The Frontstretch: MPM2Nite: Where Did Everybody Go? by Matt McLaughlin -- Wednesday August 25, 2010

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MPM2Nite: Where Did Everybody Go?

Matt McLaughlin · Wednesday August 25, 2010


I’ve been roaming this earth over half a century now so little surprises me, but there are still things I never expected to see or see again. I never thought I’d see two young people in love spending more time texting each other rather than speaking on the phone where they could enjoy the sound of one another’s voices. Back in the dark days of the Mustang II (a Pinto going out for Halloween as a Mustang) I never thought I’d ever see a new Mustang with over 400 horsepower again, nor did I think one day a six-popper Mustang would produce over 300 horses. And I surely never thought I’d see a day when a fan could walk up to the ticket gate at Bristol the evening of the Night Race and purchase a ticket.

Yes, there was in fact a fair amount of folks at Bristol on Saturday night as noted by the typical band of NASCAR apologists, syncopates and toadies. There were in fact more folks on hand than will attend any NFL game this season. ABC estimated the crowd size at 100,000. I’ve read laughable opinions that as many of 140,000 fans showed up. (Maybe they were all under the grandstands shopping with Jillian Zucker?) Even given the most optimistic estimates, and again I put as much stock in the higher number as I do on advice from cold call stockbrokers and online astrology sites, that means there were ten thousand empty seats at Bristol where there used to be a waiting list longer than that of fans desperately wanting a seat for the night race. Where’d everybody go?

According to Bristol track officials, 62 percent of fans who declined to renew their tickets for the big race cited the economy as the chief reason. I don’t know how scientific that sampling was, but I can believe that number. Of course if reached by a Bristol employee asking why I chose not to renew, A) I’d be pretty impressed they actually cared, and B) most people being polite, I’d guess more are going to say “the economy” rather than, “I’m pretty damned pissed off you jackasses won’t let me light up a smoke in an outdoor arena” or “Last year when I came the race was just awful and I’m not wasting anymore money on a race ticket until the last car of tomorrow is pushed into the depths of the sea.”

Yeah, the economy is tough right now. I’m not immune from that, nor are the people I am close to, some of whom are out of jobs, struggling to pay the mortgage or nursing tired old cars and trucks along on a shoestring because they can’t afford to replace them. But most of them still go on at least one vacation annually. Maybe it’s Ocean City rather than Myrtle Beach or the Keys, but they still go. In fact the two people I know who complain the most about being broke have gone on a dizzying array of vacations this year. I guess I’m lucky. I prefer Ocean City to Myrtle Beach. I can have a fine vacation just riding the scoot with the sun on my back, eating at KFC, and sleeping (late) in my own bed each night. The car and truck are paid for, as are the bike and the Pontiac and I don’t even have a credit card. So yeah, people are still going on vacation and for some folks “vacation” used to be race weekends.

The Bristol crowd was stronger than most, but even this once sold-out track can’t fill all the seats. The reasons? Economy, traffic, and lack of product.

But using the “economy” excuse begs the question “so why are TV ratings down too?” After all Saturday night’s race was on network TV meaning even those who had to cut out cable TV could have watched for free. I mean if these folks can’t afford to attend races, but are still NASCAR fans, why aren’t they watching on TV? Sure, there’s other ways to follow a race: on the internet, on your cell phone (if you have one of the cursed things) or on the radio, but the same is true for NFL games and NFL ratings aren’t in the crapper.

A lot of tracks, Bristol included, have finally admitted they priced a lot of fans out of attending their races back in the salad days of the sport when there were waiting lists for tickets. With knowledge and fore-planning they priced out the blue collar fans who had been attending their races for generations. To their credit most tracks have tried hard to win over the fans by lowering ticket prices, sometimes radically, in an attempt to convince race fans catching a race is no more expensive than taking the family to the movies and a sitdown dinner at a restaurant with cloth napkins and no drive-thru window, or renting a ski boat for the day down at the shore.

That’s all well and good for fans who live within easy driving distance of the track (and if I ran a track that’s who I’d be courting most heavily). The folks at Bristol note that the ironically named “hospitality” industry is a big part of their problem. Bristol is in a pretty remote area and there aren’t a whole lot of hotel and motel rooms, so the hotels closest to the track charge exorbitant fees and even some of them a good distance away jack their rates out of site and require three or four night minimum stays. I’m all for free enterprise but sometimes, like when retailers triple the price of plywood, generators and bottled water when a hurricane approaches, well, some folks deserve to be found with a single round to their head in the dumpster behind their businesses after the storm rolls through.

