Champ Car Has Done The Impossible
Rochester, N.Y., January 27 — Champ Car management has done the impossible. They have actually outdone the SCCA, which is often referred to as the Secret Car Club of America. They have made Champ Car invisible.
Of course, the Champ Car management has had plenty of grooming within the SCCA to be able to do such a bang up job making Champ Car invisible.
The former President and CEO of the SCCA, Steve Johnson, was hired by Champ Car to be its President and CEO. You can't do any better than that. While Johnson was with the SCCA, Pro Rally disappeared. Under Johnson's tutelage, Champ Car went from having live races on NBC and CBS with full coverage on SPEED Channel to highlight shows on ABC and tape delayed coverage on ESPN2 in the dead of night, no promised series sponsor, more cancelled races than plastic surgeries by Michael Jackson, and a dwindling press corps.
The TV schedule provides a double invisible act. Not only do they delay some races to bedtime in the East and cut network coverage to a Wide World of Sports style highlight show ("...and now we switch you to barrel jumping..."), but they also manage to pick the premium races to abuse the most.
The crown jewel of the Champ Car World Series, Long Beach, is not only kept off network TV, but also kept off the top cable network, ESPN, relegated to ESPN2. At least they only delay it slightly. The same cannot be said for domestic races which tend to attract the most attention -- Houston and Portland are delayed till 10:00 p.m. -- and Surfers Paradise is all but given up with it's 11:00 p.m. eastern time slot.
The four hours reserved for network TV? Two of them are from Europe where tickers will have long ago given the winner. The other two are two other primo events -- Cleveland and Road America. At least the three Canadian events are live on ESPN along with Laguna Seca and Mexico City. Assen will be another late nighter. To think, they gave up being the sole auto racing product on NBC to get buried under the avalanche of racing series on ABC/ESPN.
But, that isn't hard to pull off when the best way to make a race series invisible is to hire the head of marketing from the SCCA. That's exactly what Champ Car did, making Garrett Mudd their Vice President of Marketing. Under his expert leadership, no one on the street even knows what Champ Car is, never mind how to spell it. Oh, we did get a bunch of logo changes. Now, that should wow the public.
Of course, the owners also have some experience with the SCCA. Take Paul Gentilozzi. Please!
Gentilozzi took the one SCCA series that actually lasted a long time despite the best (or should that be worse) attempts by SCCA to destroy it, and subsequently made the Trans-Am completely invisible. Literally. As in poof, shazam, vamoose. Gone. Never to be seen again.
Oh, Gentilozzi has done a lot of hard work behind the scenes. He was allegedly the one behind pulling Robin Miller's hard card. And probably the entire Deep Throttle staff when this is done. However, that would go along with the Champ Car invisible policy where less is more.
They will certainly get their wish this upcoming season. According to Gordon Kirby, SPEED's interest in covering Champ Car is at an all time low. The pulling hard card plan is working to perfection. Autosport's only Champ Car journalist, David Malsher, will be busy editing Racer magazine this year. David Phillips will be asked by Racer for more general stories instead of Champ Car coverage. And John Oreovicz, a longtime Champ Car supporter, will most likely be choosing IRL over Champ Car despite writing for ESPN.com. To think, Steve Johnson told everyone that ESPN will be incorporating Champ Car in all their media outlets. Yeah, there's that invisible act again.
Fully expecting to be hit with Ed Donath's observation ("...media hard cards for critical writers, have become an endangered species..."), we here at Deep Throttle are already making our plans to help Champ Car fulfill their invisible policy. Most are voting to cover the ALMS (while Angelo Lisuzzo keeps pushing for NOPI).
Since there is a good chance that Lisa Davidson and I will be at the same event twice and both happen to be doubleheaders with the ALMS (Long Beach and Road America), perhaps we'll at least split the coverage. I'll write about the ALMS and Lisa will continue to cover Champ Car. Then, we'll let you readers decide.
After mentioning the rapidly disappearing press corps to Angelo, he joked, "Front row at the press center!"
I responded, "Yeah, front row at a funeral nobody attended."
The only problem is, you won't be able to see the corpse. It will be invisible.
Copyright © 2008 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.