Editor's Note: This article was written by Mr. Wyman in
March of 2001. It was sent to us after Mr. Wyman read our article "Should
CART race in Adelaide?" and is being published for the first time.
The majority of CART's street races are so successful because the whole city
gets behind the event, but nothing like Adelaide does. It certain sets
a good example for other race promoters to stand up and take notice.
The 3.78 km
(2.347-mile) Adelaide circuit is
everything a street circuit should be
This article is to commend the promoter and co-sponsors for
the remarkable pre-race publicity they generated for the December 31, 2000
Race of a Thousand Years. For me, that publicity was so different that it
was one of the biggest stories of the weekend. The irony is that they
evidently won't get to see the continued growth of their event since the
Premier of South Australia has cancelled the event. Nonetheless, their
efforts deserve recognition and are an excellent benchmark for other
If you were in the Adelaide area during race week, then you
had heard about the race, and you knew what the cars looked like. Or else
you were in a coma. Possibly even both. For pre-race publicity, none of the
100 + major sports car races I've attended would have made the cut under a
20% qualifying rule.
When was the last time you saw a sports car article as a
lead for the largest daily newspaper? On the front page, not the sports
page! Three out of four consecutive mornings! The Advertiser/Mail is the
only major daily in Adelaide (Sunday circulation well over 700,000 copies).
Its front pages on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday were dedicated to stories
and pictures about the race. The Sports Section included several more
articles, with numerous splashy photos. Thursday's paper included an
eight-page pull out section on the race. There was even a race related
article in the Fashion Section.
Four major TV networks service Adelaide. I saw pre-race
coverage on three of them - two of those on Wednesday, (the day I arrived).
I wasn't surprised that two networks each sent a cameraman plus a reporter
to the very crowded Thursday autograph session. The amazing thing is that
the crews, (who interviewed drivers and fans) stayed for nearly all of the
55-minute session, rather than a typical drive by (camera) shooting. On
Friday, the prime time teaser for the late local news was a news headline
and a race headline.
Several stores in and around Rundel Street Mall, (Adelaide's
busiest mall and where the autograph session was held) were selling a wide
range of event merchandise even before I arrived. Two stores had half of
their show window space filled with event merchandise. Official race
programs were available there, plus in most newsstands. (I can remember a
couple races where programs weren't available at the track until Saturday.)
Promoting the race as a festival, not solely a race, created
many other pre-race publicity opportunities. At the track, there was a large
fireworks show after Friday's evening practice and stunt flying exhibitions
on two afternoons. People anywhere in the area who saw any of these knew
there would be a race on Sunday. There was also the cross publicity from the
two post-race rock concerts to be held at the track. One of these was
headlined by INXS.
Each initiative was impressive to a guy who has attended
both ALMS races at Las Vegas (among many others). Two incidents, however,
stood out in sharp contrast to the total news blackout that I've come to
expect before a sports car race. The first occurred at the crowded autograph
session noted above. One fan was already wearing an event T-shirt, in effect
promoting the race on his back (and front) three days before the race. The
second was a 20-second TV ad that I must have seen a dozen times. The spot
was for a government agency involved in workplace safety. They used the
race, including racing audio, as a background for their campaign. The tag
line was "Even LeMans Adelaide drivers work to live." Does the idea of a
government sponsored TV spot that piggybacks on the popularity of an
upcoming sports car race seem a bit unusual to you, too?
Did all of the pre-race publicity work? The newspaper reported crowds of
30,000 on Friday, 35,000 on Saturday, and 65,000 for the race. NBC's TV
coverage put Sunday's attendance at 76,000 [Editor's Note: Quite high for an
ALMS race]. Based on the large crowds I've seen at Laguna Seca, those
numbers seem realistic. I suspect that the Las Vegas promoters would kill to
have had the number of fans at either of their ALMS races equal to the
number of vendors at LeMans Adelaide.
So, I tip my LeMans Adelaide cap to the promoter and co-sponsors for their
imagination and hard work. It's a shame that they won't get to see the
continued fruits of their labor, however they can take pride in the height
at which they set the bar.
The author can be contacted at