PWC CEO Scott Bove: "You can copy what we did yesterday, but not what we'll do tomorrow"
Those are the words of Pirelli World Challenge CEO Scott Bove, who I spoke with recently.
The Pirelli World Challenge is an ever-growing series that never ceases to puzzle their competitors and enthrall the fans all at the same time. In an era when most major forms of motorsport have struggled to hold eyeballs and put people in the seats, the PWC has flourished and emerged as a top series. I was given the opportunity to speak with Scott Bove, their CEO.
There are people that are looking at us and seeing what we're doing. They might feel as if they can simply copy us ... You can copy what we did yesterday, but you're never going to copy what we'll do tomorrow.
PWC CEO Scott Bove
Racing cars we drive on the streets
One of the major driving points of the PWC is keeping true with the cars we drive and see on the road every day, something others have failed to maintain. "The focus with our series are racing cars that people drive on the streets, so you're not going to see open-wheel cars that don't resemble anything," he explained to Motorsport.com. "Our platform is relevance based. So a Ferrari on the race track, for all intents and purposes, outside of some graphics and some wings, it looks identical to a Ferrari you'd see in a parking lot."
Where to watch the PWC?
As for where fans can get their PWC fill, there are a couple ways, including videos we upload to Motorsport.com. "A six or seven year inventory of all our races, all of our in-car camera footage, and all of our 2015 races will be live streamed on world-challengetv.com. In addition to this, our CBS sports broadcast partner will show all our races live or on a one week delay basis. There will be 30 hours of coverage." Yes, he said live and on TV.
The 'secret' formula to success
I really wanted to get into what Scott and his partners have as a model that has helpmed them make the PWC what it is today. Firstly, Scott of course wants to protect the business formula like one would want to protect grandma's tomato sauce recipe, as he compared it to. But then he still revealed the 'secret,' which really isn't much of a secret at all.
"The secret is very simple ... There really is no secret. Our customers want to be able to engage in motorsports at an affordable price, packed with value. Our focus has been on delivering value and results to our customers. (Such as) sponsors who drive this sport forward ... They are the ones who promote our business and get our other customers, teams and drivers to want to join us. Having the driver able to afford to go racing because most of our customers are not factory-based programs is key."
"We have kept costs low, we have a great TV partner in CBS sports, our live broadcasts are second-to-none, and our races are easy to follow being a sprint-race format. There's no driver changes, no pit stops, so the leader is the leader. Our races are affordable for those who compete and we deliver value."
Splitting GT and GTS, a decision made to allow more growth
One major decision that has been in the headlines has been the splitting of the GT and GTS classes, which had previously run together. The reasoning is because the PWC encountered a problem many series would dream of having ... Too many cars!
Our fundamental business hasn't changed and that's important. What has changed is that the market is demanding more for less
PWC CEO Scott Bove
"The number one reason is when a stock gets to a certain value, it's not uncommon for the stock to split, so a $100 stock becomes two shares at $50 (each). Our racing was at capacity last year and the street courses were challenging for 50 cars. The closing rates were excessively high ... The top speeds were far enough apart that we decided in order for GTS to grow, which it was unable to do under that format, it needs to be in its own environment. That way, the GTS leader is the overall leader and the field has room to grow. The GT field was in a similar situation. It was poised to grow to 30, 35 cars, but it was not able to do that if we kept both classes racing together. The goal is to go from one 50-car multi-class race to two races with 35 to 40 cars each."
Always evolve, never change
I noted that the series has done an infallible job of evolving and keeping with the times, but as Scott made clear, underneath the altering of what we may see right in front of us, the backbone of this series has remained unchanged throughout the decades.
"One good thing we've done is we haven't changed our philosophy, our respect for the customer, our respect for delivering value. Our core steps for the business have not changed. What has changed is that we've added things (that are) market adjustments. Our fundamental business hasn't changed and that's important. What has changed is that the market is demanding more for less."
They are looking at us, they might feel they can copy us, but...
Now my favorite part of the discussion came when I finished up one question, prepared to move to the next, but Scott interjected with some more comments that really summed up how the PWC is surpassing their rivals.
"I will tell you this ... There are people that are looking at us and seeing what we're doing. They might feel as if they can simply copy us. Our philosophy is fairly simple. You can copy what we did yesterday, but you're never going to copy what we'll do tomorrow."
"We're all fast on our feet. From the day after our season ended to now, we've been working 18 hour days formulating new strategies, developing new ways to enhance our business and making ourselves better than we were yesterday."
I likened that philosophy to that of a championship-winning race team that must continue to get better than they were the year before, or risk falling behind.
Internationally, I can se us having a true world challenge. We are working on some new ventures that have an international flair
PWC CEO Scott Bove on future of the series
"We're not going to change. We're going to enhance the product, make it better, but we're not going to change. A true champion wins back-to-back titles."
One issue the newly formed TUDOR United SportsCar Championship has had to overcome is making the ALMS P1 and the Grand-Am DP's equal. The PWC faced a similar situation with the introduction of GT3-spec cars.
"The PWC GT cars were deathly afraid of these factory-built GT3 cars," Scott revealed. "We hired the best engineers and the best technical staff to balance the cars, and we delivered that result.
A future with an international flair?
Now looking towards the future, Scott hinted at some exciting news in the works, but left me to wonder what may actually be coming down the pike.
"I would not be surprised to see some really strong news coming within the next six months about our 2016 season," he stated.
"I see Pirelli World Challenge not changing, but certainly enhancing and growing. I see an enhanced TV program with more live events in years to come. I see more standalone events, so you'll be visiting COTA March 5th at the 'Pirelli World Challenge GP.'
I mentioned the prospect of going international and it seems that the suits at PWC are way ahead of me on that front.
"Internationally, I can see us having a true world challenge. We are working on some new ventures that have an international flair. We will be announcing that within the next couple of months. I see a more global influence. About 20% of our viewership online comes from outside the US, so we definitely plan on expanding and building on that."
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