There’s a new trend sweeping through the world of motorsports, and I do not agree with it at all. It is bad. It is embarrassing. It is an attempt to reach The Kids, and frankly, it is probably the worst way to go about it. Yes. For some reason, everyone is deciding that creepy mascots are a Good Thing.
The most recent culprit is the World Endurance Championship, who announced the arrival of the new face of their sport on Twitter alongside a contest to name him.
This comes after Formula One’s rumored new mascot, Axel, was announced on April 1st. It seemed like a joke, but apparently, there are still rumors going around containing details about what this mascot will be like and the duties he’ll perform at the track.
And if these helmeted heads of the sport seem a little familiar, it’s because Formula E introduced Formula EJ years ago, whose vision it is to “bring to life the cinematic experience of watching a car race in the movies, giving the crowd and viewers a real life Fast and Furious, live,” according to the Formula E website. Which is, in a sense, a slightly more glorified way of saying FE wants to do something different to appeal to the youths.
There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m normally not one to complain about trying to grow the motorsport audience, but it also just doesn’t seem like anyone really knows what they’re doing. Introducing a bunch of similar-looking mascots that all vaguely resemble The Stig’s memorable and mysterious demeanor in every series is kind of cringe-worthy. It might capture the attention of the kids in the crowd, but it also is not an effective band-aid to smooth over another failed race, a highly stratified grid based on who can actually afford to build a multi-million dollar car, or a waning interest from an adult audience looking to find something to reel them back in.
And to be entirely honest, mascots are just kind of creepy. I have too many pictures that my friends have taken of the Firestone Firehawk standing ominously behind me. There’s something about foam heads that really just does not sit well with me, and the whole pseudo-Stig concept has been done so many times before that at this point you gotta wonder if anyone in the board meeting drawing up these designs has ever actually engaged with pop culture before. Or, y’know, looked at the fact that other series are doing the exact same thing.
Racing is cool, y’all. I don’t really see why we need a bunch of tangential figures standing around to make things interesting when there are a million other ways to work on brand recognition and revitalizing interest in the sport. A mascot is not going to do the kind of heavy lifting that motorsport needs to draw people in.
And mascots are just weird.
Please stop trying to make mascots happen. They’re not going to happen.