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This is a crosspost from the Organizer's forum. I think many of the concepts in it pertain to the current discussions here in the USA forum, so I thought I'd throw it over here since not many of the folks discussing this stuff ever click on Organizers.

The whole discussion with its 38 replies can be found at:
http://www.specialstage.com/forum/cgi-bin/DCForumID11/50.html

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Originally posted 4-21-04

I wrote this tonight and was going to offer it up as an editorial. But I thought it might stimulate more useful discussion here.
Eric


A New Business Model

For the purpose of this editorial, let me spit out some general ideas that I would like to see happen in US rallying. Things that in my estimation, would serve our sport well. Who am I to spit them? I am the writer of this editorial. If your ideas are different, please feel free to spit them into an editorial of your own.

1)Organizers need to find a way to make rallies PROFITABLE for them. If it isn?t profitable, it is just a mess of headaches for someone who will eventually burn out. Furthermore, as things stand now, the rising costs of putting on events (and they are rising) will continue to be the onus of their primary source of income, the competitors.

2)They should make events profitable by the way that EVERY OTHER SPORT or event in the world does it?through spectators. Which means?

3)We need to get past our Love/Hate relationship with spectators.

Let?s take a break on that one for a while. You may be asking, ?How do we learn to embrace spectators? Why are they important in the first place? I thought TV would be the ticket?it gets the word out and keeps people out of the woods.?

Let me ask you this. Why do you think that drifting is the ?new big thing? in motorsport? Is it because it is immensely cooler than rallying or any other motorsport? No. Rather it is impossible for the auto manufacturers and aftermarket companies (and sunglass and sports drink and every other ?lifestyle? company) to ignore because at their first event they packed 10,000 fans into Irwindale Speedway. It is that and only that. You want the media to pay attention to you? Get 10,000 people to come to an event and have them be entertained and invite the media to come witness it on your first try. I guarantee you will not have a problem finding sponsors, TV or otherwise.

I saw it a few years ago with freestyle motocross. We used to say, ?Look at these idiots ruining our sport.? Well they proved that there is a niche and a market for what they do. They have managed to keep things fresh with new tricks and backflips, etc. and it is still very healthy. I don?t know what it will take to keep drifting fresh (backflips are hard on cars, so I?ve heard) but it may prove to have stay power, too.

So what do we do in the world of rallying? We need to take a lesson from every other type of sport and event in the world. We need to learn to promote.

Now the way I see it, our organizers are the lifeblood of our existence. They put more hours of work into more tasks than most of us can imagine. But it is my opinion that many of the organizers in this country have evolved with rallying from a time when it was a few friends getting together and running a fast TSD on Saturday and being home on Sunday with time to pick up the dog poo. Their task level since those days has grown immensely. I think event promotion is on the list of nearly every organizer?and is often carried out to some extent?but perhaps not as big as they would like due to 1) it is the first thing to fall off the table (you can run a rally without spectators, but can?t run one without FTCs) or 2) they wear a million hats already?and marketing communications is not their forte?or 3) they have no idea what to do with MASSES of spectators if they should come?so better safe than sorry.

?So what do you suggest, Lurch, ya big melonhead?? I hear you asking. Welp, I?ll tell you. Organizers should fall back on one of their most useful skills. Delegation. If I had my druthers, I?d love to see an organizer and a promoter working together to put on an event. The promoter would handle everything with regards to marketing communications, spectator management, ticket sales (yes, I said ?ticket?), etc. The organizer would take care of the mechanics of putting on the rally event. The two would have to come together and have a VERY SOLID UNDERSTANDING of the expectations of each party, especially with regards to safety. The promoter would have to work with the organizer to work out issues such as traffic management near spectator areas to reduce rally/spectator traffic. The promoter (and his officers) would have to understand and strictly adhere to the new spectator standards, etc.

Controlling access is a prerequisite for spectator areas now, anyway. Have someone selling event spectator bracelets at those areas and collect that revenue. If they wander or freelance, they lose their bracelet.

At the end of the weekend, the promoter and organizer pay their expenses and split the rest. How it gets distributed past that is up to them. I don?t think charging admission for ANY sporting event is out of line if the spectator areas are worthwhile, provide good viewing, and the spectator gets a good show for their money. Considering the cost of a movie or a night at the local dirt track, I would think this is perfectly acceptable. With actual revenue, maybe additional services can be provided like rest rooms, shuttle busses, concessions, etc.

I would think if we could get 5000 spectators at $10 a pop and brought in $50,000, it would go quite a ways for most events. But it would have to be a show that the spectators would go away from feeling they got their money?s worth so that it grows at the next one and generates a positive buzz that will echo throughout the motorsport community in general.

