According to Sky Sports, Indycar is moving to ESPN – for £13 per month – May not be so bad?

UPDATE – I understand since writing this post that ESPN’s UK online streaming service – their ESPN Player might not be such a bad deal – so the tone of this post is a bit more negative than it might need to be!

Oh dear.

The bosses at IndyCar towers probably love ESPN. Compared to the weak support, lukewarm commitment and low ratings provided by NBC Sports Network, the ABC / ESPN co-productions could be considered the stars of their broadcast deals – particularly so in the case of the Indy 500.

But when is ESPN not ESPN? Answer – when it’s in the UK.

ESPN UK is a channel trying to establish relevance – and failing. It has lost major football deals to Sky and BT Vision – and let’s face it, if you’re getting your arse kicked by BT Vision you really can’t be considered a major player in the pay TV sports marketplace.

So the worse its TV rights get, the more ridiculously expensive and unjustifiable a subscription looks.

Worse still, in motorsport terms it is barely even on the radar. You’ll find more motor sports on open access TV than on ESPN. They have the rights to DTM, possibly a bit of drag racing, and NASCAR Now highlights show. Zzzzzz.

The cost for this weak, limp, lifeless collection of dross? £13 a month – yes that’s right.

There aren’t many IndyCar races in a year, somewhere around 15 weekends at best, so you won’t get much for your money.

Even as a huge IndyCar fan I can see it’s better value to sign up for Premier Sports and get wall to wall NASCAR coverage than this lame excuse for a TV package.

So well done IndyCar, if this deal suggested by Sky on their Facebook page turns out to be true you’ve paid the price for not doing your homework about what a weak channel you have signed up to.

UPDATE: It only gets worse. Apparently Disney, ESPN’s parent, is considering closing ESPN UK altogether. Brilliant Indycar, just brilliant!


When is a street circuit not a street circuit?

Street circuit? Hmmm. Let’s see.

Wikipedia has a definition for us: “A racing circuit composed by temporarily closed-off public roads of a city, town or village, used in motor races.”

That seems fair enough.

Then there’s Korea, and Valencia.

Street circuits that aren’t really street circuits really annoy me. The pinnacle of motorsports deserves to race on decent tracks. Street circuits have their place when they create an exciting downtown event, think Monaco or Long Beach.

But Korea – a street circuit in the middle of nowhere – surrounded by a technology city only in the crazed imaginings of a pre-credit crunch property developer. All the safety compromises of a street circuit with none of the reasons for the safety compromises.

And Valencia, now thankfully gone – a street circuit so false that we hear it has been vandalised. How can a street circuit be vandalised? Surely by definition they are dismantled and put into storage every year after the race.

But not Korea and Valencia, because they’re not real street circuits – just cheap tat left to rot. Monuments to the modern day state of F1.

2013 IndyCar on Sky Sports

So far nothing to report. I hope someone in either Sky Sports or IndyCar reads this post and does something to rectify that.

2013 F1 Season Preview

Now that we are mid way through the pre-season car launches, and with testing fast approaching, I’m starting to look forward to the 2013 F1 season.

It’s the end of an era – the final year for the current car and engine regulations. The 2014 cars will look and sound very different so the only certainty is that the sport will change a lot in 2014. The handling of the 2013 cars will favour and hinder different drivers in ways we can’t yet anticipate, so this year is the final one in which we can accurately predict which drivers are strongest in the pecking order.

So with all the changes on the horizon won’t 2013 just be a damp squib, a case of going through the motions until the big bang of the ‘new F1’ in 2014?

Well there is certainly a risk that we will see teams, once they realise they don’t have a competitive 2013 package, switch their attention to 2014 at the expense of their 2013 performance. I actually expect this to affect some of the biggest budget teams, particularly Ferrari and Mercedes.

Although the team structures are different – as corporations Ferrari and Mercedes both have to design an engine and a car for 2014, whilst almost everyone else will be either an engine customer (Red Bull) or a specialist engine builder (Renault).

That division of labour may favour the customer teams in 2013. And when it comes to engines with few manufacturers left in F1 almost everyone is a customer.

We will see some races limping along (Germany, Korea) even as others have finally been consigned to the scrap heap (Valencia).

We will see how Lewis Hamilton copes with internal management bickering and a poor car whilst Sergio Perez flys in the McLaren.

We will see how a disturbing number of drivers cope with being referred to, accurately, as pay drivers whilst past stars sit on the sidelines.

We will see how many new sponsors arrive, and how many leave.

We will watch for signs of consolidation in the US market, and see how Bahrain copes second time around.

