When Prototype Challenge teams visit Kansas Speedway this June for its double-header TUDOR United SportsCar Championship event, it will be without mainstream media coverage.
IMSA has confirmed to Sportscar365 that the June 6-7 event on the 2.37-mile oval/road course will not feature television, online video streaming or MRN coverage for the weekend, which also includes a round of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
According to IMSA VP of Marketing David Pettit, the decision to forgo FOX Sports 1/2 coverage came down to its TV rights contract that was carried over from last year, which permitted a set number of “premier series races” that were allowed as part of the package.
“When we split out the PC class, specifically at Kansas, we had to make a decision, ‘Do we carry that one class and pay incremental for that?'” Pettit told Sportscar365. “There would have been an additional cost to that. We’d have to look at our partners to help make some of that happen.
“A lot of what we do from a TV standpoint, the revenue is generated by our official partners. If you look at the PC class, there are no automotive partners in that. When you look at our TV coverage as an example, there’s a lot of advertising done by OEM and official automotive partners right now.
“So that commercial commitment drives a lot of that consideration. Not to slight PC by any means, it’s extremely expensive and without some connections, it’s hard to make that viable.”
IMSA and FOX Sports announced last week the complete TV schedule for the TUDOR Championship, which features the majority of races live on FOX Sports 1, including premier events at Long Beach, Watkins Glen and the P/GTLM and PC/GTD double-header at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
For Kansas, Pettit confirmed that live timing and scoring will be made available on IMSA.com, while they’re exploring the option of streaming the track PA, which will be anchored by Greg Creamer. Creamer was recently announced as an addition to the IMSA/MRN Radio staff.
“As a team, it’s pretty disappointing,” said PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports team owner Bobby Oergel. “If you would have told me in the beginning that Kansas was this, it doesn’t have TV coverage and it’s part of your schedule… it would have been much easier to layout the plan to our sponsors and partners.”
8Star Motorsports team principal Enzo Potolicchio, who fields cars in both PC and Prototype Lites, added: “At Daytona, PC got no TV time and minimum exposure even during the pre-race show. I don’t know how we can find sponsors or gentlemen drivers for a class that is treated like a national amateur championship.
“PC is a great and the only cost-effective prototype class now where Bronze and Silver drivers have a chance to win races. I hope IMSA, after all the merger bugs are fixed, realizes the importance of gentlemen drivers in sports car racing.”
For the second PC/IMSA Prototype Lites standalone event at Virginia International Raceway in August, which is also not televised, Pettit said there may be a possibility to provide a live video stream on IMSA.com.
A full TV production staff will be on-site that weekend for the feature TUDOR Championship GTLM/GTD race, which will be carried live on FS1.
“It’s disappointing and hard to imagine there’s not even radio or streaming coverage,” said Starworks Motorsport team owner Peter Baron in regards to Kansas. “But the rest of the [TV] package looks good.
“Despite missing one race, I believe the sun will still rise tomorrow. As long as the ratings and demographics improve this year and lead to a stronger package for 2015, I’m all for it.”
Additionally, Pettit said IMSA is exploring the potential of live streaming coverage on the FansChoice.tv platform, a new internal project that will carry to-be-determined video content from NASCAR, AMA and IMSA.
There is also no TV coverage planned for the standalone CTSC race at Lime Rock Park on Memorial Day weekend, although Pettit said the option exists to potentially stream the at-track PA as well.