Do Most Racing Fans Just Follow Racing?

Last week on Trackside, Kevin Lee said something that sort of surprised me. He and Curt Cavin were talking about the offseason and how it affects race fans more than fans of other sports. Kevin stated that most fans of “stick & ball” sports tend to be fans of many sports; but when it comes to motorsports – many racing fans are not fans of any other sports, just racing.

Back in the early nineties, I read the results of a CART marketing study that said that Indy car fans mirrored the demographics of NFL fans more than any other sport. The prototypical fan for both sports at the time was a married white male in their early thirties with a slightly higher income than fans of NASCAR, the NBA, the NHL or MLB. Except for the income part, that pretty well described me in 1991. In addition to that, CART fans were more likely to be fans of the NFL before any of those other sports including NASCAR. That very last part surprised me and that’s why I remember the results of the study.

Can I site the study? No. It was in one of the many pre-internet magazines I subscribed to at the time. Unfortunately, when I moved in 2001; I inadvertently threw away my boxes of all Indy car related reading materials – including all of my Indianapolis 500 programs from the sixties that I had kept since childhood. Fortunately, Susan went on a secret e-bay crusade a few years ago to replace every one of the programs and made that a birthday surprise. But all of the others remained lost forever.

Anyway, for years I lived under the delusion that most IndyCar fans and readers of this site were either football fans or at least fans of other sports.

I have three main sports that I consider myself a die-hard fan of – IndyCar racing, along with College and Pro Football. I’m an IndyCar fan above all else, but my love for the Tennessee Volunteers and Neyland Stadium is right up there with IndyCar racing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I get chills when I even get close to either venue.

I’m also a little odd as a football fan. Most people I know are fans of either college or pro football – not both. I am equally passionate about both sports. Not only am I a huge fan of the Vols, but I’m equally fond of the NFL Tennessee Titans here in Nashville. Lately, it’s been tough to be a fan of either. I’m still smarting from the game my Vols choked away a week ago against Oklahoma. The presence of Marcus Mariota has given Titans fans hope this season, after many dismal seasons in the last several years – but I’m still smarting from yesterday’s uninspiring effort against the Cleveland Browns. Regardless, Susan and I have tickets for this Sunday – when the Titans take on the Indianapolis Colts here at Nissan Stadium (formerly LP Field, The Coliseum and before that – Adelphia Coliseum). Is that as exciting as Race Morning at Indianapolis? Hardly, but that’s an apples & oranges comparison.

Some racing fans may take offense to this, but once the racing season ended at the end of August – I’ve been pretty much in football mode ever since. Now, don’t get me wrong – I still follow IndyCar very closely throughout the offseason. But I’m not going through withdrawal yet, because I’m happy following football. But by the time the Super Bowl rolls around in early February, I’m mentally getting back into race mode. I’m only a casual fan of College Basketball, Hockey and Major League Baseball and I’m not an NBA fan at all. By then I’m usually starving for anything that has to do with racing, so I’m watching the Rolex24 and the Daytona 500 just to get my racing fix.

Next year, there is not as much time between the Daytona 500 and the start of the Verizon IndyCar Series season. The Daytona 500 is scheduled for Feb 13. We already know that the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has been moved up two weeks to March 13, so we know that the longest we’ll go after Daytona is four weeks until IndyCar starts back up. If one or even two races show up ahead of St. Petersburg, that shortens the offseason even more.

But getting back to other sports, I’m curious to hear from many of you and find out just how wrong I’ve been all these years. Is the study I cited still valid by saying that most IndyCar fans are also NFL fans; or has that now gone by the wayside? Am I the odd IndyCar fan that also follows other sports?

There’s no doubt that times are changing. It seems that sports in general are not near as popular with those under the age of twenty-five as they were in the early nineties, which was practically a generation ago. Not only is IndyCar losing the new generation, but so is NASCAR and even the NFL to some extent. IndyCar is currently considered a niche sport, but is its niche a fan base that has no interests in any other sports?

