The Frontstretch: MPM2Nite: The Answer Man Rides to the Rescue... How To Fix NASCAR, Part I by Matt McLaughlin -- Thursday October 28, 2010

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Recently, there has been considerable consternation and hand-wringing in the plush corner offices of NASCAR’s Daytona Beach headquarters and ABC/ESPN’s corporate towers. Something has gone badly amiss. There are massive tracts of empty seats at even those race tracks that once had waiting lists of would-be ticket buyers. TV ratings, even for those in the All-Singing, All-Dancing, Gonna Pack My Ma and I’m Going to Pack my AMP Chase are not only down, but down significantly. Stock car racing, NASCAR has been telling us for years, is the second most popular sport in America. (Maybe the fine print read, “Second to everything else.”) What on earth is going on? NASCAR likes to tell everyone ticket sales are negatively impacted by the economy and I can buy that as part of the problem, but not the entire problem. ESPN execs fret that the earlier starting times for races are hurting ratings for those events. Balderdash! The fans I know have been asking for and prefer those 1 PM start times.

So what’s wrong? Brothers pull up a chair, throw another sack of pellets in the stove and fetch a round. This one’s going to take awhile. Even as pissed off as I am at NASCAR and the networks for screwing up a sport I love, I feel it’s worth saving so I’m going to clue ya’ll in on how to do it. As always, when the Answer Man rides to the rescue, I don’t expect NASCAR’s thanks. Large sacks of cash, a Shelby Mustang convertible, a tanker truck worth of Corona, and a new Ultraglide will do nicely, thanks.

Step One: Shorten the season

The Cup season is just too damned long. We need to be holding our season finale at Darlington on Labor Day weekend and exiting stage left as the NFL regular season rumbles to life and the Boys of Summer start their Fall Classic. I figure somewhere in the range of 25 races would be a workable solution. The two road course races are gone. The three short tracks left on the schedule would retain two dates apiece, simply because they typically provide the best racing of the season and we need a better ratio of short tracks to cookie cutters to rekindle longtime fans’ interest. Every other track on the schedule, and yes that includes Daytona and Talladega gets just one race date. A single race a year at those tracks rather than two ought to sell a lot more tickets, particularly during a shorter season which makes each race more significant.

If I’m doing the math correctly (which is highly doubtful) we have 23 races on the schedule. Sorry, make that 22. The Brickyard 400 has outlived its usefulness, but we’ll move that race to Iowa to keep the Flyover State fans happy and engaged. We’ll then add Rockingham and North Wilkesboro back to the schedule to round out our slate of races.

Step Two: Shorten the Races

If you want to see the formula that may improve NASCAR, just look at how it once was.

It’s become painfully apparent that most competitors don’t race hard until the final twenty laps, anyway, so there’s no sense having fans in the stands sitting around for four hours to see twenty minutes of action, and fans at home drifting off for naps or channel surfing away from the race. With the exception of the Daytona 500, the World 600 (that’s the Memorial Day weekend race at Charlotte, Otis) and the Southern 500 season finale, all race lengths will be cut in half. To add some spice to the earlier portions of the event, there will be 25-point bonuses paid to the leader at the one-quarter, halfway and three-quarter marks of the race. Let me clarify that. Those 25 points will be awarded to the leader of the race at those intervals if the race is under green flag conditions. If the race is under caution, the 25-point bonus goes to the driver who leads the second lap of the race after competition resumes.

Step Three: Dump the Chase

There could be no clearer indication from NASCAR officialdom that they are listening to the fans and value their opinions than dumping the Chase. It was a imbecilic idea on paper and in practice, it’s been a disaster. Somewhere between 75 percent and 88 percent of the fans hate it, according to which polls you read. We’re not going to tweak the Chase, pray that familiarity lessens contempt or add any more stupid gimmicks. We’re going to eliminate the Chase.

In fact, to symbolically do away with the Chase we’re going to stage a mock funeral prior to the Daytona 500. A neon sign reading, “The Chase” will be unplugged and placed in a coffin for a ride in a hearse to the infield. The casket will be lowered into the earth, and Brian France will toss the first shovel’s worth of dirt into the hole on top of it. Once the hole is filled and smoothed over, an outhouse will be put in place over the grave to allow fans to piss on it all day.

Whichever driver accumulates the most points during the season will be crowned champion. No more resets, no more gimmicks.

Here’s the new points system.

Take one good long, last look at the “Chasers” while you can. Under the Matt McLaughlin reign of NASCAR, that 10-race playoff is dead on arrival.

The winner of the race gets 500 points. The second-place finisher gets 200. The driver finishing third gets 100 points, the fourth-place driver 50 points, the fifth-place driver 40 points, the sixth-place driver 30 points, the seventh-place driver 25 points, the eighth-place driver 20 points, the ninth-place driver 10 points, and the tenth place driver 5 points. Any driver finishing outside the top 10 will earn zero points for the afternoon. That might sound harsh, but it will keep those patched together rambling wreck repaired cars off the track and out of the way. It means drivers will be able to let it all hang out from time to time, knowing that throughout the season everyone is going to have a few zero point days. It would be worth it to drive all out to try to make it from third to first to garner an additional four hundred points. As noted above, there’d be an additional 25-point bonus for leading three times earlier in the race so the maximum, and not entirely unlikely points swing during a single event would be 575 points. That ought to keep the Championship interesting.

