Promoting Formula Vee

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Promoting Formula Vee

Postby CitationFV21 » November 14th, 2007, 8:09 pm

Looking through SportsCar, I noticed there was a FV for sale. How many months were there no car for sale? Not that cars were not available, just that not in SportsCar. Can it be that we will not get new drivers if we don't promote outside of this forum and a few other sites like SR?

A few years ago, Gene Grimes ran a personal ad in SportsCar directing people to my newsletter. How do we arrange a similar thing to direct people to this forum? We should be in every month. Should the cost be borne by the advertisers or could we set up a way that everyone could kick in a few bucks.

One thing that everyone could do is, when selling their car, list it in their regional newsletter and also get this web site in the same.

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Postby butchdeer » November 14th, 2007, 11:16 pm

Twenty five years ago or so there was a FV constructors association that promoted the class. It was made up of chassis buliders,engine builders, parts suppliers, and other interested parties like wholsale providers of VW Parts and tire companies. It eventually died for lack of interest. Today the number of competitors has shrunk to the point I dought there is enough money generated from the FV community to get comocial interests to support this on their own. It would probably take some effort of the competitors themselves along with those who have a comercial interest combined to hire a P.R. person and add person to advetise and promote the class.
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Postby ConductorX » November 15th, 2007, 9:46 am

I run a VW based website in Louisiana. I promote FV to the membership there. These guys will spend hours of work and thousands of dollars restoring a rusted out Beetle. But when they see all the rules and regualtions around racing their eyes glaze over.

Don't take me wrong, I know the rules are needed for our safety and the safety of fellow drivers. We have a racers group in Louisiana and we would be happy to get five running cars so the track wouldn't mix us in with the Formula Mazdas.

When my car is ready I hope to get some non-racing members of my forum to attend the races and hopefully they will get bitten by the "bug" as well.

"G"
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Postby kevin willmorth » November 15th, 2007, 10:25 am

Rant light is on....

An odd thing about marketing - it only works when those you market to want what you have to offer.

The two ends of a product life cycle look the same when standing still. They both have a small number of "buyers".

At the entry/growth end of the cycle, marketing works to expose a new idea to potential new buyers. Without this, the new idea simply dies from lack of exposure. If the product is seen as valuable, sales grows, yads yada yada, bading, bada boom, you have a success.

At the decline end of te cycle, the market has already seen the product, and has already considered it. Marketing and promoting it at this end generally will do nothing more than slow the decay. It will not bring new life to a product, as the reason its declining is that it is already well known and other values have displaced it.

The largest error made in marketing, is that when it is the hottest, at its peak, like FV was when it was putting 40-50 cars on the grid regularly, those involved relax their promotion of the product. As the apex of the lifecycle curve is fairly large, the time it takes to go from moderate growth to moderate decline is difficult to see. Its not until the arc is passed, and the ramp into decline steepens, does anyone notice a real change. Since the time it takes to respond is often too long, with too little effort, by the time anyone realizes that something needs to be done, it is far too late to repair the damage, and the decline continues.

The FV community simply got complacent at some point along the way, promotional efforts slowed then ceased, and the decline in participation was simply allowed to continue unabated.

The solution to all of this comes through constantly rebuilding and regenerating interest during the growth cycle. The only way to delay the inevitable (all products eventually reach the end of their life cycle, not matter how brilliant they are) is to constantly improve the product to meet new market demand, attract new customers, and maintain loyal customers. FV did this with the evolution of rules. This is obvious by the differences that exist between Vintage FV now and modern cars. The core platform remains in tact, while evolution kept it lively and growing. This is why it eventually filled grids as it did.

To move a product from decline back to growth is the single most difficult problem in marketing. GM and Ford are seeing that now as brands. Ironically, VW has succeeded in rebuilding itself from a declining end-of-life brand to one with robust growth. This required monumental spending and effort. Trivial, low energy, low risk approaches will not succeed, the market has far too many choices in its hands. Simpy re-marketing an old product with no significant value improvement will never work, and is not worth the money that will be spent on the effort.

The question in FV is: What is the product? The easiest error to make is to believe it is about the cars, the VW hardware they are made from. This is an easy mistake for anyone to make, since hardware is something that can be touched and felt.

The reality is, FV is founded on being affordable and accessible. That means the cars are cheap to build, easy to maintain, and are easy to find parts for. Every effort to stray from that has proven less successful - read Super Vee. Whether or not a mutation of the car today to change parts and peices is meaningful is an arguable point. In my opinion, incrementalism is not a successful process of rebuilding a declining product - as it risks confusing the real problem with hardware solutions.

