The Frontstretch: Is NASCAR Seeing What’s Happening? by Kurt Smith -- Friday April 24, 2009

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Is NASCAR Seeing What’s Happening?

Kurt Smith · Friday April 24, 2009

 

Long ago as a young lad, I worked for a department store you may have heard of called Caldor. I wasn’t the best employee…I goofed off and hit on girls a lot…but for the most part, I showed up for work every day on time and did my job as expected.

I wasn’t a thief, ever. But I was fired for an employee discount violation that I didn’t even know was a violation, in a transaction that cost the multi-million dollar corporation $2. A friend of mine there, making a similar wage, was also fired on a technicality a week after I was. Caldor looked at the numbers and decided to lose people making over a certain amount of money. They lost all of my family and friends permanently as customers as a result, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. They saved $4.90 an hour and lost thousands of dollars in sales.

I worked in the radio & TV department, and every week a brand of VCR would go on sale. If it was Sony or RCA or another decent name brand, they’d ship us two. If it was Goldstar, they’d give us 12. Either way, we’d sell out of them the first day, with no one ordering us any more to honor “rainchecks”. And I’d spend the rest of the week listening to customers tell me they weren’t ever coming back.

The assistant manager would shrug it off. “They always say that,” she told me, “and in a week they’re back.” The voice of concern.

Caldor is no more.

NASCAR has shrugged off many of the fan’s complaints, but declining ratings don’t lie; people are fed up and done watching.

It very often seems as though NASCAR shrugs off similar complaints. Nearly every week I read multiple comments from people saying they’re done watching. And judging from the ratings this season, it sounds like people mean it. NASCAR can point out having more viewers than women’s basketball or golf, but the reality is that the ratings have been dropping every season for several years now, and there is still little being done to improve the fan experience. The broadcasts are still constant corporate bombardments with sprinkles of racing thrown in. Drivers and crews strongly dislike the car and fans know it. The second half of the season features too much points racing. People on the East Coast need No-Doz to watch races that start well into the evening.

And as the sport hemorrhages fans, NASCAR shrugs and says, “They’ll be back”.

Certainly, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s performance is a part of the reason for the ratings slide. It’s no fun for the largest fan base in NASCAR to watch their hero run 14th every week. That Brian France himself has acknowledged this says that they are very much aware of Junior’s importance to the sport.

But the response has not been to analyze why he is so popular but to make ridiculous rule changes to keep Junior and other popular drivers in the running for a championship until the end of the season. They went after bigger teams that didn’t build his cars. They contrived a playoff. When Junior didn’t make the playoff in two out of four years, it was expanded. And at Daytona and Phoenix this season, NASCAR can’t seem to make up its mind whether Junior should be punished for aggressive driving.

It is the overtures to fans of popular drivers that bring out the chants of “WWE”, not Tony Stewart complaining about debris cautions. NASCAR seems reluctant to anger not only Junior Nation, but even the anti-Junior Nation now. Cuban baseball leagues have braver officials.

Instead of trying to figure out a way to make a rule against passing any car with two eights on it, how about looking at Junior’s popularity and ultimately seeing where NASCAR’s base was and is? There are fans everywhere, but they are still largely concentrated in the Southeast of this country—which is the main reason why one of the few drivers left who speaks with a twang is the sport’s biggest star.

So why do races get pulled out of the Carolinas? Why are ticket prices for any worthwhile seats out of blue collar range? Why are the fans in the Southeast, the clear majority, being made to stay up until past midnight, sometimes on Sunday, to see the outcome of a race?

Why even consider losing a race at Martinsville for Kansas? On spreadsheets it may make sense. Moving Labor Day to California made sense on the spreadsheets at the time. It also makes economic sense for a corporation to have profoundly exasperating automated menus or foreigners whose third language is English to handle their customer service. The spreadsheet doesn’t show the value of lost customers irate at the lack of respect they’re shown by companies they patronize.

NASCAR’s efforts to help Junior win while simultaneously disregarding the core location of the fan base are both resulting in a crumbling foundation. Fans understand trying to grow the sport. What infuriates them is the disregard for the most devoted among them in the efforts to appeal to those who never have and never will support it. It’s as if no one in charge has ever heard of New Coke.