Step Four: Put the “Stock” Back in “Stock Cars”

No, I’m not advocating allowing a guy to run down to the local car agency, paint numbers on the side of a new Mustang and let him race it. Stock cars are still going to need full roll cages, fire suppression systems, racing seats and belts, impact-absorbing foam, fuel cells and the like for safety reasons. Running at high speeds on ovals is still going to require a dry sump oiling system. But when it comes to the body work of the cars, I want to see NASCAR stockers look exactly that, stock, right down to the outside rear view mirrors, front grilles, and bumpers. A blade style rear spoiler would be added to the rear, and proper racing tires and wheels added, but other than that no more funny cars.

Remember the days in the 1950s when your street car could be considered “legal to race” with just a few modifications? Matt says we can’t go back that far, but there has to be a happy medium that has fans feeling a better connection to what they drive on the street.

Our rules would be written to encourage the use of Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers in the Cup series. Any special editions of these cars to make them more aerodynamic would have to sell at least 5,000 examples of a similar model off dealership floors to be considered eligible. Engines would be restricted to fuel-injected, normally aspirated, 355 cubic inch mills based on a stock production block, heads, crank, and connecting rods capable of running 93 octane unleaded gas. The engine would need to meet all current emission requirements in stock form with an approved camshaft, though naturally the cats would be removed from the cars and tubular headers added to the race cars. We don’t want to mess with that roar of a V8 engine that is part of our American heritage, after all. To be NASCAR approved, a limited edition engine in a street version of the car would have to be available as an option to car purchasers for 3,000 dollars or less and over the counter as a carb to oil pan, harmonic balancer to flywheel crate engine for five grand or less.

Wait a second, Cuz, I can hear some of you saying. An engine like that is going to put out a lot less beans than the current Cup engines. Precise-a-mundo, my old buddy. Keep up here, you’re moving much too slow. Less horsepower, in a less aerodynamic car means lower speeds. Lower speeds mean more side-by-side racing, a return to drafting, more passing, and more exciting races. This is what we’re after. As an added bonus, it saves team owners money. No more wind tunnels, cheaper engines, and fewer shorter races meaning less wear and tear on the equipment. Lowering the cost of racing for a full Cup season means an organization needs less sponsorship dollars necessary to still turn a reasonable profit. Lower sponsorship dollar requirements greatly increases the size of the potential sponsor pool, even while the TV ratings increases brought about by more exciting racing adds some bang to the buck for those sponsorship dollars. If, as an added bonus, car enthusiasts get the equivalent of a new Boss 429 or Hemi Charger 500 to run wild in the streets within, so much the better.

Step 5: A Biased Opinion

Radial tires are just fine on street cars. Cars equipped with radials, and every make and model I can recall currently available outside the Third World is so equipped, handle better in ordinary driving, last longer, and get better mileage. But the decline in the excitement in NASCAR racing began with radial tires replacing the tried and true bias plies.

Now hold on there a guldern minute, Bubba-Louie, I hear some of you screaming. First you’re saying you want some “stock” back in stock cars, but now you’re saying that you want to run tires of the sort that haven’t been fitted to street cars since the ’70s. Damn straight. See, here in the real world, we don’t replace the tires on our street cars every forty miles. We drive our cars in the rain. Street tires have tread on them.

Radial tires do offer a higher level of grip than bias ply tires. But once they reach their limits and they lose adhesion, they do so suddenly. Bias ply tires have lower limits of grip but as they break loose, they do so far more predictably. That’s why you used to see stock cars sliding the corners, smoke pouring from the tires, and passing one another all the time even if some ungentlemanly bumping and banging was the norm.

Bias ply tires rock. Don’t think so? Fix me up with a 455-powered ’70 Vista Cruiser and meet me in the Villanova University parking lot. I’ll demonstrate how it’s possible to get a big, stupid hulking station wagon shod with BFG G78-15 Silvertown whitewalls to make a hard, high speed right-hand turn with the steering wheel fully cranked, opposite lock to the left, using the throttle pedal to steer the beast.

If Goodyear is stuck on radials, well there’s always BF Goodrich, Bridgestone, or even Hoosier.

Wow, we’ve already got a lot to do on our agenda, and the fire needs tending. The Answer Man will be back next week, same Matt time, same Matt channel, to finish fixing the mess the Jokers at NASCAR have made of our sport.

