Cost Is Killing Racing
In today's world, where everyone thinks that the only voice that should be heard is his own, we have killed the sport of racing. Pure and simple, it is in its death throws as people still sit back and complain. I stand in amazement.
It started a few years ago when Brian France took the reins of the sport and began right away to court the “wine and cheese” crowd because his “surveys” had shown that they had more disposable income. And Mr. France thought that they would be the perfect fan, for his new version of NASCAR!
It didn't take long for him to alienate the core group of fans who had made NASCAR what it was. The very fans who would plan vacations around races and save all year long to make one trip to a track close to them to see the “Rollin’ Thunder” of NASCAR.
The thing he overlooked was that this very group of fans was loyal. Loyal to a fault, and when they felt they had been abandoned, they shifted that loyalty elsewhere. Instead of going to NASCAR events, they began to go fishing, make trips to the beach and spend time doing something new.
As the powers that be saw the decline, both in attendance and TV viewers, they scrambled to try and find ways to bring them back. Some came back but the large majority stayed away. And the TV ratings and attendance numbers proved this right. The downward spiral was starting.
In response Brian France and his crack team of “experts” began trying to pump new life into the sport; dramatic changes to the cars, then moving seats out so it didn't seem so obvious to other fans and prospective sponsors that the seats were empty. Then as each hair brained idea failed to generate more fans, and didn't bring back the Core group, new and bigger ideas were put in place, the Chase format was one of those. Taking a sport that the fans loved because it stood on its own, because it wasn't like other stick and ball sports. So What does NASCAR do? “Let's make NASCAR like stick and ball sports by putting a playoff system in place!” (insert face palm here)
NASCAR then dreams up the Charter System. Not sure what drugs they were on when this one was thought up, but clearly it was some pretty serious stuff.
Now teams had to purchase a charter in order to race; now they could lease these charters out if they like, but 36 teams were granted charters. With the Charter system came the bright idea of no longer making public the winnings of drivers and teams. This one was kind of slipped in while no one was looking, and even those who did notice, really didn't understand why… until the facts became clear. Teams with charters were not being paid like before. Now the top tier teams were being paid more that the lower teams, WOW! Imagine that…. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This was nothing more than an attempt to slowly cut the lower funded teams out of the sport, but yet make it look like it was on the teams as to why they dropped out, not the fact that they were being pushed out by the powers that be. Once again, NASCAR brass had covered those important tracks that we all know lead back to the Big Office in Daytona Beach.
Then low and behold Brian France gets busted …. the fans cheered, thinking maybe now we can right the wrongs in NASCAR! We can get it back like it supposed to be.
Oh, but that was not to happen. No sir, they had other plans!
And along comes Steve O'Dell.
O'Dell first got the fans excited when he stated that changes were coming to improve the sport! And things begin to look positive again; numbers were up, and fans began coming to the races again. Things were looking good. Ah, but it was short lived. Very short …. for then come the new ideas........
When the ideas of getting rid of the lower teams didn't get the jobs done, new and drastic measures needed to be put in place! So what do they do?
Well first they looked at how the lower teams were able to hang on as well as they had, and they saw it was by picking up used parts from old cars, and recycling so to speak, in order to keep these underfunded teams afloat.
So now NASCAR had to find a new way of cutting the lower teams out… PRESTO let’s create a new car and not allow old parts from the old cars to be used. Yeah that will do it! AND to make it even better, let’s say it’s to help teams cut cost! Yeah, that's it! We are so flippin’ smart, thought NASCAR as they shoved the knife deep into the sport and twisted it.
Now we will use “spec chassis' and “spec bodies” to “cut cost” they said. These chassis will only be available to teams with Charters and will cost about $2 million each. There will only be on manufacturer of Chassis, and one Manufacturer of the new bodies.
Now we will get rid of those pesky cheap teams!
We are going to make this a sport where you got to pay to play! And you got to pay us! We will continue to make more money day after day, and we will sit in our house on high and tell each of you what you can spend and were you can spend it. We are too damn lazy to work on the rules so that all teams can still compete. Oh no, that would never work. The high dollar teams don't like that, so we can't have that.
It just seems like a shame that NASCAR is caving to pressure from everyone BUT the fans who keep them relevant.
This same mentality has filtered down into dirt racing as well, with the technology that is out there today, it has gotten more and more a series of “have's and have not's” and that is a shame. The little guy no longer has a chance in the top levels of dirt racing due to the cost. With shocks at an insane cost of $8000 for a set, chassis at $40-50,000 it puts the cost of racing out of reach for the local racer, and it's clear when you look at the number of teams that choose to travel and follow the major series.
As the local teams struggle to keep up with cost of the parts needed to run at the top level, the high dollar teams keep pumping more and more money into the teams to keep up to date.
But if we look at the racing, do we really need all the high technology that teams are using? I say no we do not. Not at all. Let me explain why.
Fans in the stands cannot see a tenth of a second; they cannot tell if a team is on the latest shocks or not. As long as the entire field is on the same equipment, the racing can still be just as exciting as it is with the high technology parts. Each team in the pits would be on equal footing, and the racing could be improved, to allow the local teams to make a show of it when the “Big Boy’s” come to town.
But the powers that be, are only concerned about making MORE money, instead of building up the sport… and that is a shame.
The “Have's and Have nots” mentality is winning, and it sucks for the little guy. I don't have a voice in what happens in racing, BUT I do have a voice, and a radio show, every Monday Night on Performance Motorsports Network. I will keep giving the little guy a voice and promoting the true history of the sport.
Tune in one night and see what you think. Check our website for re-air times if you can't tune in live at 9:30pm Monday Nights!