The Frontstretch: MPM2Nite: The Answer Man Rides to the Rescue... How To Fix NASCAR, Part II by Matt McLaughlin -- Thursday November 4, 2010

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Editor’s Note: Matt McLaughlin returns with the second installment of his ten ways to fix NASCAR. Miss Part I’s edition? Don’t worry, we have you covered; feel free to catch up by clicking HERE. Agree or disagree? Feel free to comment below.

Step Six: Hold the Chamber of Commerce’s feet to the fire

Chambers of Commerce in areas blessed with a Cup date know the economic impact a NASCAR race date brings. Those Chambers are made up of local merchants, the guys and gals that own the gas stations, the restaurants, bars and the like that profit so handsomely from the fans attending the race. But those small business owners are seeing their land rush companies threatened by the big bullies in the hospitality industry. When hotels and motels, by and large national chains these days, start doubling rates and making unrealistic minimum stay requirements during race weekends, they are raising the cost of attending a Cup event above what a lot of blue collar racing fans consider affordable. Lower race ticket prices are commendable, but they represent only a fraction of the true cost of a race weekend for an out-of-town fan.

Hey, I understand supply and demand, free enterprise and all that stuff. But the situation during some race events amounts to a lumberyard tripling the price of plywood, hammers and generators as a hurricane approaches. It’s just gouging. And if some of the smaller motels and hotels offer more modest rates and are fully occupied during race weekends while the chain hotels have rooms vacant, eventually everyone is going to have to be more reasonable. Yeah, yeah, it’s nice to see some of these places string up signs that read “Welcome Race Fans!” You just have to study the fine print that reads, “Now drop your pants and grab your ankles. This isn’t going to hurt too much.”

On a final note, it’s the job of those Chambers of Commerce to get politicians on a local and state level to help alleviate the traffic mess around race tracks hosting Cup events. Yes, when that many people all try to exit the same arena, many of them from out of state and some of them driving RV’s, there’s going to be some congestion. But to a man and woman, every fan I know (and I’ve met a bunch of them over the years) finds the soul sapping post-race traffic the worst part of going to a race live. No less an authority than T. Wayne Robertson said shortly before his untimely death that traffic was the number one issue the tracks needed to address. Whatever combination of new slip ramps, new traffic patterns, working with online map services to show alternate routes, or if need be, new highways or added traffic lanes has to be considered to fix this mess.

Politicians need to be made aware of the huge boost to local and state economies a Cup race weekend provides. Even with today’s greatly diminished crowds, most Cup races host more fans than the damned Super Bowl, and you see the lengths the politicos go to to try to bring the Super Bowl “in country.” Here’s an easy solution. Tell politicians running for office they can attend the race and be the Grand Marshal… if they drive to the event themselves and drive home afterwards.

Step Seven: Get rid of the start-and-parkers

Want more early weekend excitement? Shorten the fields, eliminate the start-and-park teams, and don’t guarantee any driver a spot in the field… even if they’re a former champion.

The start-and-park types are the first vultures to reach the dying carcass of NASCAR racing. They’re just out there getting in the way, albeit briefly, and adding nothing to the show. There’s no need for a 43-car starting field anymore. Thirty-five cars would be perfectly adequate to stage a good race, much more in keeping with the reality of the times. If in the future, the sport prospers again and more fully-funded and competitive teams wishing to run full races start showing up, we can always incrementally start increasing the size of the field again. Remember back in the dance hall days of the sport when folks tried to start teams with fans contributing to offset the cost of running races? I’m fully expecting some investment firm to start sending out prospectuses soon telling would-be investors, “Throw in ten thousand dollars to help us buy us a couple cars, hire an over-the-hill driver, and double your money annually as we collect last place checks for ‘competing’ five laps.”

Step Eight: Friday, Friday, Friday!

Remember back when qualifying on Friday used to mean something? Remember when Dale Earnhardt usually had to go out in second round qualifying on Saturday to try to get a better pit stall? With the top 35 rule, what does Friday matter anymore? No wonder the “crowds” are down to a few hundred stalwarts camping at the track over the weekend with nothing better to do.

