Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday March 24, 2011
Yes, you read the headline correctly. I, Jeff Meyer, a staunch advocate of many years for the removal of our sport’s leader, Brian France from all things NASCAR (hey, I’m being nice! I never once said he should be shot or anything ultra-insensitive as that) am now asking that you, the true race fan, be thankful for Mr. France and I pray that he remains at the helm for many years to come.
As many of you know, I have, for many years urged the true NASCAR fan base to let their voices be heard in the lofty penthouses of Daytona Beach by singing with their wallets (or purses, for the women and murses for those not quite sure.) The sweet sound of money is obviously the only thing that Brian is acutely aware of.
To be quite honest, the song didn’t quite play out as I maybe had once imagined (or maybe it did, I’m not quite sure) but the effect for the true race fan has, in reality, turned out very nicely. The trick is to simply look at it from a different angle AND… and this may be the most important part, remember that thrill and excitement of actually feeling the roar of the 357 CID motors. Here is the angle…
As long as the ineptitude of Brian France reigns over NASCAR, the easier it gets for the true race fan to enjoy a night or weekend at the races. No, I do not like all the roads that Brian has led this once proud sport down, but the fact remains (because I was a fan long before I was a journalist) that I still love attending events live.
When Brian took his position as CEO in 2003, the sport was riding on a high that was brought on not only on the life, but especially the death, of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Dale’s tragic demise sparked an interest in NASCAR of millions upon millions of what Brian later so aptly named “casual fans.”
Dale was like Jesse Owens, Babe Ruth, Joe Namath, Wayne Gretsky, O.J. Simpson, Wilt Chamberlain or Billie Jean King… you might not have been a fan of any of their sports, but you certainly knew who they were and what they did. With Dale’s death, and especially the way it occurred, suddenly it was “cool” to be a fan of a sport that had the reputation of being “redneck.”
Well at the height of that popularity wave, the NASCAR world was given a “marketing genius” named Brian France who saw the gold and wanted more. So he instituted major changes that were quite… hell, you know the story… prices went up, casual fans left, (who in the hell in their right mind would want “casual fans” anyway?? Never did understand that!) ratings fell, hardcore fans became casual fans and ratings and attendance fell even more. Throw in a bad economy and you now have the opportunity we have today!
The long and the short of it is, it is a “buyers” market in the world of NASCAR right now; you just have to be savvy and know how to find the deals. Tickets can be had for ANY race on the schedule, even the once-fabled “hardest ticket in all of sports to obtain,” the night race at Bristol.
So what does “being savvy” mean? It allows you to shop around for those tickets just like you do airline tickets (only with NASCAR, you got more options such as eBay, etc.) Don’t be afraid to actually go to an event without tickets in hand, as I did several times this last decade when heading to Bristol, even when they were selling out every race. Deals can be found, as I said, in such places as eBay, Craigslist and my favorite, the bulletin boards of the campgrounds themselves. People get stuck with extra tickets all the time when their buddies can’t come at the last minute and things like that.
Personally, at Bristol, I have never paid more than 10 dollars over face value for tickets and I have even sold extras that I had for less than face value! It also helps to know your venue when shopping. Have that map of the stands in your mind or in your hand when thinking of buying. You’d be surprised at the quality of seats you can find if you just shop around a bit.
As for lodging, the same principles apply. Don’t think strictly about hotels and motels. Think outside the box a bit. Look on the internet… people rent out extra rooms in their homes and even the entire home for days at a time. Especially around Bristol, there are cabins, rentals, rooms in homes, people renting their yards out to campers… so much so that there all websites devoted strictly to such matters. All of these things have come down significantly in price the last couple of years and we owe it all to Brian France.
Yes, there are empty seats in the stands… so what! That ain’t my problem. That’s Brian’s problem. There are also less people in line to buy a beer or to get rid of a beer too! That’s a good thing!
So, I say, it’s time for us in the media to stop bitching about all the empty seats. We should, if anything, shut up about it and just enjoy the hopefully long reign of Brian Z. France…Genius!
Stay off the wall, (and off Brian’s back. Just let him amuse himself over there in the corner!)
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