Michigan International Speedway names first 8 members of Youth Fan Advisory Board

Leave a comment

NASCAR knows that youth are its future, where new fans and new drivers will come from. That’s why the sanctioning body has become so proactive in trying to attract more youthful fans.

Borrowing a page from NASCAR’s playbook, Michigan International Speedway is doing the same.

While MIS and several other tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit have fan advisory boards or panels that are made up of adults, MIS is taking things a little further, announcing on Thursday the first eight members of its Youth Fan Advisory Board.

It’s the real deal: track officials will solicit input from the YFAB’s eight teen members from the Midwest and Canada to assist in future planning for the track.

“Engaging and attracting youth is critical for NASCAR, our sport and MIS,” MIS president Roger Curtis said in a statement. “We want to learn what and how to do more for the young race fans who come to our events.

“It is important to us that we maintain an open line of communication with all our guests; guests of all ages, as we strive to make their trip to the track memorable each time. The Youth FAB allows us to talk with youth and gather ideas to improve their fan experience.”

The eight YFAB members are: Daniel Bell, 16 years old, Meadville, Pa.; Katie Browning and Andrew Gillon, both 14 and both from Wyandotte, Mich.,; Kathleen Cassidy, 18, Gulford, Ontario, Canada; Nick Molina, 17, Troy, Mo.; Adam Oelrichs, 14, Sterling, Ill.; Veronica Shoemaker, 16, Livonia, Mich. and Chase Winter, 15, Cass City, Mich.

“I was interested in the Youth Fan Advisory Board just for the fact how much MIS gets involved with fans and how they always give back,” Cassidy said. “I wanted to be part of that and not only make a difference for youth, but fans in general who come to the track.”

Cassidy has been coming to the track for 11 years, with her most memorable moment coming last year.

“My favorite memory was last year when Roger (MIS President Roger Curtis) stopped in our campsite and he gave me a Fan Appreciation gift to follow an MRN (Motor Racing Network) reporter for the Sunday race,” she said. “I got to interview my favorite driver, which is Brad Keselowski.”

Gillon looks forward to making youngsters and teens new fans of MIS.

“The Youth FAB is interesting and it is a good opportunity for kids our age to help MIS out,” he said. “Plus, we can have a fun time with it. I am really looking forward to helping MIS get better as a track and make it better than it already is.”

The Youth Fan Advisory Board is patterned after the track’s adult Fan Advisory Board, which began in 2008.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Street race in Vietnam could lead Formula One’s Asia expansion

Formula One logo
Leave a comment

TOKYO (AP) — Formula One is expected to add more races in Asia, including a street circuit in the capital of Vietnam, a country with little auto racing history that is on the verge of getting a marquee event.

“We think Hanoi could come on in the next couple of years, and we’re working with the Hanoi government to that end,” Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, told the Associated Press.

There is even speculation it could be on the schedule next season, which Bratches rebuffed.

Vietnam would join countries like Azerbaijan, Russia and Bahrain, which have Grand Prix races, little history in the sport, and authoritarian governments with deep pockets that serve F1 as it tries to expand into new markets.

“This (Hanoi) is a street race where we can go downtown, where we can activate a large fan base,” Bratches said. “And you have extraordinary iconography from a television standpoint.”

A second race in China is also likely and would join Shanghai on the F1 calendar. Bratches said deciding where to stage the GP will “be left to local Chinese partners” – Beijing is a strong candidate.

Bratches runs the commercial side of Formula One, which was acquired last year by U.S.-based Liberty Media from long-time operator Bernie Ecclestone.

Formula One’s long-term goal is to have 24-25 races – up from the present 21 – and arrange them in three geographical segments: Asia, Europe and the Americas. Bratches said the Europe-based races would stay in middle of the calendar, with Asia or the Americas opening or ending the season.

He said their positioning had not been decided, and getting this done will be slowed by current contracts that mandate specific places on the calendar for several races. This means eventually that all the races in Asia would be run together, as would races in Europe and the Americas.

The F1 schedule is now an inefficient jumble, allowing Bratches to take a good-natured poke at how the sport was run under Ecclestone.

“We’ve acquired an undermanaged asset that’s 67-years-old, but effectively a start-up,” Bratches said.

Early-season races in Australia and China this year were conducted either side of a trip to Bahrain in the Middle East. Late in the season Formula One returns to Asia with races in Japan and Singapore.

The Canadian GP this season is run in the middle of the European swing, separated by four months from the other races in the Americas – the United States, Mexico and Brazil. These three are followed by the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, which means another trip across the globe.

“With the right economics, with the right structure and cadence of events across territories, 24 or 25 is probably where we’d like to be from a longer-term standpoint,” Bratches said.

Big changes are not likely to happen until the 2020 season ends. This is when many current rules and contracts expire as F1’s new owners try to redistribute some income to allow smaller teams to compete.

“There’s more interest than we have capacity in the schedule,” Bratches said, firing off Berlin, Paris or London as potentially attractive venues. “We want to be very selective.”

“Those cites from an economic impact standpoint would find us value, as do others around the world,” Bratches added. “It’s very important for us as we move forward to go to locations that are a credit to the Formula One brand.”

An expanded schedule would have to be approved by the teams, which will be stretched by the travel and the wear-and-tear on their crews. The burden will fall on the smaller teams, which have significantly smaller revenue compared with Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull.

Bratches also envisions another race in the U.S., joining the United States Grand Prix held annually in Austin, Texas. A street race in Miami is a strong candidate, as are possible venues like Las Vegas or New York.

“We see the United States and China as countries that could support two races,” he said.

Liberty Media has reported Formula One’s total annual revenue at $1.8 billion, generated by fees paid by promoters, broadcast rights, advertising and sponsorship. Race promotion fees also tend to be higher in Asia, which makes the area attractive – along with a largely untapped fan base.

In a four-year cycle, F1 generates more revenue than FIFA or the International Olympic Committee, which rely almost entirely on one-time showcase events.

Reports suggest Vietnamese promoters may pay between $50-60 million annually as a race fee, with those fees paid by the government. Bratches said 19 of 21 Formula One races are supported by government payments.

“The race promotion fee being derived from the government … is a model that has worked historically,” Bratches said.