Let’s make this short and simple. The top 35 cars (as noted above, the entire field) qualify on Friday. The fastest 35 cars compete on Sunday. I don’t care if you’re leading the points and have won four titles. If you mess up and you’re not one of the fastest 35 cars, pack up your rig and go home. Would some fans be disappointed if their favorite driver missed the race they had tickets to see? My guess is they would be. But this is stock car racing. If your favorite driver is eliminated in a first-lap wreck, you can’t leave early and get half your money back.

As a codicil, let me add that if a team presents a cheated up car for pre-qualifying inspection or the car is found to be illegal after qualifying but prior to the race, that team and its driver would get a nice jump on traffic – evicted immediately from the premises with instructions not to return for three weeks. I’m tired of trying to explain to non-race fans how an illegal car wins a race and the driver gets to keep the trophy.

Step Nine: Tear down the walls

Newer fans simply can’t understand how accessible the drivers used to be to fans. It is postulated at Richard Petty, once the face of stock car racing, has probably signed more autographs than anyone else on earth. Yeah, in those kinder, simpler days after a race, fans could wander down to the garage area, seek out their hero, get an autograph, a smile, and a few words with the fellow. Hell, some of the drivers wandered out into the infield or parking lots to seek out fans, have a burger and brew with them or just hang out. That all changed when drivers started hanging out in their motor coaches behind locked gates and the garage area was by and large shut down to fans during race weekends. The attitude seemed clear: the Racing Gods are on this side of the fence, and the riff-raff are on the other.

Drivers like Tony Stewart said they were getting claustrophobic with so many fans in the garage area and they couldn’t do their jobs. Lo and behold, there’s now a lot less fans coming to the races, and the riff-raff that isn’t coming any more are buying less of your sponsor’s product and lowering TV ratings by not watching you compete. So, Mr. Stewart, have any trouble finding sponsorship dollars to fund your teams next year? Close call, wasn’t it? Maybe in 2011 you ought to run out in the parking lot and do a free Mobil 1 oil change on the cars of the first 25 fans who approach you to keep the sponsor happy. You do know which end of a wrench to grab, right?

It’s time for NASCAR drivers to leave their wine cellars, palatial estates, private helicopters and jets, and the safe confines of their motor homes to reconnect with what fans the sport has left. To help the process along, NASCAR should eliminate the motorcoach lots. If a driver needs to bring along his million dollar Prevost coach for the weekend he can park it amongst the fans’ campers in the infield. If that’s not acceptable, he can book a nearby hotel room and eat at the same restaurants as the fans. And if that’s not acceptable, either perhaps he can find a cloistered monastery that offers residents a few million dollars a year to reside in quiet privacy.

Oh, wait. That’s right. You’re too good to spend a long weekend dealing with the fans. You know what? Richard Petty was a hell of a lot better race car driver than you, and he dealt with it for a whole lot less money than you make.

Step Ten: TV repair shop

Given the nature of the sport, somewhere around 95 percent of folks who watch a race watch it on TV, not from the grandstands. Thus it doesn’t matter if the new NASCAR I am proposing is putting on thrilling races with good-looking stock cars from palatable race venues week after week if the TV networks’ race broadcasts are disjointed, constantly interrupted by commercial plugs and boring.

Step number one, and this change is going to cause some heads to roll to make it work, is a massive meeting of all those involved in the race broadcasts. You folks there, the money men who are paid to sell advertisements and generate other sources of revenue to make this venture profitable, you put on these currency green T-Shirts. The rest of you, the on-air talent, the producers, the camera operators, etc. put on these virginal white T-shirts symbolizing the purity of broadcasting. Team Green, sit on one side of the table. White Knights, sit on the other side. Reach across the table and shake hands with one another….because this moment’s the last time the two teams are ever going to speak to one another. The separation between the two is going to be like the separation of church and state… never the twain shall meet. Unless they elect Christine O’Donnell president.