It behooves the track, local and state governments, and other area businesses to try to encourage and, if necessary, strong-arm concessions from the hospitality industry on race weekends. A NASCAR race pumps a lot of dollars into the local economy and the state economy. It helps provide jobs in these gloomy times, for waitresses, bar owners, and so on right down to the folks who make a little extra cash letting folks park in their front yards near the tracks. Some overtime hours and the extra tip money from the Pocono race weekends are a Godsend to a friend of mine who is a waitress in that area and is trying to raise three kids, one of them with Autism, as a single mom. Sally tells me that race weekends aren’t what they were for her even a few years back.

I truly feel that traffic woes are one of the unsung reasons that fans have stopped going to races. I hear from annoyed and even furious fans on the matter weekly. It takes some marketing work to convince a fan to bring his family or buddies to their first Cup race. Then that group misses the first fifty laps of the race because they weren’t expecting traffic to be so bad and it takes them three hours just to get out of the parking lot after the race. You know what? They probably won’t be back. If they get their car mired in a dirt and grass parking lot after a storm passes through the area and have to wait six hours and pay hundreds of bucks to get towed out of the swamp, they surely won’t be back and after hearing of their nightmarish experience their friends and coworkers probably won’t be going to the next race either.

I love the fact the local cops are trying to wrestle more money from Bruton Smith for security and traffic control which incidentally they suck at. Send in the state cops. Lots of them. Given the money those two races pump into the New Hampshire economy it only makes sense, and my guess is the troopers would appreciate the overtime and spend more freely as well. Wait until the politicians see the hit the area economy takes and the jobs lost if Bruton decides to move one of those NHIS dates to Las Vegas next year. I’m not a patient guy in traffic and my bladder isn’t what it used to be. For me traffic was always the worst part of attending a race professionally or personally.

But the fact remains if the racing itself was better, fans would get a second job to pay for those tickets and hotel rooms. They’d park in remote locations and hike miles to get to the track. They’d sit in hour long traffic jams still buzzing about what a great race they saw. Been there done that, bought the thirty dollar T-shirt. Not all races are going to be classics and they never have been. But the current ratio of clinkers to classics is so bad the idea of spending all that money and time only to wind up bored, unhappy and leaving the track at the halfway point to avoid some of the traffic doesn’t make sense. One of the things I always watch during races are how many people are filing out of the grandstands and how many cars are on the access roads exiting the track prior to the finish of the race. Of course when Dale, Tony or Jeff drop out of a race there’s a mass exodus of their fans, but even without problems for the big three I’ve noticed a decided uptick in the early departers even over the last few years.

I’m not a huge fan of baseball to put it politely. Most ball games I see are because they are on in the background at some tavern where I’m kicking back a few cold ones with the usual suspects. But I’d equate the current state of NASCAR to the dark days of the Phillies, a team once so hapless that when they won a game you had to wonder if the other team lost to them out of sympathy. But all of a sudden the Phillies are hot. They make it to post-season play. They won the World Series (talk about another thing I never thought I’d see again). The players are an interesting and colorful bunch of fellows. Even when they’re down six runs in the eighth you dare not leave early because the big guns might just start firing again and they might pull it off. And recently “the Bank” as local sportscasters call that stadium enjoyed their 100th straight sellout. HMMM. Is there a lesson here?

To cite another example, by the standards of FM radio play and album sales the Grateful Dead never did that well. But for decade after decade a ticket to see the Dead was one of the hardest to score in all of rockdom. You had to sleep on the sidewalk for nights before tickets went on sale or pay scalpers’ prices to see Jerry and the Band. Why? Because night after night the Dead put on a great show. Because the Dead stuck to what they did best (and they weren’t the best at what they did, they were the only ones that did what they did). They didn’t branch out into disco, hip hop and pop trying to win newer and trendier fans with more disposable income. The fans who grabbed up all those tickets were the loyalists. They didn’t have to be sold on the “product.” They knew what they were getting. And being at one of those shows it was impossible not to get the vibe the band appreciated their fans, not if you ever felt the surge of energy and heard the roar of the crowd during the opening notes of Box of Rain, Atlhea or Wharf Rat.

