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V8 Supercars: A Crossover Hit in America

SPEED’s first ever live coverage of this year’s Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercar race recently introduced Americans to an exciting and competitive racing series abroad, while showcasing a stock car series that has great appeal with NASCAR and F1 fans alike.  In a country where NASCAR dominates motorsport headlines and broadcasts, V8 Supercars are positioned well between these two groups of fans in the US and make for plenty of new connections and conversation between them.

To cover the race, SPEED sent over NASCAR ambassador Darrell Waltrip to Australia, and their decision to do so was well rewarded before the race even began.  The stock car champion took the passenger seat for a hot lap around the 3.9 mile circuit in the right hand drive Holden of Jason Bright, an Australian who competed against Mark Webber in Formula Ford early in his career:

Darrell Waltrip on the ride of his life around Mount Panorama

In this video, if DW’s eyes didn’t tell the story of the ride in a V8 Supercar, his commentary did, and what he said certainly wouldn’t remind anyone of a race he called recently.  For fans of Formula 1, it was refreshing to see someone used to ovals experience the twists and hills normally associated with a grand prix circuit.

Back in the announcer booth, Waltrip’s familiar “Boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing boys!” was on cue at the beginning of the race, although this time from a standing start.  It was great to hear DW get into his familiar rhythm calling the race, pointing out the different sponsors (even explaining what a ‘fair dinkum’ was), while talking about stock cars equipped with real time telemetry, center lock wheel nuts and wet racing tires – all familiar to fans of Formula 1.

Even if cars with fenders didn’t look familiar to open wheel racing purists, the liveries on them did, and Team Vodafone stood out as a familiar sponsor logo throughout the race.  Earlier this year, Team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button took the MP4/23 out on track to set a new course record and swapped cars with driver Craig Lowndes for an event similar to the Mobil 1 seat swap held this year with Tony Stewart and Lewis Hamilton.

Onboard with Jenson Button around Mount Panorama

This year’s race started ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, which many F1 fans in the US watched live, and due to the 1000’s late finish, Americans tuning in for the start at Suzuka caught a dramatic race to the finish line.  Not a bad introduction to the US as the V8 Supercar series gears up to visit the purpose built F1 track at Circuit of the Americas in 2013.

V8 Supercars are a great show for all fans of racing, and the next race takes place this weekend with drivers from F1, NASCAR, Indycar, Le Mans and other series competing at Australia’s Gold Coast, and will be shown live this Saturday evening on SPEED.

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Filed under American F1 circuits, Circuit of the Americas, Events, F1 and branding, F1 and business, F1 broadcasting in America, linkedin, NASCAR, Uncategorized, V8 Supercar

A New F1 Audience in America


The Cahier Archive


As part of SPEED’s coverage of Formula 1 in the United States, four races this year will be going to FOX and their affiliates, who can and do make programming decisions that affect the sport’s coverage in certain markets.  Their extended coverage of this year’s Canadian Grand Prix is appreciated by Formula 1 fans across the country, for a race that took the honor of being the longest in Formula 1 history.  Having put together over 100 viewing events with our local F1 group here in San Francisco with dozens of them shown on FOX, I can say from firsthand experience it’s not always a sure thing to have a scheduled race shown on the affiliate in our local market.

The nature of this year’s race with several gaps in action due to rain and crashes made for an epic event, especially for those who stayed on to the finish.  In a country where commercial advertising makes for several natural breaks during a race, the red flags and soaked track in Canada this year created a different kind of opportunity for fans.  Viewers normally worried about missing a return to racing after a regular commercial break took the opportunity during the extended rain delays to jump to laptop or mobile device to contribute to a growing conversation on twitter.  Fans were talking about not only the race so far, but also weather forecasts, who was at the race, and even something I was interested in:  How was everyone getting on with their television coverage on FOX?  I was almost certain part or all of the US would jump to a local sports team on their local affiliate at some point before the severely delayed race was over.

The rain delays also afforded a great opportunity for the SPEED team to engage with the many fans tweeting about the coverage, and during the fill that many broadcasters need to create during an extended break in action it was refreshing to see SPEED taking requests via twitter for highlight footage to be shown during the red flags.  Giving the broadcast the ability to sample the stream of feedback from viewers happening live once again showed the opportunity for much greater Formula 1 fan engagement with a new kind of racing fan, one that is connected, engaged, and is contributing to the experience everyone viewing and tweeting is having.

That said, there’s nothing like a live broadcast at a reasonable hour to make it possible for fans and event to come together in a much more spontaneous way as part of the total experience.  The opportunities in front of a the American Formula 1 audience this weekend weren’t lost on the celebrities tweeting about the race, from rapper Ice-T (in attendance) to gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, and next year in Austin will only create more opportunities for fans, brands, and racing to come together with something altogether different: A purpose built facility at Circuit of the Americas and a little Texas charm.

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Filed under American F1 circuits, American F1 Events, American F1 Fans, brand strategy in F1, Circuit of the Americas, F1 and branding, F1 and business, F1 and Hollywood, F1 and Social Media, F1 and technology, F1 broadcasters, F1 broadcasting in America, F1 in America, United States Grand Prix, United States Grand Prix in Austin