Team Green, you have your twelve to fifteen minutes an hour to air commercials. Let your advertisers know they’ll want to view their ads in slightly reduced size, because we’re adding IRL style “Side by Side” ads. Remember, ours is a sport that doesn’t have any inherent time outs or scheduled stoppages of play.

Team Green, when the racing broadcast per se returns, you’re on the sidelines. No more of these Toyota Top Performers, Goodyear blimp history factoids or pit road reporters hollering about drivers getting “four fresh Goodyears and a full tank of Sunoco.” Hell, if they were getting Michelins and Exxon gas they’d have to leave the race track, right? Plugs for business entities belong in the commercials, not the race broadcasts. We can’t stop drivers from mentioning their sponsors in interviews, but I’m tired of watching in car footage from the No. 88 car while he runs 32nd just because AMP energy is the title sponsor of the race.

Race broadcasters, you are there to tell the story of the race through pictures and words. A special note to race broadcasters… if the pictures are telling the story… shut up! We don’t need to be told the No. 24 car is passing the No. 5 car. We can see that well enough. Let us know why Martin is fading while Gordon is making up spots. Visuals will speak for themselves. (You’ve heard Deanna Carter sing “Strawberry Wine” on the radio and you’ve seen the video. Which do you recall more clearly?) As the race unfolds, explain to us viewers what we’re missing based on your years of experience, all those eyes you have scattered around the track and ears monitoring scanner frequencies. When the action is compelling and self-explanatory enough, just shut up and let the pictures tell the story. Don’t talk down to us. We understand the sport. We don’t need Tim Brewer showing us the difference between a tire and a wheel even if some of your pit bunnies still do.

Let it be written in granite; if a race broadcaster has a business relationship with an entity or if a close family member does, in no instance is that broadcaster to use the name of that entity during a broadcast. Sorry, DW, no more Toyota plugs. Sorry DJ, you can’t say UPS anymore. Nor is it ever time for you or your colleagues to discuss your past achievements in the sport. Even a first-time viewer is going to understand you bought some credentials to the table to get that job. I don’t want to hear how many times DW won at Bristol unless you’re going to mention how many races he failed to qualify for during his ill-considered venture as a driver/owner.

We’re here today to watch a race together, you and the fans. We want to see it as a good race, not as a fraction of the championship drive. There’s time enough to discuss the ramifications of that individual race after the conclusion and after the season. Focus on the now. Don’t arrive at the race with a preset agenda of the stories you want to discuss. Let the story come to you as it happens, then explain it to us. And stop turning these four hour races into four hours worth of commercials occasionally interrupted by commercials.

Remember always; church and state. When is the last time you watched a football game where an announcer hollered, “Demarcos made an incredible turn downfield there aided by the Nike athletic shoes he’s wearing and the Gatorade he’s been drinking on the sidelines!” or “And the punting team comes off the field to wipe away their sweat with ultra-soft new Canon facial towels provided by Wal-Mart straight off a steamer from Red China!”

The White Knights tell the story of the race. Team Green sells ads. They’re never on the field at the same time. If Team Green can’t make money doing it that way, it’s time to renegotiate the terms of the broadcasting contract with NASCAR downwards to have it make financial sense. I’d guess given recent TV ratings, there won’t be a shark-feeding frenzy like there was back in 2000 to get broadcast rights to part of the Cup season. My guess is the way things are going, we all might end up watching races on YouTube before the end of the next decade.

Contact Matt McLaughlin

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Brian Mc
11/04/2010 03:49 AM
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Wow, good one, Matt.

Bad Wolf
11/04/2010 06:57 AM
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Bravo.

Insert hand clapping icon here.

The part about the broadcast partners hit the nail square on the head, and that one can be laid at the feet of the genius at Fox who paid all that stupid money for the rights back in 2000. What you laid out to fix Nascar is basically ESPN back in the mid ’80s, along with drivers who were not Prima Donna’s but came up from the dirt tracks, and a sanctioning body not ran by the Child King.

