The Frontstretch: Disturbing Trends and Subliminal Programming -- Straight From NASCAR's Fuel Tank by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday February 28, 2008

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Disturbing Trends and Subliminal Programming -- Straight From NASCAR's Fuel Tank

Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday February 28, 2008


So far this year, I have been surprisingly pleased overall with the quality of racing — when the Cup Series has raced, of course — that the new Brian France named “car” has produced. (Got to send kudos out to the Big BF for coming up with such a clever name for it!)

Regardless, the Daytona 500 was as close as they get; and this last weekend's race, at the silliest named track on the circuit, wasn't as "all wet" as usual. Well, it was, actually — but it was in a physical sense, and not the usual boring racing sense. There have been, however, two disturbing trends I have noticed this season, ones which I pray will stop in their tracks as February fades into March.

The first deals with one of NASCAR’s most obnoxious and self-inflated “Official” sponsors, Sunoco.

Remember a year ago about this time? Kevin Harvick, driving the Shell car, had just won the Daytona 500. But instead of capitalizing on the fact that the Shell car had driven to a win on Sunoco Fuel, that company’s overpaid advertising executives threatened to sue instead because, as they pointed out, the emblem of the Shell logo was way too big on Kevin's car. Sunoco didn’t feel that was fair because they had, in fact, paid millions of dollars to be the Official Fuel of NASCAR — even if it did have water in it every once in awhile. Seems they had forgotten all about the Sunoco emblazoned stock car they had sponsored in the early ‘90s, when someone else was the Official Fuel. But I digress…

Sunoco, the official annoyance of Jeff Meyer.

At any rate, here we are one year later — and once again, Sunoco has popped up in a bothersome way. Bound and determined not to let us forget that they’re the number one fuel padding NASCAR’s bank account, they’ve taken on a new and annoying tactic to ensure their name is heard.

At one point during the race in Daytona, just as the cars were about to come in for scheduled pit stops, it was pointed out by the FOX commentators that so and so would be coming to pit lane to get another tank full of "that Sunoco power." At first, I thought it was a bit of an awkward way to say that they were getting fuel, but I chalked it up to the FOX crew just trying to be colorful. I was trying to be an optimistic chap, as I do at the start of every race year.

That, however, was not the case; the reference to “Sunoco” fuel continued to be made, just about every time pit stops were needed. That trend has continued on throughout the second race of the season, becoming even more obvious and annoying in the process. So, as we head to Las Vegas this weekend, I ask you, the reader, to listen closely and keep track of just how many times the FOX crew uses the name Sunoco before each time they say fuel; unless, of course, you've already heard enough like me, and take it as just one more excuse to hit the ‘mute' button as you watch the race.

The other NASCAR induced subliminal message that fans were subjected to this last weekend was the blatant, albeit ridiculous, attempts during the broadcast to compare the California Speedway - oh, excuse me - Auto Club Speedway, to Darlington!

Several times it was suggested that this fantastic West Coast race track was the “new Darlington.” The announcers even went so far as to include a quote by the wise and wily racing veteran, Kyle Busch, (look up “sarcasm” in the dictionary now) that effectively said that this track was as good, if not better than, The Lady in Black. I suppose next year we will start hearing the phrase "Auto Club stripe" whenever a car scrapes the wall after driving through a “weeper.”

Well, no amount of money in the world will convince me that NASCAR has not directly told the commentators they must include such ridiculous subliminal attempts to sway fans on both accounts. Give it up, NASCAR! We ain't that stupid.

In the meantime, I hope my mute button holds out!

Stay off the wall (you don't need an "Auto Club Stripe" now, do ya!?),

Jeff Meyer

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


©2000 - 2008 Jeff Meyer and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

02/28/2008 07:33 AM

MMMM, not sure what “racing” you are watching, but watching a pack of the CoT’s is like watching a pack of WHEATIES BOXES racing!

You have a pack of cars where all the drivers are just trying to hang on, and you call this “racing”??

Now how sick is that?

You are one of those that thinks: noise = racing!

Me, I am a “purest”! I like to see races where cars can change lanes abruptly, maneuver on the race track, and show the nimbleness that makes “dicing” with another car a possibility!

Just remember, when you compare junk to junk, you can call that “competition”, if you wish!

Unfortunately, for a lot of us, as NA$CAR is finding out! We simply cannot be duped as to whats is real racing!

And the CoT is NOT IT!

02/28/2008 10:30 AM

Sorry Jeff, but we had 15 snoozers last year with the COT and have started out with 2 snoozers this year. But your point is well taken about the Fox crew mentioning the names of the “official providers” at every opporunity. Also pay attention at how they’re calling the cars. Jeff Gordon in the Hendrick Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth in that Roush-Fenway Ford, and Mikey in that NAPA Domino’s Burger King Toyota. It harkens back to the early days of Fox’s coverage when the only way a team sponsor got mentioned was when they ponied up “mention money” to Fox.

