June 15, 2015

Toronto Indy running on fumes

by Dan Bilicki In: Uncategorized

I’m going to be completely honest and admit something.

I had no idea that the Honda Indy Toronto was going on this weekend until Tuesday of last week.

How did I find out? A sign on the Gardiner saying that Lake Shore Blvd. would be closed over the weekend.

You would figure that someone who worked in the sports section, follows sports and watches all of the major sports channels – including Formula 1 racing – would have known that a “major” race was happening in his own city.

Nope.

There was a lack of advertising, a lack of promotion and just a general lack of interest in the race. And this isn’t a one-year thing either.

Interest in the big IndyCar race has been fading in recent years – not the least due to the lack of overall interest in the league itself.

Let’s put it this way: IndyCar’s deal for the series’ naming rights with Verizon is worth $10 million per year for the next 10 years. NASCAR, whose deal is up with Sprint soon, is looking for a $1-billion deal.

So, if you’re not a numbers cruncher, that means that IndyCar’s name is worth about 1% that of its North American racing rival.

Another sign things aren’t going well for IndyCar: It had to cancel its season-opening race in Brazil this season. Has a NASCAR race ever been cancelled that were under its control?

It has been years since this series had any real financial health.

It’s a real shame, as the Indy 500 really used to mean something. It used to be called the most famous race in the world, while now, I’d say that’s only because of the name recognition and nostalgia for when it actually meant something.

As for the Honda Indy Toronto, my biggest concern when it started raining on Sunday wasn’t whether or not the race would run, it was whether it would even be able to be delayed for a day, further shutting down one of the main roads in the city.

I’m not alone either.

It’s official, the Honda Indy Toronto is no longer worth the hassle that it creates in traffic. And that itself should tell you just where the race stands in the court of public opinion.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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