CLICK HERE FOR PART II

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Fanning the Flames: Is There Any ‘Right’ Strategy for the Big Three at Talladega?
Voices From the Heartland: NASCAR and Automakers Still Beating a Dead Horse
Dialing It In: What Losing The Catch Can Man Will Mean For Teams, NASCAR
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Bad Wolf
10/28/2010 06:21 AM
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Reading this really makes me long for the days of old when they would come drifting out of the corners at Darlington with the smoke rolling of the right rear.

I’m all in for your NOS Nascar, but we need new leadership at the top to make it happen. Too bad we can’t vote them out next Tuesday.

Bill B
10/28/2010 07:15 AM
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I like a lot of your ideas but I’m not sure about two of them…
Shortening the season seems smart on the surface because you are basically saying demand is down so we need to lessen the supply. That’s a sound economic principle but then you realize up until BF took over it wasn’t an issue. First you need to undue some of the changes that BF put in place (the chase being numero uno), then see what happens. If fans still don’t come back then getting rid of some races will be warranted.
Giving 500 points to the winner seems too much to me. If you are going to go down that route you might as well just say he who wins the most races wins the championship. I’d be fine with that. Why even play with points if in the end the guy with the most wins will be the champion.

Rufus
10/28/2010 07:42 AM
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Oh, here we go again! Let’s cater to the short attention span crowd and shorten the races and season! I say, “NO WAY!” Ther is nothing wrong with the race lengths, except for maybe Pocono, and even then, i thought the second race there this year was pretty good! As for the season length, for crying out loud, it’s not the season lenght that’s driving everyone to watch football (a sport I hate, by the way), it’s the lousy quality of racing and the hated chase. I hate the chase too, but this year is getting interesting, and I hope either Denny or Kevin (my money is on Kevin) can beat Team Sleeze!

I know I’m showing my age here (nearly 60), but I remember thinking how cool it was to be a fan of a sport that went all year! After all, when the final checkered flag fell on one season, it was only one or two weeks before the green flag fell on the the first race of the next one! Go back and look at the website Racing-reference! The seasons back in the 50’s and 60’s did end at the beginning of Novemnber, but the next season started a week or two later around the middle of November. Heck, the first 500-mile race was a road race run in California in January from 1963 until 1981, weeks before they got to Daytona! I say no to shortening the saeson, and no to shortening any races! What next, demanding that football reduce their games by one-quarter, or drop four innings from baseball games? Screw the short attention span crowd!

Jacob
10/28/2010 07:48 AM
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Matt:

It was a good attempt, but sadly it falls short. I can understand a shorter season, but no road courses? That takes a lot of credibility away from the sport. Road courses offer the greastest technical challenge available.
Shorten the race? Ok, but why make the fans sit around for 1.5-2 hours just to see 20 minutes of racing. Let’s just make each event a 20 minute timed affair. Then it will be ‘go for broke’ every minute of the event.
Dump the chase, I’m all for it, but did you seriously mean to not award points to 7th place?
Putting the “stock” back in stock cars. That’s a good idea. But you forgot to add that you need to have a subset rule so that owners can’t lobby na$car to alter the aerodynamics of their competitors when their contracted brand just doesn’t put out a good model year. (Yes, any old-timer should be envisioning Jack Roush and his annual whine fest about how the Chevy just had too much…)
Of course bias-ply tires are more predictable when they break loose. They are also more fragile and have an exponentially higher failure rate. Massive and catastrophic failures were their hallmark, and with Goodyear’s inability to put together dependable radial tires lately, I shudder at the thought of letting them build bias-plys for speeds at or exceeding 200 mph.

Stephen HOOD
10/28/2010 07:48 AM
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I like your top ten points system except the disparity between 1-5 is too wide. Tighten that up and the cream will still rise to the top. Shorter races work for TV but not in the stands. Maybe there is a good compromise like qualifying on race day for the fan that wants a full day at the track. For the dude that wants a top 35, you can still have a top 35 points system that is based on but separate from the championship points system. Call it sponsor points and allow sponsors to move to a different car if they find themselves sitting at 36th in points with 10 races to go.

wcfan
10/28/2010 08:25 AM
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Matt

I agree with the bias-ply tires, dumping the chase(a 100 points between 1st and 2nd is too many, I remember when Rusty won 10+ races and having 8+ DNF one year that is not a champion), and the shorter season might help, right now their is too much racing at tracks that are not coming close to selling out so those tracks need to lose a race( some of this is due to scheduling if the track get dates when the weather is usually bad fans are not going to buy tickets.

Do not agree with the shorter race, can not drive 5+ hours to see 2 hour race.

How about points for 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 of race for top 5 or top 10 to help encourage racing.

How about getting rid of the Lucky Dog, and the Wave Around.

Rick Jacobs
10/28/2010 08:28 AM
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Your idea’s are great. A shorter season, going back to old favorite tracks like the Rock, doing less “cookie cutter” tracks and only one race per are great ideas. Might need to tweak the points systems, but it works in IRL and F1 so it should work at NASCAR.

But by far your best idea is to return to a “stock car”. I am an older NASCAR fan, so I loved it when they ran modified showroom cars in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I know for safety’s sake we can’t really return to those golden days, but your idea is very workable and in the long run will be cheaper for the teams to build and run.

