The Frontstretch: NASCAR Thinks You're Lazy by Jeff Meyer -- Wednesday July 26, 2006

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NASCAR Thinks You're Lazy

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Wednesday July 26, 2006


(Author's note: No Tony Stewart fans were harmed or offended during the writing of this article.)

Once again, NASCAR top brass has decided that you, the fan, are too stupid to know what you want. Only your actions can prove them wrong.

Last week it was announced that NASCAR will NOT allow ABC/ESPN, or any of its TV partners to use "Side-by-Side" split screen technology to show both advertising and the racing action during commercial breaks. Of the many options that NASCAR has looked at to make sure the fan/viewer has the best racing experience, they’ve decided that split screen during commercials is NOT what you want.

"We've looked at a lot of options to enhance the fan/viewer experience, but feel that a split-screen presentation of ads and racing serves neither the fan nor advertiser," says Ramsey Poston, NASCAR's managing director of corporate communications.

OK…now that your jaw has dropped and you are thinking that that statement is the biggest crock-o-(insert disgusting substance of your choice here), wait till you read his next line!

"Our TV partners do an excellent job of immediately returning to significant track action when it happens during commercials. With replays and other technology, the networks make sure NASCAR fans get the best, most comprehensive race coverage anywhere."

One of the most basic premises of this column since it's inception over 4 years ago is the simple fact that I consider myself just an ordinary guy who likes racing and tells it like it is. I am a fan first and a writer second. I could be any one of you. I am not swayed by money (journalistically, anyway) and I could really care less if or anyone else for that matter, likes what I write. If you are like me, and I believe the majority of you out there are, you have to be wondering…

“What freaking station is NASCAR top brass watching, and what are they passing around the room while watching it?!”

The real irony of the situation is that the networks (ABC/ESPN anyway) are in favor of using the split screen option. So we, as fans, have been blaming the networks when, in reality, it is NASCAR that is the ogre. Like that is a big surprise!

Now, the driving force behind the whole debate is…you guessed it…dollars!

Advertisers are saying that if there were a split screen option during commercials, there would be something else more interesting on the screen at the same time and the commercial wouldn't get the attention it deserves, therefore advertising that airs on split screen should cost less.

The networks, bless their greedy little hearts, are basically telling the advertisers that no one watches your stupid commercials anyway as they get up to get food or get rid of beverages, but the split screen gives them a reason to stay put so they actually see MORE of your commercial than they otherwise would, so you should pay more!

NASCAR, meanwhile, fearing it's lifeblood of advertising, sponsorship and marketing dollars may be upset, strictly forbids the networks to market any type of commercial space other than what they consider the traditional way. Oh, and they tell you, the fan, that is what serves you best. See, they are doing this all for you!

Now, the reason NASCAR gets away with such preposterous shenanigans is because, even though we as fans may bitch and moan about it, they are counting on the fact that we won't unite and ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! By and large, they are right…but if we ever want to reclaim this sport, we must prove them wrong!

While we will not change anything for the rest of this viewing year, now is the time to make yourselves heard and known, so that when Daytona '07 rolls around, maybe NASCAR will have gotten the message. How do you do that, you ask? A good start would be by contacting George McNeilly!

George McNeilly is the senior director of communications for ESPN/ABC Sports. According to McNeilly, the network would love to hear from you!

“We are engaging focus groups and other research in an effort to quantify the positive feedback we've received from people who've enjoyed the viewing experience,” McNeilly says. ”[Allowing the split screen] would be a NASCAR decision. We're in discussions about that and many other things.”

Sounds like a great idea! So, you can email Mr. McNeilly at: Tell him that you support the split screen option, and you want NASCAR to know it! Not satisfied? Better still, call NASCAR headquarters directly at (386) 253-0611! When you do call, choose option 9 from the menu. That gives you 3 minutes to air your gripes directly to the head office!


Stay off the wall, (but get off the couch!)


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Today on the Frontstretch:
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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07/27/2006 04:56 AM

I E mailed ESPN the day I read the article. Your link to Mr. McNeilly didn’t work for me, or I would have happily written to him, too!

Joe Bolling
07/27/2006 05:41 AM

I start recording the race on my DIRECTV box

for an hour before I start watching it. This allows me to zip through ALL of the commercials without having to watch even the split screen. I wonder what would happen if all NASCAR fans did this and the networks knew about it?
Al Torney
07/27/2006 06:00 AM

Good article. France has said that he likes the way things are going. Let’s see, tv ratings are down at just about every race and many tracks now have empty seats and have to run ads on tv and in racing papers. TV money was supposed to stop ticket price increases, it didn’t. I’m so damn sick of this “for the fans” garbageI could scream. The sport is going to hell in a handbasket. In facvt if we wanted to see everything on tape replay why don’t we just watch the entire race on replay on SpeedTV later in thye week.

07/27/2006 06:50 AM

The link didn’t work for me either.

07/27/2006 07:27 AM


Remember that NASCAR poll that delivered an 85% rejection of the now in force Chase format? Do you honestly think they are going to listen to what we have to say now? Course if we’re doing this to make them itch…let me go vote.

Signed…one of the ignored majority NASCAR fans.