And now a word from our resident masochist who can’t stay away from the thing he/she loaths most in the world. Take it away, Randy.

Bill B
11/04/2010 07:19 AM
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Qualifying on time is fine but there should be a second round like there was several years ago. That was the fairest compromise. I’m sorry one bad qualifying lap should not disqualify an otherwise championship caliber team from being in the race.
Secondly, with regards to driver accessibility, it is unfair to compare how drivers interacted with the fans 30 years ago to today. There is a line somewhere that makes it impossible for a driver to walk amongst the common people. When you have 20,000 fans at a track it’s managable but when you have 120,000 it’s a different story. There is just no way to accomodate that many people.

Carl D.
11/04/2010 07:52 AM
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Great column, Matt.

I’m going to do something I rarely do, and that’s copy and paste a comment I made yesterday on the Mirror-Driving column. It pertains to your suggestion for smaller fields…

“One thing to keep in mind, though… when you reduce the field, especially by locking out developing drivers and newer teams, you’ll be reducing the number of cautions and restarts. I don’t watch racing for the wrecks, but the idea of more spread-out fields with no reason to bunch them back up sounds like some pretty boring races, or even worse, more mystery debris cautions.”

Keep up the good work.

Ghost of Curtis Turner
11/04/2010 07:59 AM
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“ Remember, ours is a sport that doesn’t have any inherent time outs or scheduled stoppages of play”

I thought that was what the debris cautions were for?

MJR in Springfield Va
11/04/2010 08:11 AM
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Great ideas Matt! Now let’s package this whole thing up, find a website that can record signatures to it (similar to a general petition), and then send it off to NA$CAR. Not that it would do any good other than to prove to them that there aren’t 75 million fans. There’s really only about 18 – 20 million (and that’s generous) and they are loosing them faster than they think. And if they don’t react soon they won’t have to worry about when to schedule race start times….they have anyone left to please.

Gordon82Wins
11/04/2010 08:22 AM
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Some good points here Matt, but my feeling on hotel rates is that if a hotel is charging too much, don’t stay there.

If NASCAR goes to the Chamber of Commerces in racing counties and says, “you need to put an end to the gouging”, a local politician is for certain going to say “what’s in it for me”? And NASCAR will use their dollars to buy influence, maybe. Call me radical but to me that is everything that is wrong with our government right now (and always, for that matter).

I do agree with the endless mention of sponsors. Nothing is more grating than a broadcast being interrupted for the “Craftsman Tech Garage”. Compare broadcasts’ commercial breaks to sitcoms all you want, that counts too.

Bill B
11/04/2010 08:33 AM
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Randy,
You make it sound like it doesn’t matter whether the racing is good of bad, as long as you tell yourself it’s good and everyone else says it’s good, then it is ACTUALLY good. That’s bull!
What are you George Constanza? “It’s not a lie if you believe it”.

I’ll use an example far outside of NASCAR. When a band releases and album and a reviewer give it a good review it doesn’t mean that I am going to like it when I listen to it. Why should a NASCAR race be any different. Do you really think people are that easily manipulated by the words of another?

BTW, we don’t need later starting times. All the chase races should be on Saturday night. That removes the NFL from the picture.

janice
11/04/2010 08:49 AM
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i remember years ago being at dover and almost running over all of rusty’s crew as they ran across rt. 1 to the sheraton hotel to their rooms with rusty in tow. some of the crew members venture out to the local outback or places like that near track, but with drug/alcohol screening and morale clauses in contracts, they don’t do that a often as they use to. i remember about 10 yrs ago, friend of mine was partying in buckhead ga with bunch of crew guys and called me on a sunday am of ams race weekend and told me that “she was at my house all night long”. yeah right..wink, wink.

