New plans to draw crowds in 2001

The new organiser of the British Touring Car Championship, BMP, has pledged to spend £1 million on marketing next year as the series undergoes its most radical facelift since the beginning of the 1990s

New plans to draw crowds in 2001

A low-cost formula is being introduced for 2001 to level the BTCC playing field and with it come some fresh ideas from BMP to increase the profile of the championship.

As part of the new package, BMP is to run its own two-car team representing a manufacturer not otherwise involved in the championship. The team will be specifically aimed at nurturing talented British drivers under the age of 21.

"BMP has a commitment to raise the awareness of the BTCC," said BMP director Rob Bain. "We are aiming to appeal to more of a youth market - a completely new audience."

The marketing and television packaging for the series will be run by Octagon, a BMP shareholder. Octagon CSI says it aims to increase the television coverage of the series around the world, while Octagon Marketing will be charged with attracting the youth audience which is key to BMP's approach.

"If you look at what car manufacturers are advertising at the moment it's the much smaller models," continued Bain. "It is important we give the series an aspirational market feel."

The other major marketing change for 2001 is the addition of guest drivers at each round from the world of showbiz. BMP wants stars to compete in the championship rounds proper as guest drivers, in an attempt to take the crowds from the current level of 20,000 back up to the 40,000 fans per race of the late '90s.

"Having a racing licence would be an advantage for any stars who want to race," said Bain. "It is important we attract top-line drivers as well. When I spoke to Nigel Mansell recently about the prospect of racing, his eyes lit up."

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