07/27/2006 07:57 AM

I do as Joe B does, and don’t start watching the race for an hour on delay with my HD DirectTivo. Pocono had so many comercials and of significant lenght that we actually were caught up to the race live prior to the end. My girlfriend and I watch every Nascar race, and the occational Indy Car race. We really enjoyed the side by side coverage in Nashville, and did not fast forward through the comercials. With todays technology, Side by Side keeps viewers from flipping channels and or fast forwarding through the comercials. With the poor coverage provided by the networks (TNT/NBC how can you miss a restart at a track like Pocono when its two plus minutes to run a lap under caution)They would take alot less heat, and as a fan, I might actually catch the commercial and product rather than fast forward them out of my life.

07/27/2006 08:54 AM


07/27/2006 09:57 AM

The link to the ESPN email address has been fixed…feel free to email away all you want!

07/27/2006 10:07 AM

Writing and phoning and bitching isn’t going to do it. We have to hit NA$CAR where they keep hitting us… the wallet. I know everyone won’t jump on the boycott wagon but if enough of us did… could help. I know I quit buying anything with NA$CAR on it and I now have more money in my wallet than before. I even paid off a couple of credit cards! I cut out 10 of the races I used to attend and only go to Richmond since it’s in my backyard and I don’t have to stay in a hotel. When a commercial says they are a proud sponsor of NA$CAR, I don’t buy their stuff unless it is necessary. Home Depot and Lowes being prime examples. There aren’t too many builder supply places to go to other than those. Yes, I may hurt my driver some by not bying the product but if it really starts hitting them, then maybe they can pressure the dumbbutts in Daytona! Just a suggestion. It works for me.

J. Meyer
07/27/2006 11:20 AM

I will check on the link again. I emailed Mr. McNeilly at that address last night and got his ‘out of office’ auto reply. He is apparently traveling on business. It was cool though, the reply included two office numbers to call! Stay tuned.

07/27/2006 11:58 AM

I think we all should band together for a few races and every time a commercial comes on change the channel and go back after 4 or 5 minutes. They usually don’t show us the restart anyway so we won’t miss anything. We gave up fishing on Sundays to watch the races but we are thinking about going back fishing and maybe listen to the race on the radio as they don’t have as many commercials. Also they seem to want to show us the leader going around with no challenges for about 5 laps and skip showing us some side by side racing for position. I don’t care who they show but show us some racing.

07/27/2006 12:20 PM

There is racing on Sundays? Who knew? I thought it was the all commercials all the time show with a few laps of fast cars thrown in to keep you from getting toooo bored. After all, one can’t really get the feel of a commercial until they have watched it at least 10 times in a 4 hour period. It’s how I memorized the right intonation when I say “Hello Jeremy”.

07/27/2006 01:01 PM

Doesn’t really matter because I’ve pretty much quit watching the boring parade that passes for racing these days anyway.

07/27/2006 01:55 PM

Reading this made me stop and think for a moment as I was trying to think of the last time I actually was persuaded into buying something due to a tv commercial. I couldn’t think of any. Does NASCAR really think its fans actually buy any of the idea that NASCAR is doing what it does for the benefit of its fans? We all know that sponsorship pays alot of the bills in racing but I think we’re starting to hit the point where most of us are getting turned off by the non-stop efforts made by NASCAR in the name of the all-mighty-buck. Between their massaging the rules to keep the cashcow drivers in everyones faces..(what we know about the rules anyway), to slapping advertising in every single moment of racing. No arguing that racing is big business and its great that NASCAR has grown the way it has but there comes a point of over-saturation that at that point it then turns off people from the sport. No one, save for perhaps racing sites like this will say a bad word regarding NASCAR whether it be a driver, commentator, or a racing tv show as then NASCAR will most likely blacklist whoever dare speak against them..its a shame really..its still the best sport out there,racing that is..good as a family sport compared to most others. Guess it will only get worse before it perhaps gets better..:-/

07/28/2006 07:26 AM

Here’s an easy solution to being taken in by NASCAR’s marketing machine. Mow your grass on Sunday afternoon and attend a short track race on Saturday night. Almost everone lives within 50 miles of a good 1/2 mile or smaller dirt or asphalt track.

The admissison price for a family is peanuts compared to one ‘Cup ticket, the food is cheap and generally good, you can see ALL of the on-track action and best of all, no commercials!

I guarantee that the ‘race fun value’ of even a mediocre Saturday night bullring surpasses the best ‘Cup race.

07/28/2006 07:35 PM

I wrote,...
I figure this is kinda like voting in an election…
Don’t got no right to bitch in you don’t try and help change the system.
I sent my email a few minutes ago.

07/30/2006 11:48 AM

I sent an email as well as calling the phone number and leaving a message. I let them know that we fans wouldn’t be so upset if NASCAR was making the programmers comeback to the race so that we could see a restart or break away from commercial as soon as a wreck happens.

I think NASCAR should look at its ratings and notice that they have dropped. They’d better do something before the go any further down.


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
BSNews! NASCAR CEO Given "Special" Award Amidst Lavish Fanfare
Fan Coun-ci-What? Just What Is It That NASCAR Wants To Study?

Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.