Jacob
11/04/2010 08:54 AM
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Randy Goldman:

In reference to your 3rd step, you can’t “get over” declining TV ratings. TV Marketing 101 says that ratings are used to affix the prices charged for advertising space. Less viewers means less revenue. Less revenue means either:

  1. More commercials, or;
  2. An unwillingness to renew the contract due to it’s inability to turn a profit.
    More commercials will drive more fans away and further destabilize the revenue, a failure to renew the contract will see the sport either:
#Moved to an obscure channel that not eveyone gets, or; #Being completely removed from TV, in favor of a paid broadcast on the net. (Although this is unlikely because na$car couldn’t extort the individual fans the way that they extort a TV company)

In reference to step 4: That’s the point isn’t it? People aren’t watching.

Jacob
11/04/2010 08:56 AM
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No, I wasn’t yelling at you there, I hit submit before I proof-read.

Ken Smith
11/04/2010 09:36 AM
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RE: Tear down the walls: When Tony Stewart made a guest appearance at our local sprint car track earlier this year, one of the requirements was that the track management build a temporary FENCE around his car and hauler so the fans (that had to buy a pit pass) couldn’t get too close to him!! That won him a lot of fans!!

Scott
11/04/2010 10:05 AM
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I love the idea of dropping the top 35! They should all have to qualify each and every week.

Besides, can you imagine the drama that could be created at the next race if a top driver, Jimmie Johnson, for example, failed to qualify at last week’s race. The network could be pushing that all week.

I still think that Randy Goldman is either Brian France in disguise or he is one of the idiots that work directly with Brian France.

Craig
11/04/2010 10:19 AM
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Some nice points, some unrealistic. I totally agree with you on hotel costs and traffic when attending races. Both seem to get worse the more rural the track location is. I like to contrast the Pocono and Charlotte races I attended. At Pocono it took longer to get back to the highway than it took to run the whole race, and Pocono is a really long race. The hotel was way overpriced too, because the track is in the middle of nowhere PA. Charlotte on the other hand is a major city served major roads and lots of hotels. It was a breeze getting out compared to Pocono.

On driver accessibility, it can be improved, but it is still better than any other major sport. The need to plan more structured meet and greets, include them with pit passes or hospitality packages. I went to a Jeff Gordon fan club event a couple of years ago at the Hendrick shop, and that was a nice experience. I had to pay for it, but they included lunch, door prizes and you didn’t have to get into shoving match with anyone for an autograph.

On start and parks and qualifying, those suggestions are unrealistic. I agree shortening fields and going back to the provisional system might help, but NASCAR won’t risk any big stars in full time sponsored rides going home. This isn’t your local short track, people pay to Gordon, Johnson, Harvick and Jr.

old farmer
11/04/2010 11:40 AM
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I am absolutely amazed!

I basically agree w/ everything Matt said. Usually I think he’s been sniffing glue, or something.

EZ
11/04/2010 11:42 AM
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“Jacob, was any of that important? nothing was bolded – i’m confused
First thing he’s said that’s made any sense since he started showing up here!!

MilChad
11/04/2010 11:55 AM
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I agree with everything except the length of the race being shortened. If I take the time to go to the race, I want to be in the grandstand longer than a couple hours watching the race. If it’s boring on TV, DVR it and do something else then come back and fast forward all the boring parts. It’s as simple as that. I wish I could dig it up, but I clearly remember Matt saying that the races should not be shortened. That column came out within the past 3 years. If somebody can find it, please post the link.

ginav24
11/04/2010 11:57 AM
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Awesome ideas, Matt. That would be a pretty perfect scenario.

Skoobidrew
11/04/2010 12:02 PM
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Matt, I am definitely on-board for more driver accessibility. That was one of the reasons I learned to like the sport so much growing up in the 70’s. Heck, I remember a weekend at Michigan when qualifying was over – that all of the cars came rumbling back out from the garage area, filed down pit road (to the left) turned left onto the front stretch and the nosed in on an angle and parked along the catch-fence. The drivers all got out and stood by or sat on the hood of their car, and just chatted with the fans, smiled for photos, signed autographs, etc. All you had to do was walk down to the fence and stand there. I remember being all excited that I could get that close and actually talk to the drivers. I still have those photos somewhere…

Anyway, the point of that trip down memory lane was to illustrate that there are other ways of making the drivers more accessible than to let the “riff-raff” interfere with garage operations. And certainly, something like what I’ve described was a NASCAR organized thing – which can still be done today! I completely understand why the garage area should be limited-access. It’s probably a safety (read: insurance) issue as much as anything.

