The Frontstretch: Voices From the Heartland: Brian France’s Denial Appears Contagious! by Jeff Meyer -- Wednesday October 20, 2010

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Voices From the Heartland: Brian France’s Denial Appears Contagious!

Voices from the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Wednesday October 20, 2010


This last week, fellow journalist Dustin Long of the Virginian Pilot scored what, in my eyes, is a major scoop; he saw and asked Brian Z. France a couple of questions which Brian responded to before being, as Dustin put it, “led away from me” (presumably by highly specialized animal trainers.)

The questions were about A) the continued dropping of television ratings and B) what more he (Brian) could do, including the possibility of picture-in-picture commercials during the race. Here are Brian’s remarks, respectively:

“We’re working on it. Racing is great, and over time that takes care of things. We’d like to have better ratings, but we will over time.’‘


“We’ll look at everything we can do. Ultimately, the racing, which is phenomenal, will carry the day. That’s our product.’‘

In reality, this exchange between Mr. Long and and Mr. France probably lasted less than a minute, seeing as how it took place as France was leaving a press conference announcing the planet-saving news that NASCAR will switch to ethanol-blended fuel. However, in that short span of time it took France to utter those few sentences, a few points as to what is wrong with NASCAR become glaringly obvious once again.

Brian France was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to remind the racing media of just how great the “product” they’re covering was and is.

First of all, I’ve come to the conclusion that France and his minions must be incredibly busy people. How many times, just in this year alone, has Brian said, “We’re working on it” or “We are looking into it?” That is a lot of “working” and “looking!”

Now, I realize that running a huge business such as NASCAR must be very complicated, and each issue must be “looked into” on a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately for us race fans, when Brian speaks, it becomes more and more obvious that the cases he is “looking into” appear to be filled mostly with scotch.

Secondly, did you notice, in those few sentences and that short time span, how France tried really, really hard… not once, but twice… to convince you how “great” and “phenomenal” the racing… ’scuse me, I mean product… really is? It simply boggles my mind why this guy hasn’t been elected to a public office by now! At the very least, he could be, “The world’s greatest used car salesman. In the world!”

Unfortunately (to me anyway), the further I read Mr. Long’s blog, the giddiness I always feel when reading the latest Brian quote turned into disappointment as I read quotes attributed to Bruton Smith, owner of ISC’s chief rival, SMI. I say “unfortunate” because I have always kind of respected ole Bruton. He was, after all, the main thorn in ISC’s and the France family’s side all these years and, quite possibly, the one man that might be able to fix the mess that Brian has made of NASCAR in seven years if only given the chance.

“You’ve got to look at competition on TV today and that’s one of the things,” said Smith. “I’m not sure we’re down 25 (percent). I have difficulty believing that, but here again, if you start a race at 1 o’clock on Sunday afternoon, look at all the competition you have on TV. I’m not sure that 1 o’clock is doing our sport any favors.’‘

“If people want to tune in and watch football… and every game seems to be about the same… if they want to, let them. Let’s say by 2 o’clock they’re tired of it, and then they’ll come over and watch a real sport. Maybe that’s what we ought to be doing.’‘

Once again, this columnist asks; at what point do you become so rich and obtuse that you lose all your common sense?

The problem is NOT the start times. The problem is NOT (ratings wise) the economy. The problem IS the “product!” Not so much the actual racing… good or great racing is a subjective thing and determined in the mind of the individual viewee. No, the problem is the Chase. The problem is Brian France himself and his determination to even turn racing into a “product” with contrived drama. The problem is that NASCAR thinks we are stupid and do not know what we want to see racing-wise. The fixes are right in front of their faces, yet they are blind.

For all their “working” and “looking into it,” why can’t they see what millions of NASCAR fans (past and present) are saying? In today’s age of the Internet and instant communication, how much easier could it be to know or find out what the customer (us) wants?! All they have to do is read the comments at any one of a number of racing Web sites!

The fans have been speaking for a number of years now; first with our money, and now with our viewing habits. Yes, the economy has been bad, so we stay home and watch the race instead of going to the track, that part I get. However, why aren’t we tuning in to the race? We are… you watch the first 20 laps or so… flip over to football (or whatever), maybe back to the race during the occasional commercial to check the position ticker. Tune in for the last 25 laps, and you’ve pretty much seen the whole of NASCAR’s new “product!”

For all that Bruton Smith has gotten right as a race promoter, his conceptualization of today’s race fan fails to recognize the presence and impact competing sports have on a race fan’s attention.

