What's wrong with the 2-day format?
"The racing was great, but where was the crowd?".
At home it appears.
V8Supercar fans on the Internet and in general have
given the thumbs down to the new race schedule used at Phillip Island for the first
round of the Shell Series. While all fans are excited about
the new series, drivers, and teams, and the new race format
at Phillip Island, the decision to split the races over two
days was very unpopular.
The depth of feeling was shown in some of the e-mail received by
the V8Supercar Pick 10, and some of the posts on the aus.sport.motor
"Liked the two 45 minute races, although they should have
been both on the Sunday, say one in the morning starting at 11 am,
then one in the arvo starting at 3pm.", was probably the most
generous comment the two day split got on the newsgroup
Other comments included "I didn't like it one bit (it
may have been good on TV) - but I was there! It was sheer lunacy
to pay $30 on Saturday (and get to watch qualifying, practice
AND a V8 race) - then pay $35 on Sunday (and watch one practice
and one V8 race). I have nothing at all against watching the
support races etc., in fact I enjoy it, but there were more
support events than V8 racing on the Sunday."
The bad reviews continued: "...from a spectators point of
view it sucks plain and simple. Most spectators go out to see
the V8's only, and although it makes for good publicity for
other categories, people will just show up later. I mean the
grounds open at 7am and the V8 races are not till 3pm - BLOODY STUPID."
"I personally think it's just about putting the Saturday gate price up to
equal Sunday and make more money."
TV viewers weren't exactly happy either. Posts with the subject
"I hope you bastards don't give today's winner away!" or
something similar were common on Saturday, forcing organisers
to rethink about running future events split over two days which
result in no "same-day" coverage of V8Supercar races.
While the mainstream media coverage of V8Supercars improves
the sports profile, it makes it harder to avoid seeing the result
for those who like to keep the suspense up until Sunday.
From the TV coverage, crowds appeared down, due to a number of
factors. The early start to the season makes a big difference,
with a lot of V8Supercar fans not realising that the 2000 season
started in early February. Previous seasons started with the
Grand Prix support races in early March.
Being a person in the target audience, there seemed to be less
advertising of the race. This problem was compounded by the large
amount of advertising undertaken at this time of year by the
Australian Grand Prix Corporation, and the drag racing nationals
at Calder Park.
Ticket prices weren't exactly cheap either. $30 at Sandown will
get you in, as well $30 at most V8 Venues in Victoria these days.
A lot of V8Supercar fans stayed home to avoid the "double
whammy" despite attractive deals and packages offered by
Phillip Island for the weekend.
Apart from the crowd, and a few minor hiccups with the new format,
the race was a great success. Longer races got the thumbs up from
the fans, and seemed to even out the competition a bit, with a
different winner for each heat, and a different overall winner again.
The hiccup was the compulsory pitstop. The two air guns per car
rule is designed to avoid costs, but the pitstops looked "slow".
Greg Rust did a great job as first time in the play-by-play slot
for the TV. The only problem with the Channel 10 coverage
was that it was hard to keep track of what was happening while
the pit stops were on. For example, they never showed the
graphic at the bottom with the race standing. It's understandable
that they do not want to show the standings as they may be
misleading, but their job is to make it understandable.
Maybe next time they'll use using a "P" next to the
driver's name in the graphic or a different colour to indicate
that a driver has completed their compulsory pitstop(s).
With a bit of luck they'll figure it out in time for Adelaide.
The general consensus is that this has the potential to be a
great event, but for it to be that, this is how it's got to
be done, plain and simple:
1 - 2 x 45 minute races on the Sunday. For convenience and TV, start
one at 11:00am and the other at 3:00pm. The extra hour or so
compared with the triple sprint format, should give teams more
opportunity to get cars back on the track in case of problems.
2 - Pitstops should stay, but with "4 air guns per car"
instead of two. Pitstops made the race interesting to watch, but
it looked like I could have done a quicker job with a manual
Overall opinion: a great set of races, just not quite the right
scheduling. Mind you, if it wasn't for AVESCO encouraging
promoters to experiment with the race format, I may not be
talking about this at all. As much as I don't want to say it, as
he may not be able to fit his head into the next door he walks
through, but it's appears like another good job for Tony and friends.
Phillip Island should be congratulated for taking the risk as
well. Hopefully any losses in revenue this year will be made up
for next year. I know that I'll be there if at all possible!