Danica could bring IMS $1.5 million plus pay day

February 18, 2013
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With all the talk about massive infrastructure improvements needed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it’s easy to forget auto racing’s most important commodity—the drivers.

Some hard-core race fans think Speedway officials have lost sight of the fact that driver drama trumps new lights and fancy digital video screens any day, whether in the IndyCar Series or NASCAR.

Last weekend, along came Danica Patrick, showing us that there’s more to building buzz for a race than putting up $20 million worth of lights.

Patrick zoomed into the headlines by grabbing the pole for this Sunday’s Daytona 500. If Patrick can parlay that top qualification into a good race-day performance, it could be just the boost NASCAR needs. Television ratings will be up considerably for the first part of the race.

If Patrick can stay out of trouble and stay up front for much of the race, TV ratings for the race—especially late in the race—could go up 10 percent. That’s a big jump for an event as established and popular as the Daytona 500.

Who better to give the Brickyard 400 a boost than Patrick, a former IndyCar Series driver, who once led the Indianapolis 500? Love her or hate her, Patrick is an attention-grabber, and no one will be rooting harder for her than IMS CEO Jeff Belskus and new Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles.

Maybe Patrick is just a short-term fix for NASCAR. But maybe not. Were Larry Bird and Magic Johnson a short-term fix for the NBA?

If Patrick is able to maintain some momentum, and even snag a victory by mid-season, attendance for the Brickyard 400 could increase at least 20 percent. Does that get the event back to where it was during its salad days in the mid and late 1990s? No.

But it would be a welcome reversal to the ugly attendance slide at the race, held this year on July 28. And Miles and Belskus would take that kind of elixir, short- or long-term, any day.

After all, an additional 20,000 butts in seats at the Brickyard 400 would mean more than another $1.5 million for the Speedway. All at no cost to IMS—or to local taxpayers.