The problem in FV, IMHO, is that with no promotion, the focus has been on the cars. This has created the perception that:

1.) The cars and class is obsolete (brakes, engines, suspension, etc..)
2.) The cars are made from hard to get parts
3.) Open wheel racing is dangerous
4.) The class is slow
5.) FV cars are more expensive than some of the faster classes (I had an SCCA Enterprises sales geek tell me that a FSCCA car is cheaper to run for a season than FV!)
6.) The class is dominated by a sort of old-boys network, that is hard to break into from the outside.

The only hope for rebuilding FV in any way, is to get the entire community to focus on rebuilding itself from top to bottom - and that does not mean screwing around with the hardware at all. What this means is:

1.) Making all sources of FV components, parts, cars, advise, etc... visible to the right audience - show that the parts are readily available and inexpensive.
2.) Promote that while the technology is proven, the advantages are in being simple to maintain and tune, etc...
3.) Promote the "coolness" of the class, in being different, over trying to twist it around to look like something it is not. (Look at the current growth of rat rods in hot rodding, and Harley's, both seeing huge interest, both obsolete as they can get.)
4.) Promote that yes, open wheel racing is more dangerous, thus takes real drivers. Let the panzies race their baby-bumper toys!
5.) Promote that its not how fast you go, but how competitive it is. Going fast is fun, sure, racing is more fun!
6.) Promote the actual costs of the class, from low fuel consumption, to the fact that a car can be run for decades, and still be competitive. That parts you buy today will last a looong time, compared to other classes. etc...
7.) Expose and promote the spirit of comeradery within the class - this is its GREATEST strength, and something most other classes are loosing, or have lost.

This is a package of values that can be promoted and illustrated easily. The question is, by whome? By those who profit from the class are a start. The other are those who stand to loose a great deal should the decline eventually destry the class. There are more than a few who have a pile of parts, cars, engines, transmissions, etc.... invested. If these become useless, the losses and costs will be forminable. The last group are us individual racers. If we fail to keep this class alive, for ourselves and others, we all loose.

If there is a real interest in seeing this class prosper, there has never been a more critical time to have a strong organizational body, with funding drawn from participants at every level, to focus and promote the class to customers, both old FV racers and new.

The risk here is that the value that FV provides the market is slowly being pursued by other interests. F1000 is an attempt to address a similar demand. Since the values that built FV were not hardware based, but value based, should someone create a new formula that delivers, FV will suffer. Case in point - Spec Ford. This class has grown at roughly the same pace as FV has declined.

In any case, if things are allowed to continue unabated, the writing is on the wall for contnued decay in interest and participation. This will require a real effort to put adie petty differences of finite opinion, and pulling together a unified approach to expose and promote what makes this class as great as it is, and has been.

My personal concern is that as it is within any organization facing a shift in its customers, internal argument, constant debate, and lack of cohesive positive effort, wastes effort and time at a critical moment. I have less concern over hardware issues than I have concern that a community who is so great to play with at the track, cannot seem to agree on an effort to keep the class healthy into the future. Sort of like watching a company with a great product implode from internal politics, while competitors steal market share.

I strongly believe that if the right effort were made, FV has many more years in it. Add some market growth, to intelligent adjustments in rules that do not disrupt the core product, and this class could be kept alive and well for a long while. There is never going to be a point where a low cost solution is not a value in motor sports, while karting proves that obsolete technology can be the foundation for very robust classes. Failing the right effort, I am concerned that those vested in this class are blind to how steep the tail end of a product life cycle curve can be, and how fast things can go from not-so-good to gone.

Rant switch is now off.... :wink:
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Postby Martinracing98 » November 15th, 2007, 11:21 am

kevin willmorth wrote:Rant light is on....

5.) FV cars are more expensive than some of the faster classes (I had an SCCA Enterprises sales geek tell me that a FSCCA car is cheaper to run for a season than FV!)


Maybe? ..... Until you wreck one.
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we have help

Postby heapcoup » November 15th, 2007, 12:08 pm

We already have a booster; Rob Howden.
Formula Car Magazine is our best non-SCCA source of promotion. Every swinging piston rod that owns an FV needs to subscribe. That will boost the magazine's revenue and circulation (more ads) and boost our exposure. And guess to whom FCM is targeted: junior classes with all sorts of young people.
Subscribe and write Rob and tell him about what is going on in your part of the country. He really cares about open wheel.
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Postby FV55inSpokane » November 15th, 2007, 12:10 pm

Kevin,
Sounds like a marketing ploy for F. First to me: New "updated" product, new market, younger crowd, cars that look more like 'real' race cars, etc.
Butch, did you put him up to this? :D
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Postby kevin willmorth » November 15th, 2007, 12:49 pm

FV55inSpokane wrote:Kevin,
Sounds like a marketing ploy for F. First to me: New "updated" product, new market, younger crowd, cars that look more like 'real' race cars, etc.
Butch, did you put him up to this? :D


Actually not at all. I don't advocate jumping around and messing with the rules at all - as you should know. I do not believe fixing hardware is going to solve anything, right now. My point was that when the class was growing, that evolution was important, and helped grow the class. Now that is on the back side of the curve, different principals apply - and in this case, changing the hardware is not going to resolve anything, and may indeed be counter productive. Certainly splitting interests now into three or four directions for racing Vees is not going to generate larger grids for any.

