The Frontstretch: Masters of Spin It Again by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday August 2, 2012

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Masters of Spin It Again

Voices From The Cheapseats · Jeff Meyer · Thursday August 2, 2012

 

You gotta hand it to them, when it comes to making excuses or putting a happy spin on a bad situation, anyone remotely associated with NASCAR are the masters!

Take for instance, this little PR blurb from ESPN regarding the ratings for Sunday’s mega-exciting race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

On the opening weekend of the Olympics, ESPN’s live telecast of the Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 29, earned a 3.8 household coverage rating (3.3 U.S. rating), averaging 5,054,089 viewers, according to the Nielsen Company. Last year’s Brickyard 400 telecast, which did not air against Olympic competition, earned a 4.6 household coverage rating and tied with the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway as ESPN’s highest-rated NASCAR Sprint Cup telecast of the year.

Oh, did we mention that the race was during the opening weekend of the Olympics? Yeah, last year when we raced here, the Olympics were not on, but this year, the Olympics were on and the Brickyard 400 had to air against the Olympics, which happened to be on at the same time. Of course the Olympics were the main reason.

Don’t get me wrong, the ESPN commentators are a welcome breath of fresh air over anything and everything we’ve had to endure up to this point but really, I seriously doubt the ratings would have been close to last year’s, even if those damned Olympics hadn’t been on!

While we’re speaking of Indy, I read many an explanation as to why the ratings and attendance were so low, not only on this site but just about every other one as well. However, no one has really hit the nail on the head but I’m going to try… maybe, just maybe, the whole novelty of NASCAR at the historic track has simply run it’s course!

Yeah, when it started in ’94 it was a big thing but now, after years of lackluster racing of cars on a track they were never intended to be on in the first place has lost the nostalgic gimmickry that made it seem like a good idea in the first place. It’s simply time to move on. But will they? I seriously doubt it and this next press release tells you why.

Despite sharp attendance declines in recent years at the Brickyard 400, the event remains hugely profitable for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, motorsports industry experts say. NASCAR officials estimated attendance at this year’s race in Indianapolis at 125,000, down from 138,000 last year. In 2007, race attendance was more than 200,000. The Speedway makes enough television revenue-close to $6 million-to pay its NASCAR sanctioning fee, according to industry experts, leaving the track with most of the revenue from ticket sales, concessions and parking. Motorsports business experts estimated that the Speedway made at least $9 million in ticket revenue from Sunday’s Brickyard 400 and another $1 million to $2 million from Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, which until this year has been held at Lucas Oil Raceway a few miles to the west. The IMS also for the first time hosted the Grand Am Series, but that wasn’t likely a big moneymaker since attendance was only about 10,000. A new Brickyard 400 title sponsorship deal with Crown Royal added another $2 million to the Speedway’s take.

Well there you have it. Until someone decides that they (be it NASCAR or the speedway) are not making enough of a profit, we will have to suffer with NASCAR racing there. Never mind that the racing positively sucks! That is not the point.

Oh, but the history! The history of the storied track blah blah blah! Yes, Indy is probably the most historic race track since the Roman Coliseum but remember, NASCAR is NOT what made it historic! Indy’s history stood on its own two legs long before the France family was around! Indy is famous for racing but racing of a different sort. NASCAR was fine and dandy and a happy show there for a few years, but to try and say racing there is an inherent part of NASCAR’s history is pure hogwash! Gee, all the way back to 1994! We’ve all seen how much NASCAR cares about the ‘history’ of our sport. Anyone remember the Southern 500?

No, you can expect NASCAR to run it totally into the ground and the speedway better be careful. Since IMS is not in the France family portfolio, they will use it until they squeezed every bit of blood out of it they can.

But enough of that! Here’s something else that crossed my mind lately, with the announcement that NASCAR may finally do away with the “top 35” rule.

We’ve all said, from the very first day it was dreamed up, that the top 35 rule was stupid. Fans across the board have hated it but, as with most things Brian France has implemented during his reign, the fans and common sense be damned!

Is it possible that those closest to Brian France, his “handlers” you might say, have finally started to learn the fine art of manipulating him? I mean c’mon! They have to have been sitting back and seeing where the sport has been going the last few years. If he were the CEO of any other corporation he would have been sacked long ago!

Let’s hope, if they do revoke the top 35 rule, that that is just a sign of things to come. Really, how hard could it be to actually manipulate Brian France? I’ve sat on stumps with more common sense!

Oh, and one more press release before I go…

ISC to install fiber optic cable networks at tracks: International Speedway Corporation is working with American Tower Corporation and Corning Cable Systems, to design and install fiber optic cable networks supporting the deployment of distributed antenna systems at 12 of ISC’s major motorsports facilities. “We are committed to enhancing the fan experience at all of our major motorsports facilities to better grow ISC’s business,” stated ISC’s Vice President, Multi-Channel Marketing and Chief Information Officer, Craig Neeb. “Our customers want greater ability to communicate using their wireless devices when they attend our events. We too want the ability to connect with these customers as they enter our motorsport facilities with timely information to enhance their event day experience.” Under the terms of the agreement, American Tower will design and install DAS and other wireless infrastructure solutions at ISC’s motorsports facilities to enhance wireless signal strength and distribute radio capacity for customer use and general track operations during events.

I can tell you this; What I want is to be able to use my AT&T phone (i.e. anything other than a Sprint phone) to be able to simply call or text someone while I am at the track! They say they do not block competing calls but why is it my (and my friends with other carriers) always have the same problem whenever attending a Cup race? Coincidence, I am sure! Oh, and here’s a novel idea… keep your fiber optics! Fix the damn tracks so the racing is good if you want to enhance the fans’ enjoyment!

Just sayin’.

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

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Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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