Now, all we need to do is sit on France and make him listen.

Kevin from PA
10/28/2010 08:43 AM
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“Recently there has been considerable consternation and hand-wringing in the plush corner offices of NASCAR’s Daytona Beach headquarters …”

If only it were true…

The NASCAR Management I see today is too proud (or stupid) to admit that the rating and attendance issues are their doing. Until I see Brian start a press conference with the words “I’m sorry”, I just don’t buy into NASCAR believing that they are fault.

Amen to your points. Sorry Rufus. Either NASCAR attends to the ADD or it will be back to a 3rd tier sport in a few years. (Not saying that is a bad thing.)

Oldsmo-Bill
10/28/2010 08:52 AM
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Matt,
How about my ’69 Vista-Cruiser with (only) the 400 4-barrel?

e.d.
10/28/2010 08:55 AM
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SIMPLE RACE WHAT IS MANUFACTURED TO SELL TO THE PUBLIC. LIKE WE DID IN 1963

VolcanoNacho
10/28/2010 09:49 AM
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Don’t worry Randy, I’m sure Jacob isnt awake yet. He’ll have something pointless to say… IN BOLD of course.

Ghost of Curtis Turner
10/28/2010 09:56 AM
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Matt, I agree with every thing except, shorter races. Back when the racing was good and the stand were filled nobody complained about the length of the races, it was only untill the Dog of a Car and the Case for the Boredom that things fell apart.
Oh, you did miss the one thing that is most important to fixing NASCAR.
Get rid of Brian France. In fact get rid of every France Family member.

Let them sit on some beach somewhere and send them their checks. Just tell them to keep their damn hands off the sport, bacuse they do not have their Grandfather and Father’s Business Aptitude.

Alex
10/28/2010 09:57 AM
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Wow Matt, you have sure given us lots to think about. While some of your readers agree and some don’t, we certainly have a healthy conversation going which is great. Now, if only BZF would listen…..
However, I don’t think his ego will allow him to do that.

When I was reading the part about the ‘Chase Sign’ and the hearse, etc, I had an evil thought – I figured you were going to have BZF in the box with the sign and I was already chuckling. However, you apparently have more taste or should I say politically correctness than I do.

I’m looking forward to Part 2.

Craig
10/28/2010 10:04 AM
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Some nice thoughts, but most of those proposals would go nowhere. I agree totally with dumping the Chase, and shortening races outside the big events and short tracks. However, there is no way they will shorten the schedule at this point, the new looks of the nationwide/2013 Cup cars are the closest we will get to “stock” cars again. You need road courses on the schedule, they offer a welcome break 2 times a year and test different driving skills. Also, for a selfish reason The Glen is the closest track to where I live. Finally, on the points system I don’t think it needs to be that radical. I say cut the points off at 25th place or 30th and then front load more points (50 point bonus for winning, 50 points between 5th and 6th, 50 points between 11th and 10th). I think a system like that will reward winning more and reward top-10 consistency.

Carl D.
10/28/2010 11:00 AM
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“I don’t expect NASCAR’s thanks. Large sacks of cash, a Shelby Mustang convertible, a tanker truck worth of Corona, and a new Ultraglide will do nicely thanks.”

Matt, you’re getting old. There was a time when you’d have asked that it all be delivered by Heather Locklear. Of course, Heather’s getting old too.

“Gonna Pack My Ma and I’m Going to Pack my Amp”… from Bruce Springsteen’s “Cadillac Ranch” for those that are scratching their heads.

Carl D.
10/28/2010 11:33 AM
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On Topic…

1. Shorten the season
I’m for a shorter season, but 28-30 seems more practical. Keep the road races. Also, I like adding Iowa and Rockingham, but I’m afraid North Wilkesboro stands zero chance of ever again hosting a Cup race.

2. Shorten the Races
Yeah but races still ought to last a good three hours. Make most races 400 miles or laps, except for the World 600 and the Daytona 500.

3. Dump the Chase
I’m all for it but the only way it ever happens is if Brian France’s carcass is in the hole with the neon sign. I’ll shovel the dirt.

4. Put the “Stock” back in “Stock Cars”
Amen. And not Impalas.

5. A biased Opinion
I’ll defer on that suggestion to others who understand the difference in how they perform on racetracks better than I do.

Looking forward to 6-10…

Gordon82Wins
10/28/2010 11:37 AM
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Just my opinion, but NASCAR wouldn’t need to shorten the season if they dumped the Chase. Back when all 36 races counted I never minded the season length. Now it seems like it takes for ever to get to the races that matter more, and then it’s another two and half months before it’s decided!

The points system should be changed but not so much to reward wins as it should punish DNFs less. A DNF is currently too costly.

I’ll compromise with NASCAR…keep the bloody CoT if we can have two races at North Wilkesboro again.