Kurt Smith
02/28/2008 11:37 AM

I’m reminded of the scene in “Wayne’s World” where Wayne and Garth insist that they won’t sell out to corporate interests as they’re constantly holding products in front of the camera.

This official stuff is really starting to hurt NASCAR…I have no doubt Sprint is taking hits in their stock prices because NASCAR fans were furious at how AT&T, Richard Childress and Jeff Burton were treated. Busch has bailed, Craftsman is on their way out, and NASCAR ended up taking a third of their original asking price to sponsor the Nationwide Series. I think companies are starting to think it isn’t worth the risk.

02/28/2008 11:46 AM

I long for the old days before the big TV contract when you tuned into the race and it was called something like the “Radio Shack 500” by the commentators and not just “NASCAR Racing from” wherever they were that week. These sponsors have already paid enough to sponsor the race. They should not also have to pay a bribe to the TV network (along with NASCAR) so that they will get mentioned there also.

02/28/2008 11:50 AM

So what’s the problem? They pay a lot of money to NASCAR, so who cares if they Say SUNOCO fuel instaed of gas. I for one am glad someone is paying for me to watch the races.
Also I think the COT is providing better racing, the best drivers are running up front, the racing is somewhat back in the drivers hands

02/28/2008 12:36 PM

Actually , the answer to the constant shilling for the watery Sunoco is that Mike Joy is a Sunoco race fuel distributor . Sure seems like a case for conflict of interest could be made there . The MRN announcers do the same thing . Sunoco doesn’t have much money , so they encourage Joy to mention the name as often as possible .
One excellent way to stop this is to stop buying Sunoco . It isn’t very good gasoline anyway and maybe they will get the message that the fans have to put up with far too many commercials as it is without being forced to endure Joy and the others constantly saying Sunoco .

02/28/2008 01:21 PM

Hey McNair, right on about Sunoco!

I grew up using Sunoco, used to be a good gas. Then whatever happened it turned to crap! Not many years ago they actually lowered the octane, from 87 to 84, then 85, and sold it a penny below “regular”, but called it their “regular” gas!

Trying to dupe the public! And most people don’t know 85 from 87 so they started buying this inferior product! Of course their cars knew it!

Kevin in SoCal
02/28/2008 01:46 PM

Douglass, I’m glad you have found an outlet for all that pent up hostility and anger you have inside you. Without these forums to express yourself, you might have a heart attack, stroke, or aneurysm. Keep it up, you’re very entertaining. Have you applied for the writer’s job this website is advertising?

02/28/2008 02:04 PM

California couldn’t put on a Darlington quality race if it were “Fixed” and they had all of Screenland’s top stunt directors on hand to guide it.

02/28/2008 03:37 PM

Even with the new car, California still sucks.

It’s not a nascar track, it’s an open-wheel track. Until that changes, until the track is changed, it will continue to be one of the most boring tracks in nascar.

I watched the very first race there. And didn’t watch again until Monday’s race. And I won’t ever watch a California race again unless they change the track.

And they just announced that there are NO plans to change the track.

So that’s a two weekends off for me. Call me when we get to Bristol or Richmond.

02/28/2008 03:45 PM

Considering Sprint just posted a $29.45 billion quarterly loss, they may want to switch to a real fuel instead of the watery stuff. Maybe then they’ll post some gains :)

We get blasted with enough commercials during the race weekend from all the official products, service providers, etc. We don’t need to have the corporate shill thing going on in the announcing booth. Bad enough having two of them screaming about how good the racing is when in fact it stinks.

02/28/2008 04:48 PM

Hey, Kevin in Socal, thanks for the encouragement! Yes, I considered “applying” for the writers job!

I could travel the country watching races! I do have the time for sure!

I also know I get on my high horse most times, but I enjoy doing so!

When I look at the millions and billions of $$$$ that NA$CAR is fleecing from it’s fans, I guess I get way too excited about doing my best to “enlighten” anyone that will listen!

I am a purest about racing (whatever image that conjures up anyway), realize things must change, as they should, but the powers to be at NA$CAR really are not looking out for the fans interests, and we are the ones that ultimately pay the bills!

Good racing and fairness! What more can one ask for?

(well, one thing!! Go away CoT))

02/28/2008 04:53 PM

With all the money that Sunoco has invested in the sport you would think that you could get their fuel thoughout the country. The first time that I saw a Sunoco gas station was last summer in N. Carolina. No where else have I seen one. Question. Has their always been advertising on the checkered flag? I hadn’t noticed it until this year.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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