NASCAR ~ Is It Done?
Today I was rolling through Twitter and I saw a post by one of the funniest guys on Twitter, and one of the very first people I followed when I joined, Drunken Brian France. He said,
““Short tracks, short tracks!” Everybody screams for short tracks. If y’all love ‘em so much, how come there’s only 36,000 tickets sold for tomorrow’s Cup race @BMSupdates? Yes, you read that right, 36,000”
And this inspired some thought on my part, so I figured I would share my personal views on this with all my readers, so here goes.
Back some years ago when Brian France took over NASCAR in Sept of 2003, he had a vision. After a few years heading up the NASCAR Entertainment Division, he saw that the “Wine and Cheese “ crowd that followed the SCCA race cars around had lots of money; their average yearly income was nearly double what the average NASCAR fan’s was at that time.
So he envisioned bringing those fans to NASCAR, which in his eyes would benefit NASCAR because he could charge more for admission, and the people would gladly pay it.
He then negotiated a title sponsorship from Sprint Nextel, thus putting more money into the pockets of NASCAR. Soon after that came the “Chase For The Sprint Cup” putting more emphasis on the end of the season racing, giving NASCAR a “playoff “ type feel. While he was doing this the core group of fans who had flocked to any NASCAR race for years were suddenly hit with higher ticket prices, and as the prices rose, the attendance fell, the “Wine and Cheese” crowd never really took hold with NASCAR but by the time France realized that all the little gimmicks he had worked so hard on to try and raise the average income of the NASCAR fan had failed it was too late. The core group of fans that had made NASCAR the huge success it had come to be were leaving in droves. They hated the “Chase Format” they hated the “playoffs” at the end of the season.
Thus started the “Dog and Pony Show” that has come to be NASCAR as we know it today.
As the attendance dropped, fans watching on TV could see it; the stands looked empty at almost every track they went to. So to fix this NASCAR decided to remove seats from the tracks to keep it from looking so empty, and here is where the biggest mistake of all happened, in my humble view.
Instead of taking the seats out, NASCAR should've offered these seats to charities; offered them to our Vets and Service men and women. This would have killed two birds with one stone so to speak.
It would have showed that NASCAR had a heart, and was trying to give back to the fans it had run off, AND it would have filled the seats! This is a win-win for everyone.
But then you look at the stands today at Bristol, empty, and they are charging for parking in places that have always been free. It is little things like this that shows to the everyday fan, as GREED! Now while it actually may not be the case, it is perceived as greed. In order for NASCAR to survive and make a comeback, they are going to have to appeal to the core fans to accept NASCAR back and give the fans what they want for a change.
I want to say that I love NASCAR. I love the racing, but it’s hard for me to grasp 2 heats and a feature stuff they’ve got now, or the point debacle they use. Recently I was at a dinner with lots of NASCAR greats and Travis Tiller made a comment that truly sums it up. “NASCAR was about racing 500 miles; if you can’t go 500 miles, then GO HOME!”
The era we live in today is vastly different from years gone by, NASCAR feels the fans have to have constant action, and non-stop excitement. The recent qualifying ordeal proves how wrong that is, with everyone screaming for single car qualifying again. Drivers are scared to speak out too loud, due to the plethora of clauses in the contract’s they have signed. So it is vastly different from what it used to be, and while I doubt it will ever go back to how it was, there are still many ways to make it better. But the powers that be, don’t want to hear what the fans have to say; they are only looking at the $$$$ … it’s sad.
So for now, the fans who have for years planned vacations around NASCAR events will slowly begin staying closer to home, and attending local races at the “Grassroots” level.
are my personal views, as I see them.
C-ya at the races!