Jeff Meyer · Friday August 16, 2013
If you haven’t watched the video of Humpy Wheeler’s public epiphany yet, I implore you to take a scant 18 minutes of your time and do so. After all, it’s not often that you see and hear someone of his stature and economic status, actually talk common sense.
Finally someone, with a little bit of a bigger audience than me, has the balls to come right out and say what needs to be said (and with almost every major point that I have been saying for the last ten years). If Humpy was still associated with NASCAR in any official capacity, I would expect monetary fines for speaking the truth to have already been levied against him.
Having said that, I want to touch on a few points that Humpy failed to mention or perhaps just didn’t ‘epiphanize’ enough to realize.
When talking about why fans have left in droves, one would be remiss not to mention the very integrity of the France family. When Granddad and Dad France ran the show, there was never any doubt about where they stood on any given issue. You either did it their way or you didn’t play. Whatever the issue may have been, it was resolved in a finite matter but yet, at the end of the day, you knew, or at least it seemed like you thought you knew, that stockcar racing was still the foremost reason for their ‘being’. After all they built it from the ground up and they were still proud of their achievement. They were, as Humpy referred to past legendary racers, working men. Brian France has been a whole different story.
When Brian took over, it was obvious from the very start that ‘working’ is not something he has done a whole lot of. Not in the sense that you and the millions of ‘I’s out there know work. He has been a bumbling, stuttering, incoherent transparency to a fan base that traditionally easily spots and has no use for, such people. It became clear, almost from day one, that Brian wanted only to make money. And that he did, mostly on the grave of Dale Earnhardt.
Yes, it had to be said (again!). While NASCAR did surge in the 90’s as Humpy alluded, it was Dale’s death that shot it to the next upper level, bearing rise of the ‘casual fan,’ a term that I hate, yet ironically have myself become. Brian France has made it clear that he wanted to get as much money as he possibly could from the sudden influx of this new fan base and he succeeded…for a few years.
Alas, as with any boom, there is also a crash. When the ADD/ADHD ‘casual fan’ started to leave, gimmick after gimmick has been tried to keep the status quo of the heydays but to no avail and here we are today.
But, will Brian France admit he or NASCAR has ever done anything wrong? Of course not! And that’s the integrity, or lack of, that I was talking about earlier. Not only wrong about the gimmickry, but even right down to the cars themselves as is the case of “it was absolutely not the ‘wing’ that made so many cars become airborne when going backwards at 180+ mile per hour.” I mean, for Heaven’s sake, any idiot can see that simply by holding you hand downward or upward out the window while driving down the highway! You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out!
While Brian is no rocket scientist or even, in my opinion, very bright, he is dangerous in that he is a corporate marketer.
Wait! What was that? A corporate marketer? Where have I heard something about them before? Oh yeah, Humpy said that’s what has ruined the sport!
And we got one in charge of NASCAR. What did you think was gonna happen!?
Humpy didn’t have to sit and think long and hard about all this. He could have asked any one of millions of us and we’d have told him. Oh that’s right, we did!
Unfortunately the epiphany didn’t happen to a guy whose name happened to be Humpy France.
Stay off the wall,
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