the type of racecar they fell in love with watching as a kid.

Which would you pick? Through all of this, it’s become apparent that as Landon Cassill said on our podcast, “The NASCAR Xfinity series may not be THE destination, but it’s A destination.”

And because of this, me racing full-time in Xfinity and Landon’s many seasons. We want to lead the charge in being your mid-week content around Xfinity. We will now have a segment on our show dedicated solely to talking all things Xfinity; we will be asking my fellow drivers, team owners, and crew chiefs in the series to join us each week.

We are not sure how well this will work, but we are going to try. Let us know if you like this direction from us.

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IndyCar’s Marketing Makeover

Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles has enlisted McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown to join a special taskforce aimed at driving up IndyCar Series marketing efforts. Known for his sponsorship prowess, Brown’s appointment could shift the sport into high gear 🚀.

Brown shared his excitement about the opportunity: “I’m happy to help because I definitely have lots of opinions on opportunities I think we’re missing to make the sport much better.” He also pinpointed areas ripe for optimization, like the race schedule and event presentations. 🗓️

Podium Potential Missed? Brown highlighted the lack of a decent podium at The Thermal Club’s event as a missed opportunity for better exposure. “To not have proper podiums is a missed opportunity,” he remarked, suggesting that even podiums can attract sponsors 🏆.

The IndyCar broadcasting strategy is also on Brown's radar for enhancements. He sees potential in richer analysis and strategic forecasts to deepen viewer engagement. “I think we can do a better job of the way we show the races,” he noted, aiming to boost understanding and excitement for fans 📺.

🚧 Focus on Quality Over Quantity: Brown believes reducing car counts could enhance race quality without diluting fan experience, arguing that IndyCar could benefit from a focus on “quality over quantity.”

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