Spike Day: IndyCar race in China–Awful idea, Mexico City–Awesome idea

Will Power wins the Pole for the Mexico City Champ Car race.

Start of F1 race in China.

So as we have recently learned, there is a 90% likelihood the IZOD IndyCar Series will be racing in China during the 2012 season. The upcoming race at Motegi will be the final time the IZOD IndyCar Series will visit Japan for some time. While I will be the first to admit, Twin Ring Motegi was not a very good oval track layout—Japan is a fan base who deserve more respect.

From the early days of the “IRL” to today, Japanese makes have supplied engines for teams in the IZOD IndyCar Series. From Infiniti the luxury brand of Nissan, to Toyota Racing Development’s (TRD) dominance of three seasons, to Honda being the exclusive powerplant supplier through this season. Even before the 1997 season, Japanese makers have been supplying engines for teams in other forms of open wheel racing for decades.

The Chinese on the other hand, have supplied very little other than some assorted cheaply made items over the years. The Communist government of China, is new to making automobiles. One of the biggest brands currently in China happens to be the GM owned Buick. Somewhat ironic considering how un-popular GM brands have been with American consumers of recent.

iowa_indycar_quals_satoI honestly feel like the series is making a MASSIVE MISTAKE, should they race in China and not Japan. Japan has a loyal and dedicated fan base already. While China has more people, the nation has many problems for hosting an American based series. For starters, the IZOD IndyCar Series most loyal fan base lives in Indiana. How many residents of Indiana since 1995 have lost their jobs—their companies closed the plant, and moved to China? Is this what you want to reward? A nation that has worked tirelessly to economically crush industrialized democracies in North America and Europe?

Much of the World’s current economic problems can easily be connected to Chinese currency manipulation. (Currency manipulation explained here) Is this the behavior we should reward? One that has destroyed the life of hard working American fans–who now can no longer afford to support the series due to tougher times?

Just a decade ago China held members of the United States Military captive, with a tense effort by the U.S. State Department to gain their release from China. (CNN April 4, 2001) All of this was quickly forgotten by most Americans following September 11th a few months later. I did not forget this!

Also could a stop for the IZOD IndyCar Series in Communist China, be like a band or artist playing in South Africa during the later years of apartheid? During the 1980’s the UN had a “Cultural boycott of South Africa” for their horrific human rights record. Would INDYCAR be in more hot water racing in China? At least during the South African boycott artists who did play in South Africa, could make anti-apartheid statements during their shows. Do you think the Chinese government—noted for their extreme censorship—would dare permit many “American” references from being used?

The words “liberty”, “democracy” and “freedom” are all words that can get you in hot water there. Heck, Americans got in trouble for trying to take pics in Tiananmen Square with the U.S. flag during the Olympics. What are the chances sponsors like the U.S. National Guard will be allowed on the livery of their entry in China? Or what if a team has a name with the word ”Liberty” would they be banned? Will Robin Miller end up a prisoner for daring to speak the truth?

Sure F1 sees no problems visiting these kind of places, but they have a leader who partakes in NAZI themed bondage—that should say all you need to know about their stance.

Japan has plenty of good road courses in the nation that would result in amazing crowds (who would have more money to spend than the Chinese), and put on great competitive races. I just think it is disrespectful of Japanese and American fans to have China as the series stop in Asia. Sure the few owners might make a great deal of cash on this, but how will this help ratings in North America?

So I personally hope China does not happen, it is better that way.

Will Power wins the Pole for the Mexico City Champ Car race.

One country that may end up with a race in 2013 is Mexico. (Thanks @Indy44 for the link). Sure Mexico is not a perfect nation by any means either. However, they have a more important role with trade between the U.S. and Canada. Mexico has produced competitors for INDYCAR over the years. It has an established fan base, and it is not going to be a 2AM green flag like China would be.

Honestly, if the IZOD IndyCar Series wants more foreign events—Latin America, and Canada, not China should be the focus. The series will never be a globe trotter, there already is an open wheel series for that. Not that I would object to a race in Japan, or one in Europe. (Streets of Ireland would be an awesome event, but that is for another time). The series bread and butter lies in North & South America as well as Japan. Mexico makes great sense, China—makes none!

 

 

 

3 comments

  • I have to agree with Chuck. I don’t think Mexico at this point would be a viable destination, either. The power situation there is too uncertain and unstable. I do fully support going to South American destinations such as Brazil and Argentina. What about a little luv for Eliseo and go to Chile?

    China doesn’t make sense in the long-term regardless of the cash it brings in for the short-term. I agree that you don’t “move the needle” as many have put it, you have a large fanbase in Japan that you alienate, and you open yourself up to all manner of political entanglements with regards to sponsors. As for sending Robin Miller to China, that would be a diplomatic disaster! We should instead send Dale Nixon, after all everyone already knows that “only Nixon can go to China” :P *rimshot* (alright, let’s see how many of you young buggars have studied your history texts)

  • I had some thoughts on this issue ealier this year… http://jpindycarthoughts.blogspot.com/2011/05/wednesday-rants-volume-2.html

    Political concerns about China are points well taken and valid. Butall the manufacturing jobs that are being moved to china from everyother country in the world is beginning to create a massive consumer base the likes of which the world will have never seen. Every multinational corporation that hopes to survive the next decade must develop a china strategy now and that includes identifying marketing platforms to promote their products and services.

    I was meeting with a client this week that owns several CPG categories in this country and have never ventured out of the states before, but the exception for them going forward is China. They percive it as a matter of existence.
    Having China as a location gives IndyCar a leg up against other marketing plaforms like nascar. A company like Fed ex, UPS or your example GM will operate in China, but nascar won’t so it could very well compell those companies to think about IndyCar in addition to or instead. Which is a win for the series.

    I think a lot of the effort to get to china also relates to Brazil and the Apex organization. Brazil’s biggest export partner in the world is China. massive amounts of food and sugar cane ethanol make their way to china each year. Apex remains a significant IndyCar partner, but has shifted the focus of their targeting efforts for that expenditure from The US to China. If the race happens, the chinese get to watch tony kanaan do his silly dance and the American Corn growers aren’t subjected the “I race on sugar cane ethanol” ads that have damaged the image of indycar with some portions of the american audience in recent years.

    As for Japan, I respect the people, culture and country tremendously. Unfortunately since a stock market crash over 10 years ago, Japan has been in a period of economic stagnation and the recent unfortunate events won’t help. If organizers there make the decision that they can no longer afford the luxury of importing a foreign racing series for a single weekend of entertainment, I am not sure that IndyCar can do anything about it.

  • Great pints about Apex Brazil & China. I have one of their thumb-drive press-kits right in front of me too. I figured Apex had some great interest in Mexico City with it being important for the Latin American market. I overlooked China in their needs.

    I understand there is more business with China than ever. They do have the largest population. However their income levels are still really low compared to industrialized nations. I suspect the Chinese government themselves subsidizing the event would be the greater source of profits, than paid attendance.

    The economy in Japan was only a part of the problem. Motegi being a difficult place in Japan to travel to, and the less than spectacular layout of the oval were also factors. A Roadcourse closer to the more populated areas in the south of Japan would draw better crowds, even with a down economy.

    Even in this bad economy, a great number of Japanese baseball games (NPB) are sold out. Of course, seats don’t generally cost more than $50 there as well. It is also a matter of putting forward a product that is exciting and affordable.