We all know that racing fans are very loyal. When possible, I always try to support the products of companies that support IndyCar or racing. But does that loyalty also mean that you should not follow other sports?

I know it’s not that way for everyone. I know many of my friends in Indianapolis are huge Colts fans. My friend John McLallen is a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and longtime reader and commenter Ron Ford is a staunch fan of the Green Bay Packers; but what about the rest of you? Before Kevin’s comment last week, I would’ve thought that about 80% of IndyCar fans were also “stick & ball” fans.

Anyway, my mind sort of wanders sometimes in the offseason. But every now and then, it’s nice to explore topics like this and the hectic pace of the IndyCar season doesn’t allow for a lot of rambling. But I’ll also be curious to know how many people will be upset next week after the Titans beat the Colts here in Nashville.

George Phillips

34 Responses to “Do Most Racing Fans Just Follow Racing?”

  1. I count myself among the minority that thinks Indycar’s season should end around the beginning of football season, not necessarily Labor Day, but close. And I do think it should start weeks earlier in the year. Besides Indycar, I follow the NFL, some college football, college basketball, the NBA during the playoffs, some Nascar, golf’s majors, and baseball during the playoffs.

  2. 1) IndyCar
    2)NFL (Denver Broncos)
    3)Formula 1
    5)Colorado Buffaloes Football (tough to be a fan lately)
    7)Ski Racing

    I have found after living in another city, it takes a while to build interest in the local teams here in Louisville, KY. I still remain closer to the Colorado teams and my interest in baseball has been waining for quite some time. Rockies, and CU Buffs are horrible.

    IndyCar far outweighs all others and I do not look forward to the IndyCar offseason.

  3. Automobile oval racing (IndyCar, champ dirt and old fashioned stock cars) has always been my favorite sport to watch either live or on TV. I’ve never been a true “sport” follower though, always a “team” or “star” follower. For example, to me AJ Foyt is the embodiment of the “star” I have rooted for all of my life, but I have been a die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan since the Joe Kapp, Purple People Eaters days. Yep, next year it’ll be 40 years since they went to a Stupid Bowl, I am a true fan, lol! I follow Notre Dame football and IU basketball, as I am a huge Bob Knight fan, and yes, I know he doesn’t coach there anymore Ron, lol.

    That’s all for me, no F1, no LeMans (only when AJ went over and kicked their butts driving 18 hours of the 24), drag racing, no pro basketball, soccer, hockey, baseball, volleyball, etc.

    • The only non racing sports I follow are kinda obscure. At least here in the States. Aussie Rules Football and Rugby are among my favorites. I’ll catch a soccer game every now and then. I have no interest whatsoever in football. Never have. Incidentally this fact has led many at my job and church to believe that there is something legitimately wrong with me. Whatever, I just get a kick out of the reaction that people have when I tell them that I’m not interested in football.

    • Thanks for the Bob Knight mention, big fan here as well.

  4. I’m one of those fans Kevin was talking about.

  5. Mostly I watch racing, but recently I’ve become a College Football fan since I now go to a school that has the potential to be successful. Also, I watch World Cup soccer. The CART marketing survey is interesting and not what I would have expected. I wonder if the infamous Boston Consulting Group used that survey for things such as ending the season on Labor Day.

  6. I was once a huge MLB and NFL fan from the time I was about 10 years old. I was a Bengal season ticket holder for twenty years. I watched my first Indy 500 in 1970 which was the first of Al Unsers two wins in a row. I had 500 season tickets for about 15 years in the 80’s and 90’s. . I became a Nascar fan when they came to Indy and had tickets at Indy until two years ago.

    I have soured on MLB and NFL for various reasons, to the point that I no longer follow them. Since Nascar basically attacked their fan base and caved on the whole political Confederate flag thing I have not even been able to watch them the second half of the year.

    And we all know what Indy Car fans have had to deal with the last few years.

    So basically I would have to disagree with the article. Although by “fate” I now probably follow Indycar more than any other sport.

