I feel confused, upset and concerned at the moment, and thankfully so do many others. So my opinion may turn into a vent, or maybe not, or maybe it might stick to being simply an opinion - see how confused I am already?
Gosh, I might even digress a little into a potential solution - the one among many.
Enough rambling, what's the point you may ask... well the NZ Motorsport scene is in deep trouble with our Number 1 premier category. Uh-Oh... here we go....
To start, I have a lot of friends driving and crewing in the top tier circus, and it is not their fault that numbers are down both on the grid and in the stands, so I hope they don't take the criticism of the category personally. In fact, I feel sorry for them in a way, even though they are doing what every driver and team does, which is putting in the effort and sacrifices to succeed at their chosen sport. So why do I feel sorry for them? Because they are tarnished. Every time their glory is spoken about it will always have that niggle in the background questioning the level of competition and it's not fair on them.
They will of course be remembered for their final standings at the end of the season, they'll be remembered at times for their individual results in certain races, and they'll be remembered as the drivers who had to perform during the demise and aftermath of the NZV8's and NZ SuperTourers. However they are not racing against the all of the top touring car drivers and teams in the country, they are not racing in full fields amongst their peers. It's a sad fact, it's a true fact, and again it's not their fault.
MSNZ knows this as well. They're getting on with the job of keeping a series running by working with former NZV8 stalwart Geoff Short to give him the promotional and operational wand in the hope he can wave it around and say the right words for a magical resurgence, but it is not going to be easy for either party. MSNZ also know the future is probably not in V8 Touring cars so they have started a program to get feedback and discuss potential solutions with fans, the neighbours dog, car clubs, and probably the local fish and chip guy. Hopefully one of them will have the answer. We've all noted - just as they did in Australia - that V8 was removed from the description.
It does however all come back to the supporters. They are the target of sponsors, that in turn brings the money, which in turn brings the drivers and teams. We all know this and it is an evil circle to deal with.
Sponsors want results and not just chequered flag ones. They want to see their brand name getting decent coverage and it's very difficult to measure. TV networks lie about ratings, so too does the radio. Newspapers tend to do the same thing so the only real option left is the internet, where it's harder to fool people with upgraded stats on viewership and readership.
Knowing all this keeps me in a very unpleasant space. The old outlets are no longer the mainstream and yet television seems to still wield power. Mainly because they have the infrastructure to produce - not because they have the best viewership.
There is no simple answer. The NZ Motorsport fan is a fickle creature. They want noise, grunt, speed, action, thrills - and they believe the only way to get this is from the 'good ol V8 sedan'.
F1 at the moment is proof that being fast is not enough to satisfy a hunger. It still garners a huge worldwide following but that is because of historical events not current. The supporters are simply clinging on to hope and leaving when they see none.
So it doesn't make it an easy task for the operations people in NZ. Nor does it make it an enviable one. They are going to be lambasted at every turn, criticised and questioned. You can't just ask all the current teams to ditch their current machinery with all the investment and expect them to start again from fresh with a new plan - that was tried with SuperTourers. Granted, that did have good bones and tonnes of potential but things went awry quickly. But the point is it can't be done again in a grander scale.
My gut tells me however that a tarmac version of the AP4 Rally car is the potential future - that is if they can do lap times equal to the top V8 Touring cars. They would quickly win hearts as the racing would likely be as the Swifts once was, and what the SsangYong's currently is - just a whole lot quicker.
Anyway, a main point to remember here is that it's not their fault. The current crop of drivers and teams. It's not.
It's not their fault that they compete in heavily depleted grids.
It's not their fault that they don't compete against all of the top drivers and teams in the country.
It's not their fault that the politics of the past five years has almost destroyed their personal passions.
It's not their fault that the organisers have to put two categories together to make a passable grid.
It's not their fault that the crowds don't come.
It's not their fault that sponsors have been burnt and may never return.
Currently the category is a disaster - but once more remember, for the ones out there competing right now it's not their fault.