NASCAR needs to see what is happening before it’s too late. It isn’t hard to do. Look at what people on blogs and websites complain about the most and address it. They don’t have to please bitchy columnists like me—but they should take heed if everyone in the comment section agrees with what I or others are saying. Do internal polling if necessary—and listen this time. Had NASCAR heeded their own website’s polls about the Chase, instead of insisting on it regardless of fan opinion, they would have quickly ditched the idea. The polls for the Chase ran 75-25 against it before and after the 2004 season. A 50-point margin is beyond “overwhelming majority”. A 50-point margin means “Don’t do it”!

Fans continued to strongly oppose the Big Points Giveaway in polls until NASCAR stopped polling and just had their people tell us it’s great and fans love it. Never mind the ratings. They’ll be back.

NASCAR can blame the economy for the plummeting attendance. What they can’t blame on the economy is plummeting ratings. I doubt that everyone has decided to get their NASCAR fix on their computer rather than just turning on their TV set. It’s just as almost free to watch a race on TV as it has always been. There are almost one in five fewer people watching races this year than in 2008, and 2008 saw a similar decline from 2007. That is literally millions of fans not watching. If NASCAR isn’t waking up to the reality, they should really start paying attention.

For now NASCAR gets away with it. They are still the only game in town. They aren’t going to be forever, and if someone with better ideas of what a racing series should be finds the funding, it could reduce a great institution to irrelevance. Do you think Tony Stewart couldn’t be lured to a stock car racing series with more drivable cars and a tire supplier that’s up to the job? He left Gibbs for Haas—he could certainly leave NASCAR for something lesser in stature. It used to be unthinkable that a NASCAR star like Kyle Busch would even consider leaving for Formula One. What does it say that a true racer like Kyle must be at least somewhat disgruntled with his current very high-paying gig?

So many institutions in America become hugely popular and then forget everything that got them there. Caldor is just one of hundreds of examples. It isn’t disputed anymore that NASCAR is headed in the wrong direction—down. One need only look at articles and comments and blogs to see the equation. A strange looking and driving strictly spec racecar + poor broadcasts + rules to help popular drivers + rules to encourage points racing + ridiculous start times = plummeting ratings.

Hopefully, NASCAR isn’t shrugging the numbers off and expecting fans to come back. It’s becoming clearer that people aren’t. This season’s ratings from Daytona forward are no longer something to be dismissed. And if NASCAR keeps going the way they’re going, the ratings will keep on following suit.

NASCAR can stop the bleeding. The question is whether they will.

Kurt’s Shorts

  • Following his great win at Phoenix, Mark Martin is 13th in the standings…and that’s with two blown engines and a busted tire causing another low finish. He could very easily be leading the points right now. Make no mistake my friends—Martin is in this for real.
  • Is it me or do restrictor plate races bring all of the subpar teams out of the woodwork? Morgan-McClure is on the entry list this week. I didn’t even know they still existed. So is Jeremy Mayfield. I guess with the Big One always looming, there’s usually a good chance an upstart team can collect a 20th place payday.
  • David Reutimann’s thus-far very impressive season has moved him up to ninth in the points standings, which may be enough to get his car on television soon. Still, I’m hedging the Chase bets. Martin’s coming, and Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton aren’t likely going anywhere.
  • Who is the official provider of lugnuts for NASCAR? I’ll bet we’d know if the lugnut problems that have plagued many of the sport’s top teams were afflicting Tony Stewart’s team. That guy is too happy these days.

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Bobb
04/23/2009 11:22 PM
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Is it a prerequisite to whine and gripe to write on FS.com?

Even of it isn’t… can the diatribe of moaning be something original?

Douglas
04/24/2009 07:20 AM
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Absolutely well stated!

But I think NA$CRAP simply cannot read! (or count for that matter, all the empty seats), what’s that comedians famous line ? “and here’s your sign”!

Stu Gatz
04/24/2009 08:10 AM
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Kurt,
Well said, how long does NA$CAR think they can piss off it’s core fan base and stay in business. It’s easy to blame the economy right now but the slide started way before the economic down turn did.

Remember the words of Bill France Jr to his son Brian (bring me another Coke) France.

Don’t mess with the fans… Brian did.

Don’t mess with the racing… Brian did.

Don’t mess with the cars… Brian did.

Well I guess Brian knew better than his Daddy or is Grand Father because what took 50 years for them to build he has managed to destroy in 4 short years.

My wife and I use to attend at least 8 races a year. Now thanks to Price gouging, lousy racing, horrible cars, and the asinine “Chase”, we haven’t gone to a single race in 3 years.

