The Frontstretch: Voices from the Cheapseats: Finer Points to Bring Back Fans by Jeff Meyer -- Friday November 16, 2012

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Voices from the Cheapseats: Finer Points to Bring Back Fans

Voices from the Cheapseats · Jeff Meyer · Friday November 16, 2012

 

As I promised in my last article, I will continue to expound upon some of the finer points that NASCAR could change that would help bring back some of the fans that have lost their zeal for the sport they once loved.

As fate would have it, the race at Phoenix proved to be a perfect example of some of the things that have gone wrong with the sport. Not only was the race a good example but some of the comments left by faithful readers have pretty much written this one for me.

Here are a few excerpts that I agree with.

From Russ: “…Also, as a person who has followed NASCAR more or less closely for over 40 years, they need to focus on attracting younger, not older fans. Its a fact that we get older, less active, intraspective, etc. At 62, how many years do I have left? But the 18 year old kid could be a fan for decades more.”

While Russ does make a valid point, I have always maintained that rarely does one just ‘suddenly become’ a NASCAR fan. Usually they are introduced to it by another, already ardent fan as this reader so eloquently points out…

From @KyCupFan: “If the older fans stop going to races, that means they stop bringing their children and or grandchildren. If you lose the old fans, what is going to get the young fans interested? Cars riding around in circles and not racing isn’t going to do it!

“Brian France and the powers that be have alienated a huge base of older fans who would have kept the cycle alive. Now they have broken that cycle. It will take many years if ever, to get the fan base back to where it was 10 years ago.

“I am a 46 year old male that went to my first race with my Dad in 1980. I have now been a fan for approximately 32 years. I have taken my son to a couple of races. While he enjoys going to the race, he doesn’t waste his Sundays watching boring races. He is barely a fan. If things continue they way they are going, do you think he will be bringing his kid(s) to a NASCAR race in the future? Highly unlikely. That is the NEW cycle.”

Well said KyCupFan!

Next year’s Fusion will look more like a street Fusion, but Jeff Meyer still wants to know what is a Fusion anyway?

Others have gone on about the car itself, proposing this and proposing that. When it comes to the car there are a million different ideas but I adhere to the ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ (KISS) principle. Use STOCK production bodies like they used to! Yes, you want to keep all the modern safety innovations that are on the current car, but there is no reason they can’t be covered by a fabricated, stock looking body. Sure, you slap the spoiler on them etc., but let the manufacturer pick the model they want to race!

Don’t give me a spec body and slap Fusion or Charger stickers on it. Actually fabricate the thing to be as close to stock as possible. If Chevy gets beat bad one year, let them pick another model that may be more aerodynamic and race that. This change would also put some new teeth in the old adage they like to brag about…’Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday!’ An adage that has been absolutely worthless with the advent of the current spec car.

Have you looked at all the cars out there lately? Remember when there was no doubt if you were looking at a Dodge, Ford or Chevy? Heck, real car enthusiasts could even tell you the model of a car in the dark just by the headlight or taillight configuration! Try that now with 90 percent of the cars made today. You can’t tell a Nissan, from Ford or any other brand when looked at from the side anymore. Think about it, what are some of the hottest selling models out there today? They are remakes of OLD body styles that we loved so much from back in the day. A Camaro is recognizable as a Camaro. A Charger a Charger and a Mustang a Mustang! What the heck is a Fusion? Nothing special about that!

John had a top ten list of ideas, a few of which are spot on in my opinion…

1. Remove exactly half the races at 1.5 mile cookie cutter crapovals. Replace them with races at real tracks like Rockingham, Darlington, and Iowa.

6. Get rid of the top 35 BS. Everyone qualifies on time. It happens in every other sport, champions occasionally missing the field because of a bad qualifying run. DEAL WITH IT. Hell, James Beuscher missed the field in the Trucks last season and still finished second in points!

8. Racing hard, or accidentally turning another car by racing hard, should not be penalized. Blatantly wrecking someone for revenge should be. Harshly.

John was just one of many who suggested getting rid of the plethora of 1.5 milers. If these cookie cutter tracks were so good in the first place, why are they constantly ‘re-doing’ them or trying to make them better? There are many on the schedule that I couldn’t care less if I watch the race at all, Chicago being chief among them.

Oddly enough, no one mentioned restrictor plate tracks. I’ve always said, get rid of the plates altogether! Daytona and ‘Dega were built to push the man and machine to the limit. (Duh! That’s why they have high banks and are so big!) Just because you CAN go into the corner at 230 mph doesn’t mean it will work out well! Let the racers figure that out. Kind of the whole point of ‘racing’ if you ask me.

As for the top 35 rule, it is on the way out and that is a good thing, however, with the use of ‘provisionals’, no ‘big name’ will ever miss a race. I’m with John…everybody times in! Time in or go home.

Finally, let’s put some testosterone back into the sport!

If the boys wanna fight, you better let them! Heck, it was a three-way driver fist fight (and a well timed blizzard) that lit the boosters on this NASCAR rocket back in ’79, but here’s the thing…Let the DRIVERS settle it! Not the pit crew. If this were MY sanctioning body, yes there would be fines and probation for various infractions levied against drivers but any crew members that actively join the fray in an aggressive manner would be immediately suspended! Bowyer’s crew attempting to gang bang Jeff Gordon last Sunday was pure BS! Yes, Gordon had a whuppin’ coming, but it is Clint Bowyer’s whuppin’ to hand out!

