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How Do We Attract A New Young Audience?

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THE following is part of a pice I wrote for Speedway Star this week. Comments?

 

THE biggest conundrum facing the current crop of British promoters is how to attract more people through their turnstiles and especially those of a younger generation.

Speedway Star has a vested interest in this. More people attending domestic speedway in the UK increases our potential market as well. BSI, too, looking to increase their annual attendance at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium for the British Grand Prix.

It is the BSPA who hold the keys to a new audience. Schemes such as free admission for under 16-year-olds attending with at least one adult, for example, have merit.

But the question that needs to be asked is this: why would teenagers want to go to speedway in the first place? What’s in it for them?

Kelvin Tatum, newly appointed to the Lakeside management team, and I were chewing this over during a protracted lunch last week.

We agreed that speedway tracks have to be more imaginative in providing ways in which young boys, and girls for that matter, can inter-act with speedway.

How can they get to experience what riding a speedway bike is all about without actually doing so? This has always been a root problem for speedway, which even in the wider world of motorsport exists in its own little bubble.

You cannot buy a speedway bike and ride it down the road, it’s a unique piece of equipment. But that shouldn’t necessarily mean that it is of no interest to potential young fans. Make its inherent weirdness an attraction rather than a deterrent.

Would it be feasible for tracks to allow a limited number of young fans prior to each meeting to discover what it is actually like to sit on a bike, to learn first hand what the idiosyncrasies of it are?

Learning how a speedway bike performs, its unique nature, how it could outgun an F1 car off the grid could be used to add to its allure.

Better still if they could test their reactions at a simulated starting gate. There was one at GPs in Gothenburg for a while and it was a massive attraction.

Kelvin says he would be happy to do that at Lakeside and to walk a group round the track so that they get a further idea of what is involved.

At a recent SGP in Torun he took four fans (not youngsters) onto the track, stood them at the starting gate and walked them through a race. They were quite entranced by the experience because previously they had only looked on from the outside and could now envisage what riders were thinking during the course of a race. Simple and at no cost.

It is also being suggested that promoters and/or riders should be encouraged to visit local schools to talk about speedway and encourage pupils to become engrossed with the mathematical aspect, scoring, averages, etc, as part of their curriculum.

At the SGP rounds we can use tablets and smartphones rather than a pen and programme to register riders scores and the simple app automatically calculates the final numbers and positions.

Is it not time that collectively the promoters commissioned something similar for league matches so that kids can attend with their iPads, fill in the names and follow the meeting in a manner that would appeal to them much more?

It might minimally detract from programme sales – although not if the editorial content of the programme is good enough to still warrant purchasing – but this progression to the digital age is long overdue.

It doesn’t require any wi-fi connection and would appeal to those youngsters who are joined at the hip to their smartphones.

We are only scratching the surfacing here but the bottom line is that speedway bosses need to up their game when they go fishing for a new speedway audience that can provide the core attendance for years to come.

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My 12 year old son has liked speedway for a while. So I just asked him what he likes and doesn't like about Speedway. Here's his answers. (Sorry, but it is what he said)

 

Likes:

Crashes (that was his first answer)

The races and overtakes

Getting selfies with the riders

Filling in the programme

The horns at the Grand Prix

The bike noise

 

Dislikes:

Nicki Pedersen (except when he starts fights. He likes him then)

When the ref makes a rubbish decision and there are delays

The tractor going round - that's boring

Getting stones in the face.

 

 

There you go. Sorted.

Edited by grachan
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THE following is part of a pice I wrote for Speedway Star this week. Comments?

 

THE biggest conundrum facing the current crop of British promoters is how to attract more people through their turnstiles and especially those of a younger generation.

Speedway Star has a vested interest in this. More people attending domestic speedway in the UK increases our potential market as well. BSI, too, looking to increase their annual attendance at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium for the British Grand Prix.

It is the BSPA who hold the keys to a new audience. Schemes such as free admission for under 16-year-olds attending with at least one adult, for example, have merit.

But the question that needs to be asked is this: why would teenagers want to go to speedway in the first place? What’s in it for them?

Kelvin Tatum, newly appointed to the Lakeside management team, and I were chewing this over during a protracted lunch last week.

