The Frontstretch: Is A Week In NY Necessary? by Mike Neff -- Thursday November 30, 2006

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Is A Week In NY Necessary?

Full Throttle · Mike Neff · Thursday November 30, 2006

 

This is NASCAR's big week in New York City so NASCAR is everywhere and everyone is abuzz about all things NASCAR. Well, the brass in Daytona would at least like you to believe that second part. For the 26th year in a row, the NASCAR Cup awards banquet is going to be in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel but whether the event should take place in New York is great fodder for debate. The greater question is: Does the series need to spend a week in the city hocking its wares?

Having the actual banquet in New York is kind of neat. Bill France was of the opinion that having the event take place in the Big Apple helped legitimize the sport and while the sport is now more than legitimate, it is still a great way to celebrate the champion and the year. However, the fact that it has become a week long event is quite a bit of overkill.

Drivers are seen on every TV show that originates in New York. They are paraded around on city streets, snarling up already intolerable traffic. The mayor declares Nextel Cup day in New York. Watches are awarded in a separate celebration. Times Square is blocked off for a photo shoot. It is just a never ending cavalcade of NASCAR related activity.

The question is, why? Last year, a film crew walked the streets of the city with Carl Edwards. They stopped 20-30 people and Carl asked if the people recognized him. There was only one person who had any idea who Carl was. After 26 years of events and several years of week long media blitzes, you would think a few more people would know one of the stars of the sport.

NASCAR would be better served to do a nation wide tour before the banquet. During the two weeks between the final race and the banquet, take the top 11 drivers around the country. Hold events in California, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, North and South Carolina and Tennessee. Let the true fans of the sport have an opportunity to celebrate the sport they love one last time before the long arctic winter that is the off season.

The drivers are used to traveling for sponsor appearances. This wouldn't be any different. Put them on one of NASCAR's corporate jets and whisk them around the country. Give the fans who make the sport a chance to see the best of the best up close and personal. It would go a lot farther in rewarding the true fans of the sport than a bunch of staged media opportunities in a city that doesn't truly follow the sport that we love.

The banquet in New York is a great idea. It is a great way to honor the champion and celebrate the year just passed. But the events leading up to the banquet should be about thanking the fans of the sport; the working class Joes who travel around in their RVs or pack up the family and sit in the cheap seats to see their heroes compete across the country. NASCAR would spend their money much more wisely taking their stars to the people rather than puppeteer them around in a big city that doesn't seem to care.

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Mark Rubley
12/01/2006 07:17 AM
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Mike….. are you just not thinking?!?!? Great idea but, NA$CAR and the France family are trying so very hard to get away from it’s Southern roots… Why in the world would you think that they would consider acknowledging the fans that make them and the sport what it is. To even think that NA$CAR is ready, willing, or interested in thanking the average Joe (the guy that really makes NA$CAR what it is today) is a far fetched thought. Face it, the France family, NA$CAR, and I$C for that matter don’t give a fying cow pie about the average Joe… that’s demostrated by the closing of The Rock, North Wilkesboro, the moving of traditional races, multiple-race ticket packages…. and so on. They really don’t care about us…. but the sad thing about that…. one day they will. Let’s just hope when that day comes, it’s not too late. I hope they wake up and get their collective heads out of their collective @$$ and start to listen to the fans… while they still have fans left. MJ “Rube” Rubley

M. B. Voelker
12/01/2006 07:58 AM
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IMO, the self-defined “true fans” need to get over themselves and realize that Nascar isn’t a small-time, regional sport anymore.

Like it or not (and I don’t particularly), New York City is the media capital of the country. And Nascar is important enough to get attention in NYC — if they are there instead of in some small town in Kansas or Georgia, or Idaho, or wherever.

You can’t possibly really think that anywhere near as many people could see the show car parade if it were held 5 times in 5 states with only local TV coverage as saw it from Times Square on a major, nationwide, morning, news program. I know from your other columns that you simply aren’t that stupid.

Bringing the Champions — all of them, not just Cup — to the media capital of the US is bringing them to the people in a way that presenting them in person to the tiny fraction of fans who’d be able to attend those scattered events couldn’t begin to accomplish.

Kevin
12/01/2006 11:10 AM
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As a New Yorker, I personally think it’s fabulous to have the drivers here for a week. And the Victory Lap, while admittedly making traffic even worse (did they really have to hold it the same day as the Rockefeller Center tree lighting?) is awesome. Just the sound of the engines bouncing off midtown’s canyon walls gives me goose bumps.

That said, I have to agree that the week-long thing is overkill. Yes, it’s convenient for the access to national media, but the banquet and the morning shows could be done in a couple of days. If they are trying to get NYers excited about the sport, forget about it; no one here cares. When I’m walking around and I see someone with gear on (usually Junior’s for some reason), I know it’s a tourist. NYC is a baseball town first; other ball/stick sports are second, and racing isn’t even on the radar here. If/when they build the Staten Island track, it won’t be natives filling the seats.

A national tour would be great, but the objections in the comments above unfortunately ring true…

Mark
12/01/2006 04:32 PM
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I think the tradition at the Waldorf is great. It is one of the few things BF hasn’t changed. I am from the deep South, I am what you would describe as an old school fan. Yes, I like all things Earnhardt. I resent people like MB Voelker who thinks anyone from the South does not have a brain.

And to the point, NASCAR has not been a regional sport in over 40 years. If memory serves correctly, Deleware, New York, Pennsylvania, California, even Maine, have long been included in the NASCAR tradition. So I say to you, MB, do a little research before you open your mouth. A wise old philosopher once said, “It is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are ignorant than to open your mouth and prove it for them”.

theStewartFan
12/01/2006 05:49 PM
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Have it at the Georgia Dome and sell tickets ($$$) to 71,250 screaming fans. If France really wants to line his pockets, this is the way to do it. Throw out the Tux’s, canned speeches on a teleprompter, and that stupid yellow carpet. Bring out the track food and beer, drivers in blue jeans, and let them say what’s on their minds.

Denny
12/04/2006 07:06 PM
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Anywhere but NY. Thats just TV pinheads pulling BF around by the shorthairs because of their TV money.None of those pinheads care about tradition or racing. Jay Mohr isn’t funny anywhere east of NY/NJ and Jewell was a waste of time.

Mark
12/05/2006 09:06 PM
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I’ll buy the fact that Jay Mohr was about as funny as the second coming of Hurricane Katrina, I didn’t watch Jewel perform. As far as the advertising, that is what the remote is for.

 

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