Help Wanted

Posted by Iannucci | 1/31/2010 | | 9 comments »
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Perhaps you've seen this mentioned elsewhere, like say at PopOffValve, pressdog, or Chris Estrada's temporary homeless shelter of a blog. If you have not already read this at some other site then...well I was going to ask "What in the world is wrong with you that you only check for IndyCar news HERE?" but considering I'm about to take the unusual step of asking you to actually do something I figured that would be counter-productive.

At any rate, as you may or may not have heard Vision Racing is now Vision Is Not Racing, due largely to the fact that they do not have adequate sponsorship secured for the 2010 season. As I mentioned before and as you probably are aware, Vision has become a special team for IndyCar fans due to the unparalleled access they have provided to anyone with a computer and access to the wild world of internets. If Tony George sneezes they will tweet it. If a decal flies off the car they will write a 1000 word blog post on what adhesive they were using. If Ed Carpenter has to take a potty break they will post pictures. (OK, maybe not the last part, but you get the idea.)

So what, pray tell, is it that I am asking YOU to do? I'm asking you to write a letter. Or even an email. That's it. It's like 5 precious minutes of your time. And the reason I'm doing this is not because I'm some kind of puppet who can be manipulated by the strings of some racing team - no, most certainly not. It's because our sport - yes, OUR sport - is suffering like many others from what businessmen, politicians and witch doctors alike refer to as "the economy". And by that I mean, "the economy that sucks".

Racing is a sport that thrives on sponsorship, which means the team owners race around in front of thousands of people in the stands and hopefully even more watching on television, and in doing so they provide exposure for those wonderful companies featured all over the actual race cars. However, "the economy that sucks" has made many business hesitant to pay for sponsorship on things like race cars because, well, they don't know if that's money well spent in comparison to a park bench or a billboard or a padded sign at the side of the court at a WNBA game.

So you, dear IndyCar fan, are being asked to do something for the sake of Vision Racing. Actually, if you REALLY hate Vision Racing you don't have to do it for them, but for a different team that might be having the same problem. But I would strongly encourage you to do it for them and pretty much every other team since most if not all could definitely use your help. It's time to activate yourself, and here's Vision's Pat Caporali to explain this simple request. The bottom portion of this post is entirely her words.

Oh, and in case you read this after Monday DO NOT use that as an excuse to not send a letter. Until sponsorship is secured there is no such thing as "too many letters". Just think - in the time it took you to read my contribution to this post you could have already completed this task. As pressdog said, "To arms, IndyCar Nation!" Now quickly, before I break out the Henry V "we happy few" speech at Agincourt and really irritate the bejeezus out of you.



Take it away, Pat.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Vision Racing Fans,

We cannot tell you how much your words of support and encouragement have meant to all of our team members in the past few days. We want you to know that we are working hard to get past this speed bump and get our team back to the business of building race cars & IZOD IndyCar & Firestone Indy Lights racing.

Many of you have asked what YOU, as fans, can do to help.

Well, we thought about it and the fact is YOU guys count A LOT. We race BECAUSE of you. We race for you. Sponsors get involved because they want YOU to buy their products and support their involvement in our sport. Neither of us can succeed without you, the fans.

SO... here's what you can do if you want to help.

"LETTERS OF REFERENCE" Campaign

If you are willing, we would ask you to send a letter, email, short note, fax to Vision Racing that we can pass along to potential sponsors AND the sponsors that have been supportive of us in the past. (They don't all yet understand the power of twitter & facebook)

Think of it as a letter of reference that we can use to find and secure sponsors that want your business.

Please feel free to send these to us so that we can pass them along on your behalf:

by email at Visionmedia@visionracing.com

by FAX at 317-295-7066

or by snail mail to
Letter of Reference
c/o Vision Racing
6803 Coffman Road, Indianapolis, IN 46268


The on-going economic environment has been difficult on ALL the IndyCar teams AND their sponsors. Sponsors need to know that you are still there to support open-wheel racing, the Indy Racing League, teams, and sponsors.

If you don't want to do this for us... then please consider doing it for the teams / drivers you DO support or for the league as a whole.

One of the sponsors that HAS supported Vision Racing and our driver Ed Carpenter for a number of years is MENARDS.

We are NOT asking you to HARASS our friends at MENARDS. In fact, ALL we'd like you to do is let them know that YOU still support us and appreciate the support MENARDS has shown us. The folks at MENARDS love racing as much as you do but they also have difficult decisions to make sometimes.

Let them know how you feel Vision Racing & Ed Carpenter have represented them, and how much you LOVE the day-glo yellow No.20 MENARDS IndyCar.

We'll make sure to get your letters get to MENARDS or if you prefer, you can send you letters directly to them by fax at 715-876-2774.

We'd like to do this as quickly as possible so that we can put your letters in our presentations to potential sponsors first thing Monday morning. We'd also like to send any thank you letters addressed to MENARDS which may perhaps convince them to extend their support of IndyCar racing in some form.

