Have you heard? An Industry Summit has been called!
It was on April 30, 2017, about an hour before the start of the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France held a surprise press conference during which he announced he would be calling an industry summit in May at Charlotte.
Interesting word choice for the description of the upcoming event.
A "summit" goes way beyond "brain-storming sessions", "conferences", "meetings", "talks" or appointment of "blue ribbon committees". World leaders or in this case leaders of the "world" being "summitized" (borrowed from Summit Performance Parts, but you get the idea) attend summits.
When you think of who attends summits you think of Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin ... France.
For historical purposes, summits are often named after the city they are held - Yalta, Potsdam, Vienna... Charlotte.
To show their importance summit names, like Ohio State University, are often preceded by the word "the" when referenced.
Summits are history making, history shaping or history changing historical affairs... in other words, summits are BIG deals
Will that be the case with the Charlotte Summit or will this just be another mis-named gathering? Only time will tell.
In his April 30th remarks, France gave little hint as to the specifics of his summit. He acknowledged some of the many challenges the sport faces today in one breath, then reassured us that all was normal and not to worry. Besides, collaboration of this type, which is his forte, is what makes NASCAR different and in some ways more advanced than the other sports we are not isolated from.
With this lack of specificity, it leaves much to the imagination as to what is going to be "summitized".
Will they announce a magic formula for bringing new fans in and keeping the "core" fans happy? Is ME going to be adding to or enhancing their "great" activation efforts he has seen to date?
Is the Chase/Playoffs going away? Will the Cup Champion now be crowned by a season of work instead of 10 races? If it stays, will the format remain the same or can we expect more enhancements?
Are the points going to be adjusted so the race winner always leaves the race with the most points?
Is Stage Racing here to stay? Will stage lineups be set by the finishing order of the previous stage or continue to be set by how they came out of the pits from the Stage break?
Are they looking at changes to the inspection process? Are lasers here to stay? Will stage winners be subject to post race inspections like the race winners? They get points... why not?
Does Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s retirement announcement so affect the sport that everyone has to come together to develop an industry-wide plan for "Racing After Dale" (RAD).
Are they finally going to eliminate qualifying against the clock to set the starting lineup and adopt the "Race For the Green"? (Sorry folks, but you know I had to throw that in there).
Is this summit announcing how the industry is going to adjust and adapt to the growing trend of cord-cutters and advertisers who are fed up of being charged for smaller audiences? This is television, NASCAR's "Golden Goose" we are talking about here.
Is this to announce that finally all tracks will be completely covered by SAFER Barriers? Has the Aero Push issue finally been solved? Is there a new manufacturer entering the sport? Are Charters being revoked?
Or will this be the occasion when Brian France announces he is stepping aside as NASCAR Chairman and CEO, who like Dale Jr. is seeking to leave on his own terms?
Or will it be something entirely different? I'd place my money on something entirely different.
Now whether it's correctly named or if it is history making... as said earlier only time will tell.
Summit is an interesting word and when you look at the history of its usage for such gatherings it has ties back to mountain climbing and conquering Mt. Everest specifically. With that background, I wonder what happens when one "summits"?
I'm sure there is a celebration that the pinnacle has been reached. Selfies taken and shared to document the accomplishment. Paths taken to the top documented. Evidence placed and left to prove to those who follow that on this day, this group had been there.
There are probably more actions taken by those who summit but only one more comes to mind and it is the one action all summits require once done... descent.
Descent – specifically, just how do we get back down from this highest place?
I hope Chairman France called this gathering a summit because it is a history-maker... and not because it is determining the sports path down.
Only time will tell.