Hinchcliffe victory good for GoDaddy, IndyCar and fans

March 26, 2013
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What’s good for IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe is good—really good—for a lot of open-wheel-racing interests.

For starters, it’s good for the IndyCar Series and its fans. The Canadian offered fans a much-needed fresh face in the winner’s circle at Sunday’s opener in St. Petersburg, Fla. It was Hinchcliffe's first IndyCar victory, and I'm sure series officials are hoping it won't be his last.

The 26-year-old known by fans as the Mayor of Hinchtown is a whiz at social media outreach, is good with the media, and more than affable with fans. If the talented driver continues to race past the big boys at Penske Racing and Ganassi Racing, he could someday be on the radar beyond the world of motorsports.

Of course, IndyCar officials will have to promote Hinchcliffe to reap the benefits of his recent success. Driver promotion hasn’t been a strong suit for IndyCar, but new Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles has promised to address that. Miles and last year’s series champ, American Ryan Hunter-Reay, met earlier this month to discuss driver promotion.

Hinchcliffe is not a cure-all for IndyCar’s challenges, which include tepid television ratings and live attendance, but featuring a few winning drivers like him can only help.

Having Simona de Silvestro out from behind the wheel of a Lotus and in a competitive car also has to have IndyCar officials smiling this week, but that’s a story for another time.

Clearly, Hinchcliffe is good for his team, Andretti Autosport, which went into a bit of sky-is-falling mode when glamour girl Danica Patrick defected to race taxicabs, er, NASCAR, after the 2011 season.

Andretti lost its sure-fire replacement for Patrick when likable two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon died in the 2011 season finale at Las Vegas. Wheldon had signed to race for Andretti in 2012 the morning before that spectacular multi-car crash.

Hinchcliffe came along at a critical time for Andretti Autosport, and now the team’s boss, Michael Andretti, can’t stop gushing about his driver.

Although Hinchcliffe showed flashes of talent last year, he couldn’t find the Winner's Circle and struggled with a few aspects of his racing. Oddly, one of those was restarts. He clearly got better at them in the off-season, as was evident by his performance at St. Pete.

He was good on restarts all day Sunday and zoomed past Penske’s Helio Castroneves on the final restart, then never gave up the lead. Now entering his third season, the aggressive racer appears to have what it takes to put Andretti up front on a regular basis.

Hinchcliffe is good for his sponsor, GoDaddy, too. I’m sure company officials have wondered more than once if they wanted to stay in the series after their primary spokesperson, Patrick, left for NASCAR. And naturally, keeping the free-spending GoDaddy marketers in the league is good for the series and the Andretti team.

Hinchcliffe might not have Patrick’s sex appeal, but he gives GoDaddy something she never could—a driver who is good enough on ovals and road courses to contend for the overall IndyCar title.

Hinchcliffe already has given GoDaddy something else it never had with Patrick—a trip to the Winner’s Circle. Patrick’s sole IndyCar victory in 2008 came while her car’s primary sponsor was Motorola.

Hinchcliffe and his handlers last year carefully played their marketing off of Patrick—who is still sponsored by GoDaddy in NASCAR. Hinchcliffe even appeared in a humorous TV ad with Patrick, with both joking about the confusion between the two drivers.

Hinchcliffe told reporters last year, when his highlight was qualifying second for the Indianapolis 500, that he was happy to play the part of Patrick’s replacement in IndyCar.

With a good finish at Indianapolis this May, Hinchcliffe would take a massive step out of Patrick’s shadow.

And IndyCar will be better for it.

