Are gamers the untapped resource motorsport needs?

Gran Turismo 6

While Formula One still attracts huge crowds and big-ticket sponsors, sponsorship is still hard to come by. Teams racing in smaller competitions have an uphill battle to meet costs, and when title sponsors leave, the gap in funding must be found elsewhere. Many teams are fantastically entrepreneurial in their efforts to keep their cars on the grid, with perhaps no better example than the BTCC’s Rob Austin Racing.

Sponsors are of course interested in successful teams in popular, visible competitions. It seems to me that many such competitions are missing out on the captive audiences offered by the expansive world of racing games.

If we take the British Touring Car Championship as an example, the BTCC is enjoying undoubted success on ITV4, reaching an estimated 646,000 people at its peak last season. That’s a lot of eyeballs, certainly. But consider this: Console racing titles such as Gran Turismo and Forza have shifted around a million copies each in their latest versions, yet British racing leagues are totally absent. NASCAR, WEC and DTM are all represented, and this can only benefit the teams and their sponsors through exposure to international audiences. Instead of trying to lure studios to bid for the rights to create the next TOCA game, perhaps Alan Gow could offer up the BTCC’s technical expertise in exchange for high profile exposure in-game. If successful, this strategy could lead to increased international interest in broadcast rights for the series proper.

Just a thought…