INDYCAR unveils fan survey results, main takeaways

  • Over 53,000 fans responded to Motorsport Network-hosted Global INDYCAR Fan Survey, conducted by Nielsen Sport
  • INDYCAR’s fans share overall favorable opinion of current state of sport – approve of “competitive” and “exciting” product
  • Sport showing gains with younger and female fans internationally
  • Romain Grosjean, Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves voted top three favorite drivers by fans
  • INDYCAR’s audience is avid content consumers across multiple platforms

INDYCAR and Motorsport Network today announced the key findings of the 2022 Global INDYCAR Fan Survey. Launched in January, the Global INDYCAR Fan Survey was commissioned by INDYCAR, hosted by Motorsport Network and analyzed by Nielsen Sports, the global information, data and measurement experts. Conducted in 11 languages across the Motorsport.com platform and receiving feedback from over 53,000 fans in 147 countries, the survey revealed that INDYCAR has maintained a loyal and approving fanbase, while growing its ranks among younger and more diverse demographics in recent years.

Unsurprisingly, while the U.S. comprised 56% of the survey responses, the top five countries also included France, the U.K., Japan and Canada, suggesting a growth in interest internationally for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. This growth reflects an expanding and more diverse audience, highlighted by 37% of respondents under 35 years of age and 12.2% of respondents identifying as female. This is the second-highest female participant rate for a survey fielded by Motorsport Network of a global racing series.

“INDYCAR is growing – at a historic and rapid pace,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corporation. “Our product is viewed as competitive and exciting, and just as we’ve attracted new and talented drivers to our field, we’ve also seen admirable success in attracting new devotees to our ranks. As we embark upon a consequential and marquee year for INDYCAR, we’re tremendously encouraged by the picture the Global INDYCAR Fan Survey provides and remain confident that the future is bright for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and its stars.”

Overall fan approval of the racing product is very high. INDYCAR’s top five attributes, as reflected by the survey, are: “competitive,” “exciting,” “entertaining,” “growing” and “dangerous,” with over 80% of the respondents viewing INDYCAR as “competitive.”

Findings from the Motorsport Network INDYCAR Global Fan Survey indicate fans want to watch races live, predominantly on TV. Most INDYCAR consumers are now watching races via a combination of cable and streaming platforms, with the latter now surpassing free-to-air viewing. Paywalls remain a concern of some fans in specific markets, potentially lowering access to live races. Social media has become the leading platform for non-race weekend content for all fans and the main source of all INDYCAR content for those among the under-35 set.

Based on survey respondents, esports are increasingly relevant to INDYCAR fans, with nearly half partaking in gaming weekly. This number rises to 85% among 16- to 24-year-olds and 70% among 25- to 34-year-olds, suggesting a robust audience for the upcoming release of an INDYCAR-centric video game title.

“It has been fascinating to work on this largest ever Global INDYCAR Fan survey, and the inescapable conclusion is that fans believe that INDYCAR is a series on its way up,” said James Allen, president of Motorsport Network. “INDYCAR is the pre-eminent single-seater racing championship in North America, but it has long had a following in other continents due to prominent international drivers racing there. Today, the international makeup of the grid is reflected in the survey findings, with a strong geographical spread outside of North America. While the series has its loyal followers in the older age groups, particularly in the U.S., INDYCAR will be studying closely the data on its new, younger and female fans internationally. Thanks to the internet and social media giving easy access to rich content, anyone anywhere can become an INDYCAR fan today. And gaming and esports is clearly going to play a significant role in the future. It will be fascinating to see how the trends develop over the next few years.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still a strong desire to attend races live. Over 80% of respondents expressed the desire to attend a race live, while nearly 50% of respondents indicated that they have attended a race live in the past five years. One of the biggest factors cited as preventing live race attendance is the inability to attend a local race for fans, especially outside North America.

From an ecological standpoint, younger fans place higher importance on green initiatives in motorsport, and while most were satisfied with what INDYCAR is doing to be greener, over 20% of female fans believe INDYCAR should be doing more on the sustainability front.

“Off the back of the success of the Formula One fan survey, it has been a pleasure to be involved in another global motorsport survey with Motorsport Network,” said Nigel Geach, senior vice president, global motorsport, Nielsen Sports. “Our partnership not only delivers interesting insight on various motorsport disciplines but also actionable fan opinions that can help a series grow and evolve in a way that appeals to fans old and new. I look forward to running our next survey with Motorsport Network to unearth more insightful opinions from our vast global motorsport fan base.”

The survey findings were revealed at the opening round of the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season today and included the size and demographics of the sport’s audience, fan disposition and attitudes toward the sport, their affinity for INDYCAR races, teams and drivers, and their consumption of racing as remote and live audiences.

Additional key findings from the 2022 INDYCAR Global Fan Survey include:

Venues and Competition

  • The top five most important races for fans are: the Indianapolis 500, Long Beach, Road America, Laguna Seca and St. Petersburg.
  • INDYCAR fans are happy with the mix of tracks (street, road & oval) and believe they provide the best test of a driver’s talent, and they also feel the sport is healthier now than three years ago, featuring the right balance of sport and entertainment.
  • For the future fans want INDYCAR to:
    • Feature multiple suppliers in key category areas
    • Maintain the Indy 500 as a double-points event
    • Minimize stewarding interference and let drivers race
    • Manage team operating costs and prioritize close racing over technical innovation
  • Fans are strongly against changing race formats and show little appetite for qualifying modifications.

Top Teams, Drivers and Races

  • Nearly 80% of fans support a number of teams and drivers.
  • Younger fans aged under 24 are more likely to follow a single driver.
  • Fans in South and Central America and Asia-Pacific are more than twice as likely to follow a favorite driver.
  • Team Penske was voted as the overall favorite team with 19% of votes, followed by Andretti Autosport and Arrow McLaren SP, who were tied at second, each with 17% of votes, to round out the top three teams.
  • Romain Grosjean was voted the survey’s most popular INDYCAR driver with 32% of fans placing him in their top three and nearly 12% of fans ranking him their favorite driver. Pato O’Ward was second, with a particularly high young fan voting and voted number one by female fans. Third was Helio Castroneves, followed by Scott Dixon. Alexander Rossi was the top-ranked U.S. driver, who was voted fifth overall.
  • The top five most-attended races are the Indianapolis 500 (58.8%), Indianapolis Road Course (31.3%), Mid-Ohio (19.0%), Road America (16.8%) and St. Petersburg (15.0%)

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