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  • Hinch was a cinch..
    ... to be the Ryan Hunter-Reay that never is. Now if more wins follow, and one of those can easily be the Indianapolis 500 given his racing ability and the power of the team he is on, it just may give IndyCar, FINALLY, a driver with mainstream potential that transcends that small world of niche fans left follwoing the sport. Dan Wheldon was that sort of guy too and, tragically, in the very year he was making that breakthrough, lost his life, in part due to the very fact IndyCar was seeking mainstream attention. In a sport that is desperately in need of good stories, this was surely such an entry. May there be more.
  • 0.26 TV ratings
    NASCAR got a big fight and Hamlin hurt at FonTana with a HUGE 4.5 TV rating, 32 percent increase from 2012, and during March Madness. In comparison, the IRL's 0.26 rating for 2013's St. Pete is a pitiful example of how much folks can't stand the Indycars. Mark Miles, take note....
  • A New Track Record
    It only took one post for Chief to veer wildly off topic with more of his unique obsesed ranting. IndyCar ratings were actually up, and here's something to drive the hard core twisty aficionados obsessed with IndyCar crazy....the original airing of IndyCar St. Pete event beat all airings of F-1 combined on the same network. Hinch has the personality to make a difference; his win set a refreshing tone for 2013.
    • Chief is RIGHT!
      Indy car has no audience as neither does F-1 at 1AM but they have left a bitter taste in many fans mouth with the new parking cost. Lets have an empty stand contest to see who can guess how many empty seats at this years events...Has IMS gone mad?
    • Baloney
      Last years race was a 0.17...so yes, 0.26 is a pyrrhic victory I suspect for the Indy bootlickers and speedway yes-men. My point for the old senile posters who can't relate to anything....is that Hinch can't possibly become more popular because the series has limited marketing power or impact. It's a good value because no one wants to waste money on something no one watches or follows. The 0.29 Indycar TV rating is pathetic beyond belief. Over 100 years of history and combined legacy has netted 0.29 TV ratings. You all should be so proud.
    • While I would rather not pay to park in the infield, I am surprised no one had thought of it before. You pay $50 or so to park in a yard close to the track and people are getting $20 for parking a half mile away. I do not think there is going to be a drop in attendance by putting a fee for parking in the infield. Kudos to Miles for coming up with a new revenue stream.
    • Spinning Out Of Control
      'Indy car has no audience as neither does F-1 at 1AM but they have left a bitter taste in many fans mouth with the new parking cost.' Uh, topic reminder: James Hinchcliffe. Also, F-1 at 3pm does not better. The one IndyCar event did better than both F-1 airings combined. Chief: 'The 0.29 Indycar TV rating is pathetic beyond belief. Over 100 years of history and combined legacy has netted 0.29 TV ratings. You all should be so proud.' We are. Of Hinch AND the increased ratings. One of the single consistently most funny thins to read on the Internet the desperate ranting about 12 + overnight estimates by obsessed internet dwellers who do not possess the slightest inkling of how the numbers actually work or what they actually mean. Not one commercial has ever been sold to anyone based on 12+ overnights. The yelpers would be stunned if they understood the business of television advertising sales. Perhaps one day I shall explain it again. Even though it will never register. LOL
    • Real men eat quiche
      Apparently, in the 80 million household NBC Sport Network universe, only 126,000 "adults" aged 18 to 49 bothered to tune in to see local hero Hinchcliffe win the big IRL opener in St. Pete. How was the quiche over at Lino's?
    • It appears I'll Really Have To Dumb It Down
      Did not try that. I'm a tenderloin man. Actually the overnight estimates being taunted about are normal for that channel and all others of similar size, and IndyCar does as well or better than most of the programming offerings on those channels. Clearly everyone interested (or even obsessed) with the sport desire higher numbers, and they were. But in the commerce of television advertising today in a multi-channel, multi-platform world, those numbers drive ad sales which is the real bottom line.
    • Precious and Few
