A Voice for the Fans ~ Why All The Secrecy?
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and the same warm welcome to that lucky person assigned to read us on behalf of NASCAR this fine day. This might not be the only missive you’ll see from me this week, but my mind had been gnawing at something for a while now, and I just wonder if it’s bothering anyone else but this crotchety old lady.
Jim and I have been doing this site together since March of 2013, and in that time, we’ve included many little “perks” to please and assist the race fans, who are after all, the folks for whom the site exists. Since we are a fairly small site compared to some of the giants such as nascar.com or Jayski.com, I’m sure what’s happening isn’t aimed at us in particular, but I’d just like all the fans to know that we find it annoying when we can’t serve you as in the past.
Several bits of general information used to be readily available if one knew where to look. I’ve always prided myself on knowing where to look, but this year, an increasing number of things seem to be purposely delayed or hidden. Don’t ask me why, but it’s true. NASCAR itself used to announce penalties and things of that nature on Tuesdays. That has now moved to Wednesdays, and occasionally even Thursdays. As a media member in good standing, this scribe finds it annoying to have news of the last race dribbling out in bits and pieces when the next race is already on the horizon. We’ve always felt it best to work ahead, as the past is already history.
TV Ratings, at least the overnight readings, have long been readily available on Tuesday morning and could always be found on Jayski.com, (Thanks Jay!) whose source was almost always quoted as SportsMediaWatch.com. Now, for unknown reasons… at least unknown to me… Sports Media Watch posts all other weekend sports, mostly of the stick and ball variety, but NASCAR ratings for the Cup race are delayed. We only occasionally have reason to post the ratings here on Race Fans Forever, but I have friends that depend on having them on Tuesday for other media. So far, I have been able to find and share the ratings for the previous Sunday’s race, but I think it wise not to say where at this time. Still, that inquisitive though aged mind of mine keeps asking, “Why?”
Mind you, this is nothing personal and I’m not being paranoid… at least any more than usual. It’s quite obviously happening to many racing sites. Ever since we started, we have included on our Home Page, a preview of the upcoming offering of our National Anthem. Why? Because race fans have asked for it. That was usually available in a timely fashion from the page dedicated to the upcoming race on Jayski.com. In many cases, it could be found, sometimes weeks or even months in advance on the website of the host track.
For every race in its proper turn, I put up a countdown clock, set to the approximate wave of the green flag. Beneath that, I’ve always given a “preview” via YouTube or other video of the promised singer, musician or group of either. I can no longer do that, because that seems to have become a State Secret, at the discretion of NASCAR. They have a page on nascar.com that eventually will hold all of the race information including such things as Grand Marshal, Invocation Giver, Honorary Pace Car Driver and Honorary Starter, Color Guard, Anthem Singer and Flyover. That information magically appears now on Sunday morning, and not before. I’d try to lay the blame on Colin Kaepernick, but it was happening over the long, hot summer, well before he took his little stand against America and embarrassed the NFL right out of a portion of their own ratings.
Never, it seems, is it now made available by the individual tracks. I’m not sure what to make of this, but we’d like our readers to know that some of the things you’ve been accustomed to finding on our Home Page are no longer there because the information is no longer available. It’s hard to imagine that withholding such things would be to NASCAR’s benefit. One would think that any positive reinforcement would be a good thing, yet it is obviously someone at NASCAR that is withholding at least part of what’s gone mysteriously missing this year.
No, this is no big deal, but big deals start from tiny ones. Wars have been started by no more than a slight insult. The feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys started over a hog… and lasted through generations. Over the years, fans have had to stand by and watch NASCAR take over more and more of what used to be individual enterprises. The food at all ISC tracks is now served up by Americrown Service Corporation, which in reality is just another name for NASCAR. Teams and drivers used to contract and sell their own merchandise. Now, that privilege is allotted only to NASCAR. Mention “Souvenir trailers” to a young fan today and you’ll get a blank stare in return.
In earlier times, when those trailers were an integral part of every race, fans would go willingly to spend their money at the trailer of their favorite driver, and there was always that chance you’d meet someone special at a trailer. I met crew chief Waddell Wilson at Geoff Bodine’s trailer, some 30 years before I would write an article about him and his career. You just never knew… Now all “bling” is licensed and sold by NASCAR at a huge bazaar-type area at the tracks, and there isn’t a chance you’ll run into a one-day Hall of Famer there that just came out to say “Hey y’all” to the fans.
Those things, one can at least understand as generating a profit… perhaps. Tactics such as delaying or attempting to hide TV ratings on the other hand, in this scribe’s opinion only serve to inconvenience and annoy both fans and members of the media. Locking down information on an upcoming race is just beyond my comprehension, especially as “some” information is readily available. For months ahead of time in most cases, you can read all about the entertainment scheduled at every track, and intriguing things such as someone’s idea of a “special” sandwich or calorie-laden drink. Some tracks even push their own “designer beer” or something similar. Can anyone explain to me why that information can be found so easily, but it’s Saturday morning as I write this and I still cannot tell you who will present our National Anthem at Texas tomorrow?
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!