Is it the Chase, the new car, the new generation of drivers, the new TV coverage or some other factor or combination of factors that’s killing interest in NASCAR? I can’t say for sure. I’ve seen a lot of things I never expected to see. Unless they fix this mess, I might be around to see the final NASCAR race too and I surely never thought or hoped for that.

Contact Matt McLaughlin

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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08/26/2010 12:52 AM

I never received a call or e-mail after dropping my Bristol Tickets this year after having for 14yrs. If they would of ask me it was not the economy(yes times are tough, but if the racing was better I would have found the money) The last couple of years I have went and camped and watched on TV, and had a hard time GETTING FACE VALUE out of the Night Race tix (when scalpers are only getting 1/2 to 3/4 face value). And forget about selling Spring tix when you can be fighting snow and low’s in the 20’s.

There were 20 people in our group with 5 ticket holders and not one of us was contacted about why we dropped our tickets.

08/26/2010 01:35 AM

I’ve never been contacted about why I dropped my tickets either. However, my email in box still gets loaded with info from AMS. Charlotte and ‘Dega about race weekends and other activities at the tracks, especially at AMS. I know AMS once sent me info about “payment plan” to entice folks to renew their tickets, and they stopped demanding their money 9 months prior to event.

I know here in GA, the state patrol handles all off track traffic control. However, with the lack of funds in the state budget, there aren’t as many troopers who work race weekend, and they’re not there as early. State doesn’t have the overtime budget. I’m sure a “political contribution” or contribution to the state police charity fund helps.

I know when AMS recently lost the spring race, it was reported in news here that the govenor did petition na$car to rethink the decision, as it will have such a huge impact on the economy. Not specifically the price gouging, but on the employment of part-time workers for race weekend and the increased business for all those businesses within 50 miles of the track. I live 45 minutes west of AMS and on race weekend, even restaurants and hotels where I live would be booked and full.

I discovered a few years ago it was cheaper to nap at home and I didn’t have to wait to use restroom or stand in line for food/beverage. The only schlepping I had to do was from the car truck to the house when I bought groceries.

08/26/2010 01:51 AM

“Unless they fix this mess, I might be around to see the final NASCAR race too and I surely never thought or hoped for that.”

Before anyone starts ripping Matt a new one on this, go read this weeks Autoextremist (Fumes entry).

08/26/2010 04:20 AM

Matt. I agree with you. you are right on the top of it. I also will thro my regrets into the pot that has caused me to become less interested. 1. Since Brian France took over (have to put the ball in his court), racing has gotten more SHOW BUSINESS vs. RACING BUSINESS.2, The chase is garbage. Since some people complained that a champion is not a champion if he only wins one race on not win a race. Championships have always been based on consistantcy. Big Bill wanted cars there every week to race. As you know the early days, some car owners only raced now and then. 3, Double file restart is terrible. Drivers, Car owners and Sponsors don’t like it, because it tears up so many cars. It’s also a negitive safety factor. 4,Cookie cutter cars. where only decals and “C panels change the looks of a Chev, Ford or whatever. 5, The rules. There is avery small window for any creative engineering to make a car handle better or have more speed. I remember reading a slogan painted under a hood of a car “If your are cheating,You are not creative”. To me that takes talent. When NASCAR stops dishing out certain springs,shocks and spoilers and let the teams use their creative engineering. Note! One thing I like about the COT is the safety features. Last, Be consistant in laying down the ground rules for all competitors, (not special drivers).

08/26/2010 07:09 AM

HOW OLD is this article? This is far from the first Bristol night race that hasn’t been a sell-out.

I mean read the first paragraph! Certain careers require you to stay up-to-date to be successful: Law, Nutrition, Education, Fashion, and I thought Journalism.

I bet Matt still emails from his desktop, has a land-line with a long distance calling plan, and apparently gets his DAY OLD NEWS from chatting by the water cooler at work (after those of us smartwater drinking folks have gotten bored of tweeting about the subject)

Matt its 2010… Take a visit to Doc Brown and catch-up!

Bill B
08/26/2010 07:18 AM

For anyone interested in the article Chicken Plucker referenced above, here is the link:

It seems that Chevy and Ford are finally admitting that the COT has no value to their marketing and research and developement programs. Hmmm, imagine that.
When the COT was announced my first reaction was that it would make more sense and cost effecient for the manufacuters to just be the primary sponsor on a single car rather than support a fleet of generic cars.