      Sell ads? 126,000 adults are going to support this series? more folks show up at the Indy 500...and the 500 can't even beat NASCAR Fontana, Bristol, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Daytona in TV ratings in 2013. Fontana had a 4.5 TV rating. So, if you wanna believe 0.27 rating is growth, keep on taking your mainline heroin because real marketers know 0.27 is not worth it.
    • 1+1=0.something
      Apologies in advance for industry-specific jargon about to be used, and I understand that for an average kindergarten-level mind taunting over 12+ overnights may seem important. But kid, you need to march into some national ad agency or cable network and pick their brains about what is really important. Take an average campaign and pay attention to not only the numbers, but the mix. Consider the IMPs, GRP, VPVH, primary and secondary demo targets, and CPM. Apply required and standard algorithms to find the sweet spot. Figure the right number of equivalized :30s and a corresponding rate. You will need to completely ignore 12+ overnights as every agency and broadcaster does and focus in on the actual numbers used in such commerce. I continue to find it hilarious that the children remain so focused on IndyCar 12+ overnights only, then spout off as if IndyCar is alone at that level of 12+ overnights. When you make this visit be sure to examine the overwhelming majority of programming offerings on cable. You would be surprised at the number of recognizable programming that would desire the 12+ overnights IndyCar has. Obviously you have a lot to learn, but frankly you seem both unwilling and incapable. Your loss. The reality is the obsessed panic of the stalkers is unwarranted and displays a colossal lack of knowledge on the topic.
    • Not popular
      0.26, live it, learn it.....it's all anyone needs to see. Ryan Hunter Reay? How ya gonna activate Hinch's win when 0.26 of the 80 million households don't know or care who RHR is or what he's accomplished? And to think Indycar was MORE popular than NASCAR one time. What happened?
    • Best Value In Motorsports
      NASCAR was less popular in the 50s, 60's and 70's, but in the 80's, 90's, 00's and 10's, it is the other way around. Is your kind proposing IndyCar try to get, like, 1975 back? If so, LOL. The perceived popularity of IndyCar is largely subjective based upon the direction of the obsession. IndyCar has never been 'mainstream' even in the perceived utopian days of yore. Yet it has survived for over 100 years despite repeated unsuccessful mutiny attempts by others who failed. In terms of activation, several new sponsors have joined the party and several other blue chippers have re-upped. If those who say they hate it and don't watch really do, why all the commentary? Extra credit: Please let the audience know how many spots have been sold using 12+ overnight audience estimates.
    • Value=Cheap
      0.26 represents value alright...as in cheap low budget style crap. You are running out of excuses as to why Indycar goes south of the border when everything else WITH value goes north of 0.26 TV ratings. Like the Versus TV deal, this NBC Sports Network is the graveyard of sports not worthy to be on ESPN. Women's college softball bumped Indycar often. There's your value. NBC saw Indycar as a "value" too...a cheap timeslot filler for their fledgling sports network. Yet Indycar fans are blind to it all. 0.26 is the dawning of a new season of failure. Great job.
    • An Encouragement of Comprehension of Factual Information
      Nice pointless rant. Again. The reality is the vast majority of programming on cable networks within the same range of households either go unrated or have 12+ overnights lower than IndyCar. Many of those types of programming also do not have an OTA portion for their seasons. And yet there is no widespread panic in other programming endeavors. Fact is the numbers sell spots. I do not know of one person who would not like better 12+ overnights. Given the relative normalcy of the cable numbers, however, methinks you and your little buddies ought to take a break from you cute little strawman fantasies and join the adults in the real world here in 2013.
    • Seems familiar...
      Where have we heard all of this before??? Also, I hadn't realized anyone was discussing other cable programming. Yeah, on topic alright. As far as Hinch, to me he tries way too hard. Sort of like some others involved. I remember when it was stated that Indy made the driver. For many years, even the Indycar series made the driver. Now it looks like Anthony is hoping a driver makes the series. What is up is down and down is up.
