Post 500 Thoughts
|Race Day Indy 2016 Crowds pre race start|
As the magic of the 100th running of the Indy 500 has now been and gone in recent days i have been given some of these stats that make for an interesting read and I thought it would be neat to share them with you all. This certainly was a race like no other in terms of the return of the fans as a race yes it had it all and for many a nail biting finish maybe not cars side by side for the very last lap but all the same it had it all.
The city was a buzz during the race week like I have not seen in the 15 years I have attended the event and now one must spread the word on the race to ensure number 101 is no different. There actually is no real reason why it should be any different because its Indy! Number 100 or 101 its Indy.
|Kiwi Scott Dixon post race with Team mate Tony Kannan|
The hotels in and around Indianapolis, demanding four-night minimums and outrageous prices, were sold out early so late planners had to stay as far away as Terre Haute or Bloomington, 75 and 50 miles away respectively.
Restaurants were packed for three consecutive weekends. Scalpers that avoided the Indy 500 for much of the past two decades reaped nice profits as ticket demand was like the good old days.
By selling all its seats plus adding suites in addition to the $5 million PennGrade sponsorship, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway reaped the rewards of what had to be its biggest haul ever.
Enjoy some of these facts pst on to me from the well known Robin Miller.
|The start of the 100th running of the Indy 500|
So, all in all to quote a famous Texas racer, it was a pretty profitable month of May for everyone – except two groups: The guys risking their lives to put on the show, and the guys paying for it. The purse of $13,273,253 sounds like big money but, in reality, it's chump change. Think not? Let's do a little math.
There are roughly 230,000 permanent seats at IMS and they've never cost more than they did this year. Priced from $50 to $230, they averaged around $125 so that's a little over $28 million. IMS officials estimated 75,000 would be in the infield on Race Day at $40 a pop and that's a cool $3 million. Add on another $30 for the Snake Pit (which IMS claims had 30,000 people) for an extra $900,000. There were 1,000 Hulman Terrace Club seats available for $1,750 a pop so add on another $1.75 million.
Then let's go to Carb Day (left), which cost $30 a person and was larger than any in recent memory with estimates of a crowd from 50,000 to 100,000. So let's go with 75,000 x $30 and throw another $2.25 million in the kitty.Qualifying weekend probably didn't draw 15,000 total but that's another $300,000.
If they sold 75,000 souvenir programs at $25 that's $1.875 million more.
The teams, manufacturers and sponsors rent motorhome spots for $5,000.
And parking has become a nice little moneymaker. IMS-controlled parking on Race Day, inside and out, was a sellout. You could pay $50 or $75 or $125 in Turns 3 & 4 or $60, $100 or $200 in the LAZ lot. It was $20 to park on all other days at the track. It’s anybody’s guess as to how many cars can be parked in and around the seven IMS lots but let’s say 10,000 (another lowball guess) at an average of $75 for an additional $750,000.
I'm not positive how the concessions and suites are divided up, but one imagines that Levy pays IMS so much for the rights and then splits all the profits from food and beverage sales. But 300,000 hot, thirsty spectators had to drop a lot of coin last Sunday. For the sake of argument, let’s say half of them spent $20 apiece for soda, water, beer or a hot dog. That’s $3 million.
And let's not forget the suites, where a $7 case of Coke is sold for $44 and a minimum of 30 people are charged for at $30 a person, regardless how many show up on a given day. A catering bill for one resident of a Turn 2 suite was $8,000 for both races in May.
So with just these conservative estimates, the Speedway had to gross between $45 and $50 million before expenses.
So let's take a look at the purse ...
First off, it’s insulting when the driver is presented a check at the victory banquet because it doesn’t go to him, it’s not the amount shown most of the time anyway, and it’s woefully short of what it should be worth.
The Leader’s Circle payout of $100,000 was removed from the bottom line for 21 of the 33 drivers and goes directly to the owners. The drivers and mechanics don’t share in it. In other words, the $390,000 that Will Power supposedly accepted for 10th place at the Victory Banquet was actually $290,000. But Power gets a nice retainer from Roger Penske, so he’s one of the lucky ones not dependent on a percentage of his earnings.
Meanwhile, J.R. Hildebrand only competes during May and he drove his butt off to finish sixth, but made considerably less ($257,305) than the five guys behind him because Ed Carpenter Racing has just one LC share. Oh, by the way, Jason Duffner made $216,000 for finishing sixth in the Colonial PGA tourney while Hildebrand was trying to defy death for three hours at 220mph.
Sage Karam, who charged from from 23rd to sixth for Dennis Reinbold before crashing (left), was at the bottom of the payout at $203,305 for 32nd place. Their tire bill for the month was $85,000.
Carlos Munoz picked up a second-place check for $788,000. Subtract the $100,000 for the LC and it was almost the same amount Arie Luyendyk made for finishing second in 1993.
One of Sunday’s mid-pack finishers figured out what he made after taxes and it was $12,000 – or roughly what it pays to win a 30-lap World of Outlaw sprint feature.
A winner during this past decade confessed that after the LC, team owner, sponsors and taxes were removed, that his Indy victory netted less than $350,000.
The expense of IndyCar racing continues to climb, but the purses lag way behind. The winning team of any IndyCar race today gets $40,000 or $50,000 – or about $50,000 less than Buddy Lazier earned for winning Pikes Peak International Raceway in 2001. And its all part of the annual LC contract so the driver’s take is a joke.
Of course Indianapolis should be the exception to the norm because it still generates huge profits. Sure, it loses money on most practice days, it helped a few teams make ends meet to secure 33 cars and it’s got to pay back that $100 million loan over time ($5 million a year?). IMS also spent several million in promoting the 100th running, plus another $6-7 million on construction, repair and maintenance of the grounds and facilities.
The late Dave Cassidy, who was Tony Hulman’s right-hand man for the better part of 25 years and also ran IMS concessions and merchandising, once said that the Speedway eats money at an alarming rate. But IMS – which reaps a reported $15 million in TV money just for the Brickyard 400 – needs to get realistic about May and the Indy 500 purse. Making drivers spend two days taking chances for the paltry payout in “qualifying” needs a major cash infusion, as does the pit stop competition.
The Daytona 500, which draws a third of the crowd Indy does, paid $18 million in 2015, so Indianapolis should have spread out at least $25 million for its three weekends.
It was a great month, a good race, lots of good promotions and a fantastic crowd. It was also the cash cow for the ages. Now there is no denying the Indianapolis 500 remains one of the premier events in all of sports in terms of attendance, longevity, prestige – and profit.
Robin's words say a lot but the one thing in the end is that it is the biggest event on the planet each year no one can take that away ever at this point in time and long may it last. yes there are views for an against many things but this is the 500 and Indy is the 500 and long live the month of May.
Don't forget to check out my books on amazon about this great event and in the coming months my new book simply called 100 and my personal journey to the worlds greatest race.
|Race winner Alexander Rossi|
Here is the link for you all to have a good read.