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  • Hindsight is 20/20
    The IMS oval is flat and offers boring stock car racing. Combine that with 100 degree heat and a race run in the afternoon is the reason why the race doesn't draw. This sport is going the way of dinosaurs if the powers that run it don't stop grabbing for straws in terms of one trick ponies or marketing grabs. She's not the AJ or Parnelli...she's not even Janet Guthrie. She's a half-clad model who markets herself to the best of her ability. How that translates into racing success is whats killing the sport. Dario and Helio have three 500 wins each...they can't even get arrested. Very sad day for the sport and no one gets it...
  • If, could, maybe, some, etc.
    More hyperbole from Anthony with no facts, quotes, or anything information other than his need to file columns regularly.
  • He knows what he's talking about
    Tony's been covering racing for 15 years. I assume he has a good handle on what he's talking about. And if you think Danica doesn't have the ability to bring casual fans to a race--or drive ratings if she's in contention--then you haven't been paying attention.
  • I was wondering how Chief was going to spin this one. So the no talent hussy who only had success in racing because the Hulmans let her win, takes the pole at Daytona. I guess NASCAR is letting her succeed as well? Danica having success in NASCAR not only helps the BY400, but it also helps Indycar. It shows that Indy has strong talent. It shows Indy is willing to give all drivers a chance no matter race, sex or ability to pay for a ride. NASCAR has never been diverse nor inclusive. Indy has had female drivers for years and has several more that are more talented then Danica. Her success is good for Indy. Chief, it is good to see you have idetified part of the problem for the BY400. 100 degree heat does not make it enjoyable. So now that you understand the issue, maybe you can see the solution IMS has come up with, lights. Means they can run at night. You are a little slow, but you are getting there. I was interested in seeing how many empty seats were at Daytona. Until NASCAR quits trying to script races and squeezing the life out of the golden goose by stacking up races on top of each other, they are going to continue to lose fans. They alienated their traditional base, and they are hurting because of it.
  • It is after all a blog
    CoyoteFan, Relax, it's a blog, not investigative journalism. Besides, I like the hyperbole.
  • Huh?
    Have all the race tracks in the world that have lights secured the funding by having the government pay for it via some scheme to defraud the taxpayer? The answer is ONLY AT IMS. AND, you are telling me Indy 500 is not a destination, but a feeder series on the way to NASCAR. You illustrated all of my points from the past 10 years very succinctly. IMS leads nothing but reaches around well. Mark Miles, find out why Danica left for NASCAR. It's the secret to the past.
  • Come on man!
    NASCAR is pro wrestling on wheels, NASCAR needs the boost so why not give the little lady the "least restricted" restrictor plate for a little more speed...Hey, I'm just sayin'
  • Good Work Anthony
    I to like the hyperbole as well, he is on it!
  • Danica is Fiction
    The little girl can race, but she is no superstar. Talent, yes. But modestly so. Just enough there for IndyCar, first, now NASCAR, to do what needs to be done to get 'er done. Danica's Japan win was a sham and so is the Daytona 500 Pole. Danica is the new Dale Jr. For now. It is what it is. Pure entertainment only. Not sport. Danica being good, not great, is good enough to get the results. The problem is, it will not be enough. Not even Danica winning the Daytona 500 will be good enough for mid-summer at say, Pocono or Michigan, when the attendance is declining and the ratings are flat or falling. Racing has runs its course, in America. Either make it a totally finctional, "reality TV" deal, or just accept he fact big time auto racing is not big time anymore. NASCAR can contrive all day long, but at the end of that day, their sport, like IndyCar racing, is just not as interesting to people as it once was and is slowly but surely returnign to third-tier, niche status. Mayeb worse. Why? SO much more out there now then there was in teh 60's and 70's when it really was third-tier king. Watch what happens. NASCAR contrives some Danica success for awhile, sees the numbers do nto sustain over the long haul, and go on to the next phoney-baloney storyline. How about an openly gay driver? Or better yet, a transgender driver of minority ethnicity married to a handicap asian winning Daytona, the Brickyard, and the night race at Bristol?
  • Kreskin is Back
    Good variation on the same script to work NASCAR into your cutesy end-of-the-world scenario you have been shoveling unsuccessfully for several years. Danica can draw attention to the sport in general, and if it means more $$ in the IMS coffers I am all for it.
  • The Draw
    Danica is a gimmick. Racing has become all about gimmicks. That is what you want to extract your "draw attention to the sport" from. She is exposing the sport for all the wrong reasons. Just like when she killed the Indycar series. Danica likes the exploitation because it puts $$$ in her bikini....Is she better than Lloyd Ruby? Or Parnelli? Or Elmer George? Or Junior Johnson? Or Bruno Junquiera? Other than the fact those guys aren't female the answer is a resounding NO. Her lore is built on nothing.
  • Danica As A Prop
    The novelty of being a woman in what has been a man's sport is all a lowest common denominator media needs to spoon feed nonsense to a gullible public. Although for the first time ever I agree with the point I believe you are clumsily attempting to make I also understand that gimmickry is a part of like in 2013, like it or not.
  • NASCAR is Sports Entertainment
    Nothing more, nothing less. It is not real sport. So I am ok with the fiction and folly. Danica is a fun aside. It's all carnival and waffle cakes to me. Real sport is found amongst amateurs engaged in non-commercial activity such as the power body-building I saw recently in Venice Beach or rock climbing in Utah. Car racing requires some level of skill but so does operating a bulldozer. NASCAR is sort of an expensive reality show for psuedo-athletes. I can dig on that once in a blue moon, especially without football right now and baseball not yet started.