    • billytheskink Says:

      NASCAR has held a pretty strong stance against display of the Confederate flag (where they can control it) since at least 1994, when they refused to let the Sons of Confederate Veterans sponsor Gary Wright’s Ford.

  7. Indycar and V8 Supercar, then LeMans, then the Miscellaneous of IMSA, Nascar, and F1. Throw in some karting participation for good measure. If all else fails, it time to pull out an old tape of a race. For me stick and ball sports are less entertaining by a big margin.

  8. Racing is my passion. I enjoy racing of most types both on land or on water. Here in Wisconsin we try to get through the winters with racing whatever we can on the snow and ice. That includes snowmobiles, bar stools (on skis), motorcycles on ice (ovals) and ice boats. I just posted a short video on my Facebook page of my grandkids pulling someone in a discarded recliner chair (complete with remote) around the yard at speed with an ATV. We race what we can.

    As George mentioned I am a Green Bay Packers fan as are most Wisconsin folks. What’s not to like there? We enjoy deflating da Bears. (sorry John). I have been on the season ticket waiting list for about 20 years and was just notified that there are now only 67,561 folks ahead of me on the list.

    I also enjoy hockey and at the age of 75 I still keep my stick on the ice at local pond hockey pickup games.

    Taxpayers here had to shell out millions for a fancy schmancy stadium for the Milwaukee Brewers with a retractable roof and $8 beers. The Brewers have been pathetic since the days of Warren Spahn and Hank Aaron, but they still get more fans than the Milwaukee Mile. Go figure. Now, largely thanks to our idiot governor, taxpayers will have to shell out $400 million for a new Milwaukee Bucks palace. They have had few winning teams since the days of Kareem and the “Big O”.

    So pencil me in for racing, NFL, hockey, and the occasional roller derby match.

    • DZ-groundedeffects Says:

      I was always sort-of fond of the Bob Lanier, Sidney Moncrief, Marques Johnson, era. Vastly underrated.

      • Thanks for pointing that out. Another good Bucks team. My son’s first visit to a NBA game was to see that team. Lanier was so strong he sent another player sprawling with just a slight move of his wrist out of sight of the ref. Everybody loved Sid.

    • Wasn’t Sam Sessions fatally injured in Wisconsin running snowmobiles in the 1970s? Or was that in Minnesota?

  9. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    By appx strata of time and energy I use to follow asstd sports “properties”:

    Indycar, EPL,
    F1, FIFA-related/USMNT/USWNT/Champions League,
    (re-runs of asstd past sports events including Battle of the Network Stars)
    Local Club/School sports,
    Golf, Tennis, NFL, La Liga, Bundesliga,
    NHL, Ligue 1,
    IMSA, WEC, MLB, College Basketball, College FB, Tour de France
    World Cup Skiing, Olympics/Trials,
    NBA, MLB, Little League Baseball WS,

    I would strongly disagree with the assertion that race fans don’t really follow anything else. Seems like a ridiculous claim to me.

  10. billytheskink Says:

    What I have long loved about sports is that racing (and baseball) season turns into football season which turns into basketball season which turns back into racing and baseball season. It’s awesome. I enjoy it all, especially basketball and racing, despite my limited success playing any sport that’s not laser tag. I was an awesome laser tag player.

    As far as my hierarchy of sports goes, live-and-in-person rules. I am a football and basketball season ticket holder at my alma mater and will attend those games above all else. Live racing follows closely.
    Ability to attend aside, I follow racing, college basketball, and college football most closely. Pro basketball, pro baseball, pro football, high school team sports, college baseball, and pro hockey follow in some order behind.
    Among racing series, I follow Indycar first and probably motocross second, though my interests will move through everything from NASCAR, Formula 1, World of Outlaws, IMSA, WEC, USAC, PWC, etc. etc. I do have a particular affinity for minor-league stock car racing, and probably wind up watching a higher percentage of the NASCAR Truck series season than any racing series other than Indycar. I probably should not have admitted that…

  11. As long as there are enough entries, I’ll watch any kind of racing from trycicles to airplanes (except NASCAR -only 4races/year)

    Used to be a football & hockey fan (BC)
    before children.Now it’ts racing. Only racing.

