Roundup of NASCAR Business Links

George Vecsey of the New York Times on NASCAR and its influence.

A series of suggestions for NASCAR from the Sporting News’ Matt Crossman.
NASCAR’s search for minority drivers.
NASCAR.com’s David Caraviello on the first NASCAR banquet in NYC in 1981.
The inaugural “Stewie Awards.”
Commuters angry in Manhattan about NASCAR’s annual Victory Lap through the city.
ESPN.com’s David Newton says NASCAR’s drivers are lacking personality.
Daytona 500 flags headed for space.
NASCAR’s plans for going green.
France says ESPN has some room for improvement with televising NASCAR.

IT’S TIME TO ASSIGN A GRADE

Well, the end of semester is about here so professors are doing what comes naturally—assigning grades. Since I’m in the grading mood, I thought I’d reflect on NASCAR’s “semester” and determine what grade I’d assign. As with all courses I teach, several different elements are assigned grades, after which an overall grade is determined. So that’s the approach I’ll use here.

Races: For the most part, too long, too many different starting times, and too much announcer hype — before and during — the race; unexplained cautions early in the season for “debris on the track”. Grade: C-

Announcers: Early season announcing seemed to be more centered on racing and less on hype. End of season announcing, especially as the Chase was ending, too much hype about “anyone can still win this” when we all knew it was a two-driver Chase. Grade: B-

Driver Performances: Montoya’s win at Infineon, Truex’s win at Dover, Mears’ win at Lowe’s, and Bowyer’s win at New Hampshire—firsts for all; last-minute entries of other open-wheel drivers to stimulate interest; Michael Waltrip’s pole effort near the end of the season after devastating season; and Harvick’s win by two feet at Daytona: Grade: A

Driver Performances, Part 2: Drivers consistently “sitting back” to avoid “the big one”, Hendrick’s dominance with 18 wins, and Jr. unable to win a race all lead to less than dynamic racing. Grade: C

Car of Tomorrow and Toyota’s Debut: Just too soon to tell. Grade: B-

Business Dealings: Nationwide and Coors coming on board next season replacing A-B, Bruton threatening to move Lowe’s, continuing lawsuits — settled and unsettled, television viewership and fan attendance down again, New Hampshire being bought with possible race date shift, and ISC’s inability to build a track anywhere it looked. Grade: C-

So, time to fill out the grade reporting form: Overall, 2007 rates a “C+”. NASCAR needs to study a little harder next year!

Roundup of NASCAR Business News

Brian France talks with Reuters about some of the sport’s business issues. He dismisses the possibility of selling a stake of NASCAR to private equity, acknowledges the sport has seen the impact of high energy prices and an economic slowdown, says ISC still has eyes for NYC, Seattle and Denver and says there have been no discussions with other automakers, such as Honda, about entering the sport.
The legal wrangling between NASCAR/ISC with Kentucky Speedway continues. In the Birmingham News, a columnist says the case could have enormous consequences for NASCAR.
Some suggested changes to the Chase format from a SI.com columnist.
The AP rundown of the season — both on and off the track.
Profile of Bruton Smith. More on the fears that his purchase would mean one less race in New Hampshire.
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance NASCAR Shopper.”
Although TV ratings are down, the demand for NASCAR-related content online is way up.
Owner Armando Fitz talks about changes he’d like to see in Nationwide Series.

Roundup of NASCAR News

Tim Cowlishaw at ESPN says NASCAR needs to fix five things.
George Gillett Jr., the new majority owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, has ideas about how to promote growth in NASCAR.
A NASCAR reality show is heading into syndication.
Ryan McGee of ESPN defends the Chase.
In Las Vegas, they’re wondering if they’ll get a second race …
… though in New England, the new NH track GM says both races will stay there.
How high-performance computing impacts NASCAR.
Inside Racing News columnist says “here’s what’s wrong with NASCAR.”
Sponsor decals offer cheaper way into NASCAR.

TIME TO CHANGE THE NAME!

1990 – Days of Thunder! Cole Trickle enters Charlotte Motor Speedway to audition for Harry Hogge, the veteran crew chief. After his run, Cole and Harry exchange comments about Cole’s performance. Cole simply says to Harry, “It’s just a stock car” to which Harry replies: “There’s nothing stock about a stock car!”
Indeed, over the years, the “stock” in “stock car” has dwindled but you could still spot a T-bird or a Monte Carlo when it pulled onto pit road. No need to know it was a “6” or a “3”; you could tell from the body style what the manufacturer was.
In recent days several reporters — national and regional — have discussed the performance of the “Car of Tomorrow”, suggesting that further “tinkering” will probably improve its overall performance. Frankly, my opinion (which with $2 gets you a coffee at Starbucks) is that the real problem with the CoT is the fact that unless you see “Impala SS”, “Avenger”, “Camry”, or “Fusion” on the front, you have no idea what “manufacturer” is associated with the car — it’s a common template. Of course, there’s always the driver’s number to help (so why the uproar when it was announced Tony would drive a Toyota?). Besides, if you’ve visited any race track when testing has occurred, many times the cars are simply gray undercoating. Pick out your driver then!
So, I think it’s time for NASCAR to rethink its name—“National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing”. I suggest NACTAR—“National Association for Car of Tomorrow Auto Racing”. Because, frankly, as Harry said, “there’s nothing stock about a stock car”.
Jon