08/26/2010 07:47 AM

Good point Randy, Bristol races have sucked for several years now. Great reference to the Greatful Dead and their fans… Nascar certainly screwed the pooch by forcing all the long term fans out of attending races.

08/26/2010 07:48 AM

Randy, people like you who look down on others for not twittering their “peeps” constantly about what color shoes they’ve just bought are the exact reason NASCAR is hemhorraging fans.

Look it up…Bristol sold out 55 straight races until 2010.

08/26/2010 08:08 AM

Awesome. You are dead on (no pun intended.) You should be put in charge of NASCAR. I stopped going to races three years ago; stopped watching races live on TV. I record them and this year I’ve only watched two of the taped races. The reasons NASCAR is no longer “must see” for me are numerous; I wish the powers that be would do something to get the sport back to what it once was before they kill it all together. Being told over and over again that “I’m watching history” (Kyle Busch’s meaningless “trifecta” or Chip Ganassi’s “Triple Crown” only makes me want to puke. It does nothing to make me more interested.

Kevin from PA
08/26/2010 08:55 AM

Sorry for the long post but I read something interesting about 3 weeks ago and was saving it to share with everyone.

Add Sprint in with GM and Ford as a sponsor who might be figuring out that NASCAR might not be the best marketing tool.

I have heard not heard nor read anything from Sprint on this. But there was an article in Yahoo news that for the first time in many years, Sprint did not lose customers.

Since the Sprint / Nextel merger, Sprint has been not been losing customers – they have been hemorrhaging customers. The reasons for the losses were the iphone, customer satisfaction, and prepaid cells.

Now Sprint is barely losing customers – in fact compared to the other big wireless providers, they are actually gaining. The reasons for the growth are due to Sprint being the first with 4G, the introduction of the Google Android phone, and improved customer satisfaction.

Notice that neither their gains nor losses were affected AT ALL by their association with NASCAR. Actually there is almost a reverse trend: as NASCAR ratings slip, Sprint’s position improved.

So if you are Sprint’s Management and you have a few million to spend: A) Do you spend it on sponsoring a sport with declining ratings and fan base; B) putting up more towers so that your customers have better and faster service; C) investing in a better Android phone to battle the iphone.

Honestly if I were Sprint, I would have to say either option B or C – which per the other article is what GM and Ford are basically determining as well.

Note: I switched this year from AT&T to Sprint. Why: Pricing (for $5 more I get unlimited everything (Hey Matt: Give me your cell phone number so we can text!!!)) and the Android phone. Again notice that my decision was not based on their association with NASCAR.

Bill B
08/26/2010 08:55 AM

I was thinking the same thing.
I actually admire people who have resisted getting a cell phone. And you can take facebook and twitter and shove them where the sun don’t shine. I don’t buy into virtual friendships, get a real friend and make the effort to actually call them or see them.

08/26/2010 09:45 AM

Matt… this just in…
We landed on the moon!

Oh wait, i forgot, with all the negativity and pessimism in your articles you probably don’t believe that happened either, do you?

08/26/2010 09:52 AM

Anyone else find it ironic that Bill and Gordon82 are bashing technology on an online nascar forum?

We need to go back to the good old days when the only people that had to hear people’s dumb opinions were the one’s within earshot.

08/26/2010 10:02 AM

Traffic is no worse now than it ever was . In fact , it’s less because far fewer people are going to the races and the two lane roads of the 60s have largely become four or even six lanes .
The downturn in attendance at races is simply a product of the media . Clean up the RV or the car , fill it with fuel for the first of several times over the weekend , pack the needed items , go to the ATM and draw out at least the first of the necessary dollars , drop the dog and cat off at the animal sitter , pack lunches and drinks , drive hours to the track fighting traffic ( normal and race ) , sit in the uncomfortable grandstands for hours in the hot sun waiting for the race to start , almost passing out from the heat by the time the race really does start , being eaten alive by the mosquitos and other bugs , sitting through countless unnecessary cautions while the kids complain , many trips to the smelly crowded restrooms , many trips to the long lines at the food stands for overpriced prison grade food and drinks , walking for what seems like miles back to the car to fight traffic again , hours left to drive before arriving home again . OR… curl up on the sofa with a reasonably priced beer and food from the fridge in airconditioned comfort and watch the race for free on tv if it’s interesting , or take a nap if it isn’t . All the while watching the latest and greatest tv gimmicks and following along on the internet . Now really , which of those ideas sounds better . Empty grandstands ? Not hard to see why .