  12. I grew up going to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but I also grew up as a fan of the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs. Yesterday’s Cubs/Cardinals game would trump most IndyCar races except for the 500. Same with the Bears, however, yesterday I would have tuned in after half time. As many know, I am passionate about IndyCar, but I am also a football, baseball and NHL hockey fan.

  13. IndyCar is by far my favorite sport that I follow. But, I am equally as passionate when it comes to Penn State Football, The Pittsburgh Steelers, and Seattle Seahawks. (Yes I know it’s an odd combination…) I’m also a season ticket holder for the Pittsburgh Penguins and I’m a long suffering, though things have been a bit better lately, Pittsburgh Pirates Fan. Finally, I absolutely love UNC Basketball.

    I watch F1, IMSA, WEC, and World Challenge for almost all of their races. I occasionally watch NASCAR if nothing else is on. I don’t miss any of the Golf Majors and always watch anything related to Match Play (Ryder Cup, President’s Cup, Solheim Cup) And don’t forget Curling…even it gets some TV coverage here and there!!

    Reading the above, I think I might be the kind of fan you are talking about George. Also reading this, when do I have time for anything else…Hmmmm…

    • I lived in Maine for 10 years and Curling is the State Sport up there and it gets LOTS of TV time, lol!

      The only time I had ever even SEEN Curling was in The Beatles’ movie Help! (which just happened to have been released 50 years ago this month) where they’re in the Alps and a mad scientist uses the big rock thingy to try to blow them up! A fiendish thingy! Fantastic!

  14. hello George. I follow all sports but hockey and golf.

  15. Mike Silver Says:

    First and foremost, i am an Indycar fan. I also follow F1 and sportscars to a lesser degree. I also love college basketball, especially Butler I also follow baseball (St. Louis Cardinals) and hockey. (Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay lLightning)

  16. Racing is still number 1 in my life with IndyCar at the top. I make time for it the entire season and try to go to at least one race each year. I have watched F1 weekends since Speed Channel (and racing on Wild World of Sports when we were kids) and occasionally NHRA, but have only attended COTA in 2012. Tape Dirt 30 on MAV-TV each week and swear I am going to watch open wheel dirt racing live.

    Was a Dodger fanatic since grade school, but just don’t go to the stadium much anymore. Would love to hear Vin Scully more often, but the new owners have made watching the games impossible when you have DirecTV. Will never forgive Georgia for taking my Rams away from LA and am wondering if we will ever have a NFL team again. And hockey live is still a thrill, especially when you have a championship team at last.

    So, in short yes I do follow other sports besides racing, but just not as passionately.

  17. i am probably not typical since I began covering sports for my high school newspaper during my Sophomore year and stayed in journalism, primarily covering sports for about 35 years. As a result I got to know many prominent people, in many facets of many sports from junior high school to the Olympics.
    I have many memorable moments I cherish from many sports, but my favorite was always IndyCar racing.
    By 1995 I was burned out on all of it and took five years off, not paying much attention to any sport other than college football.
    Since 2000, I have closely followed IndyCar again, and the NFL, but now I no longer care about the NFL.
    IndyCar is really the only sport I give much time to. I have been watching come Canadian Football League games this year and find their game must more interesting and entertaining than U.S. football.
    What I really like about IndyCar is the necessity for drivers and teams to be able to do well at every four wheel racing discipline (I include drag racing because of the skill needed to leave a pit stop well). No other racing series presents that challenge. I have come to like road racing more than street racing, more than oval racing (the 500 being the exception), but my interest in the series will diminish without all three being a significant part of the series.

  18. Ever since the PED issues hit so many pro sports, I gave up on them. I follow Indycar, occasionally watch F1, and watch no more than 15 minutes of NASCAR in a season. Growing up in suburban Chicago, I watched the Bears religiously, the Cubs quite a bit, along with the Bulls (especially during the early 1970s and then the Jordan years) and the Blackhawks, but no more.

