Musings During the Off-Season in NASCAR - Again
Authors Note: My articles are based on my thoughts and observations only. Normally there are no statistics offered. Please enjoy and feel free to comment afterwards.
There has long been a saying which goes like this: "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
Last January I offered an original article about the off-season and now I would like to offer it again - with additions added after each paragraph. Because of those additions, it is longer than normal. And if it seems redundant at times, it is because I did not want to change the original.
During the NASCAR off season, a lot of us look for other sports or activities to entertain us during the times we normally would be watching racing or racing shows. We count the days until the date in February when what we call "our sport" returns. Some of us wait with anticipation while some of us just wait because it is a tradition for us. All of this waiting seems to make our minds wander - and then all of us begin to wonder about what we can expect in the New Year. We think about the past and contemplate how, if at all, things will change in the future. We are always speculating about what changes will be on the horizon for NASCAR during the next season.
The above is still true one year later. This off season, I am looking forward to Supercross starting in January. I think next to NASCAR, that is my favorite type of racing. What about you?
Looking back on the 2016 season, there was a lot of excitement and a lot of disappointment for fans. Whether we are dedicated fans of a specific driver, a certain brand of car or whether we just have a love and need for speed - these are the things that seem to dictate our feelings. Many race fans were very grateful that they were able to watch the races in person and/or on television. Even though most were grateful, they were not without complaint about different aspects of how the sport was presented by the NASCAR sanctioning body and by the media.
Now, looking back on the 2017 season, there was once again a lot of excitement and disappointment. Attendance and viewership was down quite a bit. A lot of us deemed Martin Truex, Jr to be our Season Champion at the end of the 26th race. We were all pleased that at the official season end, he was rightfully named the official Champion by NASCAR. Congratulations, Martin! This time it came out right.
Fans who attended some of the races in person always reported back to others who had stayed home about how exciting the races were. This was because they could watch the whole track and all the cars as they competed to be the best that day and win the race. Those who did attend enjoyed the surroundings and the activity and took in almost every aspect of what was offered and available at the track. While at the track, they made memories that they will pass down to future generations. In the future, they will talk about the "Good Old Days" of racing and how great it was. In their mind, it was great because they were there and experienced it in person. A lot of us older and longtime fans have actually done the same thing. It is not unusual to hear and older fan start a sentence with "Back in the day..." and sometimes even we longtime fans get tired of hearing that when the announcers use it. Even so, most of us feel the times we were able to be at the track were the best "Good Old Days". We seem to have a mind set about that. Each generation, because of what they experience and see, will always think theirs was the best of the best. And each of us is right in our own way because we only know what we experienced at the time. Casual fans come and go now, and if they were never exposed to any other way the sport was, then they have no way to compare which was truly the best.
The same reports came back from attendees who were actually at the track watching the races. That aspect has not changed at all. We still don't get to see all we would like to see on television and most viewers feel the broadcast crews still have their own biased agenda. It is still not unusual to hear fans of assorted ages starting sentences with "Back in the day...” and each one feels theirs were the best days.
Some of the fans that weren't able to attend the races in person had positive attitudes and did not really mind what Network or Channel the race was on as long as they could watch it. Others preferred certain channels and announcers. The one common core was that it did not matter who was broadcasting the races, the biggest and most major complaint was that there were always too many commercials during the broadcast.
Too many commercials were still a big complaint in 2017 regardless of what channel was providing coverage.
Let's talk about commercials. Some of us consider them a necessary evil. Others consider them an intrusion into their enjoyment of a program. Some resent the interruptions and often complain very loudly about them. Do they ever stop to think that if there were no commercials, would they still be able to enjoy NASCAR or any other racing programs? Possibly, but being human seems to make the “my satisfaction and me first” attitude take over. Some of us seem to want instant gratification and anything that gets in the way is usually a very big annoyance. We don't take time to realize that we need the commercials because at the time we only think about what we want. The truth is that we must endure them to have the luxury of watching a race on television. Until the races are shown on commercial free channels or until they are on pay per view without interruption, we will be inundated with many commercials. Personally, I don't look for either of those things to happen as NASCAR and teams will always need sponsors who in turn need exposure fairly often during a broadcast. This results in the need for many commercials during any broadcast.
We still need commercials but it does seem that in 2017, each commercial was repeated many times more than before. There also seemed to be less companies advertising, thus the reason for the repeats, in my opinion.
Now, let's talk about the competitors for a bit. To me, as I have often expressed, there are two groups of competitors on the track. Some of them I call racers while others are what I call drivers. After each race, we see and hear varied reactions from the ones who competed in the race. Most of us can predict the reactions of each competitor the media chooses to interview. The interviews are normally the same questions from the media regardless of who presented the broadcast. Some competitors are congenial and friendly and present themselves in a very positive manner. Some come across as upset because they didn't win and others who did not win may just walk away and refuse to do an interview. We are all familiar with the ones that react in each of those ways. I think we all recognize the fact that they have been conditioned by the sanctioning body and their sponsors to be congenial, represent both their sponsors and NASCAR to the best of their ability and always in a good, positive manner.
Not much has changed in this arena of racing. We have some happy competitors at times and we also have upset ones, which a lot of fans call whiners. It does seem there are quite a few that always place blame on others if there is an incident, rather than thinking they could ever cause a problem. Some of the new, younger participants are quickly picking up the same attitude. This is a trend explained by history that has shown that one becomes the same as whom you associate with.
There are times on the track or on pit road that some drivers refuse to follow the rules set forth by the sanctioning body. If they are not representing the sport correctly, they will be called to "The NASCAR Truck" for a discussion or a reprimand. Although I do not have any statistics or records to present, I often wonder if there has ever been a competitor who was never called at one time or another to report to NASCAR after the race. They also tend to call crew chiefs to the truck at times. Sometimes it is both driver and crew chief and sometimes it is just one or the other, depending on the perceived infraction or action. Depending on what rule was broken or whether the driver or crew chief in question, they may or may not be penalized. Each of us fans have our own theory as to why some do and some don't get a penalty.
One of the strangest penalties they implemented in 2017 was having drivers sit in their car on pit road for various times due to lug nut violations the previous race. Most of us still don't understand this one.
These are just a few of the things I think about during the time when there is no racing in NASCAR. Do you have thoughts or perspectives that come to mind during the off season? Please feel free to share them by commenting below, or you can email me if you wish. Thank you.
One other thing I have been thinking about during this off season period is how different the 2018 season will be without Dale Jr, Matt Kenseth and Danica Patrick. I will miss all of them. I am sure most of you will miss them also.
Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below, or you may email me. I do ask that you keep it clean and not bash anyone.