I am also not an advocate of seeking kids to enter the sport as the solution. Too many are hunting that park, and the pickings are getting thin. Every motorsports organization on the planet is going after the kids, this is no longer a rich target. Meanwhile adults and older drivers are treated like relics and has-beens for the most part. I have personally had my fill of kids being the focus of motorsport promotion. I came to racing at 42. When I was a kid, I did not have the resources or parental support to get into this, nor does every kid over the last 35 years. I watched, and then got into it when my career and time was less restricting. Some get there at 20, some 67 (a close friend races PCA at 74, started at 67.) There are plenty of adults out their to fill the seats, if they are made to feel welcome and not an after-thought.

In fact, the reality may be that FV is better suited to mature racers, who know what the cars are and value the cultural connection. There are more than a few examples of FF, and FC racers coming back to FV. The vintage races in some areas have more FVs than the regular classes -mostly older drivers. They obviously have no problem with the hardware - just racing with the regular SCCA it seems.

In any case, I really do not see any way to make this class attractive to kids. I know their reaction to the cars, and the idea of it, from promoting it at karting venues. Karters and younger drivers want wings, 4 corner suspension with pushrods, real horsepower, and running at least the same lap times as a shifter (FM, FSCCA are close), - in their mind, real race cars, extreme fast stuff, not this 45 year old stuff from a car that is a distant memory of their parents. The old bug stuff means nothing to them, so culturally is a huge miss. Might work for a small number of racers, but is never going to make VW based Formula car racing more than it is today.

But, this may illustrate the disconnect that breaks down any long running formula. Focus on the wrong thing will produce the same result as doing nothing, or worse - by breaking down what is still working by making it appear even less viable.

Oh well...
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Postby nick_fv71 » November 15th, 2007, 4:01 pm

kevin willmorth wrote:My personal concern is that as it is within any organization facing a shift in its customers, internal argument, constant debate, and lack of cohesive positive effort, wastes effort and time at a critical moment.


I would definitetly have to agree. I started in FV a couple years ago when FST was gaining popularity and I believe that this split has done exactly what Kevin is talking about. Rather than focusing on promoting our sport, we bicker between the two camps (FST and FV) and as a result I think it is hurting the numbers for both. I am not a supporter of FST, but I think the main reason it has not taken off the way it could is because of the the constant struggle between the groups.

kevin willmorth wrote:younger drivers want wings, 4 corner suspension with pushrods, real horsepower, and running at least the same lap times as a shifter (FM, FSCCA are close), - in their mind, real race cars, extreme fast stuff, not this 45 year old stuff from a car that is a distant memory of their parents.


This is not entirely true-- I am 22 years old, which I suppose would make me a younger driver, and I can't see myself doing any other class. While I am probably in the minory with the rest of the guys my age, I would guarantee that if you didn't tell them what was under the cover and brought them to a race, 99% wouldn't be able to tell you it's a 60HP car. Horsepower has been driven into our heads so much that hardly anybody knows that it doesn't mean crap if you can't turn it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the only way we'll ever be able to get our participation up, either with kids or adults, is to get them to the track and let them see the comraderie we have, or the nose-to-tail racing, and how much fun we can have without spending "a whole lot" on our hobby. I'm not sure how to get this accomplished, but I think if we could get the people there looking at our cars and what we have to offer, we would get the participation that we're looking for.

Just my two cents,
Nick
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Postby elston36 » November 15th, 2007, 4:09 pm

I'm going to agree with almost everything Kevin said. He's hitting the classic Marketing nail right on the head. And I can attest that he is not an FST advocate.

It's the racing experience that is paramount, and the image and perception we should be working on. I do believe that changing the "hardware" may be one of the strategies by which you achieve growth, but it's really secondary.

I drive a 96 SpeedSport, but consider myself pretty neutral regarding FST. I considered buying one when I was looking at cars two years ago, (I didn't fit in the Committee car) and am open-minded about the class. I have a few mixed feelings from a selfish standpoint. I recognize that as FST grows, the market for my car/parts, etc. may possibly decline, but if we can revive growth to the whole Formula-VW group, I suspect my investment won't depreciate much.