We have no doubt this will have a positive impact and we will keep you posted on our progress because any success we have, on and off the track, will be because of our fans and your support.

Thank YOU!

Vision Racing

9 comments

  1. Brian McKay // February 01, 2010 9:51 AM  

    the most hackneyed, amateurish sponsorship relations or public relations piece I've seen in a long time ~ no wonder Vision is disappearing.

    BTW, Tony George could fund his team until he attracts another Menanrds. But I suppose that he knows that no one else will come forth because the team STINKS! He couldn't get Izod to sponsor American racer Ed Carpenter...

  2. Iannucci // February 01, 2010 2:12 PM  

    Brian,

    Thank you for your thoughtful contribution. It pains me to disagree with such a positively enlightening point view but…

    First off, let’s take a moment to reflect upon your important point that “Tony George could fund his team until he attracts another Menanrds (sic).” This is the same Tony George who purchased the team when Kelly Racing was about to go under and the same Tony George who has partially funded any number of other teams in his effort to increase the competition level of the IRL. I’m pretty sure that while many take issue with how he’s gone about it, no one can fault him of all people for putting his money where his mouth (and heart) have been.

    And even if this wasn’t Tony George we were talking about – let’s say this is Carl Haas and Mike Lanigan’s team – you seem to be insisting that owners must contribute their own funds to perpetuate sports franchises out of some sense philanthropy. That’s great of you to insist how other people should spend their money, but throwing away money into a multi-million dollar venture is just that – throwing away money. Contrast that with what is being proposed above – a plan designed to help bring additional sponsorship to a racing team. Sponsors, you may or may not have noticed, often turn into promotional partners for the sport (seen any IZOD ads lately?) through activation, which does a lot more for the sport than simply paying for a team to compete with blank sidepods.

    Take it a step further – insisting that the owner of Vision Racing pay out of his own pocket is like saying the makers of your favorite TV program should continue produce episodes even if there is no sponsorship. Have you ever written a letter to show your support for a TV program, or do you always insist that ABC or NBC or whoever just pay for the program to air while you sit anonymously at home leaving comments on blogs?

    Furthermore, you said the Vision team, and I quoting here, “STINKS!” Evidently you are not familiar that the team that stinks came within a few thousandths of a second at winning a race at Kentucky Speedway last season for the closest 2nd place finish of the season. If this is representative of your definition of “STINKS!” then I guess on merit there are only 2 or 3 teams that don’t “STINK”.

    If it wasn’t performance and was in fact the PR department that you insists “STINKS!” then you sir are suffering from an acute case of hypocrisy. If I am to presume you are a real person who left a real comment on this site then unless you are inebriated or a masochist (or quite possibly both) I can safely conclude (1) you are a racing fan and (2) you like communicative interaction. It is most ironic that you are bashing a team that was so far ahead of all others in interacting with fans, because you are failing to see the loss of Vision Racing will do little to encourage other teams to actually interact with the same level of passion and diligence. Do you just want to watch races and read press releases? Really? Then why in the world would you be leaving a comment on a blog?

    Thank you again, and good day sir.

  3. The SpeedGeek // February 01, 2010 3:00 PM  

    Everybody onto the dogpile!

    OK, you said it better than I could, Jeff, but I just wanted to add an item or two.

    First, the ground breaking part of what's going on with the Vision effort is the direct harnessing of new media. As Pat Caporali points out in her post, sponsors (existing and potential) don't all necessarily understand the power of Twitter and Facebook. This effort is a way to put tangible numbers and actual "more than 140 characters at a time" prose from concerned fans in front of those sponsors' eyeballs. It's not all about TV numbers nowadays, it's also about networking and fan interaction. Nobody in motorsports, and I mean that 100% literally, is as good at that as Vision is.

    I'll be blunt, and I know that I'm in the minority around here with this sentiment: I wasn't exactly rooting for Ed at Kentucky last year. [ducking rotten vegetables] I feel like the fact that he's gotten to drive for his stepdad's team has given hin third, fourth and even fifth chances at being an IndyCar driver that nobody else would have gotten. I'd probably rather see somebody else in the seat at that team. But, team personnel decisions are not my call. However, I am happy to have as many cars as possible in the League right now, and having a fan friendly guy like Ed in the League is a good thing. In addition, having TEAMS in the League who are great at dealing with fans is the absolute best thing that we can ask for at this point.

    There's no new car coming until 2012. Some folks think that the mixture of tracks is screwed up. Some people want Brian Barnhart run out of town on a rail. Other folks want a restraining order put on Tony George so that he has to stay 500 yards away from all IndyCar races. However, something that we can all agree on right now is that anything that makes the sport more fun for people to follow is a good thing. If you don't make it fun, then people aren't going to come out and keep coming back. That's why we need Vision Racing to stick around.