08/26/2010 10:34 AM

One of the many things that get me about the “new nascar” is these newer tracks complaining about the weather when it starts getting a little hot or cold. Look at the “old school” fans many in the southeast who went to the races in the cold and extreme heat(been to Bristol, for both snow, low’s in teens, and high’s near 100 with 90+ humidity) and while miserable was damn glad to be there. Try that with most fans at one of the tracks opened in the last 10-15 years.

The Mad Man
08/26/2010 10:43 AM

I attended that last race before Bristol was reconfigured which also happened to have been the first race that the COT was run there. It was a snoozer. Which tells me it’s the car that’s the problem, it wasn’t the track. Then came the reconfiguration and the races haven’t improved any. Why? because of the COT. And just like the old days the only time things really get exciting is when there are wrecks. Just look at all the media coverage about last weekend. It wasn’t about tight racing or how exciting it was. It was about either Busch sweeping the weekend or him and Bad Brad.

As to the Autoextremist article, unless somebody in Daytona Beach awakens from their comatose state, Matt’s right on what’s going to happen to NA$CAR.

Michael in SoCal
08/26/2010 11:49 AM

One thing not really covered in this article is the abundance of cookie cutter 1.5 and 2 mile tracks. For me, the racing on these tracks will be the death of Nascar. Pocono is even a little exciting because the track is something different, although only one race a year, and a 400 miler at that, is all there needs to be.

The COT is a work in process. Nascar really screwed up with the no testing policy, and with having such a tight box for the car & crew chiefs to work within. If they allowed testing at certain tracks the Thursday before race weekend, and allowed for more tinkering, I think the racing would improve. The move to the spoiler has made the racing better I think. And rumored changes to the front of the car and the splitter might help the manufacturers somewhat. What I don’t get is why are the manufacturers trying to sell a certain car instead of a brand? Ford & Chevy engines are used in the Grand Am series, but I don’t think there’s the model indentification there either. But it sure does showcase the engine power and reliability.

As for attending races, I live in SoCal and have put up with 105 degree heat in Fontana at Labor Day (no mention from me about how this race should be in Darlington – that was a HUGE foul-up by Nascar). The wife and I have attended every Fontana race since 2005 when we started watching. Also, we’ve been to Phoenix (Nationwide & Cup races) and Vegas (truck races) numerous times. And to Bristol and to Talladega. We’ve made it a priority to see the races, but for next spring we’re likely going to skip Fontana because the racing just isn’t good there. I understand some people like the high speeds and wide racing lanes, but personally, give me tracks a mile and smaller, with good banking for stock cars, where there’s action on the track. And I’ll admit to liking restrictor plate races too, because they’re dang exciting. Sure, they’re a demolition derby at times, but plate racing is a skill and it is something to behold.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. And as a final thought – having a casino is no reason to move a race to another boring cookie cutter track. BF – are you listening? Sadly, I don’t think so.

Bill B
08/26/2010 12:22 PM

Michael in SoCal,
I’ve never understood why cold weather is such a problem for racing. It isn’t for football fans. Just dress for the weather.
Amen on the cookie cutters. Short tracks produce more interesting races.I understand your point about Daytona and Talladega but they would be worse than the 1.5 tracks if it weren’t for the restrictor plates which pretty much script a close race. (I have to admit though, they are exciting to watch even though I don’t care for restrictor plates).
As for the COT, the average person does not care about the engine or innards of a car, only how it looks on the outside. And that is how they identify with the cars. Nobody thinks about the engine until it doesn’t start.

I wasn’t railing against technology I was railing against people who use it as a substitute for actually spending the time to interact with people by actually being with them. And yes,,, “Sometimes irony can be pretty ironic” William Shatner “Airplane 2”

Kevin in SoCal
08/26/2010 12:33 PM

I went to the fall race at Fontana last year with 3 friends, and this year I received calls from the track asking if I was coming to the February race or the October race this year. I did tell them point blank I was upset the fall race was shortened to 400 miles and I wasnt getting my money’s worth. I havent gone to the February race because its my wife’s birthday weekend. She’s not a NASCAR fan and yes she wears the firesuit in the family most of the time. Next year when there is only one Fontana race and its in March, I’ll be going for sure. And I’ll have fun meeting the SPEED personalities, the drivers, and watching the “action” on the track.