    The split issues burned me out for a while, and then a son in marching band followed by a job with a high travel requirement kept me from watching Indycar as much as I would have for quite a while.

    I used to go to a Purdue football game every year…but given the futility of that enterprise now, I pay my $20 to park a mile and a half from the stadium, go to a friend’s tailgater, and like most of the folks there, head back to the car with a few of them head to the stadium.

    And at the DW ProAm a few days ago I was reminded again of why it’s far more than the on-track product that keeps me drawn to Indycar–the people involved are incredibly fine folks and they respect each other immensely.

  19. IndyCar and college football are my two biggies. As far as pro sports, the only time I’ll watch is if I want to follow a particular player, for example, FSU’s Buster Posey, who became an instant star with the SF Giants, and Jameis Winston with the Bucs.

    Used to play a lot of golf, and still watch a little of it on TV, but pro team sports don’t do anything for me, especially the worst sport ever invented, soccer.

  20. Brian McKay in Florida Says:

    I shouldn’t be the last one to vote and comment on this blog post, because after several Oilpressure posts I’d been tempted to say that I watch nothing but racing. I’d wondered if other persons would think, ‘He doesn’t watch ______ or ______ or ______?! What a loser!’

    I watch, in person, on television, and on Internet, nothing but motor racing. I don’t view drag racing and NASCAR wrestling-on-wheels.

    I’ve run, swum, and played soccer. But I don’t watch foot races or cycle races, triathlons, or Olympic games. I don’t know or care about any of the competitors. I guess that Olympic Games TV shows spend much time telling viewers who the athletes are and why viewers might care about them.

    I know who races in my favorite car- and motorcycle-racing series. And I’m disappointed when racers (Stefan Wilson, Peter Dempsey, etcetera) cannot advance to the next-higher series.

  21. Zero interest in stick & ball sports. Just not my thing, beyond the occasional Cincinnati Cyclones or Dayton Dragons game. I’ll watch any form of racing, though.

  22. I am in my 30’s. I really have loved Indycar for many year but NASCAR took the lead in the late 90’s. They have since fallen into a pit but I still can’t totally break away and as much as I hate it, this new format they have with the championship is exciting, but, it’s not a true champion, I don’t buy into it that way.

    I like MLB, my Reds mostly and then the NFL where I have followed Manning all the way. Fans in the NFL are crude and rowdy, so I don’t go to games and I hate when people talk so bad about the fact that I follow a player instead of a team. But I am just not that invested in a team I guess.

    Ultimately, I really like sports but ethically I struggle to watch them knowing we are paying millions to men to play a kids game when we have so many people starving to death in the world. Indycar is a bit different because, I just don’t feel like they are playing a kid sport, I feel like they are putting more on the line for their money.

  23. As the seasons change I Turn my attention to that respective sport. I love them all but they are seasonal to me. In other words hockey into June doesn’t work for me. Racing and baseball time have arrived. So I’m a big sports fan but love my racing.

    1 Indianapolis 500/Formula 1/Indy car
    2 Minnesota Vikings
    3 Montreal Canadiens
    4 Cincinnati Reds
    5 Ohio State football
    6 Final4 basketball

  24. I am a fan of pretty much every sport that doesn’t involve hitting a competitor while they are down. This past year I have been to several IndyCar races, a few NASCAR Races, a dozen or so Columbus Blue Jackets games, a couple Columbus Crew games, a couple Cleveland Browns games, an Indians game, a Columbus Clippers game (Champions!) and many many Ohio State football (Champions!) games both at home and on the road.

    TV? Tennis, Golf, F1, EPL, Bundesliga, Champions League, NCAA Basketball, NBA/Cavs….it probably goes on forever.

    The guys on trackside don’t really sound like they know what they are talking about.

    • After reading and watching them for years here in Indianapolis and after being a co-host of Trackside (May 27, 2014) I can tell you with certainty one of them does and one of them is a Johnny-come-lately. I’ll let you figure out who is who.

      That doesn’t mean I dislike either of them, it’s just that, well I’ve already said it now, haven’t I?

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