Thursday, August 31, 2006

Le Mans Series - More marshalls than spectators

I was watching this weekend's Le Mans Series race from Donington Park yesterday, and could not believe how few spectators there were out there. I'm not talking light, I'm talking practically empty! Simply put, it was sad. Not even laughable, just sad. To make things worse, those that were there have complained about lack of food vendors, poor commentary and a general sense of not knowing what's happening in the race.

The irony is that this was one of the best endurance racing grids assembled in a long time. Check out this photo if you're in any doubt. In contrast, the American Le Mans Series consistently draws large crowds and has a solid TV package showing either on network TV or Speed Channel, yet struggles to attract more than 22 cars.

So what the hell's going on here? Inevitably, pointy fingers are usually thrust in the direction of promoters, since the LMS has been quite open about the fact that it's up to promoters, not the LMS organizers, to, well, promote. In a world where 100,000 people will travel from the UK to Le Mans, surely more than a couple of thousand should be showing up to see the same cars on their own doorstep? Some of my fellow Ten-Tenths Forum members have noted that events at circuits owned by Jonathan Palmer's Motorsport Vision group are generally very well-promoted (e.g. the recent DTM round at Brands Hatch, and British Superbike at Cadwell Park), so a move from the generally poorly-promoted tracks like Silverstone or Donington should be something the LMS will want to consider.

It's not just England that's had this problem. Istanbul was even emptier, and the LMS has chosen to not return. Let that be a warning to you Donington.

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