  • And that was why she brought the Indycar series down
    D, I get the marketability of it. I don't like it. Basing someone's success on just being there doesn't cut it...she has proven to me that all pinup's should give it a shot. Thus the reason the "Lingerie League" would never compete with the NFL. The fast these NASCAR boys squash her for what she is, the better.
  • Chief, you have no clue of another track has funded lights through tax breaks. Considering just about every track in the country has received large infusions of tax payer cash with the exception of IMS, odds are strong they have. Texas motor Speedway received a 30 year tax break along with millions more in direct tax dollars. COTAs, is receiving more than $25 million a year from the state to pay F1 sanctioning fees and is asking for $5 million more this year to pay for other races. Kentucky Motor Speedway got millions to lure their Cup Race. Daytona has a bill in the Florida Legislature asking for millions to pay for improvements. Your trying to claim that IMS asking for tax money is some how wrong, immoral or different than what their competitors are doing, then again you are very wrong.
  • Chief, gimmick or not, she was faster than 42 other drivers. You can't fake that. I thought you said TG killed IndyCar...or did you say Barnhart did? Now you say Danica did? I hate to break it to you, but unlike your favorite series, IndyCar is not dead. Far from it. But you knew that. Danica didn't just showed up, she ran faster than ever other driver. Maybe it was a fluke, but hard to fluke a pole at Daytona.
  • Shes a gimmick
    I can't stand her. TG Killed AOW, Barnhart killed Dan Wheldon and Danica killed Indycar, circa 2011. In that order. Look it up...and Mark Miles will kill IMS.
  • Thank Goodness for Adults
    Chief can't stand much of anything other than CART just before their ill-fated boycott. Danica hate is not rational. I keep hearing the kids spout variations of the 'Tony George is so stupid he can't even talk' theme, and yet out of the other side of their face they claim he was smart enough to kill 'AOW.' In actual reality, IndyCar racing centered around IMS has been an ongoing entertainment choice for over 100 years. Some of the kids like to position the twice-defunct CART series as 'AOW' when they were merely caretakers for some of the races for a few years. That's how lunatics tend to think. In actual reality CART killed itself, twice. Another target of the abject stupidity of the kiddie brigade is Brian Barnhart, who did not kill Dan Wheldon. His head hitting a metal fence post at somewhere around 200mph killed Dan Wheldon. Danica killed Indycar? The last time I checked early season practice in preparation for a full season was occurring. I find it humorous the kids are already hating on Mark Miles before he has done anything other than speak. THAT is funny. Looks like your group will continue to be factually incorrect for many years to come.
  • Danica was playing with the Devil
    The IRL made a HUGE mistake several years ago when it got in bed with Danica, pun intended. At the time, things sucked for various reasons that have been discussed over and over and over again. You know the main ones: The SPLIT, NASCAR's popularity, the IRL struggling for respect etcetera...Seeing that Sarah Fisher was not gonna cut it, they needed a new "babe". They got one. They took her in for all it was worth and later found out she could drive some but not really race. Race a little bit, yes. But dozens of guys were better. She was the hot chick, though, and she got the Indianapolis 500 some attention. Funny is, now that whole ploy for attention has bit the IndyCar Series on the behind because off she goes to NASCAR, once again making that series the focus in the mainstream while IndyCar hope Sebestain Bourdais or Simon Pagenuad can capture the American imagination and become household icons. Better was to have never had Danica is the series at all. Better was to just keep plugging along circa-1995 with the Hulman-George family with a death grip on the Indy 500 and CART running the rest of the races until the inevitable happened: The CART IndyCar Series eventually became a 12-14 race series of Indy, Michigan, Phoenix, Long Beach, Road, Milwaukee, and a road race here, a Cleveland there, a Gateway here, a Pikes Peak there with maybe two dozen regular cars and a mix of Dixon's and Dario's, Boat's and Barron's. The whole thing has been a putrid descent into the current outhouse that is IndyCar racing in 2013 with the made-for-entertainment Danica playing a race car driver this Sunday on TV in front of the biggest viewing audience of the year. The 250,000 Indy Car Racing fans that are left in America can get on Trackforum and discuss testing at Sebring and how 'Dinger is doing compared to Power and how awesome the new side-impact safety addition are to the DW-Disgusting. Too funny. Sport is about dead. Just about dead. But hey! Simon Bourdais Fever! Catch it! Everybody is talking!
  • Chuckle
    You knuckleheads make me laugh
  • Danicamania....Catch It
    ...especially the ones who have been incorrectly portending doom for twenty straight years. Some children never learn. But IndyCar thanks them for their continuing obsession.
  • Danica DFL
    HaY, Danika finished like 5th from last in the Duel. Great start on the $2M glom on for the speedway. Bwahhahhahhaha...shes a gimmick with a mysterious push, just like always.
  • Chief are you that racing ignorant, or just such a hater that you don't see the obvious? You do realize that Danica had little to gain and everything to lose in the Duels, right? She is on the pole as long as she does not damage her car. Why dice it up and risk the pole? Do you wonder why the pole sitter at Indy does not run hard on the second day of qualifications? Come on Chief, you are bette than that, aren't you?
  • Saving the car?
    It's a race, you race...not drone around on the bottom. She (as usual) went from 1st to 22nd in about 10 laps. Was the car junk? Did she not have it setup? Was she caught up in wreck? No. She lifted, just like she's always does. Yeah, heck yeah, I'm a hater of this kind of racing. It's what's become of the sport, a spec drone-about hoping to be around for the last laps. She did it in the IRL, she does it in NASCAR. Pathetic...and marketing folks wonder why fans don't populate grandstands on raceday anymore. Indyman, you just proved my point..as usual.
