The Cars Need to Look Fast on TV
The cars need to look fast on TV. The cars need to look cool on TV. Do casual fans know the difference between spec racing and innovation? No. Can they see the difference between a field of identical cars and a field with aerokits? Yes. Would that difference help? I think so.
The new camera angles and production style take the speed out of it. Because the speed is gone, they demand constant passing. That will never happen.
The cars are still fast. They just look slow. When they look slow, whose attention are you going to grasp?
We can debate all kinds of things about the channel it's on, but whatever channel you want to show these races on, they need to be shown correctly. The angles they use aren't correct, trying to sell the people before the race rather than after it isn't correct, etc.
Don't get me wrong, people and stories are important, but motorsports isn't as inherently human to the casual observer as other sports, such that someone may watch the Patriots for Tom Brady or the Olympics for Michael Phelps but is less apt to watch the auto race for Ryan Hunter-Reay because it doesn't feel very human. It's hard to put that into words, but I don't necessarily think it applies.
I guess my point is, it's no coincidence the best stories, personalities, and names of this sport were in the eras of the coolest cars. Racing is a sport where the car culture makes the humans in it. They complement each other. It isn't a trade-off of "focus on cars or focus on drivers," it's a synergy. Start by taking what you have and making it look faster, making it look edgier, making it make people get into Paul Page mode and yell "whoooooaaaa!" Then you work on making what you have even better, while you work on getting a few names out there.
Somewhere in that, Ryan Hunter-Reay the guy who goes 220 mph and looks like he's going 220 mph is a lot cooler than the Ryan Hunter-Reay who looks like he's going 75 down the highway. Somewhere in that, the Ryan Hunter-Reay who has that really badass car is a lot cooler than the Ryan Hunter-Reay whose car looks the same as everyone else's.
Don't tell me what works or doesn't work in any other sport, even in NASCAR. This isn't that. Do it differently. The cars, the speed, and the racing will make the people more compelling. Put those elements back into the broadcast; some already exist in the product but aren't shown.