New York Formula E / Toronto IndyCar Events

A weekend of diverse motorsports events with similar, but contrasting commercial value propositions.

I had the pleasure of attending and working last weekend at two major motorsports events: Formula E in New York City, and IndyCar in Toronto. New York is the sole North American Formula E event, and Toronto is the sole Canadian IndyCar event. Both served up a healthy dose of commercial options at venues in the middle of two of the largest cities in North America. And each was held on public roadways in city centers, attended by thousands of fans. Where they differ is in the value proposition provided to their commercial partners.

New York Formula E

The Formula E New York race in Brooklyn’s Red Hook area overlooking the Manhattan skyline is such an eclectic location. Formula E’s multi-million global media viewers make it an appealing and powerful marketing and sales tool for global high end consumer brands the likes of Tag Heuer, Hugo Boss, and Heineken, who leverage their Formula E partnership rights to maximum effect while the series touches down in New York.

And, with its emphasis on electromobility and sustainability, Formula E’s New York race provided global automotive brands such as Audi, Mahindra, Jaguar, and BMW a platform to showcase their leading edge “electrified” products and EV technologies in what can be argued is the biggest of the world’s commercial stages, right off Broadway.

The event was similarly attended by multiple senior executives of the global automotive and technology areas. And the series and teams utilized the event and powerful New York locale to host key customers at track level, launch new electrified products (electric Harley Davidson LiveWire and Porsche Taycan), and present summits based around technology innovation.

The series attracts a a young, digitally savvy, urban fan base who exhibit a concern for the environment. Therefore, it is an appealing property for brands and companies wishing to promote their environmental message and products/services to this market segment on a global basis. 

Toronto IndyCar

On the other hand, IndyCar’s lone Canadian event on the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto heaved up a healthy dose of national pride on top of the multitude of business building opportunities for both race and team partners.

The event organizers do a great job of providing local and national Canadian partners with a platform that can can be used to activate consumer promotional programs at track level, with event title partner and series engine partner Honda displaying its whole array of automotive, off road, motorcycle, lawn, and power sport products. This is along with receiving facility branding and various marketing rights used to target Honda’s Canadian consumers.

The B2B and B2C opportunities within the Toronto IndyCar event are diverse, at a price point that is significantly less than a Formula E event. Therefore, companies in any industry, be it consumer, commercial, or technology, can execute a highly effective B2B and B2C program at the Toronto or any other IndyCar event. (I have had first hand, extremely successful experience doing this at the Toronto race with one of my own clients.)

Unlike Formula E, the Toronto event, and IndyCar itself, isn’t typically designed to attract partners with a global mandate (although IndyCar does count some), rather it appeals to regional, national, or North American companies looking to reach and influence the IndyCar fan target market (gradually older than the Formula E fan, and 75% North American) or is used to design and activate specific B2B business building programs.

So, two events, two sporting properties, two cities, two countries. Both events presented distinct value propositions to their partners, but with a similar result: Provide a platform around which to activate commercial programs designed to meet their specific needs and goals. And, each was highly successful in their own specific way at accomplishing this.