Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Interlagos, 2018

IndyCar CEO says Alonso’s Indy 500 return is boosting its global push


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Fernando Alonso’s return to the Indianapolis 500 next year is helping the American championship broaden its appeal worldwide, according to CEO Mark Miles.

The championship has “got some momentum” in expanding its reach beyond the US market, Miles said in an interview for the Marshal Pruett Podcast.

“Alonso coming back for the 500 in 2019 is terrific,” he said. “It keeps the focus beyond Spain, around the world, it makes IndyCar topical, not just the 500. And that’s great. And I think that leads to more growth, more relevance, more investment from international sources all the time.”

Miles said the championship is “getting more international team owners, more international drivers, while keeping a great foundation of American drivers and obviously team owners.”

“I think having one or two international races that are successful and in key markets will be very important in contributing,” he added.

He and other series bosses travelled to Australia in November to meet Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who expressed an interest in reviving the championship’s Gold Coast street race following Will Power’s success in the series.

“She was terrific,” said Miles. “She has a first-hand, vivid recollection of how cool IndyCar racing is and was back then.”

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CART IndyCar, Surfers Paradise, 2002
CART IndyCars raced at Surfers Paradise
The ChampCar series regularly raced at the Surfers Paradise course until the series collapsed in 2007. IndyCar held a non-championship round the following year following its unification with ChampCar, but has not returned since. Australia’s popular Supercars series still races there.

Miles said Palaszczuk “has a belief that it could be that kind of huge attraction and great event important to the ongoing marketing of the Gold Coast region that is a priority for here.”

He believes “the spirit’s more than willing” to find a way to make the race happen. “The objective is to have sorted it all out so that by the end of February ’19, essentially a year before we’ll be there, we can have it all done and announce that we will be returning a year from then in February 2020.”

The championship has also taken control of its international media rights distribution which Miles said will help it create more tailored broadcast content for non-US markets.

“We decided rather than sell all of our international media rights to ESPN International and make them fully responsible for serving those international broadcasters as customers we took that business in-house. That’s one reason I’ve been so much on aeroplanes in the last few months.

“That gives us an opportunity to really know the international broadcast partners, our licensees, to work with them on how to give them content, access to drivers in their country, for example, creating bespoke video for them that’s particularly appealing to their fans. Those things are all part of a strategy to grow the value, grow the fan interest in the sport all the time.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “IndyCar CEO says Alonso’s Indy 500 return is boosting its global push”

  1. Alonso using IndyCar to do one thing only, fulfi his newfound interest in winning the triple crown, outside of that, he really doesn’t care about that category. So of course his presence will help boost its global push.

    1. I agree his presence will be a boost to IndyCar. Although ALO isn’t interested at this time, if certain things change, he and other top tier drivers may come knocking. Not Hamilton and Vettel obviously.

      For instance, if IndyCar starts racing in other countries such as Australia and Brazil, they will no doubt be running on road courses which would hopefully mean less of the dangerous ovals. That would make it more tempting for top tier drivers to join as not many want to roll the dice on their lives smashing into concrete at 230 mph.

      Although IndyCar will never compare to F1 technology wise, racing wise it is more competitive overall as more drivers have a shot at winning seeing as how the engines are more evenly matched and the chassis’ are the same.

      IndyCar has some other advantages over F1 – teams don’t have to spend hundreds of millions per year and fans don’t have to spend a weeks paycheck to take the family to the races.

    2. I think you’re wrong KGN, he definitely cares about IndyCar. He wanted to take some time off and do select races after leaving F1. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t go full time in IndyCar for the 2020 season.

  2. It might offer a short-time boost for IndyCar, but I don’t see them benefitting from that in a long run. It’s still new and exciting for many to see Alonso driving in Indy 500, but it’s not gonna last for eternity. WRC also gained boost when Kimi and Kubica competed in it, but I don’t think it had any long-lasting effects.

  3. Would be nice to see the continuation of Alonso’s efforts with other F1 drivers going there in the future. Hamilton going there would be equally awesome, putting him in contest with Alonso for the triple crown if he fancied doing Le Mans too.

    1. I really do hope Alonso will snatch it long before. Like next year or so.

  4. I always watch the 500 anyway, but I certainly was more enthralled with it last year. He was great to watch.

  5. Indy back at Surfers Paradise :) I really hope so, mid 90s Indy were great. Especially 93 watching big Nige do the business.

  6. Would be nice if IndyCar could step into the free-to-air void F1 has left in the UK…

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