Sean
10/28/2010 12:13 PM
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Shorten the season – It could stand to be a bit shorter, like 30-32 races, but I think 25 is too extreme. Even in the years considered the glory days (roughly 1985-1997 or so) there were 28-32 races. That’s a good number. I wouldn’t dump the road courses, but I agree with you that only short tracks should get two dates; I might throw in Phoenix too, I happen to love the racing there even if you don’t. I wouldn’t drop Indy either. I’d drop Talladega first because plate racing is an abomination.

Shorten the races – Maybe Pocono to 400 but I mostly disagree with this. Shortening the races would force lower ticket prices, which might be a good thing from the fan’s perspective, but probably not from the sport’s.

Dump the chase – Oh, definitely, but the points system you advocate is far too extreme. I agree that the current NASCAR base points system from 1975 is borderline retarded, mainly because everyone scores points. Like Gordon82Wins said, the big problem is that DNFs hurt more than winning helps. I don’t like Jeff Gordon, but I see no reasonable points system that wouldn’t have given him the 1996 title when he had the same number of top fives and top tens as Terry Labonte but eight more wins… However, awarding 500 points for a win would reward lucky winners (Reutimann/Logano/Mears/etc…) style way, way, way too much and put them in contention for top 10/top 15 positions no matter how poorly they run the rest of the season. Consistency still should matter some, but finishing in top positions should matter more than it presently does. I pretty much agree with Craig here. I’d cut points off at 25th, with a points scale of 200-160-130-115-100-90-80-70-60-50-45-40-35-30-25-22-19-16-13-10-8-6-4-2-1. Giving the second place finisher 80% of the winner’s points is more realistic than giving the second place finisher 40%. And I think Rusty deserved the 1993 title, DNFs be damned. He had 4 more wins, 2 more top 5s, the same number of top 10s, and only 3 more DNFs than Earnhardt… Not to mention that Earnhardt punting Rusty at Talladega is ultimately what derailed Rusty’s season and his injuries were probably partially responsible for some of his DNFs immediately afterward.

Put the stock back in stock cars – Steps in this direction should be made but 100% stock except for safety equipment is a bit extreme. Maybe go back to the early ’90s when the cars were at least marginally differentiable and somewhat resembling their street counterparts…

Bias-ply tires – Only if step #4 is done first, since I don’t think they would remotely work on anything resembling today’s cars, but you are talking about getting rid of the COT and stuff, so…

john
10/28/2010 12:51 PM
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As usual in full agreement Matt, except the road courses—if anything, the Cup series needs 3 or 4 road course races. You can’t be considered “the best drivers in the world” unless you can do both disciplines. Throw Road America and Montreal on the schedule for the Cup series.

And for that matter, add a dirt track or two back in there. I would imagine Eldora would work well with some garage upgrades.

Kevin in SoCal
10/28/2010 01:16 PM
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Matt said: “and a new Ultraglide will do nicely, thanks.”

Now what know what brand of lube Matt uses when he’s watching his old Tim Richmond tapes.

And I’m totally shocked he dropped Indy and not Fontana in his schedule. I’ve been saying on here that every major track in America deserves at least one race date so everyone can experience NASCAR local to them.

Bill W
10/28/2010 01:18 PM
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Shorter races are just fine but you run more than 1 series on race day. Instead of Truck and Cup on Sat and Sun run all practice and qual on Friday and run both shorter races on Sunday. The Networks get 2 races from the same cameras, crews, and announces which saves money, all weekends are now 2 day affairs (no 3 day weekends now) so the teams save money and the fans that arrive also save money from 1 less day away from home to catch all the action. Look at the big event weekends at a typical short track that runs multiple events in a 2-3 day span that include qualifying, heats, and features for a dozen or more divisions. It can be done.

Dennis
10/28/2010 01:21 PM
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I have to agree about putting the stock car back into the thing called the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

The big draw in any sporting event is seeing the best of the best doing something fantastic with something ordinary.

We can all run, all throw a ball, swing a bat, and drive a car.

But what makes it a sport is seeing the athletes do it so much better.

NASCAR lost a lot when they took away that thing of people taking the very ordinary cars we all drive and doing something extraordinary with them.

It is what draws us. Nobody would watch baseball if everyone of us could smack a ball out of Yankee Stadium.

The obverse is also true. What challenge is there, what passion, watching these cars that have nothing ordinary about them anymore race.

They are now just expensive advertising gimmicks.

Jim
10/28/2010 01:39 PM
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I like most of what you are saying. having said that the first thing you should worry about is King Brian using all his power, legal or other wise, to silence you. Seems like he recently said, this is our product in a take it or leave it manor.
Back when it was racing, like you are describing the length wasn’t an issue so much, but the 600, to long, Pocono, gone, Watkins Glen, I like, Sears Point, not in its current newer layout.
You forgot to mention the top 35, gone, the Bud shoot out, tied to pole wins again, what ever it takes to do so, and the biggest you forgot to hit on, King Brian, Gone!

ginav24
10/28/2010 02:25 PM
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I’d still keep the road courses, but I agree with shortening the season by having only one race per track, shortening the races and dumping the chase. the sooner the better. Heck I agree with you about the tires, too. Every time I hear them saying “we’re bringing a new tire to …”, it makes me ill. You know the racing will be awful then. I think there’s too much disparity in your points system though.

