A Shot Across the Bow

Although some may vehemently disagree with me (including my wife), I really don’t like beating a dead horse to death. I like to think I have my say (or rant) on a topic and then move on. Every now and then I will re-visit a topic a time or two, but I think I tend to make my point about something and then drop it. Somewhere, some of my family members are spewing out their coffee about now.

Since we are on the topic of re-visiting things, this topic goes back to one from a couple of weeks ago – the price hike at Iowa for next year’s race weekend. No, I’m not going to get into exorbitant price hike again. Even though a small number of fans claim their Iowa tickets actually went down in price for 2023, most fans experienced a huge increase, compare to last July.

But that subject was beaten to death here and elsewhere in the IndyCar community. I was content to let the subject die down, until yesterday.

That’s when I was eating my delicious lunch at work – a Boston Market frozen delight, which consisted of some type of mystery meat and what I think were mashed potatoes. The only thing that salvaged lunch was the cold Coke I was drinking with some Christmas peanut-brittle given to me by a co-worker.

I was flipping through Twitter on my phone as I consumed the microwave delectable, when I spotted something that I saw as a direct shot at the situation at Iowa. World Wide Technology Raceway (WWTR) sent out the following tweet that I interpreted as more than coincidental.


Reading between the lines, how this came across to me was…Do you live in the Midwest and want to see IndyCar oval racing that you can actually afford? Come to Gateway for a fraction of what you would spend at Iowa. At least that’s how I saw it.

Granted, these aren’t going to be the best seats in the house, but I’ve been all over the grandstands at WWTR and I can say there are few bad seats. These most likely come with no seat backs, and they are probably down lower than most experienced fans want to sit – but if you have a family of four and want to see some good racing, this price is hard to beat.

The concession area behind the main grandstand at WWTR is pretty special. If your four hot dogs and sodas that are included with the package aren’t enough to fill your family up, there is a boat load of choices down there that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters in your family. It also includes two programs. If you are with your family, that’s one for each adult. If you are two couples, each couple gets a free program. If you are four buddies going together – well, you’re going to have to fight over them.

Personally, I think this is a heck of a deal. When my kids were young, I could not have afforded to take my family of four to Iowa (plus, there would be no way to convince my then-wife even if we could afford it). When looking at this deal that was tweeted out on Thursday, I’m thinking that most people would find this to be an affordable outing – especially comparing it to Iowa’s new price structure.

I checked Ticketmaster and saw that the same family would pay $344 for the pleasure to watch the Houston Texans play at the Tennessee Titans on Christmas Eve; counting four of the cheapest tickets, four hot dogs & Cokes and two programs. That’s way more than double the price at Gateway to get to watch two bad football teams slug it out in the freezing cold, on a day when most people would prefer to be warm by the fire with family and friends, drinking eggnog (or the much more traditional holiday drink of southerners – boiled custard).

This tweet was not a coincidence. It’s either a very brilliant marketing strategy, or at the very least – a shot across the bow at Iowa. Unless things change at Iowa (which it does not appear that they will), it will be more of a music festival with a couple of races thrown in, while WWTR will be a festival of nothing but…well, racing.

Thanks to the good folks at World Wife Technology Raceway for remembering the racing fan on a budget. You can come up with the most exotic marketing plan on the planet to describe how young fans will be courted through teen-oriented platforms and other hip ideas. Do you want to know what I think is the best way to get new and young fans interested? It’s when their parents can take them to the track at a very young age, that’s how. Creating budget-focused packages that young families can afford is a great way to make racing affordable to the demographic that is sometimes very strapped for cash.

That’s my marketing plan for 2023 – get ‘em to the track while they’re young.

George Phillips

9 Responses to “A Shot Across the Bow”

  1. Was looking for a reason to winge to prove my Indycar fan credentials and could not find one and then suddenly there is was right in front of me. I hate frankfurters !

    On a serious note, I totally agree, get ’em to the track young.

  2. While it’s nice to see an affordable price here from Gateway, they are not free from scorn either. Two years ago, my oldest son and I showed up on race day and enjoyed $20 general admission seats in the Turn 1/2 grandstands. Seriously fantastic seats (that we actually liked WAY better than the mainstraight grandstands). Last year, those $20 GA tickets were gone, replaced by only reserved seating in that area at the hefty price of $80 per person. For those keeping score at home, that’s a 300% increase. We passed, stayed home, and watched it on TV. Given that it wasn’t even a night race last year, we still had some evening left at home afterwards rather than the 3-hour drive (each way) with the infamous Illinois $4-5/gal gas prices.

  3. That’s an incredible deal! I’ve had a similar deal at TMS in the past. Two tickets and two hot dogs for a decent price. If I remember correctly it was $60. I may have to support the Gateway race.

  4. Regarding Starting out the youth – Road America kids are free

  5. Interesting article on Forbes.com also posted on Twitter written by Bruce Martin@Bruce Martin@Bruce Martin_500 about the IndyCar HyVee ImdyCar weekend. It’s an event not just a car race and ticket prices represent the cost of the entertainment. I am afraid IndyCar is doomed if tracks follow this marketing strategy

  6. Bruce Waine Says:

    Not to nit pick …… But the old catch their attention advertising ploy……$133 (got your attention ?) ,…

    Yes, but we also add …… “Standard Fees” …….

    The $133 caught your attention so why not also include a visible accounting ‘up front’ of the “Standard Fees.”

    So the package deal is NOT $133…………

    Imagine that when the Standard Fees are added to the $133, the total would beat Iowa for the equivalent items included in the WWT package.

  7. James T Suel Says:

    Gateway has it right. This should help the crowd there . Finally someone with a promotional brain.

  8. billytheskink Says:

    Shot at Iowa or not, seems like a pretty good promotion coming out of Gateway and I hope it helps fill some seats.

    That said, I can appreciate that there is a tight rope for Indycar and the tracks to walk when it comes to ticket prices. “Great seats still available” should and generally does mean pretty low prices for a “major” event… but there remains a floor for ticket prices because it still costs money to put these events on (a good bit more than just a few years ago too, to be honest). I don’t envy the folks trying to find the pricing (avoiding the term “price point” for George’s sake) that makes sense for these races when they have to balance high inflation’s effects on the costs associated with the event as well as it’s tremendous effect on fans’ spending power.

  9. in my marketing life it has usually been a see-saw between price and profit. how much more gets how much more? F1 has gone ballistic, and NASCAR has gone hybrid. now Indycar has
    set the stage for a shoot-out. Iowa vs. WWTR.
    yes, science. prove the theory.

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