A Prospectus On The State Of Sport From 10 Industry InsidersGot money? If so, how about ponying up several billion so we can have a decent season of racing? Cutbacks have hit everywhere, some justified, some disguised as an excuse to gracefully back out from a record of racing failure, and some just to take a break to see how it all plays out in a few years. Even the most bloated budgets in motorsport, Formula One and NASCAR, have felt the pain. We asked some of the key participants, both in the foreground and the background in this business, on their view of the current status of sport.
Scott Atherton is president and CEO of the Panoz Motor Sports Group, which includes the American Le Mans Series.
EC: Due to the withdrawal of Audi, one of the most progressive manufacturers in showcasing new technology, how will the series respond for the upcoming season and continue to be on the cutting edge that separates the ALMS from other race series?
SA: These are certainly challenging times for anyone around the automotive or motorsports industry. But we are confident that our platform of innovative, relevant technology coupled with an aggressive agenda by our auto manufacturers to develop alternative fuel technology and efficiencies positions us to weather the storm better than anyone. The ALMS is coming off its most successful year ever, and with the addition of BMW Rahal Letterman, a stalwart new LMP1 effort by Acura's de Ferran Motorsports, and Patron Highcroft Racing, along with Mazda's two-car Dyson effort, there will be plenty on the track and off to keep fans excited.
David Bull Publishing specializes in titles involving all aspects of motorsport. He keeps track of marketing trends and the constant changes in the sport.
EC: As budgets are trimmed for professional racing and club racing takes a hit, people tend to stay closer to home and go see a film or an amusement attraction. Since your titles are motorsport-related, does your business increase or follow the trends of the major publishing houses and re-sellers? How will the cutbacks in motorsport affect DBP?
DB: Certainly we're affected by the economy; having had our best year in 2007 we've ended with an off year in 2008. How much my business follows the trends of traditional trade publishing is difficult to say. My sense is that because I specialize in motorsports books, many of which are fairly expensive, my niche offers a small bit of protection compared to the large New York houses that publish thousands of books on every conceivable subject. We're not dependent on the book trade, which has steadily reduced the floor space it allots to racing books, and the specificity of my titles means that the customers who want them are apt to buy them because they have information they need or desire. Cutbacks in racing shouldn't have much of a direct impact because within my niche I think my titles are diversified enough--biographies, racing histories, and photography books, as well as motorcycle titles. The poor economy is a much greater business concern, though from my perspective as a motorsports fan it's worrying to see what's happening in racing.
When the season is over and the rules change, where do the winning cars go--the Audis, Porsches, and Aston Martins? Museums, manufacturer displays, the show circuit, and private collections. Here, a highly placed collector offers his take on the values on the historic race car market.
Q: There's only so much of whatever is considered the pinnacle of quality whether it's art, property, or cars--this has been true in the past but today seems considerably different. What are the drawbacks and opportunities you see in the immediate future?