Dans Mom — Danica isn’t the answer any more than Jr winning all the races is. It’s about competition — between drivers and manufacturer’s — that was what kept fans interested for years. Gimmicks are not the answer.

There is such a thing as the law of supply and demand and NASCAR exceeded it, plus it offended most of us customers. Funny how it works — make your customers unhappy, what do they do — leave!

Craig
10/28/2010 02:35 PM
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A problem with a lot of these changes is that NASCAR, ISC, SMI have built up such an infrastructure/put a lot of money in their new tracks that radical changes to the schedule aren’t possible. It was easier to close place like Rockingham and N. Wilkesboro someone else built them and they were gobbled up for their Cup dates. Look at Fontana, it took consistent record low attendance and that “weeper” disaster in 2008 to make it the sacrifice for Kansas. It might be a good idea to shorten the schedule but ISC and SMI won’t go for it.

Bad Wolf
10/28/2010 03:24 PM
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Here was my response to an article from Amy Henderson last week about Nascars failing fortunes. It seems to fit the theme of Matts read today.

“The racing is not that great, with so much emphesis on points and the Chase, and the COT is a rolling turd.

Nascar is at the point Open Wheel was at in about 1995, and unless this sucker is blown up and taken back to its roots it will meet the same fate. Brain France failed to take the pulse of the core fans and now is reaping what he has sown. I have not sat down to watch a Nascar race this year, only occasionally catching a glimpse while channel surfing, and I feel like I am missing nothing. I come to Frontstretch to get caught up, and that is all I need now. It used to be I planned my weekends and vacations around Nascar, but thanks to BZF’s ineptitude and the fear of his toadies to point out that “His Emminence” has no cloths we are stuck with this debacle and sham of a racing series.

Get the “Stock” back in Nascar, get rid of the Chase and Top 35 rule, let the teams test all they want and ban the 7 post shakers and computer monitoring during testing and practice. Put the driving back into the hands of the drivers, and make the teams run stock blocks and heads with unlimited modifications. Bring back the rule that states that for a car to be Nascar legal for the track at least 500 copies must be produced and sold to the public. Do this and the fans can go into the showroom on Monday and basically buy what won on Sunday again.

Hell, the cars now are carbon copies of each other, and the engines and drivetrains are not stock but purpose built to a set of specs. (Thanks Toyota) Bring back stock and they will once again be twisting them to their limits, and when a team is 2 laps ahead we can wait with baited breath for the engine to expire into a cloud of blue smoke, and if not the rest of the teams will go back to the shop and tweak theirs just a little more for next week.

As it is now Nascar is just the failed IROC series on steroids, with the cars prepared by the teams instead of the sanctioning body.

R.I.P. Nascar. I’m glad I knew you back in the day when it was raw and real.”

COJones
10/28/2010 03:44 PM
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Stock Cars!

More road courses because they take more skill than an oval. If you don’t agree with that you’re so pathetic that maybe they should all join the NHRA and eliminate corners totally.

Lets put the top ten NASCAR drivers into the Australian V8 Supercar series for a year. I’ll bet they don’t even finish in the top ten. Why? Because the Aussies don’t tolerate the dump-to-pass chickenshit drivers that NASCAR does.

Vito Boscaino
10/28/2010 05:33 PM
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I do not agree with the proposed changes in this article. Here is one easy fix that would more than likely improve TV audience size: Let ONLY one, MAYBE two broadcast networks cover the races. Half the time you can’t even figure out which channel the race is on. And some of these talking heads that NEVER SHUT UP and have NO EXPERIENCE covering motorsports need to go.

Why not go to a heat race format for qualifying? Two heat races of fifteen to twenty laps the day of the race. Then shorten the race distance by the same number of laps.

DoninAjax
10/28/2010 06:35 PM
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Can we refer to Danica as “Sliced Broad”?

Why does Paul Menard have more points than Brad Kesolouski?

Best move for NASCAR is get rid of Brainless Brian while there is still money to count.

MATT
10/28/2010 07:44 PM
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Some points….

1) Shorten the season. I can live with 30 races, maybe even 32, but remember there are only so many raceable weekends out there and we want this over and done with by Labor Day…Halloween at the absolute latest. Back in 73 (Parsons title) there were only 28 races. The schedule then swelled to 30 and then 31 races but was consistent at that number for over a decade. Remember, the more races the less signifigant each is. The less signifigant, the less attendance and lower ratings.

Football teams play what, 16 games a regular season with two bye weeks. Look at the NFL ratings. Less equals more.

I’m tired of this “change of pace” “more talent required!” road course argument. Does F1 run two oval courses a year to spice things up? Does the NHRA turn two events into mud bog competitions? Do the Daytona prototypes race at Bristol? Do the Monster Trucks run Road Ohio? Stick to what you do best.