They even managed to ruin the best Race of the year, Bristol.

Holy cow, what a train wreck NA$CAR has become.

So in the true Brian ( the tree jumped out in front of me) France tradition: lets blame Junior, Lets Blame the Economy, Lets Blame the People at California for shopping durring the race.

Take a Good look in the mirror NA$CAR, the rose is of the bloom and the sport is dying, and you have nobody to blame but yourselfs.

Stu Gatz

PS. Oh and Fox get rid of the stupid freaking Digger crap, and just show the damn race….

KM
04/24/2009 08:33 AM
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Excellent take on things…definitely a different perspective on “the meaning of Jr.” Demonstrates the prototypical failure of NASCAR to see the forest through the trees.

Ken
04/24/2009 08:35 AM
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NA$CAR racing has gone from a must see to a “I’ll watch if there is nothing better to do and the weather is bad”. You don’t see the race on TV, you see infomercials with an occasional shot of the front runners. To win, you mostly just need to get out of the pits first on the last pit stop

Bill B
04/24/2009 08:37 AM
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Hey,,, wait a minute. I thought the Chase was devised because Matt Kenseth had it wrapped up with 3 races left and only had one win. Now you say it was to keep Jr in the Championship. As Spicoli asked in Fast Times At Ridgemont High… “make up your mind dude. Is he going to (*&^ or is he going to kill us.”

Casey B
04/24/2009 08:37 AM
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Agreed Bobb, I’m about tired of hearing the negativity, I dont like the 88 but I’m rooting for him to win so the whining will stop.

Janice
04/24/2009 08:42 AM
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Can I get an AMEN!

Before last year I would attend at least 2 races a year, for 25 years. Last year NONE…this year probably none. Yes the economy is crimping my “play money”, but at the track, I can’t turn on for the first 50 laps, go do something else, and turn back on for last 20 laps.

Living an hour away from ‘dega, I briefly considered going to the race, since the track was overwhelming my email with special offers. But nope, I choose to hold onto my $40 that would have been the cost of the seat and food coupon.

Talladega will be different, but only cause of plates. No one driver will get a 5 second lead on the field. ‘dega will be the antiacid race and also headache race.

I hope Brain Fart is happy with what he’s done.

Kevin
04/24/2009 08:51 AM
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Just a few years ago, I would estimate that where I live about 1 in 10 cars had NASCAR bumper / window stickers (especially after Sr passed). Now… I might see 1 or 2 a day.

Blame the car, TV, whatever. The sport is sliding down the slope – although maybe that won’t be such a bad thing if it means that the get back to their original core reason of existance: Racing (not commericials, sponsor plugs, etc.)

FS_Kurt
04/24/2009 09:03 AM
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Casey B and Bobb, sorry you feel that way about this great website, but if you look at my columns for this season, other than suggesting ideas for more imaginative racetracks, I haven’t been negative all year. It wasn’t my intention to complain in this article, it was to point out that NASCAR should be looking at why the ratings have been consistently falling and see what they can do to turn it around.

Bill B, I’m not arguing your point, but you’ve given me an idea for a future article.

Irene
04/24/2009 09:24 AM
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Very well said… the problem with NASCAR in it’s current form is none other than BRAINLESS">BRIANFRANCE and his greedy mudsucking scam artist ways. He truly doesnt care about the FANS, the SPORT or its HISTORY! HE is only concerned about giving the impression he he cares. The only thing he cares about is $$$$$$$$ NOTHING ELSE.Especially the fans who spend that $$.Every single move he has made was designed to create more $$$ in his pocket.I say get rid of the Brainless King and let someone run the sport that cares!

Jim Davidson
04/24/2009 09:46 AM
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Kurt, Thanks for stating the obvious errors of Nascar’s ways! Big Bill is most likely rolling in his grave! Aside from the economy, the COT has done more to keep the fans away than any other factor! As bad as I hate “rule changes” in mid-stream, Nascar needs to allow these teams some freedom to make some much-needed chassis changes! As it stands, “clean air” and 1st out of the pits, is the difference between winning and being an also ran!

Annie Mack
04/24/2009 09:48 AM
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I don’t understand why Jr. haters feel that fans who complain are just upset because he hasn’t won a race. I couldn’t care less if Jr. wins a race. I’m upset that the racing itself sucks, the television coverage is a joke, and they’ve taken the competition out of the sport completely. If you’re so freaking happy with Na$car, then don’t read the negative columns. Everything is apple pie and lollipops in your world. All you need to read is www.nascar.com. They’ll tell you what you want to hear.