Who, specifically, can fill this role? I would think immediately of local track promoters. If a track is in business very long, they must know how to do something right. Furthermore, they are already aware of safety issues and liability. Beyond that, perhaps a promoter or production company that puts on car shows in the nearest metropolis area. They may be able to bring in a car show in conjunction with the event and bring in more spectators (car show costs an entry fee, too?and then give ?em a 50% discount on a spectator bracelet).

Beyond spectators, there are lots of things that can be marketed at a rally. Signage space, ground space for corporate displays, etc. And we haven?t even touched on how many t-shirts you can sell when you have a monstrous audience and a few well-designed patterns.

It should be noted that some organizers are taking big strides down this path and others. Most apparent to me, Ray Hocker and Rim of the World sticks out as doing a lot of these things. I don?t know how many organizers are in contact with each other?I suspect most are. As the organizers are in different geographic markets entirely, it is not so much competition as an investment to share ideas. As the individual rallies progress, the whole championship gains value.

I can only dream of a day when rally organizers are able to make organizing profitable to the point that it supports them like the full time job that it is, spectators are happy with a great show and come in multitudes to a safe and well presented event, TV can?t afford to ignore us because we are the biggest motorsport activity that weekend, corporate sponsors are tripping over themselves to be involved at some level, and competitors can expect to enjoy a fair competition and maybe even look forward to a purse of some sort as well as support from sponsors.

It could happen in no time. Or it could never happen. The choice is up to us.

Anyway, that?s my opinion. It?s not so much a criticism as a revelation. I think that organizers are super humans. In some ways, I can?t wait to retire from driving/team management so that I can take on the challenge of becoming an event organizer. Or promoter.

Partially because I don?t want to sound like a hypocrite who has never organized a rally telling people what to do?and mostly because I want to?I am willing to help organizers with the production of marketing and presentation materials and would hope this starts an open discussion about event promotion ideas that the whole organizing community can learn from.

Flame away.

Eric
 

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Well said, Eric.
A serious issue is do we want spectators or not. I vote FOR spectators. It opens so many doors for expansion of our sport.

We need organisers and promotors. Both should make money. If they made money it's easier to be generous and add extras. We need a Mickey Thompson type to come out of/into the woods.

I think a stadium series would be great for rallying. Mickey T's stadium truck series brought a lot of exposure to off-road racing. It did not hurt off-roading by pulling away racers. Stadiums also offer the ability to do a true entry level class. Rim may be onto something good, I hope.

And the Specials. Some of the things I remember fondly as both a competitor and a spectator were...St, Martins...the Olympia stage by the capital bldg...the thru the hotel start and finish in Kamloops (T-Bird), Tenino and Aberdeen in town stages...etc.
The Specials may not affect scores much, but they help define an event. For these I will readily show up as a spectator.

There is also some business opportunity here. Currently most spectators are fairly hard core rally types. We would need to include mom's and dad's with kidlets in tow, out to break up the routine for a few hours Taco's, cold drinks and portapoties would be welcomed in the woods. How about a bus tour that includes a stage or two. I can talk a long time about the history, geology and culture of my part of the world. Add some rally history and driver bios with a few "stories" and the bus could be an event for some folks.

Some good stuff has come out in SS the last few days.

I still like the reverse start. Cars are a minute apart, there would not be much passing. Or just reverse the seed start. Seed 8 cars on the road first. This way they don't have a torn up road and may be able to advance a bit quicker. Seed one cars last also gives a climactic ending. No jaded feelings after a few fast cars.

RCF
I'll be at WW. I'm the balding fat man. WAVE
 

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A new business model Euro Rally Cross

We have a chance to do a Mickey Thompson type series down here in Texas. We have a promotor that wants to do European style rally cross. Who else is interested? And how many jumps per lap are you willing to do? And who wants to do wheel to wheel racing?
Richard Miller
 

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Lurch,

Your biz idea is new to some in rally in the US, but not new at all for autosports.....which you clearly know. Sounds like any track operating principle: let's dig an oval and make money. Not all make it, but some do.

This does not fit SCCA IMHO. I can't see SCCA doing this well, as in all their Pro series, they are not the promoters and track operators (they are the umbrella sanctioning body) or they get overly focused in creating a product (Spec Miata, etc.) and trying to make dough on selling that to competitors or others. And, the Club part of SCCA is one of the things we have been fighting about over the past few years; is this a pro sport or a club sport??

One thing to keep in mind: This will have an effect on efforts to open more National Forest road access, and could effect use of state roads like the Tioga Forest for STPR, and Sandhills SF in SC. National Forest access for spectators is a real difficulty, and erecting locations for them in a NF is a BIIIIG problem; a similar problem can effect a State Froest. I don't think you have been heavily involved in the Cherokee Trail events in TN, but some progress on resolution of this issue has been made there.