I’m all for full fendered road course racing. It astounds me with the new Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers no one has started a stock based road course series to recall the Trans Am series in its glory days of 1966 to 71. I’d sure as hell watch if the races were run on Saturdays, used production based American cars and drivers devoted to the road course discipline. And if on an off weekend a Cup regular like Gordon, Stewart or Martin wanted to try thier hand at TA2, it sure would give us something to talk about, wouldn’t it?

2) Shorter Races- One half distance is too radical? How about two thirds. I’m easy. Ask any drunk blonde woman who ever asked me to dance. Let’s just admit the current race durations are way too long.

Read an interesting article this week about how 30 minute TV ads have replaced 60 second ads as the norm and now companies, big comapanies like BK are trying 15 second ads because research says that’s how long people actually pay attention. So what chance does a four hour stock car race have at winning over new fans. I’ll ask some folks if they watched the race and they’ll tell me they went to NASCAR.DUM and watched a three minute highlight reel, so yeah they saw what they needed to see.

You know this weekend at Talladega most of the field will just ride in a single file line. Some will even go all the way to the back to avoid the Big One. It’s only a race if people are racing. If not it’s a “Cruise”. I love cruising the old Trans Am, but I’m not going to pay to watch a cruise.

3) Dump the Chase- This point is beyond argument. It’s a cancer that has attacked the sport’s heart and brain. Yeah, I’d be behind BZF when he tossed that first shovelful of dirt to give him a good boot in the ass into the hole then I’d be shoveling like Hell.

Is my points system too radical? I don’t think so. But I’m open to debate. Bill B suggested my points system would pretty much hand the championship to the driver who won the most races. And that’s a bad thing? As long as that driver raced every week and didn’t crash out of every race he didn’t win, I’m OK with that. I mean isn’t the whole reason they saddled our asses with the Chase because Matt Kenseth won the title with only one race victory?

4) STOCK cars. (Sorry Jacob) Racing is supposed to improve the breed. The current generation of street muscle cars are Panthers. The Cup car is a platypus…and a damn ugly one at that. Stock, stock, stock…and I ain’t talking about ISCA preferred on Wall Street. If the late Dale Earnhardt could see the Chevys that they’re racing today my guess is he’d burn his dealership to the ground for insurance money.

5) Bias ply tires- Bias ply tires used to routinely explode? I guess I was absent that week. But I surely do recall the farce at the Brickyard when radials were failing left and right.

A 69 Vista with a 400? Sure I’ll get that sideways. Hell I used to pitch my mom’s 318 Aspen woodie wagon sideways through corners at twice the posted speed limit just to see if I could make Ed puke out his nose again. Bonus points if Donna from “That 70s Show” comes along with the Olds. Son, we were drifting back when Toyotas and Hondas still had pull starters.

Yes, I intended the seventh place driver get points. That one slipped by the editors too. Nice ccatch.

As for the top 35 rule, TV problems, start and parkers and the rest, wait till next week. I only have so much venom to drip per five pages.

Thanks all for the comments,

MPM- The Answer Man

irvanfan
10/28/2010 09:27 PM
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quote—“I like most of what you are saying. having said that the first thing you should worry about is King Brian using all his power, legal or other wise, to silence you.”

I think thats been tried before, didn’t work then, won’t work now. Now if the suits in the big shiny tower in Daytona would take some of these ideas to heart, maybe we could see racing again instead of just lapping for points.
Look forward to next week Matt.

Secesh
10/28/2010 09:48 PM
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You haven’t been listening Matt. Brian has been having meetings with fans, teams, manufacturers, networks. The overall opinion is the Chase is great, the schedule is great, the COT is great, the # of times Brian sticks it up the a** of everyone is great. Everything’s great!
And Danica is great too!!! I can’t wait to see her run Bristol next year… ‘But he hit me!!! he should be penalized!!!’

Kevin in SoCal
10/29/2010 03:06 AM
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Dont the GT classes that run with the Daytona Prototypes use production-based engines and chassis that actually look like street cars? But they race on road courses, not ovals, so they dont count, right?

Paul from DE
10/29/2010 10:49 AM
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Matt,
I like your ideas, but I’d require the sheet metal to be thicker. Guys shy away from contact because it would disrupt or disturb the aero. Also, when a tire shreds, it shouldn’t destroy the fender and hood. I don’t recall this occurring until about the late 1990s.

Mike
10/29/2010 03:33 PM
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MATT: “Football teams play what, 16 games a regular season with two bye weeks. Look at the NFL ratings. Less equals more.”

Funny – NASCAR used to be accused of trying to be like the NFL, which seems to have backfired considering race attendance and television ratings are suffering. Now, the NFL is trying to take that page from NASCAR’s playbook as they try to expand to 18 games.