Rick
04/24/2009 10:12 AM
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I picked up my renewal tix last week for the 2010 Daytona 500. The ticket office was empty. The staff indicated that business was slower than usual, however, they naturally have to tow the co line that ‘all is great’ (lol). When I receive a call at home about renewing my tix (never received one before) it was a no brainer that tix sales were s l o w. On the plus side, DIS is discounting renewals – 12.5% on 2 day tower packages and 38.5% on the tower truck race seats. One hell of a deal for the truck race – usually the best race of Speedweeks – only $40. for a tower seat. So we have something positive – DIS has reduced prices for renewals. Now for the racing. In my view, the ‘cars’ raced in the NA$CAR Cup series is the big problem. To draw the fans back, both in person & on TV, the cars need to resemble their namesakes on the street. The main complaint we have now (with the spec cars) is that the cars at the front have difficulty passing and the leader just disappears – re Jr last week in a car that was crap until he got out front. If memory serves me correct, when the cars has the same basic outlines as their street namesake, the lack of passing was not an issue.

And Kurt, as for being negative, I think you, as most of us who take the time to comment are not ‘complaining’ just to be negative. We want to draw attention to the problems we see and hope NA$CAR does something while we still have a sport. And many of us do offer possible solutions. Alas, it does not seem that anyone in ‘head office’ is listening to us, the fans.

Bill B
04/24/2009 10:20 AM
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Kurt,
Actually the point was the chase was not the result of either Kenseth or Jr.. It was a poorly thought out way to institute a playoff system to spike viewership and raise the $$$ that could be harvested from the fans (both casual and diehard). Unfortunately the playoff format does not translate well to NASCAR and the diehard fans have seen it for what it is – an attempt to manufacture excitement and “fix” the championship to be exciting and not necessarily an award for the team that is the best in any given year.

Bobb
04/24/2009 10:20 AM
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FS_Kurt

Whether you are usually negative or not, the topic of “kick NASCAR” has been exahusted, from A to Z. Some of the complaints are valid, others are hypothetical, others, are plain mythologicol.

Nonetheless… kicking and beating and griping will not change a bit of it.

Lastly, you (all those that complain) are NOT beating NASCAR, you’re beating a dead horse, week after week.

There is a big difference between being right (about anything), and being good, or working for the better good.
The constant crticial whining is very right, but not a bit good.

steve in NJ
04/24/2009 10:25 AM
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I attended college, when I was young and naïve. The Business 101 class was a required course for all students regardless of your major. I was an engineering major so I had almost no interest in the class. But the professor was first-rate, and in spite of myself I learned a lot in her class. She presented to us on the first day of class a list of why businesses fail. The first 6 were poor management, overexpansion, not keeping the customer base happy, location, location and location. So let’s apply this to NASCAR, poor management results in overexpansion thus pissing off the customer base in the location, location and locations that allowed NASCAR to grow. If I got this wrong please do not blame my Business Professor. She only had an engineering student to work with

Heather
04/24/2009 10:34 AM
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What I don’t understand is…..why nascrap/brainless brian/and the rest of them….can’t do anything about the obovious ‘start and parks’….There are some drivers WHO want to race, not go to the gargae and be out of the race, just to get a paycheck…and nascrap just turns their heads, does nothing about it…
I agree with the other complaints also.The cot is a piece of crap….just so they, nascarp can write the rules.Digger…good grief…my son who WAS an avid fan…saw Digger and said…‘what the…..is that doing on here ,it’s supposed to be racing. Lots of people are turning away because it’s not like it used to be.
I bet THE sr and Jr Frances are turning in their graves when they see what a big mess that brian has made.
Yes, he really ruined races on Sunday!!!!

Bill B
04/24/2009 10:41 AM
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Bobb,
I think you are wrong. I think the complaining, loss of ratings, and lack of attendence will result in changes. But first a tipping point needs to be reached.. the point at which the state of the sport takes precedence over Brian France’s ego. IMO the only reason things haven’t changed is that Brian’s ego won’t allow him to admit that some of the changes he’s implemented haven’t worked out as hoped.

