Thursday, September 3, 2009

IndyCar Translator: Can't Sell these Guys

The Republic shall now examine another gem from IRL Commercial Division President Terry Angstadt. Read Bruce Martin's complete story at

On Other Drivers Sharing in the Attention that Danica Gets

"We have our three points leaders going to Miami Tuesday because they have earned it. We have had stability in our name drivers and it is up to PR to shed the light on those that deserve it. Ryan Briscoe is a really fair guy and a phenomenal race car driver. He is really unbelievable." - Terry Angstadt
Translation: I Can't Sell these Guys

This speaks volumes. Angstadt effectively concedes that Ryan Briscoe, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon have had ample opportunity to establish market demand for their talents, but have failed. Apparently, being "a really fair guy and a phenomenal race car driver" does not suffice when the goal is mass market acceptance.

If anyone should be taken aback by Angstadt's comments, then it is IRL Public Relations chief John Griffin. The Big Cheese just threw down the gauntlet, deflecting blame to Griffin for past, present and future failures to promote drivers whose talent is not in demand. Thanks, buddy.

We do not judge markets here; we observe and analyze them. If the market demands U.S. oval racers, as Tim Cindric and Michael Andretti have in essence admitted, then the IRL should do everything in its power to furnish U.S. oval racers. Why should NASCAR (sans-culottes!) be permitted to have a monopoly on drivers that U.S. racing fans want to see?



  1. What amazes me is that somehow we have people who run things--that think repeating the same mistake over and over again will somehow result in a better outcome.

    Maybe now that the IRL will soon need to stop burning Hulman money---some sense will set in and provide a formula that will bring back American drivers. If they can get 100+ sprint cars to race in Iowa---get costs under control within IRL (stop trying to be F1) and some of these teams will suddenly appear at Indy.


  2. "We do not judge markets here; we observe and analyze them. If the market demands U.S. oval racers, as Tim Cindric and Michael Andretti have in essence admitted, then the IRL should do everything in its power to furnish U.S. oval racers. Why should NASCAR (sans-culottes!) be permitted to have a monopoly on drivers that U.S. racing fans want to see?

    The market demands Big Mac's also, but that doesn't mean you can establish a competitive advantage in that marketplace by providing what the market demands. The market also demands purchasing books online at a discount, but it's not likely you'll gain headway against the leader in that marketplace either.

    With a dominant market leader the only real hope in gaining share against them would require finding a weakness you can exploit, kind of in the way Wendy's "where's the beef," campaign attacked McDonald's. But I don't think IMS has the resources nor the stomach for that sort of war against NASCAR.

    One tactic is to look beyond your category to the larger category your business and your competitor's business is in and develop a position within that larger category your competitor can't efficiently compete against you. So instead of providing Big Mac's, essentially do what Subway did: they created a category and filled it within the larger fast food category the market leader couldn't compete with. So IMO, IndyCar should be trying to develop a position within the sports entertainment category more so than the motorsports segement.


    p.s. I really enjoy your blog, keep it up.

  3. John,

    Please see the post entitled, "Take the Subway..."
    Your thoughtful comments planted the seed.


    They think it will be different because the consensus among those who matter is that CART was a highly competitive product before Tony George screwed everything up. On this subject I have an opinion, but it is not my purpose to offer it here.

    The present period is what you Americans might call "Reconstruction," and it is destined to be every bit as successful as the permutation that was led by President Andrew Johnson.

    There are three reasons for this.

    1. The market inefficiency that permitted CART to collect abnormal returns from tobacco companies is almost completely extinguished.

    2. NASCAR's value proposition is infinitely superior. It is a mass market product that has outgrown the Good Ol' Boy stigma. Foreign manufacturers that would not have considered NASCAR in 1995 now see it as a good opportunity to Americanize their products to attract U.S. consumers who do not live on the coasts.

    3. NASCAR's sponsor base is so deep that IndyCar teams can not expect to compete in the B2B arbitrage market that they so treasure. NASCAR is positioned to dominate B2B, just as it dominates B2C.

    At some point, IndyCar will realize that it is not 1995 anymore. The competitive landscape has changed. NASCAR can offer everything that CART ever could and deliver a massive consumer market that has no rival in the history of U.S. motorsports.

    Similarly, market segments among racing fans have shifted. The IRL was a disruptive market force. Perhaps it was possible to attract both road/street racing fans and oval racing fans in 1995. If that was in fact true, then I am convinced that it is no longer so.

    For now, IndyCar is still trying to outrun market discipline. My fear is that the entire enterprise will crash before the necessary structural changes can be made.


  4. How in the hell did Terry Angstadt become the "voice" of Indy Car Racing and as influential as he is?

    Guy is clueless and should be back in Terre Haute where he belongs.

  5. Anonymous,

    I've beaten up Angstadt here as a matter of course, but I have also noted that many of the problems are not his fault. I don't know Terry - never met him - but I do know Ken Ungar, the guy who originally hired him. Ken is very capable.

    If Terry were allowed to focus on sales, the skill for which he was hired, then he would be fine. He seems like a good salesman to me. He got Coca-Cola, DirecTV (last year), IZOD and Apex Brasil. That seems like solid production when you consider that the product has very little market value. In that respect, Angstadt overachieved.

    The IRL appears to lack direction, strategy, and recognition of economic fundamentals. It still views marketing as a function of sales, public relations and promotion. It seems not to realize that some products do not have sufficient demand to warrant promotion. There is no evidence that market analysis, cost analysis and value proposition are taken seriously.

    Terry Angstadt isn't really responsible for any of that. It seems that nobody is, and therein lies the core problem.


  6. Albert Einstien once defined insanity "as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." It is clear that the IRL or those who run it, have no clear direction both near term or long term. Explain to me how you can waste money or time on a dysfunctional system that failed over 10 years ago. One should consider going back to school and re-learn economics. "Value" is what makes a product or service desireable. The product presented seems to lack that entirely!