We’ll wonder whether Bernie is enjoying (enduring?) his final season at the top of the F1 tree.

We’ll wait to see whether Force India makes it to the last race, and whether Marussia makes it to the first.

It’ll be fun, and it won’t be predictable. Until Vettel starts winning everything in sight again.

Bring it on!

An Open Letter from Deep Dive Series HQ

I have been asked by a panicky PR officer to write this Open Letter to you the ‘Fans’:

Without a doubt, the last few days have been extremely unpleasant for the community. We have received and heard many passionate opinions from caring fans of this sport, including combinations of curse words which to me seem as inventive as they are impractical, and we appreciate the communication.

While many of the conversations, and indeed the mental images created in my mind’s eye, have been difficult, we must take this opportunity to harness the energy and emotion of this time for the good of the sport we all love, or I swear I’m going to lose the plot by the end of this month so help me God, I mean it, I’m OUT. Before I discuss our commitment to you, the fan – you with your strange clothing, your beer coolers, your passionate disregard for hairstyling fashions, your constant negativity, for a strong series in the future, I want to step back – WAAAY back. Like Tony levels of back.

Last year my daughter kindly bought me a book featuring a character called ‘Dilbert’. He appears to be some kind of dog, but that’s not important because, through the simple medium of cartoons, Dilbert, a Fortune 500 senior executive, and his colorful colleagues, have taught me many serious and valuable lessons about business.

Not least of these was the technique known as a deep dive.

I would like to reveal to you all today the power of the deep dive. A power so awesome that until now it has remained the preserve of a select few high powered business leaders. I believe however that you the fans, you awful, badly dressed, sweaty, sunburnt, beer swilling, burger eating people who file year after year onto my golf course to be hosed down whilst listening to bad hair metal, can use the deep dive technique almost as well as me, given time and patience.

Today, I am in the same position as I was three years ago at this time, as the CEO of this series. But then I was naive and child-like. I knew nothing of the deep dive. We considered and spoke with many potential leaders and ultimately hired a man without even asking him about the way of the deep dive, for we were blind.

There has been, and continues to be, speculation and rumors that the CEO was fired. That is just not true. A mutual separation and an advisory role was accepted last Sunday evening in a special board meeting and deep dive training session.

We sat in a circle, our preconceptions left at the door, our minds open. And we dove. As one in our minds we swam endlessly around the brickyard, free from cares, three, even four wide at times. Then we parted, in silence.

Sure this guy brought us fresh ideas and energizing leadership at a time when it was truly needed, but deep diving, he never really ‘got it’. So we thank him for his contributions. Today, we still face challenges and are moving to address them immediately, but we also have a great opportunity and reason for hope from which we can build.

We are actively executing our 2013 plan that includes new events, an experiment with virtual race weekends to boost the number of ovals on the series in conjunction with our partners at iRacing, the return of the Triple Crown, the introduction of our movie available on DVD this January and at select branches of Circle K.

So, where does all of this put, you, the fan? Quite frankly, in the most important spot of all.

Without you – your eyes watching our races, your social media reminders to your friends as to why you are passionate about our drivers and events, your sarcastic, inventive, and worryingly crude character assassinations and your constant overt and vehement criticism, – we will not succeed.

We watch the racing for the racing. We do not want it to be about off-track politics. You do, but we don’t. OK sure the owners do too. They lap it up. They’re sociopaths, they love this shit.

No question these last 96 hours have been tough on us all, and especially on you, and him – obv. The community must remain together as one unit. And despite our differences, owners, promoters, drivers and the series must communicate as one – even as it slowly tears itself apart before our eyes.

Going forward, together, we will power through this. And with your continued support, we will grow our sport.

Find out more at


The Divemaster

Brilliant article

The Buxton Blog

I’d got my ski pants on but I was still cold. Shivering in the Silverstone pitlane, waiting for Force India’s new car to be unveiled, I got talking to a colleague about the year ahead.

“Anything fun on the agenda?” I asked.

“Yeah, actually,” he smiled. “I’m moving to the States. Indycar. I can’t wait.”

“Oh wow,” I replied. “Say hi to…” I ran through a list of everyone I knew racing in the championship in my mind… “well… say hi to everyone for me.”

Fast forward seven months and the two of us are standing by the side of a track once again. Only this time, it’s not a cold Silverstone. The sun is beating down on the track formerly known as Sears Point, Sonoma, California. There is not a cloud in the sky. Practice for the GoProGP of Sonoma is well underway, and I have a cold beer…

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Joy begets joy – a great IndyCar article!

Here is a fantastic article about the joys of IndyCar from Will Buxton. Read, enjoy, understand 🙂