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I have tried to start a discussion about the "state of the sport" and what needs to be done to increase its fan base, which will result in greater sponsor interest, more media exposure, more races, TV covereage, etc., etc., etc.
I have already given my thoughts on the discussion tab of the H1 Unlimited website, but I would like to hear more input from more fans, and more input from H1 on their plans. Comments?
Tim and all -
I realize that you don't have access to meetings like the one that took place yesterday in Seatte, attended by all race sites, H1, and some owners. It was one of several such meetings held every year to cover multiple topics, including most of the areas you are discussing here.
If you could spend an hour in one of these meetings, you would laugh at the idea that H1 and the race sites are "in denial" or "not listening to the fans" or in any way unaware of the challenges facing the sport.
The most creative ideas sometimes have to be tempered with a dose of practicality and reality. Things like the "spec" series that our friend Chip and one poster here champion would reduce the fleet from the 14 boats that ran in 2010 to about 3 or 4 teams immediately. The cost of a program like that is overwhelming, and has other major drawbacks as well.
There is as much parity in the current engines as engineering can produce. If you put the engines from the fastest boats in the slower boats, and vice versa....they would not trade places on the qualifying ladder. Standardizing a critical element like propellers is more practical.
If more noise were the solution, the UL's and GP's would be outdrawing the Unlimiteds. Quite the opposite is true. And the rate of attrition they are experiencing would really give you something to complain about if it happened in H1. There are other good reasons why making a lot of noise in 2010 is not a great idea. There are drag strips where the cars are now required to run mufflers. Neighborhoods like the one around Lake Washington in Seattle probably would not tolerate the kind of noise that people want to "bring back."
Beyond that, there is no practical piston engine that will power an Unlimited anywhere near the speeds we see now. Welding two or three V-8's together and getting them to run is a lot easier to suggest than to do. If Fred Leland's current attempt to do that surprises and works, it will be a ground breaking advancement.
So make the boats a little smaller? You'd have the Grand Prix class - 24-26 feet. Speaking of the Grand Prix's, they are trying to solve the problem of the piston engine experiencing an uneven load on the water, which it doesn't do on land. If they can solve that issue, that would be big step for piston power fans.
As far as the spectators in the corporate areas having some of the best seats, welcome to the new millenium. The funding for motorsports as well as stick and ball sports in this age is all about corporate involvement. The companies with their logos on those hospitality tents are the reason we still have a sport. As fond as our memories of 1955 are, we can't bring back that time in the sport or the economy. And I have to disagree about the quality of viewing areas for the general public. I have walked the beach at races from Seattle to Doha and I have seen spectacular vantage points accessible to those with the cheapest tickets. That is probably truer in our sport than any other. Compare the cheapest ticket at a NASCAR race or NFL game to the seat you get on Fiesta Island in San Diego or the beach in the Tri-Cities for the lowest number on the ticket price list.
Finally Tim - you remind me of a young man in the Tri-Cities who was very critical of the sport and that event in one of the forums a few years back. Someone suggested he do something more than complain, so he did. He is now on the Board of Directors of that event and views things from quite a different perspective.
You would have the the same opportunity in Detroit, where the call for volunteers goes out annually. With a little closer view of the sport and one of our biggest events you would find that things are done the way they are for very good reasons, including economics, logistics, politics, etc.
This is not to say things can't change. Possible changes are discussed constantly. The opinions of owners, drivers, officials and FANS, yes FANS are all a part of the decision making process. The fact that officials don't respond to every opinion put forward doesn't mean they aren't listening.
I'm not questioning your credentials as an observer. I guess I don't know what you want to hear. I explained why more noise and kicking the corporate tents out of the way are not things that are likely to happen soon and spec piston engines are not economically viable. I said the subject of compacting the race format is being discussed. I tried to respond to the areas in your discussion with a look from my point of view.
Sorry if I gave the wrong answer. Steve
BTW - You are not older than I am. Few people are any more.
All I want to hear, and I think I can include Philip Lampman and many other fans, is that you are discussing ways to improve the races,
and will take ALL ideas into consideration. I reread your last post, but I saw nothing about compacting the race program. But if you say it's being discussed, I say "hooray."
I apologize. I thought I mentioned that it was topic in the meeting I mentioned. The breaks between heats go back to the piston era, when teams needed them. The race sites filled in with other stuff, which became embedded in their events. H1 would like to see more racing in a smaller window and they are discussing that with the race sites
But I do think a greater effort should be made to make the smaller Lights or Grand Prixs part of the program. And I wonder, is it even being considered?
Discussed at the same meeting. The race sites are talking to the UL's and GP's.
In Detroit, there was so little promotion last year that many of my friends were surprised when I told them I was going. The tipical reaction was, "Oh, I thought there wasn't going to be any race this year!" In Nashville a few years back, the people at the hotel where we stayed, 20 minutes away from the park, didn't even know there was a boat race going on! Surely you must realize there is a definite need for improvement there.
Understand that issues like the weekend schedule, ticket prices, local promotion of the event, etc are not controlled by H1. H1 just brings the big boats and runs the part of the weekend where they are on the water. The local race committee sets the schedule for qualifying, testing and racing to meet the needs of their event and community. H1 can give them input, but they set the schedule. So let your local race committee know how you feel about the schedule, air shows, etc.
Sorry for being rather brief. Happy to answer your questions but we are very busy getting things wrapped up before we leave for Qatar.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and the H1 website, including live streaming of the event in HD. By the way, these are all areas where we made big gains in 2010. Anyone notice?