From Gordon Kirby's article, April 19, 2010:
"Since 1995 through today everyone saw this sport lose millions of fans," Randy Bernard added. "Some of them went to NASCAR. But I think a lot of them became uninterested as their hero or legend retired or left the sport. So I think what we have to do is build stars and we have to start from the grass roots and karting has to be a very big part of this. We've got to make those kids at the local go kart tracks become our future stars of the next ten or fifteen years. That to me is very important."
Last year I was assembling a series of promotional events to suggest for the Richmond IndyCar event, only to find out that it was gone and forgotten. Here was the easiest one to enact:
...And an indoor go-kart track right outside the speedway, called "G Force Go-Karts". You go there and suggest that they hold a promotion: accept entries for heat races, by age brackets, to qualify for a final race. Run it over several weeks. Dixon or Briscoe will be the Grand Marshal for the final heats, waves the flag and presents winners of the two heats with tickets for the family and paddock passes. How many other customers at G Force Go Karts will want to buy their own ticket? And how much extra revenue did the promotion bring to the go kart track operators?
Go Karting is another topic I don't know much about. It must be great for serious hobbyists to race along side with some of the current IndyCar Series stars, and reading about Dan Wheldon, Ed Carpenter and E.J.Viso racing karts during the offseason was pretty cool. I hope some potential future drivers benefitted from the experience.
Didn't know much about the live streaming setup that put the "Race to the Party" on my screen last week, either. That's a good way to move the karting idea up another rung on the ladder:
The plan is to send a notice, along with promotional banners and registrations, to any and every Karting Association or private track that expresses an interest. Like G Force Go-Karts, or Derek Daly's facilities, light 'em all up. That's a low-cost initiative.
Each track runs its heat race schedule, and the finals are run in conjunction with the nearest IndyCar race or area appearance by an IndyCar Series participant. Maybe Al Unser Jr. will be doing an appearance at a Macy's store, so he can Grand Marshal the Kart finals at the area track, that sort of thing.
And during an IndyCar race week, perhaps a Series Official or Team member could make the trip too. Scouting for talent perhaps, but attracting the desired local interest in the program and the upcoming IICS race none the less.
And the streaming? Show the finals races live on the internet, or tape them for airplay after a practice session has ended on the IndyCar website. Put them on YouTube.
Make it so that every kid or adult who goes to a Go-Kart track is aware that they can meet an IndyCar personality, perhaps race in event that might get him picked out of the crowd, and have all his friends watch the IndyCar-sanctioned event he raced in on the internet.
That's a lot of new eyeballs. Eyes on unknown drivers from people like you and me, eyes on IndyCar from people who aren't watching now.
Maybe the next Dan Wheldon is racing at G Force Go-Karts in Richmond, Virginia this weekend. Maybe it helps him drum up local sponsorship for a Formula Ford ride one day, when he can say:
"I won the IndyCar Ladder Series Kart Race last month. Here's the video. Here's the checkered flag that Al Unser Jr. signed and presented me with. Your sponsorship will help me to take that recognition to the next level."
Link to previous "Stay On Track" entries: