Jeff Meyer · Wednesday August 17, 2005
By now, it is old news that Kurt Busch has signed on with Penske to drive the #2 Miller Lite Dodge in 2007. What I find particularly disgusting is the fact that it is souvenir sales, of all things, that helped sway Busch's mind, and even give him the lugnuts to ask to get out of his current contract with Jack Roush a year early.
Busch told Jack that he had a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity when he asked to be released from his 2006 obligations. Jack basically replied that he doubted he would release Kurt early, but said he would check with his sponsors first.
To me, and the voices that are responsible for the content of most of my articles, this whole saga is just one more example, perhaps the worst, of how NASCAR is so far removed from actual racing that I'm feeling the urge to puke. It is a feeling much like I've had too much of Busch's future sponsor and I'm looking for the nearest bucket! (Like I would drink that stuff anyway!)
Of course, all the details have yet to present themselves, but to me, Kurt Busch has shown that, in his mind anyway, it is more important to sell hats than it is to win races or championships. Is this what truly motivates the new generation of drivers? Has the marketing aspect of sponsorship finally become so much more important than actually doing good on the race track?
Unlike Jamie McMurray's move to Roush from Ganassi, Busch's move can only be about money. There is no other way to figure it. Kurt Busch is the reigning champ. He is driving for an owner whose stable has won the last two championships, and currently has 4 of his 5 cars in contention for a third, one of which is Busch himself. I always thought these guys did it for the LOVE of the sport and the lust to win. Kurt Busch must be a new kind of racer. When was the last time a Penske team won a Championship?
However, as disgusting as this all may seem, I also see it as a chance for the TRUE RACE FAN to make a statement to NASCAR, Kurt Busch and corporate sponsors, and perhaps, if we stick together, take back a little part of our beloved sport and begin a move back toward actual racing. (The best part is that we're dealing with future Kurt Busch/Miller Lite stuff here, so it shouldn't be all that hard!)
Surely, Miller Lite had some say in Busch's signing. They must be betting on the fact that as the reigning champ, Busch in the #2 car will sell more stuff, be it beer or hats. I say we as race fans show them how wrong they are, and all do our part to make this one of the biggest sponsorship snafus of all time. How? Simple as not buying their crap!
All you Miller Lite drinkers out there have to decide a couple of things; 1. Do I drink it because of the taste? or, 2. Because I like Rusty Wallace? (Or 3. None of the above, but I'm not worried about you number 3s right now.) If you are a 1, you are going to drink it no matter who drives the car and as a race fan, you probably based your souvenir purchases on how cool the item looked and stuck with the items that just featured the number and the logo. You also probably have all you need at this point, and not buying anymore (Souvenirs! Not beer!) will save you money! If you are a 2, well, you are going to stop buying #2 stuff because it is now associated with Kurt Busch and not Rusty Wallace. The rest of us could do something like, I don't know, maybe throw your buddy's new #2 Miller Lite/Kurt Busch hat out the window of the car whilst passing over a river!
The simple fact is, the only people who should be buying the new #2 Miller Lite/Kurt Busch stuff is Kurt Busch fans, and how many of those can there be? Have you ever been to a race with a working 'boo meter'? Busch ranks right up there second only to Jeff Gordon. (Don't hate me! I don't boo either one. I'm just stating the facts of every race I've been to!)
In all reality, for years to come, when you see the #2 car, shirt or hat, the first thing that comes to mind will be Rusty Wallace. Think about it, I'll bet you still catch yourself saying Winston Cup don't ya? Ahhhh, the power of marketing!
Stay off the wall (unless your trying to get extra distance with your buddy's new hat!),
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