Good article, Matt! Keep up the great work!

Spencer
11/04/2010 12:06 PM
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You are making some good points and I’m on your side, albeit with a few disagreements.

I guess the start and parkers don’t bother me as much. If all your revisions were adopted they’d be gone in a heartbeat without the points to assure a start and a shorter schedule and race would mean fewer interested sponsors. They’d vanish faster than an ice cube on hot asphalt.

I wholeheartedly agree with you on point number 9. I often equate NASCAR to country music because both were built up by common folk. NASCAR and country music is a lifestyle as much as it is a sport/genre. There is no format of music where the artists are as accessible than country music. Sure some singers are rich and have plush buses but they call ‘em buses, not hoity-toidy “motorcoaches”. Today’s drivers are acting like spoiled rock stars. You’ll never have a chance to meet your favorite driver unless you’ve got deep pockets or a corporate hook-up. NASCAR should not have to mandate who talks to the media after a race. Sponsor contracts should not have to force drivers to make appearances and see fans. They should just do it. It’s part of NASCAR racing. Period.

I didn’t get to comment in the first column so I’ll just state now that while I think the season could be shortened, just not as much as suggested. After Labor Day have Saturday night races. And shake up the schedule more often. Rotate in tracks like Iowa where teams dont’ have reams of data. As for shorter races to increase interest, I say maybe a bit shorter but add points for leading half way. There’s some incentive for not just riding around til the end. But don’t shorten them too much. As it is you can spend as much time sitting in traffic getting in and out of Texas Motorspeedway as you do watching the race! (Fixing traffic is also a valid point but you’ll never see that go anywhere in this current political climate unless SMI, et al have made the kind of political donations that will result in sweet deals to get things built with tax dollars.)

Overall, good work. Can’t wait til next week.

x-na$car fan
11/04/2010 12:27 PM
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does anyone know why there is 43 cars in the starting grid. Why is 43 a magic number?

29racefan
11/04/2010 12:44 PM
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Great ideas Matt. Especially agree on the separation of commercialism and broadcasting. Anything that smacks of common sense won’t be a part of the NASCAR solution. Actually they’re not looking for a solution since Brain France doesn’t have a problem. Look how they treated Robby Gordon this past weekend. Just another nail………

midasmicah
11/04/2010 01:12 PM
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Hey Randy, I mean DansMom. Take your negativity somewhere else. Great article, Matt.

John Potts
11/04/2010 01:57 PM
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Stirred up some comments with this one, didn’t ya, Matt? Actually, I like nearly everything you say. 43 minutes works for a regular one-hour network show, with 17 minutes for commercials and opening/closing, so why not for a race?

Carl D.
11/04/2010 02:04 PM
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DansMom…

I like Danica Patrick too. She’s so cute! If she ever learns to drive a race car, she could easily be the cutest female driver, provided there are no other cute female drivers.

Brian
11/04/2010 02:08 PM
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A couple points
One goes to the TV White shirts NO saying anything about the championship until at least race 10 or even later. and for gosh sakes stop with the if the race ended right now the championship points would be… Unless there is race cancelling rain on top of the track it is not relevant.
Second thing is that the hotel issues are not totally related to rural vs urbanish markets.
Attended the inaugural Fall race at Texas and snagged a chain hotel on line for “regular” pricing for that weekend.
Went to check in and they were going to charge me over twice what I had reserved for. I had all the info printed and they had to honor the price I got online from the chain. Looked the manager straight in the face and laughed at him.
and Randy if you are on the west coast move, there are more of us est and cst then mst and wst times.. that or get your lazy behind out of bed and go to early service.
Your making a choice. The “fans” asked for the ealier start times back which indicates to me majority rules.

