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Finbar O'Neill got it just about right: "You and three bears."
(Markku Alen said a similar thing about Olympus Rally - a round of FIA World Rally Championhip.)

A handful of enthusiasts in the woods that show at most US rallies does not count for any business, automotive or non-automotive, that must market its products or services to millions of Americans in order to survive. The same goes for TV coverage.

Let us admit it: This is the legacy of the way US rallying has been publicized, marketed and managed for decades while rallying in the rest of the world grew over the same period to be one of the most popular spectator sports.

Not so long ago, official press releases of a sanctioning body used to start with: "Even though rallying in the United States will never ......" and luminaries of US rallying went on the record saying that the conditions in the United States were not suitable for rallying.

I happen to believe that we have an excellent opportunity and suitable conditions for rapid and massive expansion of the sport of rallying in the United States. In order to achieve that, the sport must be publicized, marketed and managed properly.
 

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which is exactly why mr o'neills comments need to be responded to. i dont think his comments was all that accurate at all. yes it is not as popular here and is not as much of a marketing tool. but you know what? mitsu took no advantage of a great opportunity. granted its not their job to promote the sport but it is their job to promote a product. we on this board are preaching to the choir. what have you (all of you) done to promote the sport?
 

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Someone get O'Neill out to Hungry 5 at Sno*Drift next year.

I don't think people are taking offense at what he said, more the fact that he probably said it without REALLY having any experience of spectating at a rally. It's all very well to say "you and 3 bears" if, in fact, that is a real experience you have had. If you're just guessing, sitting in your plush SoCal office, you have no right to make generalized comments like that.
 

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i was chased by deer once while bannering at OFPR 2 years ago. does that count for anything? i am not offended i just want to make sure he is corrected in an equally public forum. and i too wish mitsu the best of luck w/thier massive debt and hope they have a successfull return to rally in the U.S. untill then the bears are sure going to be lonely!
 

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Rally in Britain and elsewhere didn't get a big marketing presence because it's a great grassroots sport. It got there because David Richards developed it and there have been several manufacturers willing to stay in it for the long haul. Whether that continues, who knows? The WRC, like F1, is kinda topheavy right now, but that has nothing to do with ProDrive. The FIA top brass exists outside the known universe. Their rate of success with tweaking their series seems kinda random.

The Hyundai and Mitsubishi rally efforts in the USA have been trying to get something for nothing. A team of two or three cars is nothing. Joe Privateer, if he has deep pockets, can embarrass you at will. To make sense, it takes a well managed effort where the race operations make up a minority of the budget. The success of the program should not be too closely tied to the success of a high-dollar effort.

I would argue that as much as Subaru has done to promote rally in the US, they still didn't have it right as late as last year. Their current strategy moving solely to contingency payouts and helping out the clubs is a solid step in this direction, but will take a sharp mind to get the kind of results ProDrive got in Europe.

I think David Richards is too old to clone. The copy would probably be a bit sun-damaged.

As far as the grassroots of the club goes, things are fine. The SCCA rally folks are more operations-minded than they have been in the past and that is exactly what we need to keep people happy. Spectacular growth will only happen with external input, along the line of what Doug Havir is trying to do. Rally America is working, but they haven't really hit their stride. They spend a lot of time working on their racecars. I'm not trying to criticize, I'm just saying that I personally wouldn't be able to wear a yellow team shirt one day and a red RA shirt the next and feel like I was able to do a good job. All of Doug's folks are professionals, but they have a lot to do in two divergent activities.

andy
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Viva la ProleRalliat!
 

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David Richards

David Richards is the reason WRC has turned into small sprints and the "clover leaf" stage design from the "service park". These situations have caused the spectators problems which have led to stage delays and stage's to be cancelled. The motivation for this format is nothing more then David Richards own pocket book. The WRC cars which are very fast and glued to the stage have nothing to do with road cars, these cars are more a kin to what NASCAR's are to road cars. We the consumer are the loosers here and WRC rally is nothing more then glorified spec cars and engineering excersises.