On a side note, I find it hilarious that some people say its better to sit at home in comfort and watch the race on TV, and some people say we should get off the couch and the computer and go out and meet our friends in person. Is that irony?

08/26/2010 01:11 PM

Matt writes some great stuff and you guys/gals get all riled up! This (and the Monday addition )is a must read for me every week.

08/26/2010 01:28 PM

We started going to Nascar races 4 years ago. We have gone to Darlington, Martinsville, Charlotte and Richmond. Darlington, which is 35 minutes away and Martinsville are crossed off out list because they are not handicapped friendly or the traffic is just plain horrible. We like Charlotte and love Richmond. We attend Charlotte because it is just a short drive from my brother’s house and the racing is good. We are season ticket holders ar Richmond, consider it the most fan friendly track, and has fantastic racing. To us,the fact that the track has a shuttle from downtown, is a great example of how fan-friendly they are. We stay at the same hotel and the price is 15 bucks more than on a non race weekend. We thought about going to Bristol last week, but the accommodations prices were a joke. Next stop would have been Homestead, but JR not making the chase has put that onto the back burner until next year.

Don Mei
08/26/2010 01:36 PM

Here are a few paragraphs from extremist. If you care about Nascar racing then you sure as hell need to read the whole thing.

“The question is, just how much longer can NASCAR go about its business locked in a permanent haze of denial and irrelevance, acting like the dinosaur that didn’t get the “imminent destruction” memo way back when? How much longer can NASCAR withstand the declining in-person attendance, the plummeting TV ratings and the general apathy growing among what once was its hard-core fans? Juggling the schedule here and there and calling it good is not going to cut it with these new regimes at GM and Ford, I can assure you.

These manufacturers expect to be met more than half-way at this point, and if that doesn’t happen, there will be new opportunities and horizons to explore.

And given NASCAR’s now-legendary adverse reaction to anything “not invented here” and their idea of being “responsive” – meaning such a glacial pace of change that it’s all but imperceptible – there’s a very real chance they could be be left out in the cold.”

08/26/2010 02:03 PM

Not only did Bristol not ask why I didn’t renew my tickets, they keep sending me E mail? After fighting to stay awake thru the races the past 3 years, I finally decided that a Bristol race that more closely resembles MIS with traffic isn’t what I was willing to drive 13 hours to see. The COT changed racing there, as did the chase. Whether the racing there is better now or not, it wasn’t what I bought tickets to see…bumping and grinding on the most unique track in Nascar. Never thought I’d see the day when I had no motivation to see a live night race at Bristol.

08/26/2010 02:26 PM

Whole problem is few race to win…it ‘race for the chace’. On a side note, no smoking at Bristol is a Tennessee state law, not the tracks.

Mary Dzuro
08/26/2010 02:41 PM

We go to both races in Daytona and park in the Lake Lloyd area. We go to the local Publix to buy groceries for the races on the first day, then come back to our RV and stay there for the duration of the race week. We no longer sit in the grandstands, we put a race deck on top of the Rv,carry a small TV up to watch the replays, listen MRN call the race and have a blast. We don’t pay the exhorbitant costs for food and drink – we’ve bought our own for a reasonable price and put the cooler on top of the RV with drinks and sandwiches. If you need a bathroom break, you can climb down and go into our clean bathroom. Yes, it is expensive to park there, but we make great friends, have a good time and enjoy the racing. We may never sit in grandstands at any race again because it is uncomfortable, expensive, and the racing can be boring. But we still go more for the socializing than the racing.

08/26/2010 06:18 PM

I think the main problem with Nascar is how gimmicked and “wwe” it feel nowadays. Phantom cautions, wave arounds, lucky dogs, poor commentating which is centered around something called Digger, the chase, bonus points for some races but not others. All of this adds up to piss the true fan off. And lets not get into the schedule changes theyve made in the last 5 years.

The sport is too gimmicked, the management is out of touch with the fanbase, and its not getting any better.

