Fan’s View: Nothing But Silly Stories & the End of NASCAR

Besides the fact that the race on Saturday night was yet another yawn-inducing fuel-mileage parade, was there anything at all happening in NASCAR this week? I mean something of importance.

Something like… the Bank of America 500 was the first Cup race run without an Earnhardt in it since 1979. While it was certainly gossip worthy that Dale Earnhardt Jr. sat out two weeks of competition due to a concussion, it wasn’t earth shattering for the sport despite the number of times the stat was repeated over the length of the weekend. The fact the “Big E” didn’t appear on the entry list was simply that. The world does not always revolve around Mooresville. Or does it?

The second half of this much repeated stat this weekend decried the absence of any driver with a birthplace of North Carolina. Really? Was this mere curiosity on the media’s part that they spread the lack of a Carolinian far and wide? No, I think it was a comment on the changing times.

No longer is our sport known as something belonging to the Southeast. Only seven of the tracks on the Cup circuit are located in the birthplace of NASCAR. As indicated above, no longer do the competitors hail from a singular part of the country.

NASCAR is a global sport these days. But with all the fireworks, naming rights and pretty paint jobs lighting up the night on the massive television on the backstretch at Charlotte, did we really need such a mundane reminder that NASCAR has left its roots behind and moved into the 21st century with a more expansive market? Well…

Point 2. Less of a story, but a curiosity. It was rumored on Sunday that the Budweiser Duels would not be part of the Daytona 500 Speedweeks this year due to lack of sponsorship. Since Daytona International Speedway still has tickets on sale for the 2013 Duels, I can view this as simply a rumor. But one that we’d all believe. The credulity of this rumor is, perhaps, what we should be concerned with.

It would be depressing indeed to miss the absolutely over the top and unexplainable start to our season. No, we don’t need those qualifying races to muddy up the manner in which the 43 cars line up for the Great American Race. But it’s sort of like short-track qualifiers on a grand scale, at once a nod to the past and a glimpse of the greater things coming on Sunday. It would be a sad day indeed should we lose the 150s because the cash flow has slowed to a trickle in the great sponsorship river. Would we believe it could happen. Oh yes. Why?

Because there is money out there. Lots of it, if we are to pay attention to the final story of this column. But it only goes into certain pockets.

FOX has re-upped with NASCAR through 2022. Yes sirree, Bob! We are to be entertained by more bad graphics, distracting sound effects and commentators that could be swapped out with the ringmaster for Barnum & Bailey’s Circus for yet another decade. Color me a sickly shade of green. What is the price tag for this contract, you ask? A stunning $2.4 billion; more than enough to fund a few Daytona Duels if you ask me.

Right there we have it all. Not only have we left the good ol’ boys of the Old South behind, we’ve done it in Armani suits while drinking champagne. Could we possibly be farther from the roots of our sport with this TV deal?

So yes, there was a big story this weekend. If you’ve been in any doubt over the last few years, NASCAR is no longer what it was born to be: a rough, dirty, neighborly game of ding up your friend’s car at the local track. They’ve just confirmed it with no more Earnhardts, a believable rumor stealing the glory from the Daytona 500 and a TV deal meant only for the One Percenters. We’ve traded in the old Ford for something only to be found on the lot of your luxury-car dealer.

So much for NASCAR.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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