Another thing that NASCAR, and apparently Bruton Smith, fail to understand is the concept that not everyone is a “one sport fan.” Yes, I love racing, but I also love football. When I was a kid in the ‘70s, I might have not been so inclined to change the channel… because you actually had to get your butt off the couch and turn the dial on the TV to another channel (no, really! You actually had to get up and walk to the set!)…but that is a moot point because NASCAR wasn’t on television then. The fact remains, however, if the viewer can see the “whole” of a three hour “product” by watching the first and last few minutes, well, seems to me that maybe the “product” ain’t so good! I mean, do you really have to sit and watch all 30 minutes of an infomercial to see just how amazingly well the latest food processor works? No, you can cover it in 10 or less.

On a different note, and one that may ultimately help NASCAR’s product, I hope and pray that Jimmie Johnson wins his fifth Cup title this year and continues for a sixth and possibly a seventh!! No, it’s not that I am a Jimmie Johnson fan, it’s my thinking that the more titles J.J. wins, the sooner they will get rid of this contrived drama called the Chase!

Let’s get back to racing. No Chase, more points for a win. Simple really. Not hard work, no excessive searching or “looking!”

Maybe that is why I am still a poor man with common sense!


I honestly tried, but I cannot resist taking one more parting shot! I know I’ve caused some longtime readers some hair loss in the past by posting actual Brian France quotes. Here is my chance to make it up to you with the following BZF quotes from October 16th concerning ethanol fuel:

“NASCAR is committed to being an environmental leader, and the sport has taken significant steps over the years toward conservation by introducing measurable, best-in-class initiatives in recycling, alternative energy, and carbon mitigation. The transition to Sunoco Green E15 takes our long-term sustainability strategy to the next level. Sunoco Green E15 is good for racing, good for the environment and good for America. While fueling the same close, door-to-door racing that thrills our fans, American ethanol creates jobs in the United States, helps foster energy independence, and continues the greening of our sport.”

I got a hundred bucks that says he read that verbatim! Any takers? Gotta love highly trained handlers!

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

Contact Jeff Meyer

Thursday on the Frontstretch:
Tim Richmond – To The Limit
Fanning the Flames: The Next ‘Secret’ Fine, McGrew’s Mistake And RPM Divorce
Dialing It In: Hamlin’s Time To Strike
Fantasy Insider: Johnson’s Numbers Great, Gordon’s Staggering At Paperclip

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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10/21/2010 06:42 AM

You’re absolutely right Jeff. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the racing is, I don’t think it’s any different, but everyone knows that because of the Chase, most of it doesn’t matter at all.

Just a thought, but you don’t like Brian France very much, do you Jeff?

10/21/2010 08:25 AM

Jeff, what you say is 100% right. And it mirrors what I said in response to yesterday’s mirror driving column. Although, you do say it better.
It just seems that everybody has forgotten that the NFL existed between 1980-2000 when NASCAR was gaining fans every season. Back then, NASCAR still had dueling start times with the NFL. For some reason, now the attitude is, that you shouldn’t compete with the NFL if you can’t beat them. But, why?
There are more than 300,000,000 people in America. That is more than enough for people to watch the NFL,MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, professional lawn bowling, and the qualifiers for the olympic curling team, AND EVERYBODY STILL MAKES MONEY!!!
The problem is more related to the fact that NASCAR became na$car and the “product” sucks.

The Mad Man
10/21/2010 09:38 AM

Great article Jeff. I think you hit everything right on the head.

Brain Farce thinks denial is a river in Egypt. Sorry, old joke I know, but then Brain Farce is an old joke too.

John Potts
10/21/2010 10:35 AM

Good stuff, Jeff. When NASCAR announced the E-15 thing, somebody on one of the IndyCar websites commented, “Welcome to 2007.”

Sue Rarick
10/21/2010 10:49 AM

Good article. I agree, get rid of the Chase and add enough points for a win that winning becomes important again.
My other two complaints are points racers. Their are certain drivers whose goal it seems is to just finish up high enough to ‘make the chase’. That really adds to the excitement. NOT!!!
And the season is just to darn long. By race 30 I am raced out. Watching leaves fall is a better option.
Mind you we will be in Vegas for the festivities in December.

10/21/2010 11:00 AM

get rid of some of the “cookie cutter” tracks. they want all the tracks to be so wide they can race side by side, yea right, any driver can do that, just a sunday afternoon drive. Tracks like Darlington, Rockingham, Wilkesboro where the drivers have to really use their skill and nerve are where it’s at, seperates the MEN from the little boys.

10/21/2010 11:20 AM

My two cents – Shorten the season and shorten the races.

10/21/2010 11:26 AM

If Brian Frances’ lips are moving, he’s lying. Here are the scientific facts regarding NASCAR and E15 NASCAR wanted the casual fan sooooo bad. How’s that working out? If you watch football on Sunday, do the booth guys talk to their audience like they’re stupid? Does the NFL go over the same old elementary stuff, week after week, expalining what a first down is? Do they continually explain the simple concept of what constitutes a first down? NASCAR and their boredcasters do it hours before the race and hours into a race. How’s that working out NASCAR?

