A Voice for the Fans ~ Daytona SpeedWeeks Are Upon Us
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and the usual cordial warm welcome to that lucky person assigned to read this column today on behalf of NASCAR. Keep me honest. One day I might just make a mistake. I made one once. One single word… back in 2003. Spent most of my day with Steve Peterson. Heck of a nice guy and fun to talk and joke with.
As this gets to you, gentle readers, we’ll be crashing right down on the Rolex-24 Hours at Daytona, so if you haven’t yet found where I hide things on the website or missed it on Twitter, here’s the schedule for TV coverage:
I do these weekly, from now through Homestead, and the schedules can be found at the Race Info Center at
We’re just shy of three weeks away from the Daytona 500, but news on that front seems stingy at best. Checked into sportsmediawatch.com earlier and on finding nothing, included NASCAR in the URL. That took me to the archives. Lots of football, as expected, but basketball, hockey and even baseball and golf are to be found. Nothing on NASCAR. Sports Business Journal is more forthcoming, but I can’t afford that magazine so I settle for tweets.
This tidbit comes rather unexpectedly, I guess because I gave them the benefit of the doubt and assumed they had left because of poor business returns. Apparently I was way off the mark. As I type, I have not seen this announced as of yet, but the day is young. The expected news is that Lowe’s is preparing to sign a multi-year deal to become the official Home Improvement Company of the NFL! That has to feel like a gut-punch to Jimmie Johnson and his entire team.
Then, there’s this… If the government shutdown continues, the crowd attending the Daytona 500 could well be in trouble, especially if any air travel is involved. It seems that someone, somewhere feels that air traffic controllers are not essential employees… at least some of them. Those so designated are not working and the ones considered essential (probably the boss types, and I’d sharply disagree with that classification when the worker bees are furloughed) are working without pay. It is my understanding that everyone will be paid once we resume normal functions within the government. So, if they are still out when 500 time arrives, it just might be a total SNAFU for all involved. .
International Speedway Corporation will hold its Q4/year-end earnings call on Thursday, marking first time that ISC executives will publicly comment on, or be asked about the proposed NASCAR merger. Since the deal could be approved as early as mid-year, 2019, this might be one of the final earnings reports from ISC. If approved, the merger would remove that corporation from the trading market and bring it into the NASCAR fold as a privately owned company, not subject to financial review.
On another front, NASCAR will allow teams to have sports gambling sponsors at all races in 2019 after originally considering whether to restrict the category to the three current tracks where it's legal. I suspect that decision was made in lieu of the fact that the sanctioning body itself is said to be seeking to align with a sports betting company. (Unnamed at this time)
NASCAR is working on striking a league-wide data licensing deal with a sports betting company, and the plan is to have some of the revenue from that deal flow to teams. NASCAR is also seeking a straight sports betting sponsorship that will include a cross-industry spend. Apparently they are not alone in eyeing sponsorship from this newly established source. Reading that F1 team, Force-India and online sports betting brand Sport Pesa have agreed to a two-year title sponsorship worth $8-Million in 2019 and $10-Million in 2020.
And what’s going on at some of the tracks that might feel threatened in the near future as the NASCAR belt-tightening seems set to begin in earnest? Several tracks held light shows over the Holidays, and some have already included a carnival-like atmosphere that includes games and rides, with Chicagoland Speedway being the latest to make that move. Bristol is no stranger to giving room to things other than NASCAR, including the already established Short Track Nationals, a weekend of racing that invites several different sanctioning bodies that race at short tracks across the country. They’re also famous for hosting college football games that play to huge crowds!
Never let it be said that Eddie Gossage lets any grass grow under his feet. Ducks Unlimited later this week will announce that it will hold a massive new Outdoor Expo at Texas Motor Speedway starting in 2020. The Expo plans to use all of TMS' 1,500 acres for events such as archery, biking, camping, dogs, fishing, ranching, shooting and golf. Gives new meaning to the phrase, “Build it and they will come”, doesn’t it? Please understand gentle readers, that all of the $Millions being spent at various tracks to upgrade facilities, are not being spent for your benefit. They are hedging their bets against a failing sport that falters on life-support and making sure they can use that facility for things far apart from auto racing.
For the coming weekend, I suggest we all spend some time watching the Rolex-24 Hours at Daytona and just thoroughly enjoy the start of a new racing season. It doesn’t matter that there will be Sports Cars on track and not Stock Cars. Both have fenders and are not all that different, one from the other. In recent years, we’ve seen more and more familiar names taking a turn at the wheel during the 24-Hour race, and I love seeing that. It takes an old fan back to the days when A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Johnny Rutherford and many others used to cross over to race with the boys from NASCAR and even occasionally beat them at their own game. This weekend there are cars on the track and that’s something we haven’t had since mid-November. On the bright side, there will be no announcers screaming into microphones, no goofy guy doing a bad imitation of Robin Miller’s Indy Grid Walk and it’s unlikely that anyone will be telling us how he would have done it better. Kick back, pop-a-top and enjoy!
Time now for our Classic Country Closeout. Last week, I gave you a single song because that one recording perfectly fit the context of the article. This week’s article is kind of all over the place, so let’s return to one of my favorite YouTube presentations. This is a well-edited collection of songs from “The Country Show”, including offerings from the greats of the 1950s, Ray Price, Jim Reeves and Ernest Tubb. Even if you’ve heard this one before, I think you’ll agree that it’s well worth hearing another time.
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!