Do Most Racing Fans Just Follow Racing?
Last week on Trackside, Kevin Lee said something that sort of surprised me. He and Curt Cavin were talking about the offseason and how it affects race fans more than fans of other sports. Kevin stated that most fans of “stick & ball” sports tend to be fans of many sports; but when it comes to motorsports – many racing fans are not fans of any other sports, just racing.
Back in the early nineties, I read the results of a CART marketing study that said that Indy car fans mirrored the demographics of NFL fans more than any other sport. The prototypical fan for both sports at the time was a married white male in their early thirties with a slightly higher income than fans of NASCAR, the NBA, the NHL or MLB. Except for the income part, that pretty well described me in 1991. In addition to that, CART fans were more likely to be fans of the NFL before any of those other sports including NASCAR. That very last part surprised me and that’s why I remember the results of the study.
Can I site the study? No. It was in one of the many pre-internet magazines I subscribed to at the time. Unfortunately, when I moved in 2001; I inadvertently threw away my boxes of all Indy car related reading materials – including all of my Indianapolis 500 programs from the sixties that I had kept since childhood. Fortunately, Susan went on a secret e-bay crusade a few years ago to replace every one of the programs and made that a birthday surprise. But all of the others remained lost forever.
Anyway, for years I lived under the delusion that most IndyCar fans and readers of this site were either football fans or at least fans of other sports.
I have three main sports that I consider myself a die-hard fan of – IndyCar racing, along with College and Pro Football. I’m an IndyCar fan above all else, but my love for the Tennessee Volunteers and Neyland Stadium is right up there with IndyCar racing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I get chills when I even get close to either venue.
I’m also a little odd as a football fan. Most people I know are fans of either college or pro football – not both. I am equally passionate about both sports. Not only am I a huge fan of the Vols, but I’m equally fond of the NFL Tennessee Titans here in Nashville. Lately, it’s been tough to be a fan of either. I’m still smarting from the game my Vols choked away a week ago against Oklahoma. The presence of Marcus Mariota has given Titans fans hope this season, after many dismal seasons in the last several years – but I’m still smarting from yesterday’s uninspiring effort against the Cleveland Browns. Regardless, Susan and I have tickets for this Sunday – when the Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts here at Nissan Stadium (formerly LP Field, The Coliseum and before that – Adelphia Coliseum). Is that as exciting as Race Morning at Indianapolis? Hardly, but that’s an apples & oranges comparison.
Some racing fans may take offense to this, but once the racing season ended at the end of August – I’ve been pretty much in football mode ever since. Now, don’t get me wrong – I still follow IndyCar very closely throughout the offseason. But I’m not going through withdrawal yet, because I’m happy following football. But by the time the Super Bowl rolls around in early February, I’m mentally getting back into race mode. I’m only a casual fan of College Basketball, Hockey and Major League Baseball and I’m not an NBA fan at all. By then I’m usually starving for anything that has to do with racing, so I’m watching the Rolex24 and the Daytona 500 just to get my racing fix.
Next year, there is not as much time between the Daytona 500 and the start of the Verizon IndyCar Series season. The Daytona 500 is scheduled for Feb 13. We already know that the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has been moved up two weeks to March 13, so we know that the longest we’ll go after Daytona is four weeks until IndyCar starts back up. If one or even two races show up ahead of St. Petersburg, that shortens the offseason even more.
But getting back to other sports, I’m curious to hear from many of you and find out just how wrong I’ve been all these years. Is the study I cited still valid by saying that most IndyCar fans are also NFL fans; or has that now gone by the wayside? Am I the odd IndyCar fan that also follows other sports?
There’s no doubt that times are changing. It seems that sports in general are not near as popular with those under the age of twenty-five as they were in the early nineties, which was practically a generation ago. Not only is IndyCar losing the new generation, but so is NASCAR and even the NFL to some extent. IndyCar is currently considered a niche sport, but is its niche a fan base that has no interests in any other sports?
We all know that racing fans are very loyal. When possible, I always try to support the products of companies that support IndyCar or racing. But does that loyalty also mean that you should not follow other sports?
I know it’s not that way for everyone. I know many of my friends in Indianapolis are huge Colts fans. My friend John McLallen is a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and longtime reader and commenter Ron Ford is a staunch fan of the Green Bay Packers; but what about the rest of you? Before Kevin’s comment last week, I would’ve thought that about 80% of IndyCar fans were also “stick & ball” fans.
Anyway, my mind sort of wanders sometimes in the offseason. But every now and then, it’s nice to explore topics like this and the hectic pace of the IndyCar season doesn’t allow for a lot of rambling. But I’ll also be curious to know how many people will be upset next week after the Titans beat the Colts here in Nashville.