  • Chief, you are sounding like a babe in the woods. If you think this kind of racing just started, or is a Danica thing or a NASCAR thing or whatever, you are sorely mistaken. This has been going on for years. If you have nothing to gain and everything to lose, especially with a younger driver, then you have them take it easy. How many NASCAR Champs took it easy the last couple of races to insure they finished to protect their lead. Chief, normally you come across as a complainer, now you are coming across as an idiot.
  • Naah, a racer
    I like racing. I like them to race, not glide around waiting for the last lap. It's an endurance, whether short term or long term, the game is to get to the finish first...hook or crook. Mario Andretti was great because he went fastest and long as he could. Danica Patrick is Anna Kornakova, just with less appealing looks and class. You want your racing watered down and lame..I get it. Why you call me an idiot for wanting what's right just points out you're nothing but a hater and a Speedway lackey. But, I've been pointing this out for a long time.
  • So Mario ran fast when it didn't matter? Of course he didn't. But your hatred for all things IndyCar, all things IMS, all things TG and now all things Danica is making you look silly. Danica made history when she led a lap at Indy, and now she has made history again by taking the pole. You just can't stand her having success and that is funny.
  • 25/8
    All that obsession with Indycar* sure hasn't helped the ratings, or attendance, or sponsorship. How much does Special Ed bring to IMS*? The only question that remains is will the Great American Race double the former greatest spectacle in racing's TV rating? Again. Why didn't that happen before 1996? LOL. Why has the TV rating for the Indy 500* done down 75% and the Daytona 500 has gone up and remained steady? LMAO. Why does the American public continue to ignore American oval track heroes Special Ed, Joe Newgarden, and Takuma Sato? I can't seem to recall if this is the year _TG promised the iRlicS* would be bigger than F-1 and NASCAR? is that this year or next?
  • Nationwide race DaniKa
    I just turned the race on...Danica went from 19th to DFL, in one lap, again. Oh, she started 4th. Out on lap 32 of a 120 laps race. Moar sucksess.
  • 25/8
    Kudos to the University of Nebraska for the SAFER barrier, it was tested heavily today.
  • Engine failure will do that to you. I am really surprised Chief didn't comment on the flying NASCAR Cars and the carnage in the stands. Oh right, he only thinks bad things happen in Indycar. That is why I don't like NASCAR. They artificially create pack racing and that stupid two car draft thing causes a lot of accidents. Hopefully they fixed it with the cup cars
  • Kenny Brack
    Hey Indygoof, IRL made it's living for the past 15 years maiming folks...and not changing anything until the ICONIC committee messed it all up by guaranteeing bodykits. So, perhaps you should cut me some slack Jack. 2003, Kenny got messed up. What changed since 2003? Remember the immediate response...50G impact sidepod lights? Uuuuhhh huh, pray for the injured today. Stop making me the whipping boy for your idiots track owners failure to keep their track up to standards....ADA and otherwise. Oh, but you got $2 million coming from Danica's loser status...and the $100Million from taxpayer sacrifice to the great Indy gods. Fix them catchfences!
  • Uh, Chief....
    Has anyone seen Alex Zanardi's legs or Greg Moore's red gloves lately?How has their series improved safety? Oh, that's right. They haven't. They are out of business.
  • Chief, I can't cut you slack for hypocrisy. You have been full of it since you started posting on here. IndyCar has been at the forefront of safety. Hans device, safer wall,etc....this that only exist because of IndyCar. But again you admitting that would be admitting hypocrisy in you posts. What is truly sad is your false concern for the injured. After years of using horrible terms to describe IndyCar accidents and injuries, you all of a sudden have compassion? Doubtful.
  • 25/8
    Zanardi still races and walks, unlike Schmidt, Brayton, Dana, Renna and Wheldon.
  • You guys are really sick. Nothing is out of bounds for you. I am not playing that game. Fyi, 8th at Daytona is not bad.
  • Waaaaa Waaaaaaa
    Indyman, you are a crybaby. Danica did good today, nursed it home in 8th. Frankly, I was expecting her to *go for it*, like Earnhardt did. BUT SHE DIDN'T. This is just like her entire career has been, in IRL/INDYCAR and now in NASCAR. She's a hack, no nad, a backmarker. Shes got great equipment and can't do nothing with it except exploit herself. If she would have *gone for it* my opinion would have changed for the positive. Until then, she's media leach and NASCAR will use her for everything that provides.
  • Chief, you are comedy at it's best. Danica starts on pole, is the first women to lead Daytona, runs third on last lap, finishes 8th, and is only 13th driver to lead Indy and Daytona and you call get a media leach? Classic stuff.
  • She's not a media leach?
    Did I miss something? Yeah...she's a media leach. Bares herself on TV, mediocre racer on Sunday. Dario Franchitti won the 500 three times and couldn't get picked out of a police lineup. What is your point? You want racers to be popular for racing or do you want supermodels to race and be declared *awesome* for just being in the race? There are several other women in racing, none apparently as good as Danica. WHY? Hmmm, they don't take their clothes off and bring marketing $$$...so they don't get the best equipment and therefore are dismissed. No respect from me until either she regularly wins in racing, or gives up stripping. but then, there's be no Danica, would there be?
    • This thread
      Is comedy gold! Chief and Burl have successfully made the rest of the bunch here look like the ims sheep they are. These people only care for a "place" in speedway indianer that holds a race or something. Keep up the good work in making the danica lovers look like the fools they really are!

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