08/26/2010 06:22 PM

Here’s another quote from Fumes.
“The problem, in Reuss’s estimation, was the raging disconnect between what was happening in NASCAR – with its “CoT” clearly existing in a vacuum of NASCAR’s own creation – and the production cars GM was bringing to market in the next five years. Despite GM Racing’s success in NASCAR with Hendrick Motorsports, there wasn’t even a shred of relevance to be found in anything NASCAR was doing, and going forward that had to change, especially given GM’s burgeoning small and mid-size car portfolio. Reuss wasn’t alone in his assessment either. A new regime at Ford led by global marketing chief Jim Farley and Jamie Allison – the Director of Ford Racing – was coming to the same conclusion on their own (and both corporate entities have not been shy in expressing their “concerns” to the powers that be in Daytona Beach, either).”

Sound familiar? Reminds me of the song “one sided conversations with a narrow-minded wall.”

Adam Smith
08/26/2010 08:59 PM

Very good analogies, Matt. I would also throw in there, though, that not only is it the McTracks and the McCar, but also the McDrivers that are turning fans off.

Bob Chimento
08/26/2010 09:08 PM

Matt: You said… But using the “economy” excuse begs the question “so why are TV ratings down too?”

I just read all 27 post and several actually hit on good points… but to the long time true NASCAR fan these blips, I feel, really just keep the causal fan at bay.

yankeegranny almost hit the perverbial nail on the head when he said… “Next stop would have been Homestead, but JR not making the chase has put that onto the back burner”…

Yes… this is the problem with NASCARJR is a loser and because of this the “Red Army” of days past are abandoning ship…

Lets face it… Thats how much pull JR has… or shall I say had!!!

When Dale Sr passed all his fans went straight to JR and the “Red Army” was born… Then in 2004 when traction control was pulled away from JR he started his down hill slide… don’t believe me, just check out his stats since 2004…

Then JR decided he wanted to be a man when he battled his stepmom for control of DEI… thats when I lost respect for him… not only as a racer but as a man…

If he had stuck it out DEI would probably still be DEI and one day JR would have been at the control of DEI

I attend 4 to 5 races a year… the racing is still great, the price gouging has become worse, I still buy tickets from scalppers at 50% to 75% of face value, traffic I horrible, but I still get to watch the best Viewer Friendly Sport in the World… especially when they let me bring my own beer into a race…. try doing that at Yankee Stadium…

Bring Labor Day racing back to Darlington and get STOCK back in to naScar!!!

The “Red Army” is no more…

Which I believe is a HUGE reason for TV ratings being down and stands not filling up…

NASCAR….. please give JR back his traction control so he can start winning a few races again and I can stop listening to all these babys cry about how bad NASCAR is…

oh… one last thing… Brain France has got to go!

GO BlueDeuce!

phil h
08/27/2010 02:01 AM

has it ever occured to you that Nascar has peaked in popularity?Nascar bolted to number 2 in sports behind only the NFL in the 90’s!We had great racin’ tracks like Wilkesboro,Rockingham and the smaller series were racin’ at venues like Hickory,South Boston,Myrtle Beach and Orange County! Now we’re stuck with cookie cutter 1 1/2 milers,flat as a flitter Indy,and something called The Chase!!The smaller series are no longer at the bullrings and the cup drivers have made the Nat series a friggin joke!! okay,i’ll be quiet now,thx Matt for lettin me vent.

08/27/2010 09:55 AM

Two things to chew over: 1. The Chase. Say what you want, but I find it very, very difficult to stay interested in a sport where the winner is almost certainly decided when there is 1/3 of the season remaining. Unless Harvick has a total meltdown, he will be hosting the trophy at Homestead.
2. The JR factor. It is a factor of simple economics. If the most popular figure in any sport is not competitive, the sport suffers. Look at the PGA post Tiger Woods. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a human, There is much more interest in the Belmont Stakes when a horse has wome the Derby and the Preakness. It is a shame that JR has to carry NASCAR on his shoulders, but it is a fact of life, that he is the most popular driver, whose fans follow him whether he wins or loses and that translates into dollars for better or worse. I will cheerfully admit that if JR is out of a race, I usually turn off the TV. I suppose that makes me a JR fan, rather than a NASCAR fan and I think there are a lot more of us out there than people think.
Finally, I agree we need more short tracks, Nascar is insane to cut the Nationwide purses, but I think the Cup drivers add to the spice of the series, and give the newbies a benchmark to race against.