Motorsports occasionally needs to discover new ways to be relevant, and Nissan premiering its new LMP1 car – the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO – during Super Bowl XLIX should be a hugely smart move in that quest.
Consider what the Nissan will be racing in, and the brand exposure from being part of the Super Bowl will likely be its biggest splash, motorsports-wise, in the U.S. market this year.
While both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Indianapolis 500 are marquee events, neither the FIA World Endurance Championship nor Verizon IndyCar Series are on the level of prominence or national awareness in this country as NASCAR is. It pains me to write as an unabashed fan and reporter of open-wheel and sports car racing, but it’s also the truth.
So from that standpoint, anything that exposes sports car racing to a wider market that hits tens of millions of potential viewers – rather than the tens of thousands of hardcore followers – is a massive achievement.
Meanwhile the story of Nissan’s LMP1 car coming to public view seems to have been a story in and of itself, almost more than the car specifications.
From stories out last night, it appears as though several insiders were able to see the car at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas last fall, but the car’s public identity itself remained a secret. Later on in 2014 Jalopnik released both a rendering of the car, then spy shots from COTA.
While those respective hits raised awareness and intrigue among the hardcore motorsports aficionados, they weren’t necessarily the target audience Nissan was seeking to reach with the Super Bowl ad.
So last night, just prior to 8 p.m. ET, the “With Dad” ad launched. There, the GT-R LM NISMO was revealed, a Nissan GT-R featuring several Pirelli World Challenge logos was also present, and COTA had its moment of Super Bowl glory to add to its resume along with hosting the U.S. Grand Prix the last three years as part of its annual schedule.
A record overnight rating of 49.7/72 would indicate the widespread popularity of the Super Bowl, and Nissan will hope to capture a good percentage of those fans and see if they tune in for the car’s actual racing program.
But from a racing “buzz” standpoint at the Super Bowl, nothing matched up to what Nissan pulled off last night.
The question now is, how the heck will this thing work on track?