“The best we get is fuzzy internet and (a) highlight show at the same time as an Indy broadcast. Come on man, that’s (expletive) shit” says one ALMS Team Manager on condition of anominity. A business/media manager for a front-running GT team tells me “you can’t sale it, none of us can now, they (expletive) tied are hands”. The “can’t sell” is there’s no high-dollar sponsor value for the current ESPN3.com and ESPN2-ABC offers. “We’re already studying GrandAm for next year. We may not finish this season. We can’t resign are (expletive) sponsors since Sebring”
There’s little doubt, at least privately, what many ALMS teams are saying and feeling in their bank accounts, the ALMS, competing against other racing series and sports venues, is being out maneuvered in terms of business and media attention. The ESPN3.com, ESPN2-ABC coverage, so far, is DOA among fans and teams.
For sponsors it’s about the bottom line. For teams, it’s about the venue that offers the best return on investment. Fans sometime forget racing is a business and like any business, making payroll, covering overhead and cash flow mandate when and where and in today’s economy, if a team races. Long Beach was a perfect example of this.
Long Beach wasn’t a success. The ALMS was merely a Saturday distraction for the IndyCar headliner on Sunday. With one LMP1 team, no P2 entries, and half the GT field of Sebring the event would have never been missed. The racing media was focus on IndyCar, F1 and Le Mans test days. Don’t want to bel;ieve that. For the first time in years, Risi Competizione, a multiple Le Mans winner, is staying home and it’s not to develop the 458 for the balance of the ALMS season. It’s the $1 million dollars it takes to field a car at Le Mans. If some rumors are true they will be one of several teams opening the 2012 season at the Rolex Daytona 24 Hour instead of Sebring.
The ALMS is taking hits from every direction. Timid sponsors, little manufacturer support for the series or teams, loss of competitors to economic attrition or other racing series and a dismal broadcast package. The ALMS must be feeling punch drunk by now after being the undisputable champion of sports car racing in North America. Now many are wondering quietly if they can regain some of that form at all, much less attain peak it reached several years ago. The ALMS is in intermission until after Le Mans. Lime Rock is up next. What happens between then and Petit-Le Mans will be a good indication of the series health.
Next Part Two
Outmaneuvered and Out in the Cold