By David G. Firestone
I had a thought this last weekend, and I have to ask this question. Does IndyCar know that the race-used memorabilia market exists? Based on the research I’ve done over the past few years, I don’t know it they do. NASCAR, the NHRA, Formula 1, ARCA, and even the SCCA have not only figured out that the market exists, but they’ve embraced it. IndyCar is so far behind, that I’m not sure the league, the teams or the drivers really understand that there is a market for race-used equipment and uniforms.
I wrote about this some time ago, and I wondered then, as I wonder now. What amazes me here is that not only do the teams not seem to understand that fans want race-used memorabilia, they don’t seem to understand that fans want team BRANDED items. HALF of the team websites don’t have store options, and of the ones that do, only one, Team Penske, doesn’t link to IndyCar’s website. Am I missing something here? Why wouldn’t teams want to sell their own merch?
Above and beyond the obvious, one would think that tires, the most expendable part of the race car, would make their way on to eBay. You would think that, but it never happens. I don’t understand this. What happens to all the used tires from IndyCar races? I’m not saying that every tire should be sold, but you would think that one or two might get sold to fans! As of this writing, of the hundreds of race-used tires on eBay, THREE OF THEM are IndyCar tires!
I’d like someone, and I don’t care who to explain this to me! Could someone from IndyCar, one of the teams, or Firestone to get in touch with me, and tell me why the race-used tires don’t get sold as memorabilia to fans. Do NOT try and tell me that you think fans wouldn’t buy them! NASCAR and the NHRA have shown that there is a market for race-used tires! EVEN FORMULA ONE SELLS OFF TIRES!
IndyCar and their teams should be run by smart people, yet whoever is in charge doesn’t seem to understand that there is money to be made from race-used memorabilia. It goes further than just tires. Engine parts, pit crew uniforms, driver uniforms, and damaged body panels all are in demand by fans and collectors, yet little, if anything ever comes to the regular market. Occasionally, teams and/or drivers will donate items to charity auctions and raffles, but a lot of memorabilia never sees the light of day.
This isn’t a situation where teams would lose money either. Race-used memorabilia is in such short supply, and much of the stuff that is on eBay has questionable authentication, if any. Teams could sell used racing parts, and uniforms with good authentication and make a killing! Yet only a few teams take advantage of the market. Do you know how much money you are leaving on the table?
I’m saying this because I’m a racing uniform guy, and a racing memorabilia guy. I would love to have more IndyCar stuff in my collection, but I can’t, because nothing is hitting the market. Every other sport in America has embraced the game-used memorabilia market, yet IndyCar, one of the most technologically advanced forms of motorsports in the United States doesn’t grasp this. If they don’t, it will be just another bad decision from an organization that has made so many over recent years. I really hope someone will wake up…but I’m not betting the farm on it.