Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday May 3, 2007
A message to my faithful readers: Due to recent events that have taken place in the NASCAR world over the last week and a half, today’s edition of Voices will serve as a preview for a more comprehensive look at some of NASCAR’s recent criticisms.
The aforementioned events, I feel, make this piece, with some small revisions to bring it up to date, perhaps more relevant today than when it was originally published back in October. I urge you to read it, especially because it is the perfect lead-in to a special Friday edition of Voices! Thats right, TWO exposures of me in one week! Think you can handle it!? I sure hope so.
It is no secret that in the eyes of NASCAR, the racing game is NOT a democracy. It purely is, and most always has been, an outright dictatorship. Throughout the course of history, such dictatorships have their peakâ€¦and then, inevitably, a tragic downfall. Recent happenings have me thinking a downfall is close at hand.
When the France family first started the sanctioning body that controls NASCAR at its highest level, it WAS a good thing. It gave structure to a sport that needed structuring. It was good for the sport, good for the spectators, and good for the competitors. However, over the years, that has blatantly changed.
Since the beginning, anything that was against The Family's wishes has been instantly quashed. They were (and are) the only game in town. If you want to race at their level, now tops in the U.S. Racing worldâ€¦you played by their rules, and their rules only. It has been that way for nearly six decades. In the process, as with most dictators, The Family has become obscenely wealthy over time.
Don't be fooled: that wealth is obscene. The Family owns most of the tracks. The Family owns most of the souvenir business. The Family owns most of the concession business. The Family owns a brand marketing company to funnel money from other businesses into their own. The Family decides who races, and where, and even what they must race. But nowâ€¦The Family has finally overdone it.
As I said earlier, the structure that The Family provided was good for the sport's best interest, even if not everyone approved of their methods. However, as the years have gone by, the words "for the sport's best interest" have been replaced by "for The Family's maximum profits."
Consider a few of these happenings that have occurred in recent years, gaining steam with some recent news:
- When NASCAR went into Mexico, was it to expand the sport? No, it was to expand the MARKET. Now, the sport heads to Canada this August for the same reasons, just like they went to California before that. That's not the end of the list, either; do you think NASCAR was attempting to build tracks in the Northwest and New York City so people there will become more interested in stock car racing at the highest level? No; they, by their own words, want the MARKET size a track will capture, simply by being built there. The fans in the seats don't matter…it's the ability to say to the stockholders you have a track in a certain area that does.
Is that the way to promote the sport of stock car racing? Of course not. Why go where you are not wanted? Of course, if these new ISC (The Family) owned tracks were to ever be built… will they be guaranteed a Cup date? You better believe it! That will lead to inevitable speculation as to what other non-ISC tracks would lose their Cup date. Do you seriously think that for one minute NASCAR would take a date away from one of their existing tracks? Not a chance!
- Does NASCAR care one bit that the new Car Of Tomorrow is opposed by everyone from the fans, to the drivers themselves, not to mention the team owners and even the manufacturers? No, they do not. Not at all. You race the COT or you don't raceâ€¦it’s the same attitude that it's always been, despite a growing chorus of disapproving voices that gets louder every day.
- Does NASCAR care that the Chase format has directly affected how the competitors actually race during a race? No. The Chase is strictly made for television ratings, and even those haven't been producing the numbers expected this year.
The only thing that I personally can think of that NASCAR has done in the last ten years that was GOOD for the sport are the SAFER barriers mandated at all tracks. However, and you will NEVER convince me otherwise, the SAFER barrier was only mandated because Dale Earnhardt was killed. Had it been anyone elseâ€¦I think you would still not see them at all the tracks. Before Dale's death, it was "too costly" to install them. After that tragic day, how fast were they mandated?
The underlying theme of all this is that as the sport has grown, The Family have grown extremely rich, butâ€¦so have others that have played their game over the years! The very thing that The Family has sought could now become their downfall.
There are tracks out there that would do anything for a dateâ€¦but realize they aren't getting one anytime soon. There ARE people out there that have the wherewithal to start a rival series, with stock-looking stock cars, no less. All it would take is a few big names and a few big name sponsors to jump on the bandwagon, and the fans would eat it up!
Things would become cheaper for all involved. More people could actually afford to play the game. Sponsors would pay less, and be happy to do so. Car manufacturers could gain their identity back on the race track. Oh, did I mention the FANS? All it would take for this revolution to happen is a few key people who are currently at the top level of racing to actually have the guts to do it!
Listen up Royal Family, we, the people, the ones whom you built your castle upon, are sick and tired of your dictatorship and your suppression of our sport! We have been speakingâ€¦but have you been listening? Look at your precious "ratings" now! Look at the empty seats in your "prime markets!" Listen to the drivers who have achieved mega-celebrity status. Fans just LOVE mega-celebrities! You Royals are an entity. People HATE entities!
The Royal Family is living on borrowed time. They are just too arrogant to see it yet.
We, the people, WILL have our sport back. We just need a few new leaders to get us there!
We are waiting.
Tear down the wall!
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