Dr. Know It All
September 11th, 2012
The Indy Racing League (IRL) is a part of the motorsports world. It is known as open wheel racing. The IRL cars and races are very different in nature compared to your traditional race and racecar. Open wheel racing is where the tires are on the outside of the racecar not underneath the body. The car also has an open cockpit. Another difference is the tracks where the races are held. Instead of racing on oval tracks where most race events occur they use street or road courses. Open wheel racing was an established motorsport in the United States before the IRL. The IRL was created to compete with another open wheel racing league called the Championship Auto Racing Teams or CART. When the IRL was created CART was the premiere open wheel racing league and was the number one motorsport in the United States. From the beginning IRL was unable to capitalize on the success of CART as it drew a line in the sand and gave open wheel racing teams only one choice, you can race with us or them. Instead of helping the sport grow and prosper, the IRL actually hurt it. As the IRL and CART continued to work against one another auto racing and motorsports actually grew in popularity. Auto racing had become the fastest growing sport in the United States and unfortunately the IRL was unable to find its way into the heart of the American racing fan.
Over time open wheel racing has shown the ability to be a successful business. Unfortunately that was 20 years ago and times have changed. The IRL failed to capture any of CART’s momentum and has since become a niche sport. With that said the IRL does have some strength’s that it can build upon. A major strength for the IRL is a few well known and identifiable brands. The IRL has a superstar female driver named Danica Patrick. Danica Patrick is an extremely marketable brand. She is talented, a proven driver and an attractive woman who participates in what is primarily a man’s world. The second identifiable IRL brand is the Indianapolis 500. The Indianapolis 500 is the biggest open wheel race in the world. The race takes place one a year at the Indianapolis speedway in Indianapolis Indiana and draws mass media attention along with drivers from all over globe. Even with these well known brands, they are not enough to fix IRL’s weaknesses. A major weakness of the IRL lies within the internal structure of the company. They are lacking a true leader. Without leadership there is no vision. The IRL does not know what it wants to be or where it wants to go. A second weakness is the lack of capital. The IRL does not have the money or capabilities to compete with their main competitor, NASCAR. These two weaknesses are very concerning and change is needed if the IRL wants to succeed.
Along with their internal struggles the IRL also finds itself with external threats as well. Competition is the biggest threat to the success and future of the IRL. Their main competition is NASCAR. NASCAR is another form or racing and has established itself as the number one motorsport in the United States. NASCAR is an established brand, a marketing machine, expanded into most of the major markets, contains lucrative sponsorships deals and contains a large race inventory. In addition, NASCAR is also threat to steal IRL’s drivers. They are able to entice IRL drivers with more money, sponsorships and exposure, something the IRL has continually struggled with to acquire. The IRL is unable to compete with NARCAR when it comes to capital, audience or sponsorships but there are still opportunities available. The IRL needs to differentiate itself from NASCAR. They have the ability to offer their product as more than just a race. They can market their product as an entertainment event or festival. They can host live concerts, volleyball tournaments or wine tasting in addition...