10/21/2010 11:37 AM

You hit it right on the head. France and NASCAR live in their own little world where the Chase is vital to competition with other sports. It’s pure ego, B. France & Co. doesn’t want to admit their wrong. If I remember correctly, 10 years ago without the Chase the sport was booming and doing quite well against football. The problem if 48 wins again, its only going to get worse because we’ll get the “elimination chase”. Yeah that would make Homestead entertaining, but if you want to go that route lets have the 12 Chasers compete in a demolition derby in the Homestead infield for the title. They have turned the Cup Championship into a state fair side show.

10/21/2010 11:58 AM

Everything in nascar is bigger so it must be better?? I dislike the way ESPN covers racing on tv, how many commnetators do we need in the booth?? Why do we need to have things described to the viewer in grammer school language? Just show the dam race have two commentators that the fans like, stop the talk about the chase and show every driver racing on the track, NOT JUST THE CHASE drivers. I could not care less about the dumb chase!!!!

10/21/2010 12:02 PM

Three Things:

1. My constant bleat about the chase which I shall continue until I hear it chanted at every chase track or the damn thing is s***canned:

“It cannot be mended. It must be ended.”

2. What is next for NASCAR? I dunno. Ask Lesa’s kids. They are the ones who according to her said, “Go green.”

3. Poll needs another option. Something like Brian will remain with a title, but no power. Ya know like the Queen or the Emperor of Japan. That option is the only one I think will save enough face to be possible given that the family controls the company.

10/21/2010 12:18 PM

Great article Jeff! The chase creates 31 also-rans immediately, through no faults of their own! I think these 31 teams should just fail to show up at the next race, so the 12 others can have their championship without having to race a 43 car field…what a crock! Get rid of the Chase, make Jimmie Johnson start 5 laps down, shorten the races and glue the rule book shut, to eliminate any more mid-season changes! Nascar can be fixed, but France, Helton, Pemberton & company aren’t doing anything to make it happen!

No Spin Gerry
10/21/2010 03:37 PM

No Craig that would be a union. “I think these 31 teams should just fail to show up at the next race, so the 12 others can have their championship without having to race a 43 car field”, been there don that.

Dump the chase, dump the free pass, dump the top 35, keep the wave around, and the two car starts, add you CAN NOT WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP with out winning a race, there is a point system that works, I am not sure what it would be but there are some smart people that do, you could do something about unlimited tires to.

You cannot take away some ones company, the France family owns NASCAR, how do you fire you self when you don’t give dam. My Dad and Granddad ran NASCAR, and I am going to do it to, the hell with what everyone thinks, do you guys remember USAC stock cars, no chance

10/21/2010 03:40 PM

Drop the chase.

10/21/2010 04:02 PM

The biggest problem with the old format was that it did not reward winning races enough. Just give the race winner a significant point bonus, and more likely than not the Champion will have won a good number of races while still running fairly consistent overall.

NASCAR doesn’t care about that though, they want Homestead to be as big a show as the Daytona 500. If they go to the “elimination chase”, I will not watch any of the Chase races. This would turn the Championship into a 10-week equivalent of Talladega. I can’t imagine a team leading the points all season long, winning the most races, getting to Homestead and getting caught in a problem not of their own making and losing the title. Shame on NASCAR.

No Spin Gerry
10/21/2010 04:28 PM

Craig, I could not have said it better,

Don Mei
10/21/2010 04:59 PM

If Nascar were a corporation where the majority of the stock was held by the public, Brian would be in charge of one of the smaller parking lots.

10/21/2010 08:05 PM

Great article. Its about time the rest of the media comes forward like a very few, that have spoke the truth instead of kissing up to the kingdom. Most of the internet media don’t know what they are talking about if it doesn’t come from the ivory towers. Same with the garbage DW, Speed and Fox spews all over the place. They just don’t get it. The Con is over!

10/21/2010 09:52 PM

Don said “If Nascar were a corporation where the majority of the stock was held by the public, Brian would be in charge of one of the smaller parking lots.”. Naw, I think BZF would be Latrine Queen, as in cleaning the toilets. Great article Jeff.

10/21/2010 11:14 PM

The scotch is phenomenal.

10/22/2010 08:40 AM

We don’t need the CHASE so NASCAR why don’t you drop it?

10/22/2010 02:50 PM

Hopefully – the feds will be busy up his butt about his illegal campaign contributions, and maybe then – Nascar can once again be RACING, instead of a BZF carbon copy of the WWE

10/22/2010 03:49 PM

Bruton could not have his way with Bill France, Bruton wasn’t happy. Bruton is now happy. Good job Brain.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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