We agreed that speedway tracks have to be more imaginative in providing ways in which young boys, and girls for that matter, can inter-act with speedway.

How can they get to experience what riding a speedway bike is all about without actually doing so? This has always been a root problem for speedway, which even in the wider world of motorsport exists in its own little bubble.

You cannot buy a speedway bike and ride it down the road, it’s a unique piece of equipment. But that shouldn’t necessarily mean that it is of no interest to potential young fans. Make its inherent weirdness an attraction rather than a deterrent.

Would it be feasible for tracks to allow a limited number of young fans prior to each meeting to discover what it is actually like to sit on a bike, to learn first hand what the idiosyncrasies of it are?

Learning how a speedway bike performs, its unique nature, how it could outgun an F1 car off the grid could be used to add to its allure.

Better still if they could test their reactions at a simulated starting gate. There was one at GPs in Gothenburg for a while and it was a massive attraction.

Kelvin says he would be happy to do that at Lakeside and to walk a group round the track so that they get a further idea of what is involved.

At a recent SGP in Torun he took four fans (not youngsters) onto the track, stood them at the starting gate and walked them through a race. They were quite entranced by the experience because previously they had only looked on from the outside and could now envisage what riders were thinking during the course of a race. Simple and at no cost.

It is also being suggested that promoters and/or riders should be encouraged to visit local schools to talk about speedway and encourage pupils to become engrossed with the mathematical aspect, scoring, averages, etc, as part of their curriculum.

At the SGP rounds we can use tablets and smartphones rather than a pen and programme to register riders scores and the simple app automatically calculates the final numbers and positions.

Is it not time that collectively the promoters commissioned something similar for league matches so that kids can attend with their iPads, fill in the names and follow the meeting in a manner that would appeal to them much more?

It might minimally detract from programme sales – although not if the editorial content of the programme is good enough to still warrant purchasing – but this progression to the digital age is long overdue.

It doesn’t require any wi-fi connection and would appeal to those youngsters who are joined at the hip to their smartphones.

We are only scratching the surfacing here but the bottom line is that speedway bosses need to up their game when they go fishing for a new speedway audience that can provide the core attendance for years to come.

Interesting article!

 

I gave a talk at a school some years ago and the teacher was keen for me to explain how the starting technique was administered. I seem to recall that he was a physics teacher and wanted to know how power translated to grip without causing too much wheel spin! In John Louis' recent excellent book John explains his own technique with tremendous incite and sums it up by saying that clutch and throttle control is somewhat similar to starting in second gear in a motor car. Having ridden a speedway bike I can equate with that.

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Interesting thing about that, for me, is that the one thing you are suggesting kids don't like - ie using a pen and paper - if one of the things he likes!

 

I guess if you want to know what kids want, the best thing to do is to ask kids.

 

I just asked him what he thought about filling scores on his phone and at first he smiled and nodded, then, after a moment, changed his mind and said "I dunno actually. Nah. I prefer it real".

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Let's face facts, speedway is an old person's sport. It is run by old people, for old people. The presentation is old fashioned, the music is often straight from the 70s. This in itself isn't a problem, as the bulk of fee paying fans are themselves over 40 and the average age is probably around 55.

 

Here's a thought, why do we need to attract young people? In my opinion, speedway's biggest problem when it comes to marketing is that it doesn't know what it's target market is. It wants to attract young people, but as stated, it is't geared up to appeal to younger audiences once they are through the turnstiles.

 

There are actually very few products which have universal appeal across all age ranges, so why does speedway think it is special enough to appeal to everyone? The answer is actually surprisingly simple, why doesn't speedway target itself at an older market.

 

Speedway should be targeting over 40s. Instead of going round schools, clubs should be approaching local businesses with deals to attract new fans. Here are three ideas:

 

Firstly, the most basic flyers and posters. This is cheap, but also largely ineffective, as speedway needs to be "sold" to people.

 

Secondly, most companies have some kind of staff discount scheme. Offer a deal which will allow a club to promote speedway more pro-actively. The company I work for has a "roadshow" every few months where local businesses come to our office and promote themselves. A bike, a rider and some footage would goa long way to selling the sport. This obviously takes more effort on the part of the clubs.

