So … who is excited for some road course racing this weekend??
Now stop. You. Yes … you. Raising your hand. Would you have been raising your hand, say, five years ago?
If you answered “no”, you are one of the many race fans, reporters, industry members, etc. who are friends of mine that feel the same way. I, too, hated road course races, thought that two races was way too many to have on the Sprint Cup schedule, and that if they never raced on another road course again it wouldn’t be soon enough.
However, the last few years have changed my opinion dramatically. Between some of the great racing, great finishes, and, admittedly, some easily write-able storylines that would be discussed even weeks after the race I started to see the light. I found myself thinking, “Man, that was one of the best races of the year!” or “Wow, what a fun race!” every single time the checkered flag waved, and even more surprisingly found myself looking forward to the next one.
What’s even stranger … I didn’t even give road courses a chance. I never believed, “All right, I’m going to watch this race without assuming it will suck and see what happens.” There was never a thought to watch the race without preconceived notions. These twisted tracks changed my mind the old-fashioned way: my shoving some of the best races of the year back in my face, slapping their knee, and shouting, “How do ya like THEM apples?”
They’re delicious. Oh, and that crow tastes mighty gamey as well. After several years of being a grouch about any track that didn’t boast exclusively of left turns, I have since become a road course racing fan. And I believe that if you have been watching the last few years, with a keen eye you feel the same way.
Now, on to your questions:
Can you tell us what life insurance for a driver costs? ddrrtt
While I don’t have an exact dollar amount, I do know that life insurance for race car drivers can be a few thousand dollars for a million dollar insurance policy. The premiums can change on a case-by-case basis, and with racing becoming safer and the drivers becoming more athletic, it’s not altogether unlikely that these premiums will lower ever slightly. However, they remain astronomical for even the local level drivers, where the safety standards are not near as high.
I know a local driver here in town who has looked into purchasing life insurance, but simply can’t afford it because it’s so expensive. It’s why after horrendous crashes such as Tim McCreadie’s back in the Chili Bowl, in 2009 family, friends, and fans work to raise some money because, as I’m sure can be expected, health insurance is astronomical as well.
Though NASCAR drivers and their seven-digit salaries can usually afford to insure themselves, your local drivers more than likely cannot. Some insurance agencies, upon the driver disclosing this dangerous “hobby,” have a risk associated fee that they tack on to the monthly premium, if they decide to cover the driver at all. Many insurance companies just choose not to.
Simply put … it’s not good. Assuming this question has stemmed from the recent incident involving Jason Leffler, over his insurance policy (or lack thereof), it doesn’t take much thought to consider why he didn’t – or couldn’t – have any actual life insurance for his son Charlie. After all, he didn’t have a major NASCAR ride, sprint car racing doesn’t pay near as much as the big leagues, and being able to pay that amount out of pocket was obviously not an investment that Leffler found wise.
While I have a hard time believing Leffler literally left little Charlie with nothing, I don’t at all judge him for not having that safety net.
Daytona is cutting 45,000 seats from the racetrack with these new renovations. I can’t help but think this is just another sign the sport is dying. If Daytona can’t sell out, who can? Will
I think it’s less a sign that the sport is dying and more of a sign of the times. Look, I’m sure there truly are fans who don’t tune in or come to the track anymore because of the Chase, the drivers, etc. I’ve already ranted about my thoughts on that in previous columns.
However, you can’t deny the incredibly dramatic drop in ratings and attendance happened at pretty much the exact same time the economy tanked. That’s not coincidence. It’s also why both ratings and attendance both rise and drop depending upon the week as the economy struggles to improve.
I think Daytona is making these changes for safety reasons, economic reasons, and to make the experience for the spectators who do show up worth their while. In other words, not only are they trying to make the most of some of these tough times, they want to plan for the future. Daytona plans on being around for a while.
Let’s also not forget that this renovation is an incredibly expensive expenditure, with Daytona using their own money to bring it to fruition. $375 million to $400 million is the estimated price tag on this hefty project, which includes expanding some of the fan entrances, themed restaurants, and the additional “vertical transportation”. Or, as us common folk like to call it, “elevators.”
It all sounds like a great idea to me, and I’d love to see other tracks follow suit (as the budget allows). Honestly, I can’t wait to see the finished result.
As far as them needing to cut a ton of seating to allow these changes — including the backstretch seating which pretty much just serves as a place to hang Budweiser banners — I think they know that it enhances their ability to actually have sellout crowds again when they don’t have more seats than people. Clearly, the times have changed and not as many people show up as they used to. NASCAR will survive, though, and perhaps when things get better in our nation, they will also get better in our sport.
Do teams really steal other team’s personnel? Seems like Hendrick is just as shady as the fans already know they are. Rob
Yes, it really does happen. It’s this brand new thing called “business”. Have you heard of it?
Let me give you an example. You work for a company in what you would call a dream role. Just put yourself there for a minute, assuming you aren’t there already. Now, pretend that you’re really, really good at your job. Your company grows exponentially from your contributions and you are incredibly valuable to the company, to the point that its competitors begin to take notice.
One day, you get a phone call from a person in a key hiring position at one of your competitors. They offer you a substantial more amount in pay for you to come work with them, including more benefits and a long-term contract with an organization that has a history of success.
That company you were with? Penske Racing. The company that called? Hendrick Motorsports.
Now … would you take it?
If you said no, you’re lying. If you were Pinocchio, your nose would stretch from New York to California. You’re fooling yourself, maybe, but not us.
You see, if you are good at what you do, it will certainly attract everyone’s attention. I can guarantee you that this exact scenario happens on an annual basis, if not much more often, because teams in NASCAR want to do whatever they have to do in order to gain an advantage. It is just the nature of the beast.
There is nothing wrong with this practice, either. Neither side of the aisle is wrong. The team is not wrong for seeking out more talent, and the talented individual is not wrong for taking it. You do what you have to do in order to survive in a competitive climate.
Was it wrong for Matt Kenseth to move from Roush Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing? Was it wrong for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to move from Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to Hendrick Motorsports? Was it wrong for Joey Logano to move from Joe Gibbs Racing to Penske Racing?
Was it wrong for Brad Keselowski to move from a Hendrick-affiliated team to Penske Racing?
Oh, you forget about that, didja?! Yep, that’s right. If you think back to only a few short years ago, Keselowski was a driver for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series and would have possibly gotten the opportunity to drive a Sprint Cup Series car for HMS if he waited long enough. But he got an opportunity he couldn’t refuse from a certain Roger Penske and he went with it.
It’s the same exact thing with the crew members, except it doesn’t come with the star power and the headlines. If it’s not wrong for a driver, how do you consider it wrong for the crew members?
Now that I’ve answered all of your questions, it’s time to answer mine. My question for all of you: Should loyalty matter in a sport as competitive as NASCAR? Why or why not?
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