In another eery parallel to NASCAR, football is starting to experience blackouts in certain markets – which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. And (regardless of how you feel about the game) there are rules changes and safety concerns in the NFL news these days that may fundamentally change the way the game is played. I think the NFL is not going to do much until they have their own ‘Dale Earnhardt’ tragedy to deal with.

There’s a cautionary tale in NASCAR’s recent past for the NFL to consider…

Razz
10/29/2010 05:12 PM
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Shorter season? No.
Shorter races? Maybe – maybe cut some down to 400 miles, but not really necessary if the RACING is fixed.

Kill the chase? Kill the COT? DUH! Give us real cars – both on the track and at the dealership.

One important thing you miss – the television coverage sucks. I always hear fans at the track say there IS racing – but we never see it on TV because they never show anything except the leader.

Casual fans never get to see what racing is about because they never get to see any racing even when it’s there.

Kill the chase/cot abortion and fix the coverage and I think the resulting RACING will take care of the rest.

Bad Wolf
10/29/2010 05:20 PM
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Bonus points if Donna from “That 70s Show” comes along with the Olds. Son, we were drifting back when Toyotas and Hondas still had pull starters.

I’ll take Hyde and Leo and go on an old fashioned road trip in the Vista Cruiser. Better yet would be Hydes sweet El “Frikin” Camino that he scored from Leo.

Steve S
10/30/2010 02:27 AM
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I agree with 90% of your ideas. And yes, lose the road courses, 2/3rds race lengths, less cookie cutters/more short tracks (mile or less), less races (~30), ‘more’ stock cars and motors, bias plys? what a concept. As far as the shorter season, have the champion crowned on labor day and then run a few ‘special races’ every couple of weeks through September & October (like Burtons all star show and things like that). With less saturation during the time when the NFL is starting then there may be more fan turnout.

upgrayedd
10/30/2010 02:48 AM
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Matt,

You need to give up this B.S. proposition about dropping the road courses. We get it, you don’t like them. Unfortunately for you, you are in the minority. Most current NASCAR fans love the road courses and want more added to the schedule.

Constantly beating this road course drum is almost as tiring as you singing love sonets to Tim Richmond and whining about Darlington and Labor Day.

MATT
10/30/2010 09:29 AM
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Hey Edd,
Could you point out a poll that shows a majority of fans like NASCAR road course races? Seems everyone I’ve ever read has shown that more people don’t like or are ambivilent towards them than actually like them by a wide but not overwhelming amount. Or are you one of those folks who’s certain that because you have an opinion on an issue everyone else must feel the same?

phil h
10/31/2010 12:35 AM
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I was gonna disagree on losing the road courses,but when you said put back Rockingham and North Wilkesboro,then I am all 4 it. Good Read Matt!

upgrayedd
10/31/2010 02:02 AM
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Matt,

Do you mean like the way you feel most people agree with you because a handful of your followers do?

But even throwing out accusing each other of bias based on our own opinions, your formula contradicts your argument of why road courses should be removed from the schedule. You’ve always stated that it was too expensive to build specialty cars for only two races per year. Cutting Daytona and Talladega down to one race each means building specialty speedway cars for only two races per year. I know, I know, you’re going to counter that restrictor plates won’t be necessary anymore with your new “stock” cars. However, these new cars of yours will make racing cheap enough and the cars more universal that the only modifications would be adding a second weight box on the right side and moving the fuel filler neck to the right side when they go to Watkins Glen. Not an unreasonable request to accommodate a large percentage of NASCAR fans. You are big on not turning your back on tradition. Road racing in NASCAR is as traditional as short track racing.

Besides, your new cars which put more emphasis on putting control back into the hands of the drivers would make for some of the best racing all season. Think of it as short track racing with 11 turns. Bent fenders and tires smoking. Let’s watch the best stock car racers in the world show what they can do.

Alan
11/01/2010 02:55 PM
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Your proposal is a step in the right direction, but I’d modify it this way.

1. No track testing. If the teams don’t have notebooks on what works at every track, then they have no business being in the sport.
2. No qualifying. The driver with the most points starts in 43rd position. The driver with the least number of points starts 1st.
3. Drivers get one point per green flag lap that they lead. This not only gives the “back markers” a chance at earning more points, it encourages the top drivers to go for the front and not wait to race until the last 50 laps.
4. The winning driver gets 43 points plus any points he/she has accumulated by leading green flag laps. The last place driver gets 1 point plus any lap leading points. This has the effect of awarding the driver who leads the most laps but cuts down a tire on the last lap and gets passed for the win. (Remember Earnhardt at Daytona.)
5. Crate motors. If Toyota doesn’t have a V8 that you and I can buy, then it’s too bad for Toyota.
6. Fuel injection.
7. Stock sheet metal (on the safest chassis possible, of course).
8. Hold a couple of races on dirt tracks.
9. No Sprint Cup drivers in the Nationwide or truck series. Give the “little guys” a chance.
10. I favor sinking the Chase in Lake Lloyd before the start of the Daytona 500 – preferably with multiple sticks of dynamite.