Donald
Fear is temporary... Regret is forever.
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Postby FV55inSpokane » November 15th, 2007, 4:50 pm

Hey Kevin,
Just so you guys know I was just BS-ing you about the F.First thing. Nothing serious. (see the smilie face after the post)
I know what your saying re. the class and marketing to "newer" but not nessesarily younger drivers.
Most all of my, well, ALL of my racer customers are over 40 and some are over 60. A few are in their 70's.
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Postby Bill_Bonow » November 15th, 2007, 6:20 pm

nick_fv71 wrote: I started in FV a couple years ago when FST was gaining popularity and I believe that this split has done exactly what Kevin is talking about. Rather than focusing on promoting our sport, we bicker between the two camps (FST and FV) and as a result I think it is hurting the numbers for both. I am not a supporter of FST, but I think the main reason it has not taken off the way it could is because of the constant struggle between the groups.


Nick,

I will agree that early on (2001 to 2004) , FST caused plenty of friction as FST was then made up purely of ex-FV racers. However, I think it should be stated that for the past three seasons as a stand alone class, better than half of FST drivers in the FCM series are complete newbies to open wheel racing. Other than a few individuals, there is no longer conflict between FV and FST anymore than there is conflict between FV and FF or any other open wheel class. They are simply two different classes.

There are some people that like FST and some that don't. I accept that fact. In the end, a free market will decide if that separate class will prosper or go away. However, FST as a class has little influence or nothing at all to do with the current status of FV.
Bill Bonow
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Postby kevin willmorth » November 15th, 2007, 9:05 pm

FV55inSpokane wrote:Hey Kevin,
Just so you guys know I was just BS-ing you about the F.First thing. Nothing serious. (see the smilie face after the post)
I know what your saying re. the class and marketing to "newer" but not nessesarily younger drivers.
Most all of my, well, ALL of my racer customers are over 40 and some are over 60. A few are in their 70's.
Lawrence


No worries here.

My comments about older drivers are based on looking at the fields we run with. This age demographic actually makes some of the marketing fit FV far better than other classes. As people age, they appreciate romance, culture, and other stuff that the kids in general do not see. There are certainly a group of younger folk who dig this stuff too, which is all the better.

I see nothing wrong with this. I also have no problem at all with younger drivers coming on board - the ones who get FV are as cool as any of the adults.

I quit karting beacause it is too focused on kids and dismissive of adults as nothing more than fat kids. FV is more fun than the kart to drive, I have a lot in common with the folks we race with, and the cars are odd enough to be cool, and difficult enough to drive to be a serious challenge. Cheap enough to be pursued without sponsors, and just expensive enough to keep racers from treating the cars like disposable diapers (something karting has evolved to.)

There is still life here, on several levels.
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Postby FV80 » November 16th, 2007, 9:53 am

OK - I have an idea (actually an ADAPTATION of someone else's idea). We (FV) need to create a DVD about FV. This DVD would need to be cheap enough to distribute free and needs to be no more than about 30 minutes long in the Opening segment - additional segments could be as long as appropriate to fill the DVD (maybe complete Runoffs races from Speed?).

The opening segment would start with some REALLY close, side by side, NO CONTACT, racing (as in the Loughead outside pass at the end of the back straight with one lap to go in '05, the '07 Feller/Linn Runoffs battle in HP or the '07 Morgan/Kasemets ARRC battle in FB) - there should be some good video out there. Add in some interviews between different battles (preferably with the people INVOLVED in the battles) and we could have some REALLY good stuff! The interviews should be about WHY those people are in this class and what keeps them there.

The remaining segments could be selected portions of the Runoffs videos (if we can get permission) and portions of whatever videos we can scrape up (with some incar hopefully). There have been some really great drives that are NOT on video, but hopefully we can come up with enough to make a decent DVD.

What we need is someone with good video capabilities to put it together, a group of FV'ers (us) to select some appropriate segments, and someone with a camera and some time to do the interviews. Maybe the drivers involved in the segments could do their own interviews and just TALK about the WHY's (suit up first <G>). I wish I had the expertise to do this myself, but my pitiful attemtps at video editing have resulted in WAY too many hours spent to come up with terrible looking crap! :(. I do have the Speed videos from the last several years of Runoffs - surely we can find some good stuff in there.

Anyone have contacts at Speed that could possibly get us permission to cut them up and use selected segments for something like this?

Kevin raises some good points and I agree with the fact that the kids aren't our answer. Adults with 'disposable' income are our target. There are a LOT of closet racers out there and FV might fit them just fine.

Steve
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Postby FV90 » November 16th, 2007, 10:39 am

With the upcoming 45th Anniversary a boat load of info/pics/videos can be obtained at that event to add to a info DVD. The DVD might have a section of the different car manufacturers and what they look like plus contact info to all of the FV part suppliers/engine builders/etc plus this forum.
I got into FV because of the low cost and the help recieved from the FV community in general.
As a person who works on a SEDIV Hillclimb event the potential sponsors and entrants like to get a taste of the action of the event from a DVD we hand out.
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