Bobb
04/24/2009 11:07 AM
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Bill B: With all due respect, I think NASCAR is on a much longer timeframe than most fans imagine.
After losing all their stars, IndyCar has nothing left to tout.
NASCAR lost all the Allisons, a Petty, an Earnhardt, Bonnet, and many up and coming personalities of NASCAR.
The COT became more important to a) retain the name drivers that fans identify with the sport, and b) to eliminate the cheap charge by critics and lesser fans that racing is a duel with death. (By the way, for all the people that whine… how often do they say, “we haven’t had a workplace fatality in NASCAR in 1001 days… or whatever the real number is).
NASCAR has been around for 60 years… and is still slowly marching forward to become the #1 sport in America. To do so, they first had to cure an issue called, “driver deaths” for the rest of America, the part that NASCAR is after, so they can hurdle past baseball, basketball, and football. NASCAR wants to be number 1! They really do want their sport to always be mentioned in the lead in, or first 90 seconds of every sports report.
Other than Daytona, when is NASCAR the first story on any national sports report? When there is a scarring and ugly death!
Again… I credit NASCAR in every way for dedicating this era of their existence to safety. Furthermore, I am glad they are letting crew chiefs and drivers figure out to race this new car (and THEY are!).

I’ll argue this point forever, that NASCAR is in phase to prepare for their next big growth… doing some necessary ground work, to evolve further.

When Dale Earhhardt died… it meant more than the loss of a great driver; it meant there was something fundamentally wrong with the sport.
Like it or not, NASCAR is going to make the sport safe, and then look at the rest of the mess.

FS_Kurt
04/24/2009 11:27 AM
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Bobb, your point is noted about the anti-NASCAR issues being beaten to death as you put it. If you look at Jayski every day, you will see that a lot of topics are beaten to death: Junior’s performance, start-and-parks, Digger, whatever. I realize I’m very critical of NASCAR, but this article applies to current news: that as of the Phoenix race, the ratings have been down for every single race this year, not just a few.

Regarding safety, I’m glad you brought that up, because down the road I’m going to shoot down this whole notion that the new car is safer. Now “the new car is safer”, there’s a statement that’s been beaten to death. Waiting for the appropriate time.

Bobb
04/24/2009 11:46 AM
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FS_Kurt: Write the column now about the new cars and safety rather than being a cheap opportunist, k?
Yeesh… can’t wait for a tragedy to make hay, huh?

FS_Kurt
04/24/2009 12:03 PM
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Good golly Bobb, I’m not hoping for a driver to die just to make a point. Not even I’m that bad. Yeesh back at ya.

Trust me, it will be appropriate.

Kevin in SoCal
04/24/2009 12:35 PM
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Kurt said: “The polls for the Chase ran 75-25 against it before and after the 2004 season. A 50-point margin is beyond “overwhelming majority”. A 50-point margin means “Don’t do it”!”

NASCAR fans are notoriously against change. It doesnt matter what it is, if it changes something, they’re against it. So using that as an example is moot, in my opinion.

To Bill B @ 8:37am: Kenseth had the title won after Rockingham with one race left in the season. Gordon would have wrapped up the title in 2007 after Texas with two races left in the season. Both yawners in my opinion. At least with the Chase, there is a better chance of it going down to the last race. Unfortunately, only the first year, 2004, produced such an animal, with every year after being almost a runaway by one driver (Tony Stewart or Jimmie Johnson). I believe NASCAR almost has it right with the Chase, it just needs a tweak or two to keep the drivers closer together in points to eliminate runaways.

Bill B
04/24/2009 12:48 PM
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Bobb,
It’s funny that you would immediately key on safety which, in my opinion, is the only success that can be touted amongst the many changes implemented. Could the safety been increased to the same degree without the COT? Safer wall barriers are probably most important and that is one change no one is complaining about. How did the chase increase safety? How did losing the Southern 500 help safety? How did the current state of network broadcasting of the race help safety?
Perhaps you are right that this is a minor setback and that the future will be better as a result. I have no idea because I don’t have a crystal ball but I do know they have had a major negative effect in the shortrun. Driving away fans and hurting the numbers by which success is measured. Blaming the current economic issues is like saying the fans are shopping in California and that’s why the seats look empty. The fact is this erosion of ratings and fans has constantly increased since the first bombshell was dropped (the chase). So yes, the sport is safer but the majority of changes Brian has made had no effect on overall safety.

Kevin,
As I said in a post a couple of weeks ago, real fans don’t need the chase to watch. What is your goal for the championship, to award the best team or to make it interesting for viewers. Personally I want the best team crowned champion. I know how they can make it go down to the last race though, wait until race 35 to reset the point. That would guarentee a close race down to the finish wouldn’t it. Of course it wouldn’t reflect the performance over the whole season.

