CotA Boss Backs V8s

Wednesday 22 May 2013 12:00
By: V8 Supercars

With the historic first Austin 400 run and won, the question of whether the category will head back to the Circuit of the Americas in 12 months time appears to have been answered in the affirmative.

“That’s the plan,” the president and CEO of the new $400 million facility Steve Sexton told Australian media shortly before the third of four 100km races roared into action on Sunday afternoon (USA time) and some hours prior to an official three-day attendance of 68,000 being announced.

That figure seemed to tally with the expectations of the circuit, although Sexton refused to reveal the budgeted crowd figure.

He did admit, however, that more fans would be expected as the event was promoted to US audiences in coming years.

“Anytime we introduce a new product in the marketplace it is going to take some time to build awareness and take time to develop personalities,” he added. “But the personalities in V8s, the drivers are incredible, and as we go through the years we will have the opportunity to build on that.

While the event is reportedly subject to a five-year contract, Sexton would only speak of a “multi-year” deal.

Sexton said record May heat, with both Saturday and Sunday temperatures hovering near 100 degrees Fahrenheit, had hurt crowd numbers and the revenue from the intake of alcohol and food at the circuit.

“We would always like to have more (ticket sales) whether it is V8s, MotoGP or what have you,” Sexton said.

“Our plan is to continue to develop the series and develop the personalities. We have a lot of work, not unlike we have a lot of work to do with MotoGP or ALMS (American Le Mans sports cars). It is going to take time for each of those series; promote, promote, promote, so it is going to take time.”

While no accurate figure was available, several thousand of the fans attending CotA were Australians, a factor that enabled the track to gain state funding assistance for the event. However Sexton said that gate receipts and “ancillary revenues” were a key to making the V8 project viable.

He said promoting a domestic Australian racing series to an American audience would take effort but would be assisted by some ideas taken from the domestic rounds and adopted in Texas.

“You will see over successive years us develop more of an entertainment experience,” he said. “We did ok from the entertainment perspective this year but we could do a lot more. I know in Australia V8 Supercars is an event and that is what we want to portray.

“You have people who follow the V8s or motorsport as a core audience and we want to attract them. But the casual fan, especially in Texas, will come out for big events and appreciate a large scale experience.”

Sexton explained the reason CotA approached V8 Supercars to stage a round of the Championship was an attempt to diversify into a crowd pleasing motorsport that stood apart from mainstream circuit and speedway US offerings.

“Our goal is to try and find content or series that could come or be developed in North America. We have always championed ourselves as the home for the world championships and premier international scale motorsports, of which we have three – V8 Supercars, MotoGP and F1 – to differentiate ourselves from other circuits in the country and I think we have done that.”

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