  4. Declan // February 02, 2010 9:08 AM  

    I guarantee you that the sport will be equally 'as fun' without Vision in 2010 and beyond.

    Apparently "Nobody in motorsports, and I mean that 100% literally, is as good at that as Vision is."

    Well if that is the case how come Vision Racing has only 3185 followers? That's less than the out of work Paul Tracy by the way.

    And how many of those are spam followers?

    Part of my real job involves finding sponsors and partners and there is no way I would approach any potential partner proudly boasting of 3000 followers on twitter and 1637 fans on Facebook.

    I'm not trying to be deliberately harsh or controversial here, but liking the marketing people is all well and good but they have to be able to create a viable and sustainable RoI for potential sponsors and IndyCar simply doesn't provide it. The irony of all that is that much of the blame for that particular situation can be laid at the feet of the Team owner.

  5. Iannucci // February 02, 2010 10:45 AM  

    Wait...did you hear that? It was subtle, but I think I just heard Declan's invitation to the next Vision Racing tweetup go *poof*.

  6. The SpeedGeek // February 02, 2010 11:02 AM  

    Well, &^%$ it then, Dex. Let's throw in the towel on Vision. Let's let them go away, followed by Coyne, then HVM, then DRR, then LDR, then Foyt, then KV, then NHL, then Panther, until all we've got are Andretti, Chip and Roger running around with 15 year old Dallaras. Then by 2012, we'll all have our choice of watching a 9 car IndyCar series, a 21 car (DP and GT combined) GrandAm series, a 7 car ALMS series or NASCAR. Good times!

    Or, we can take a stab at keeping around a team that people like. Even if it's only 3000 people, though that's a number that can certainly go up. That Twitter account's only been around like 11 months at this point. And if all 3000 of those people are passionate enough about the team that they're willing to write letters and e-mails on the team's behalf, then who's to say that those 3000 people wouldn't happily shill whatever product that somebody decided to put on the side of the car, even if it's Emery Cat pet products?

    At any rate, I think it's an interesting experiment by Pat. Even if it fails and the team closes for good, wasn't it worth it to try instead of just packing up your desk and stealing all of the office supplies before they lock the doors?

  7. Declan // February 02, 2010 11:28 AM  

    Why are you so passionate about a team that was created purely to give a family member a job and to prop up the league in an artificial manner?

    The team was one of the many tools that was used to drive an irreparable wedge in US open wheel racing.

    I do not wish any ill on any of the employees and I hope they all find jobs quickly, but if the team is unsustainable, then so be it.

    The Series and teams have to learn to stand on their own two feet and the great thing is that there are signs that this is starting to happen.

    I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

    :)

  8. The SpeedGeek // February 02, 2010 12:15 PM  

    I guess I'll put it this way: I'm no huge fan of Vision Racing itself, and as I mentioned before I'm not necessarily a fan of their driver. I've never bought any of their merch, never really rooted for them, and I'm usually pulling for the guys on my fantasy team to pass them on the track at all times. However, I do like how Vision engages their fans (and semi-fans, in my case), and I think that every team on the IndyCar grid, and every team on every other motorsports grid worldwide could take some lessons from them.

    Mainly, though, I'm just interested in stopping the blood loss. Now that IndyCar is a unified series again (through whatever means that happened), I'm not terribly concerned with what drivers are here, as long as they're not dangerous. I'm looking at you, Ms. Duno. OK, given the choice, I'd rather have Alex Gurney or J.R. Hildebrand, or even Paul Tracy (who I'm no great fan of, either) in the Vision car, and who knows? Maybe in a couple of years, when Ed is ready to get out of the car and just own the team, they'll put somebody more consistently competitive in there.

    In the meantime, teams aren't exactly flocking to IndyCar right now. Maybe (fingers all majorly crossed) with the new car, that will change. In the meantime, I just want as many cars on the grid as possible to put across to potential sponsors the image that our series is healthy. As far as the political stuff behind Vision...I held a grudge for a long time there, too. But with a unified series...bygones, you know? It's the only IndyCar series we've got, so I want it to succeed.

    I just want my favorite series to survive long enough for its leadership to complete the re-imagining of the schedule (hopefully with a couple less street circuits and a couple more ovals...plus Road America) and the cars. Once that's done, I think the fans will come back, the sponsors will come back, and we'll be watching something that we don't have to constantly explain to our co-workers is "that series that Danica Patrick drives in".

  9. tripleleagueracing // February 02, 2010 1:57 PM  

    Ed Carpenter isn't a driver I like much, but the Vision team was okay. And Ed was one of only 5 American drivers in Indycar last year.

    I don't like Ed much, but to see him beat Briscoe would have been cool, plus it would have broken Big Two Domination.

    I don't get Dec and Brian's distain for Vision. I think Tony George pretty much destroyed Indycar, but that doesn't mean Vision needs to die too. Besides ,having a team owner you root agianst can make racing more fun.