    • Let's See How Hinch Does At Indy
      What drivers do at IMS makes the driver, at least in IndyCar. Pretty much always been that way. With regard to programming, the screeching panic about IndyCar being furiously typed is unwarranted. IndyCar's cable numbers are considered normal by folks in the business. It's 2013.
    • HA!
      ZERO POINT TWO SIX...already dumping RHR for Hinch? No one even knows who RHR is....
    • Obsession, Part 9,843
      But you do. LOL.
    • Mike Bliss > James Hinchcliffe
      NASCAR journeyman Mike Bliss earned $59,000 for finishing LAST at Fontana last week. In contrast, Indycar's James Hinchcliffe won the season opener in St. Pete and notched $35,000. Mark Miles, is Mike Bliss a better driver than Hinch? Does he drive in a better series? How come a last place finisher in NASCAR earn TWICE as much as an IRL hiro like Hinch? Perception my good man, perception.
    • LOL
      Talk about gullible. Yeah, Hinch got a check for 35K from IndyCar. You should now probably suggest the Canadian tabloid writer get a tally of the total prize money paid to Hinch, which originates from a variety of sources (sponsorship, TV, promoting entities, etc. The 35K was one percentage of the total winner purse. Research. It works wonders. I understand ignoring it bolsters your straw men, but tell the truth.
    • Fair Enough
      Show your work Accountant. Your quaint claims refute yet another journalist who earns a living by reporting facts. Yet you offer nothing, as usual.
    • Fancy Math
      I would think accounting would also have to figure the NASCAR driver has the same other resources for winning coming at him too. Maybe not at the same proportion as the huge difference in race purses. But it may be safe to say it would still be in similar pro versus not so comparison. As Chipper G always gets quoted: "it is what it is!" Trying to make it more does not account for the facts.
    • IRL Socialists
      In 1973, the US Grand Prix paid $50K to the winner. Tickets were $15 bucks then. Forty years later, the Indycars are paying $35K to win. Progress comrades, progress! AOW is top level I tells ya...top level! Bwahahahhaha!
    • Birmingham Votes Down Indycar Subsidy
      I noticed in the news the Birmingham, AL city government has voted down giving the GP of Alabama $1.2MILLION to pay for the Indycars sanction fees in 2013. Government paying for the Indycars to race? Sound familiar? Good for the city of Birmingham AL. This public financing of the Hulman's playground must stop. NASCAR threw them out of most all their tracks for this same reason: The IRL/Indycars don't draw flies and can pay for themselves. Pathetic. Incredibly pathetic.
    • More Pathetic By The Taunt
      Oooohhhh....another swing and a miss. At Barber the IndyCars draw spectacularly well at Barber and have since day one. The local community (besides the government) gets involved with sponsorship and promotion. The actual race has also always been good, particularly with the DW12. Of course if you had attended each one, as have I, you would know that. But as is evidenced by virtually every single one of your contributions you rarely let ignorance stand in the way of a desperate slam.
    • No sanction fees
      How come the city has to pay the $1.2m sanction fee? Does the city own the track? Why doesn't Indianapolis pay the speedway $1.2m for indycars sanction? Extortion.
    • Reaching Deep
      Helpful hint: They don't. Try again.
    • Then why should Birmingham?
      You answered my question Dipscicle. Indycar in 2013 is a shady business. Hit up the tax rolls often. Mark Miles plan to get everybody but the Hulman Goerges to pay for everything is hitting snags....
    • Yes we can!
      Yes we can stop the ridiculous requests of the cheaters in the racing world. The IRS has already focused on Helio Castroneves and surely they can see through the Brazilian-Venezuelan interests to cheat Americans tax-payers. Yes they can! Who wants first generational Americans taking advantage of our tax dollars so they can fund their adult entertainment activities? They call it racing, we call it adult entertainment, and obviously writing off expenses while many tax-payers of America have been just cut 2%... Make the multi-cultural industry pay MORE, not less. The last few Indycar races have been great advertisements for real racing, Formula-one. Would love to see a Dallara in Formula one...great for another Disney move. LOL
    • Good
      Good, better, he will be one of the best.GO DADDY

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