Craig
11/04/2010 03:25 PM
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I have to edit my original comment. I agree get rid of start and parks. It’s not the end of the world if we have a 38 car field as long as those car intend to run the distance. Not only can start and parks get in the way, they can impact a points battle. Remember Texas in the Chase last year when the 48 team got that car repaired he automatically picked up 3 spots because of start and parks. It didn’t change the outcome of the Chase, but in a close battle like this year it could. It’s one thing to salvage points when other cars wreck or blow up, but its another when 3 to 5 cars a race aren’t there to run the full distance.

PureSterling
11/04/2010 03:25 PM
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When I stopped renewing my Richmond tickets about five years ago, I sent RIR a letter explaining why. Of course that did not elicit a response of any kind. I won’t copy the full letter here but one item that I included was a very small thing but I don’t see it mentioned very often and that is the delay between the National Anthem and the starting of the engines. When I first started attending races, the invocation went into the National Anthem which ended with the flyover and was immediately followed by the command to fire the engines which of course was followed by the cars rolling off the line, the pace laps and the green flag. The excitement built with each step of the process. I used to tell my friends, even if you don’t like racing, Na$car sure knows how to start a race. Now there is that 5 minute break between the flyover and the engines starting and in my opinion, that delay just drains the energy out of the track at the moment that it should be building.

Other items I mentioned included the proliferation of multi-car teams, the traffic, the fact that there are too many races and that there are too many similar race tracks. And of course I mentioned the Chase. I offered a way to fix it that a friend suggested to me…have all of the races on the schedule included in the chase and open it to all of the drivers. Of course, I am still waiting for a reply to my concerns/suggestions.

P.S. keep up the good work Matt, I have been reading you since speedworld.net.

MATT
11/04/2010 03:32 PM
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Susan,
Yes, the reigning champ used to get the first pit choice. I’d forgotten that.

But as for the PC provisional, contrary to popular opinion it wasn’t for the King’s benefit. It was for Darrell Waltrip. Waltrip was leaving Hendrick to start his own team and thus had no guaruntee he’d make the races. DW was still winning races in that era and NASCAR wanted to be sure he was in the field especially in the Southern races. Obviously since the most recent champion got the spot DW was going to get it over the King every time. (Oh, and I am told ESPN insisted on the rule but have never been able to confirm that.)

Danica is the “cutest”? I don’t date “cute woman” Puppy dogs are cute. Kids are cute. And when it comes to “good looking” I’d have to say Jennifer Jo Cobb is a whole lot gooder than DP.

Carl D.
11/04/2010 04:01 PM
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Danica needs to be cute. She needs to bring something to the table for Nascar if she’s going to be it’s savior, because it ain’t gonna be her talent. But maybe I’m wrong… maybe what Nascar needs is a little more of what makes those GoDaddy commercials so memorable. Look what a little T&A has done for the WWE.

Once there was a place in Nascar for women with as little talent as Danica, but then Nationwide stopped doing those commercials with the women fantasizing about Kasey Kahne and running into things. So much for diversity, huh?

Vince
11/04/2010 04:14 PM
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Another great article Matt. I agree with your ideas. Hope you sent about 500 copies to Nascar headquarters. And one to every Cup driver.

But I’m afraid you’re wasting your breath as long is BZF is in charge. I keep hoping the rest of the France family will finally realize that he is a part of the problem and show him the door.

Jacob
11/04/2010 05:15 PM
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Well, EZ, I was gonna say it, but u beat me to it.

Bill B
11/04/2010 09:12 PM
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Here’s a good way to make sure everyone tries to race every lap. NASCAR knows the running order after each lap. At the end of the race figure out everyones average running order during the race. The top 5 gets points (1st = 50, 2nd = 40, 3rd = 30, etc.). Then also give the winner of the race an addtional 50 points more than they get now if they win. We don’t want the second place guy getting more points for the day than the winner and most fans agree wins should get more points anyway.