Last but not least, the comment by Chad is dead on.

Chad writes: “This sport reached it’s peak on the life & death of Dale Earnhardt. 10 years later, there isn’t anything as compelling to sustain it. To expect that there would be, I think, is disrespectful of how significant (and therefore popular) those times were.”

Dale’s tragic death instantly created millions of what has become known as the ‘causal fan.’ When Brian France took the helm, he was looking solely to squeeze every bit of money he could out of this new breed of fan and he did. Unfortunately in the process, he had to ‘dumb down’ the sport to the level of the stupidest fan out there so he/she would understand it. As I like to point out, when you are watching an NFL game, they don’t explain what a ‘first down’ is every five minutes! If someone watching a race wants to know what a tire is and how it rolls, they will take the time to find out or ask the ARDENT fan who introduced them to NASCAR in the first place!

The problem is there may be no ARDENT fans left!

I could go on but obviously I can’t do it in one setting. I’m sure we’ll be revisiting each and every one of these topics next year! In the meantime…

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

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Andy D
11/16/2012 04:01 AM
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Well said. I could nitpick one or two things but it’s just my opinion vs yours. You’ve gotten all of the essential points down.

I would be very surprised if any punches were thrown at Phoenix. It looked like a lot of shoving and chest thumping to me. Someone has said that a Bowyer crewman moved Gordon safely away before the blustering began. It wasn’t Daytona ’79, it was only part of “the show”.

RickP
11/16/2012 07:47 AM
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Get over the Dale Sr. thing, will ya?!?!?! Every toothless, Maroboro smoking, Bud-drinking loser in the stands still wear their #3 “memorabilia”. And they reek of 2001 as they don’t want to lose that memory when they look back to the day that Sr. put himself into the wall by blocking for Jr. Oh, for they day when they threatened Sterling Marlin with death in their classy way. Yup, that was the pinnacle of NASCAR all right.

russ
11/16/2012 08:50 AM
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One thing people overlook when they call for the reduction in races on the “cookiecutter” tracks. Nascar/ISC owns many of those tracks, built for millions of dollars. NO WAY they are going to shut them down and race on somebody else’s tracks. Just saying.

steve
11/16/2012 09:18 AM
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Fans don’t come out and watch sport that aren’t exciting (i.e., soccer, at least in the US). NASCAR is dangerously close to that point.

‘Exciting’ is defined as being on the edge of your seat in anticipation of what might happen. Crashes? Breakdowns? Fights? Side by side racing for more than a handful of laps at a time? Yes!

Watching cars run lap after lap spaced out a second or more apart? Watching drivers let other drivers pass because it’s ‘early’ in the race? Watching drivers drive at the back of the pack at Daytona and Talladega to avoid problems? No, not exciting.

In a three hour (or longer race), NASCAR needs more than a handful of ‘exciting’ moments. They need to change the scoring so that every driver at every time is racing hard for as many positions as possible. They need to give each driver a ‘drop’ so the driver can take more chances without a mistake costing them the championship. They need to change the car and tires so that they are less dependable, with a big tradeoff between maximizing speed and reliability.

It isn’t the way the car looks, people will come out and watch anything on wheels if the racing is exciting. Changing the look of the car and keeping everything else the same isn’t going to help.

DonMei
11/16/2012 09:20 AM
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A few more road races would be fun too, especially at Indianapolis. Theres a road course there and it would sure be a hell of a lot more entertaining than watching Cup cars on the big oval! (snore!!) I would also free up the rear spoiler..set a maximum dimension and leave it alone, then we will find out exactly who REALLY has car control!

Joe
11/16/2012 12:47 PM
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Russ….sure ISC owns the cookie cutter 1.5’s. They don’t need to shut them down. Let them reconfigure them. Think Bruton Smith! They don’t have to abandon the venue, just make it an exciting place to race.

Dennis
11/19/2012 08:53 AM
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Everyone in NASCAR likes to misuse the term Momentum. I have been thinking lately, what if they made Momentum real.

100% qualifying on speed for the DAYTONA 500 then your starting position from then on is based on the prior race finishing spot?

Would put a fire under these guys to not just sit back and coast.

I would also like to see pit stops happen ONLY under green. This holding back waiting for a caution to gain positions is crap. Make them race and race hard.

Look how many lead changes they would actually have if you did not include changes after a Pit.

It is bogus.

Also real cars have just about as many safety features and can be retro fitted with others. I would love to see real cars race again.

Seeing what they could do with stock cars is what made this an exciting sport.

Put the stock back in stock car racing.

Hotdogger
11/19/2012 10:49 AM
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As soon as they came into power, Brian France started meddling with everything but the kitchen sink, thinking he was doing something great.. digging up the roots of the sport his father and grandfather planted over their lives.

Atleast now he is slowly realizing their mistakes and trying to go back to the way things were but like that guy said, is it too late? Have they abandoned too many of their longtime fans while chasing the yuppies?

 

Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
Top Ten Reasons Fans Failed To Show Up At Bristol Sunday
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