NASCAR and Other Forms of Motorsports Could Learn from Supercross
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Very few sports, racing or otherwise, seem to have as firm of a grasp regarding who they are and how to go about getting their message across as Monster Energy AMA Supercross. As a matter of fact, the stadium based dirt bike racing series is so good at what they do, others in more high profile arenas should be taking note.
One thing that Supercross seems to have full understanding of is in the knowledge of their audience. The typical fan of this sport is a member of the so-called Generation Y, or a male in his late teens to early 20s.
As a result, each show staged by the sport's organizers is clearly geared for that demographic. Hard driving music, attractive young ladies and close quarters racing on powerful, high flying dirt bikes provides for a high energy event in packed football and baseball stadiums all across the country.
This is an area where NASCAR has struggled in recent years. Over the last two decades, NASCAR has worked to give itself a makeover of sorts. What once had been known as a predominantly Southern sport that appealed mostly to a middle class, or even a lower middle class, fanbase has attempted to reach a younger, more worldly crowd.
But rather than build upon its established base while adding new patrons, it seems as if NASCAR alienated its core group of fans without adding sufficient numbers of long-term fans to take their places. Unlike Supercross, the stock car sanctioning body failed to recognize who its real fans were and the result has been vast expanses of empty seats at some of their events.
Another area where Supercross gets it is in the field of showing the world who they are. This is a sport made for television and made for the shorter attention spans of its demographic.
Every Supercross race begins with heat races to determine which riders will make the main event for both the 450cc Supercross bikes as well as the smaller 250cc Supercross Lites machines. Then, the feature race for each class is contested over relatively short distances compared to the lengths of other motorsports.
The short heats followed by feature races allows Supercross television partners Speed and CBS to plan breaks for analysis and commercials with minimal loss of coverage time for the actual competition. The series has parlayed that television friendly format into its largest broadcast package ever for the 2013 season.
But there's much more to the sport than what is seen on television. To keep the audience excited during the breaks between the action, a vast array of entertainment takes place. Fireworks, light shows, high energy music and videos along with appearances by those attractive young women keep the energy level high throughout the length of the show.
And besides its fast paced style, Supercross could also teach other forms of racing about getting the word out and keeping fans involved, whether at the venue or watching from their living rooms.
Social media has become an integral part of the way this sport goes about its business. Fans are constantly engaged throughout each event on Twitter by the Monster Energy @SupercrossLive account and several others including those of the television networks who cover the sport.
Does NASCAR "get it" as well as Supercross?
Tweets and pictures from fans and celebrities alike are often shown by television during the broadcast, which serves to keep the discussion energy level high throughout the night.
NASCAR, IndyCar, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and the World of Outlaws have come to embrace social media as well but not to the same interactive level of Supercross and its partners. Today's American culture has become one of interaction and exchange. Supercross has a grasp of that and is taking that interaction to a new level in the sports world.
This Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif. the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross season will begin. All other forms of motorsports would be well served to watch and take notes as to how this form of racing goes about its business.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. Please check out RacingWithRich.com for NASCAR news and views plus Ryan Dungey and KTM Look to Build on 2012 American Success
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