 

Thirdly and most involving is some kind of "speedway supporters club" within a local businesses. This requires a lot of co-ordination on behalf of the speedway club, but will also get the most engagement with potential new fans.

 

Then once new fans are attracted, there are plenty of things clubs can do (for free) in order to get people hooked. Pre-meeting pit tours, track walks and viewing a few heats from the centre green are all free and easy ways to turn someone into a regular fans.

 

Speedway's lack of a clear marketing strategy leads to the current scattergun approach, which instead of appealing to everybody, actually appeals to nobody. I agree that focus is required, but I do not believe that young people is where the focus should be aimed.

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Grachan, please don't apologise for what your clearly very astute 12 year old tells you.
Most of my likes and dislikes were identical in my younger years.
Many have not changed right through to my fifties.

I think he gives a much better insight than Phil and Kelv at lunch, to be honest.
No disrespect to your musings Phil, but some of them seem to be quite old fashioned and wide of the mark on some fronts.
They sound just a little like people 'lost on the inside' finding it rather difficult to see the sport in the round and objectively from the outside.

Time and again various Speedway Promoters have tried the going around Schools route. It has only had very limited impact.
Despite volunteers putting in a huge amount of effort in the honest belief that they were 'at least doing something to help' it has rarely come up trumps.

Speedway is a funny old sport ... It tends to be populated by a large number of 'non motorcycle folk'. Most of whom just are not that interested in the intricacies and finer details. And whilst the very small sample of folk who took up his track walk gave such positive feedback, I just feel Kelvin is so steeped in Castrol R that he may miss that this is not really where the public are.

I feel that the digital world is one that should be explored ... But this is the world of the youngsters and old fogies like us are just not in a position to have the first clue of what that really requires. New young blood - not promoters. journos, ex riders or silly old codgers like me - need to be brought in for that. And that will cost real money to invest for the future.

The use of amateur web designers and the like who continue to portray the sport as a backward place online needs a real revamp. Speedway's entire online prescnce is quite woeful for 2015. Hardly any different than ten years ago, or even more.

And we certainly do not want to continue with the restrictive practices employed by the dinosaurs at Go Speed that will stifle activity in this area with their Kremlin like control over media output. That has to change in a big way if technology is to be used properly. Worrying about the programmes sales is frankly quite sad, in this context, and displays just how out of touch oldies can be with the modern world.

Unfortunately this all involves 'speculating to accumulate' and I do understand that there really is so very little money in the kitty to make that investment.

Edited by Grand Central
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By all means get an app that allows scoring to be done on hand held devices, but that is a rather cosmetic improvement isn't it?

I've got 4 kids ranging from 25 to 9 and at some time I've taken them all to Speedway, some for domestic matches, the younger two just GP's abroad.

Biggest thing they don't like is the gaps between races - "it's boring".

At least for a Gp there is some modicum of comfort and they can sit with their phones, tablets etc, but I wouldn't inflict a British League match upon them.

However, if I suggest a night at the Ice Hockey they are all keen to go. Not because they have any interest in the sport, but because as an overall package the whole night out is far more entertaining. Better facilities, food, drink and entertainment outside of the actual action.

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I don't agree that speedway needs to target itself at an older audience. The reason the speedway audience is ageing is because the kids that used to go have grown up and their places haven't been taken.

 

I think kids will love speedway. What kids don't like is standing around for ages watching a tractor going round while some guy babbles on about raffle tickets, listening to old music and being surrounded by old folk.

 

Speedway is exciting. The way it is currently presented isn't.

 

When I was a kid, I remember that I loved working out rider averages and also - something that has now been lost - working out the tactics and the tactical substitutes.

 

Grachan, please don't apologise for what your clearly very astute 12 year old tells you.

It was the "crashes" comment that I thought might get some people going. :)

Biggest thing they don't like is the gaps between races - "it's boring".

Absolutely. Something that bores not only kids, but adults too.

 

This is something that needs to be sorted. Because people aren't going to pay money to be bored.

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Let's face facts, speedway is an old person's sport. It is run by old people, for old people. The presentation is old fashioned, the music is often straight from the 70s. This in itself isn't a problem, as the bulk of fee paying fans are themselves over 40 and the average age is probably around 55.

 

Here's a thought, why do we need to attract young people?