I think that folks should pay a bit more attention to the view of rallying being taken by those orgainzing the ESRC; it is much closer this idea than you may realize.

And, yes, profit should not be a dirty word in rallying. But, we also need to walk that fine line in keeping a good venue open for the hobby racer.

Regards,
Mark B.
 

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Hey Organizers, how much dough?

Did I get any organizers' attention? IF I have it...
How much would an event be looking for from a prospective sponsor.

Seriously.

I had a business owner ask me that very question recently while discussing an amount for sponsoring a full PGT Pro championship onslaught(ha! YES with ME driving) . He asked "How much to be the main sponsor for an event like LSPR and have my company's name all over it?". I had no idea what to tell him. I said that pretty much ANYTHING would be considered, but that doesnt cut it with a real business person. There needs to be definition well beyond "we'll take anything". $5k? $10k? $20k?

Can someone(preferrably LSPR or Sno*Drift or Cadillac rally organizers) contact me regarding this? Email is fine if you'd rather not broadcast it. jcirisan AT faac DOT com.

Thanx-
JC
#595
www.rally-tv.com
www.gnimotorsports.com

crossposted from the orgzanizers forum
:)
 

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> I can't see SCCA doing this
>well, as in all their Pro series, they are not the promoters
>and track operators (they are the umbrella sanctioning body)
>or they get overly focused in creating a product (Spec
>Miata, etc.) snips front and back

Mark, you don't keep up with the racers much do you? :) The spec Miata people have accused SCCA of trying to keep them out.
Richard
 

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Accomodating spectators should not be a problem in the National Forests as their mission statement is based on multiple use of which rally (with spectators) is an acceptable part - what you may have to overcome is the wrong impression others may have that will lead them to fight you such as what happened in WV this year. I am a spectator - I love rally and truly aspire to run a car - but with my current job it would just not work out - but I travel to as many events as possible to spectate and shoot photos/video when I can. I would be happy to pay something for spectating - just make sure that the spectator spots are good and exciting - and I am not talking about letting people wander in the road or anything - safety first but use some common sense. I have to say that being confined to one spectator area a day and being confined to a bus with their timetable and the usual suspects holds no appeal to me at all.

Look at Pikes Peak for an example of what you can do in a National Forest with a mob of spectators - the land is owned by Uncle Sam who has granted a concession to the toll road.
 

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the thing is, while you may not be intersted in riding on a bus there are some who may. if it were a family oriented bus (no booze)i would be all over it. hit 2 or 3 stages and not have to worry about traffic and i could pay better attention to my kids while travelling. but as soon as they are older i would probably go it alone again.
 

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With respect (really), I am willing to bet some dough that the concesscion allows the road operators to have control over access to the road, conduct negotiated activites within the right-of-way (with the Hill Climb being one of those activities), and are allowed to collect fees for their services. That is the nature of a concession on government owned property, like a restaurant in a municipally owned airport.

NF road use permissions are explicit permissions to use roads for a specific time period, with specified activities only in the time period. It is not at all like a concession, which is long term for the duration of the concession period, like a lease.

My point is that I have taken some time to pause over the idea of getting a NF road use permit approved, with any idea that it is a for-profit deal, particularly for spectating on the NF roads. It would probably be an acceptable idea to collect dough to cover cost of NF law enforcement manpower, but to make a profit?? And can you imagine the increased difficulty in overcoming the objections of environmental groups and other forst use groups with whom we may conflict if one did this for profit??

I am suggesting that this venue may not be a viable for a profit venture in rally promotions.

Regards,
Mark B.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
>This does not fit SCCA IMHO. I can't see SCCA doing this
>well, as in all their Pro series, they are not the promoters
>and track operators <snip>

>I think that folks should pay a bit more attention to the
>view of rallying being taken by those orgainzing the ESRC;
>it is much closer this idea than you may realize.

As I said in the other forum, I don't recall specifying any sanctioning body in my diatribe. I believe that the organization who embraces a biz type plan will be the one to watch...if their other organizational ducks are in a row.

>And, yes, profit should not be a dirty word in rallying.
>But, we also need to walk that fine line in keeping a good
>venue open for the hobby racer.

Absolutely agreed, Mark. I look at this as a stepping stone to a better rally environment for all of us.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Dad was an SCCA member from around 1960 when he started road racing til he stopped around 1973. Didn't rejoin till '95 when we went to Sawmill to learn about this rally thing from the inside of a car. While we were around the rallies spectating through the NARRA years, I know very little about it.

Storytime? :)

Eric
 
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