David Richards has not help rally and if one reads his vision of rally one will see the Kurt Spitzner was a David Richards follower.
:+
 

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Some ideas for market targets:
- Forget the car manufacturers for a while; a marketing investment for them only makes sense if they make notable sales gains. Who is the 'significant' car-buying market segment that is going to buy cars based on watching a rally? Anyhow, the manufacturers in US stock-bodied racing have been notorious fractious and unreliable sponsors for the past 50 years.
- Who is the probable target market? The 'tuners', the 'drifters', and so on. They are the cash engine to tap into. But by what channel? The companies selling products to these guys and gals. So, it seems like the real exercise to get some cash flowing into teams is to concieve of how to get the manufaturers of tuner parts to sponosr your car. Not an easy sell; lowering kits are not exactly the right way to enhace rallly car performance. But there has to be a way.
- Form the organizer side, I can't see a ready target market and revenue source, unless it is the competitors. But somethings's probably there; I just can't imagine it.

Mark B.
 

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RE: David Richards

> David Richards is the reason WRC has turned into small
>sprints and the "clover leaf" stage design from the "service
>park". These situations have caused the spectators problems
>which have led to stage delays and stage's to be cancelled.
>The motivation for this format is nothing more then David
>Richards own pocket book. The WRC cars which are very fast
>and glued to the stage have nothing to do with road cars,
>these cars are more a kin to what NASCAR's are to road cars.
> We the consumer are the loosers here and WRC rally is
>nothing more then glorified spec cars and engineering
>excersises.
>
> David Richards has not help rally and if one reads his
>vision of rally one will see the Kurt Spitzner was a David
>Richards follower.
>:+

You can't lay the blame completely on David Richards. If you watched what was happening to the WRC in the last decade, a lot of the blame falls on the FIA, primarily in the person of Max Mosley.

If you watched Group C racing in the 80's, you saw the same sort of thing happening, although they took less than a decade to kill that...

Adrian
 

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Surface Glitter

I got a ride in Laughlin's 'merican spec Open-class car on the OTPR practices stage last Wednesday. It reminded me more of the Caterpillar D47U I drove as a kid logging our ranch than it did of any street car I've driven or ridden in. Any well-set-up rally car has little in common with factory hardware, even P/PGT. With reengineered suspension and rumpity exhaust they drive very differently. They don't pass DEQ. You can't fit humans in the back seat. You can't hardly fit humans in the _front_ seat. Ever hear of a healthy person getting heatstroke in a street car just driving around on a hot day?

Your point regarding the super specials and the WRC's spectator overload is taken, but I don't see how it makes it not-worthwhile-motorsport. I also don't see how it makes the WRC not-rally. My point is that if a car company or large promotion company wants to get something out of official participation in a motorsport, they need to think beyond their logo and color scheme on one or two cars.

Super specials and massive crowds at the single WRC event don't significantly affect the health of club rally in Britain for people who would want to participate anyway. When talking about National rallies in the US, they will never make up a majority percentage of the rallies run. Club rally is safe from the grasping hand of the evil billionaires or whatever the current conspiracy theory is, and will always be so. As happened with the NASA effort, there will always be folks willing to create somewhere else to go, keeping club rally alive, despite shifting politics.

A high visibility series will only come about through the single-minded dedication of a few individuals that exercise exceptional development skills and command sufficient resources. Nothing else will get it going.

If a corporate commander like Finbar O'Neill only looks at the surface glitter and judges our sport according to that, that is his loss, not ours. It merely points out the weakness of Mitsu's position in the market and their desperately tight ad budget. There is nothing for us to mourn in losing their participation. We gain some from Subaru's dedicated participation, but if Subaru dumped us as well, we would find ways to keep our roads and have our events. The same faces would show up.

andy
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Viva la ProleRalliat!
 

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RE: Tuner Market

There is other ways than just lowering springs. Those same companies can make rally springs and rally dampers. Also, look at ebay and how many roof scoops and hood vents you will see on there. Then you can get into the performance parts: turbos, exhaust, pistons, cams, pulleys, shift kits, and on and on. Safety in belts, seats, cages. The tuner market is far more vast than that.
 
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