 

Because otherwise when we die out, speedway dies out. :wink:

 

Very interesting to read the thoughts of Grachan's 12-year-old. I think the fascination of working how to fill the programme was something that really helped drag me in around the age of 7 or 8. In football, unless the player is a striker, it's quite hard to monitor how an individual player compares to the rest of his team. In speedway, every rider gets a result in every race. More should be done to appeal to the inner nerd that lies inside most young lads.

 

All the best

Rob

When I was a kid, I remember that I loved working out rider averages and also - something that has now been lost - working out the tactics and the tactical substitutes.

 

 

 

Yes, trying to second guess the team managers.

 

And sometimes you were convinced actually, e.g. John Tremblin, got that wrong - I could have done the tacticals better than that!!

 

All the best

Rob

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Because otherwise when we die out, speedway dies out. :wink:

 

Very interesting to read the thoughts of Grachan's 12-year-old. I think the fascination of working how to fill the programme was something that really helped drag me in around the age of 7 or 8. In football, unless the player is a striker, it's quite hard to monitor how an individual player compares to the rest of his team. In speedway, every rider gets a result in every race. More should be done to appeal to the inner nerd that lies inside most young lads.

 

All the best

Rob

 

 

Yes, trying to second guess the team managers.

 

And sometimes you were convinced actually, e.g. John Tremblin, got that wrong - I could have done the tacticals better than that!!

 

All the best

Rob

Yeah. I could have done better than just putting the number one out in heat 8 too!

 

I think working out tactical substitutes was a very big part of the speedway experience, and it was a mistake to lose that. Certainly for me, as a kid, I loved working them out between heats and looking at ho a match could be turned round.

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By all means get an app that allows scoring to be done on hand held devices, but that is a rather cosmetic improvement isn't it?

I've got 4 kids ranging from 25 to 9 and at some time I've taken them all to Speedway, some for domestic matches, the younger two just GP's abroad.

Biggest thing they don't like is the gaps between races - "it's boring".

At least for a Gp there is some modicum of comfort and they can sit with their phones, tablets etc, but I wouldn't inflict a British League match upon them.

However, if I suggest a night at the Ice Hockey they are all keen to go. Not because they have any interest in the sport, but because as an overall package the

whole night out is far more entertaining. Better facilities, food, drink and entertainment outside of the actual action.

 

There is such an app already, it is called "speedway programme". I haven't used it much though since I prefer the horizontal landscape format

over the heat by heat style used by the app. However I have tested it and it works fine.

 

Don't know if it is available for Iphone but for Android you can get it at the link below:

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=pl.krygiel.speedway.programme&hl=sv

Edited by Ghostwalker

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Get rid of the rubbishy tatty stadia and rebuild with clean modern ones, look at the danish & swedish stadia.

Edited by Dekker

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As for recruiting more fans (not just kids) to speedway. Speedway needs to be more professional.

 

I.e. you cannot control the weather but you can be prepared for bad weather with proper equipment and track covers and etc.

Too often clubs "trusts" the weather forecasts blindly rather then actually checking radar and satellite imaging to see what the weather actually is like.

 

Then I think there should be more interactions between riders and (younger) fans. I know some riders, like Nicki P, a few times a year visits school and or day cares

so that the kids can get a closer look to his bike, race suite as well as being able to ask him questions.

 

In general I think marketing is close to abysmal, a couple of adverts in the local newspaper doesn't really make people think "wow speedway sounds really awesome, let's go check it out".

 

This doesn't only apply to marketing but IMO clubs need to work together instead of just, short-sightedly, looking at themselves. Like in Sweden where Vetlanda are fortunate

to have a local company who loads allot of money into the club which means that Vetlanda thinks that they have the right to complain that the averages is wrong and that

averages needs to be scrapped despite that the situation in Poland shows that it won't work. They should rather realize that for most other teams, there are no such sponsors availabe

and it's more a matter of survival (especially due to the bad weather the past season). Scrapped averages would only result in that their domination would be even bigger and that

it would be a very negative factor for the sport.

 

I also think that all the major speedway countries need to work together to develop and evolutionalize the sport, when it comes to rules, race days, technical regulations, marketing and etc.