Leo
11/04/2010 11:36 PM
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I’ve never seen Tony Stewart turn down an autograph. I’ve stood by the garage and the souvenir trailer and he has always signed every single item from every single person in line. Maybe that has changed over the last few years, I wouldn’t know, but he was FAR from the worst driver in that regard. In fact Dale Earnhardt Sr. was the worst offender in this regard if you ask me.

Voice of Reason
11/05/2010 12:41 AM
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Matt – Sorry dude, you are NOT the answer man. Here’re the problems:

6) You hard righties cry about gov’t spending too much money now you want them to spend my, and your, money on modifying roads and traffic so more people will come to a race? That’s insane. It is up to the tracks to improve inlets/outlets and pay for road improvements (yes this has been done before) rather than taking it out of the local gov’t budget. I do NOT want my tax dollars spent on this kind of crap. Furthermore, you hard righties tend to be all about capitalism .. until it disagrees with your personal finance. If hotels charge astronomical rates – PAY them or SHUT UP. Is it really more complicated? Ever heard of supply and demand? According to your type it free market fixes EVERY problem (funny how unregulated banks are now accused of “taking advantage” of poor plumber Joes out there …” yet all you Joes despise any sort of regulation). Oh the contradictions in #6 – blows my mind…

7) Remember free enterprise? NASCAR says there will be 43. I got no problem with S&P if there are not 43 funded cars. But if you wish to change the rule, then make it permanent. Don’t just do it because of a temporary market condition.

8) You bitch about the cost of racing these days yet you encourage Friday qualifying? Why not do it all on Saturday? A morning practice, an afternoon single-round qualifying, one final late afternoon session (usually best mimics race conditions), then lock them down and let them roar Sunday afternoon. Why 3 days? Saturday is a waste. Bad idea.

9) Hey old timer, this ain’t ’71 when there were what maybe 10,000 fans at best in the stands? This is 2010 where even the most dismal attendance is 6 times that. Doubling the fan involvement is hard on the drivers. Sextuple it (probably just lost the other half of the righties who didn’t leave after my first paragraph) and you got a major problem, friend. Sure, percentage-wise, the King signed more than today’s drivers. However, today’s drivers are flying damn near daily to sponsor commitments ALL YEAR LONG. They sign all year long and appear all year long. Between that and the number of wackos in the stands, I cannot blame any of them for wanting a fence…

10) I have no problem with “side by side” and agree with this point, other than your hypocritical “separation of church and state” remarks. You and your type and your “one nation, under GOD” … and separation is where? This country was founded on religious freedom yet in my lifetime there will not be a non-Christian, or heaven forbid (adequate dosage of sarcasm there for you righties) an ATHEIST?!? Who cares that an atheist is probably the one person who can not let ANY religious tendencies taint their decision making ability. Yeah, I’ve read enough of your columns and have seen the G-word and countless other references. Oh my, the hypocrisy.

Nice try Matt, but honestly this article is nothing more than a bunch of bad ideas with frightening contradictions.

Oh, and the arrogance of calling yourself “The Answer Man”. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little, or maybe a LOT.

EZ
11/05/2010 11:03 AM
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Voice of Reason- Please look up reason in a Webster’s.
Talk about contradictions

Shoeman
11/05/2010 12:16 PM
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@DansMom-You forgot
Part3:Sucks

Henry M
11/05/2010 04:33 PM
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I remember when Bristol started 36 cars, I think that Martinsville and N. Wilkesboro did as well. Qualifying was very important because you had to have a front-stretch pit to have a chance to win. If you wrecked in qualifying, well, there was always second-day qualifying. RCR would give Dale’s qualifying engine to Dave Marcis for his second-day attempt.

When I leave at Noon on Monday for a Saturday Night race, do you think that I am worried about how long it will last? If you want shorter races, watch F1, if it is not over in 2 hours they flag it anyhow. I am not going to a track for a 2 hour race.

Voice of Reason
11/06/2010 12:15 AM
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Sorry, I know the logic escapes you. What else could I expect from the name “EZ”? Oh well, least your name doesn’t contradict your intellect. BTW, sentences end with periods.