Bill B
04/24/2009 12:55 PM
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…and neither does the chase.

Mike
04/24/2009 02:02 PM
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First off NA$CAR changed the rules mid stream since the early days of NA$CAR. Has NA$CAR “looked the other way” for Junior? Sure they have. Just like they did for years with Jeff Gordon.

My wife and I used to drive from So.Cal. just to go to races at Martinsville, Darlington and Rockingham. Yet we refused to drive 30 miles to Fontana. That place still sucks.

Heck we don’t even watch the races anymore.

2 things have hurt the racing. Brian France and FOX.

No Bill France is not turning over in his grave because NA$CAR/France/ISC are still making money.

Bill France is not the messiah some think he was.

Max
04/24/2009 04:40 PM
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It is really simple to fix Nascar – Here’s how:

The Race cars must have BUMPERS! Air must flow underneath the car. No valences and splitters to the ground. Airflow under the car = no aero push. No aero push = better racing and passing at will.

Lower horsepower as well.

Have all broadcasts go by CBS formula of how they showed races. Wide shots of multiple cars racing together. No cutesy gimmicks and self promotion. Fox, ESPN are not the “show”.

Racing is the “show”.

Have Ken Squier and Ned Jarrett announce the races.

Fire or otherwise eliminate Brian France and let David Pearson run Nascar.

Re-open North Wilkesboro, Rockingham and build short tracks in southern cities.

Hell, let me run it, I’ll have things fixed in no time.

Just call me Big Bill….I’ll even carry a .38….

mike
04/24/2009 06:09 PM
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Seems pretty simple to me…

Show the racing. At reasonable times.

My personal wish list would include….but not limited to….

More saturday night racing.
Some races need to be shorter.
More post-race, less pre-race.
More short track racing.
One less Pocono race and one less Auto Club race.
Auto Club should NOT come after Daytona 500!
Less 1.5’s in the Chase.

And frankly, as far as I’m concerned, the season could end when the NFL starts.

mkrcr
04/24/2009 07:57 PM
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Bobb,
On what floor is your office in Daytona?
The comments here and on other Websites do get noticed. You found them didn’t you?

Mike
04/25/2009 08:38 AM
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bobb, Your last name is France or Helton correct?

Ed
04/25/2009 08:49 AM
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The season ended for me before the it started. If NASCAR is betting the farm on Jr. and it certainly appears that way, otherwise he would have been penalized last week, they are in trouble. If the fan “base” is primarily Jr., and that appears to be the case as well, then if Jr. fails the series fails. The latter is definitely the case. No sport can rely on one individual player and succeed. What a holy mess this series has become! I’ve moved on to sports car racing where the racing is king and there are so many star drivers that you can’t settle on just one.

Duane in NC
04/26/2009 01:41 PM
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All I am seeing is how France’s decisions has impacted Cup racing. It irks me when that is referenced to NASCAR. France’s decisions has impacted NASCAR to it’s core divisions. The local short tracks find themselves competing against Cup/GN/Trucks almost half the season now with night races. Most of these tracks are located in localities with ordanances that basically eliminates a possiblity to run on Sunday. You throw the current economy in there and you have tracks trying to tread water with concrete boots. Has anyone stopped and looked at the fact that more and more new comers to Cup racing have very little local NASCAR short track experience? Some may run Late Models for a year through developmental teams but you are seeing less drivers who started in the support divisions and worked their way up. Short tracks having what is considered a full field twice a year is a huge accomplishment. Doing it four times a year prior to the recession was lucky. After getting out of the Navy in 85 I became a racing fanatic. It was short track racing every weekend except for the two to three Cup races I attended. Even then we would check out a track close to us if it was running. NASCAR was at it’s strongest then. Your local tracks had large fields of cars and large attendances. Walking around the track fans would be decked out in their newest attire to show who their Cup driver was. Today 1 in 20 may have on something racing related when attending a local Saturday night event. That in itself should raise an alarm about the state of the sport. In my opinion Brian France made a poor decision in the overall title sponsor. Instead of taking a deal that pumps a lot of money into the upper tier he should have gone with some one willing to spread funds through the whole system like Winston did. There had to be someone out there with the same idealoligy as Winston. Also, I miss the days of watching a race on a Sunday that offered me daylight to cook on the grill afterwards.

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