 

So to summarize it, there are no quick fixes but everyone needs to work together-

Edited by Ghostwalker

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It's too samey, too long winded and too predictable. Every week at Bradford they brought in a bus load of kids where the riders had often visited the school, they showed them round the pits and everything. After a couple of heats they were reduced to flipping the seats or wandering around the stadium in boredom, I even saw some crack out laughing after heat one, and say "is that it?" It didn't help with the embarrassing centre green idiot, trying (and often failing) to urge people to shout out ludicrous chants. The fact is that it's unknown to too many people, it isn't mainstream and it isn't fashionable and the lack of finance within the sport means that it's stuck that way, you've seen what money can do at Glasgow but some of the televised meetings from other tracks leave me wondering how they manage to make ends meet. The other thing is that as a teenager I could visit a handful of tracks by bus or train, these days with tracks in the middle of nowhere, that's often impossible, so a group of young mates often don't have it as one of their leisure time options.

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THE following is part of a pice I wrote for Speedway Star this week. Comments?

 

THE biggest conundrum facing the current crop of British promoters is how to attract more people through their turnstiles and especially those of a younger generation.

Speedway Star has a vested interest in this. More people attending domestic speedway in the UK increases our potential market as well. BSI, too, looking to increase their annual attendance at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium for the British Grand Prix.

It is the BSPA who hold the keys to a new audience. Schemes such as free admission for under 16-year-olds attending with at least one adult, for example, have merit.

But the question that needs to be asked is this: why would teenagers want to go to speedway in the first place? What’s in it for them?

Kelvin Tatum, newly appointed to the Lakeside management team, and I were chewing this over during a protracted lunch last week.

We agreed that speedway tracks have to be more imaginative in providing ways in which young boys, and girls for that matter, can inter-act with speedway.

How can they get to experience what riding a speedway bike is all about without actually doing so? This has always been a root problem for speedway, which even in the wider world of motorsport exists in its own little bubble.

You cannot buy a speedway bike and ride it down the road, it’s a unique piece of equipment. But that shouldn’t necessarily mean that it is of no interest to potential young fans. Make its inherent weirdness an attraction rather than a deterrent.

Would it be feasible for tracks to allow a limited number of young fans prior to each meeting to discover what it is actually like to sit on a bike, to learn first hand what the idiosyncrasies of it are?

Learning how a speedway bike performs, its unique nature, how it could outgun an F1 car off the grid could be used to add to its allure.

Better still if they could test their reactions at a simulated starting gate. There was one at GPs in Gothenburg for a while and it was a massive attraction.

Kelvin says he would be happy to do that at Lakeside and to walk a group round the track so that they get a further idea of what is involved.

At a recent SGP in Torun he took four fans (not youngsters) onto the track, stood them at the starting gate and walked them through a race. They were quite entranced by the experience because previously they had only looked on from the outside and could now envisage what riders were thinking during the course of a race. Simple and at no cost.

It is also being suggested that promoters and/or riders should be encouraged to visit local schools to talk about speedway and encourage pupils to become engrossed with the mathematical aspect, scoring, averages, etc, as part of their curriculum.

At the SGP rounds we can use tablets and smartphones rather than a pen and programme to register riders scores and the simple app automatically calculates the final numbers and positions.

Is it not time that collectively the promoters commissioned something similar for league matches so that kids can attend with their iPads, fill in the names and follow the meeting in a manner that would appeal to them much more?

It might minimally detract from programme sales – although not if the editorial content of the programme is good enough to still warrant purchasing – but this progression to the digital age is long overdue.

It doesn’t require any wi-fi connection and would appeal to those youngsters who are joined at the hip to their smartphones.

We are only scratching the surfacing here but the bottom line is that speedway bosses need to up their game when they go fishing for a new speedway audience that can provide the core attendance for years to come.

I think we should get a young rider an Australian with British entitlement would be ok , someone with a youngish outlook towards , Tattoos, piercings and clothing . then fast track him through the national league , premier league , into team Gb and give him the British selection for the GPs. then he will become popular with the younger generation and have them flocking to British tracks to see him in action . the only worry though is that having had all he can get from British speedway and it's supporters , he will then get so big for his boots that he will want to change the whole way the sport is run to suit his schedule , and when that doesn't happen turn his back and ride in another country ,

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