Does NASCAR’s Scoring System Reward Mediocrity?

I am somewhat of NASCAR novice, but I feel that the scoring system in NASCAR does not produce an overall or dominant winner. I will liken this to other professional sports, which I know a little bit more about. In the other major professional sports such as the NBA, NFL, and MLB, teams win based on beating the other team outright. A team does not receive credit for leading the most quarters or having the most tackles. Success is based on playing hard night in and night out and coming out victorious over the opponent.
NASCAR’s scoring system awards consistency more than winning. In other sports, the only consistency that is rewarded is consistently WINNING the most games. I was brought up in competitive sports and winning was always the main objective, and nothing less was accepted by anyone. In my opinion, the same should be reflected in NASCAR’s points system.
Drivers receive 5 bonus points for leading a lap, 5 more points to the driver who leads the most laps. I understand that races are long and NASCAR is trying to award the drivers that do well, but I do not feel that bonuses should be awarded for leading laps during the race. I agree with our instructor Dr. Pitts’ suggestion on the points system in which first place is awarded 43 points and last place is awarded 1 point. This system is simple, clean cut, and would produce a champion who consistently WINS throughout the season.
Had the points system been different would Jimmie Johnson have three-peated? You tell me. And that’s the view from here.

C’est la vie…NASCAR to Go Abroad?

With the changing times, consider the following: declined fan attendance at NASCAR race tracks, the recent downturn in today’s economy, and downsizing of corporate firms like Circuit City and DHL (current or former NASCAR sponsors), and General Motors begging for bailout, which incidentally forced an end to its relationships at Bristol and New Hampshire tracks. NASCAR should take a closer look into exposure in foreign markets and, even yes, going public. NASCAR is money mad and a money guzzler and why not gain more fans, exposure, and increased revenues in other tracks outside U.S. borders. The Nationwide Series has made appearances in cities like Mexico City (over 100,000 fan attendance) and Montreal in the past; NASCAR should take part in the opportunity to grow further.

Although there has been criticism to considering going outside the U.S. boundaries because it might be difficult for American sponsors due to trade barriers, there is the opportunity to also pick up new sponsors and increased airtime abroad. Existing sponsors like FedEx, UPS, and Coca Cola also increase their benefits by gaining additional international exposure; these companies already have benefited by providing services thus for both NASCAR and its global sponsors.

At the same time, NASCAR can easily promote its “drive for diversity” program, because of exposure to foreign spectators and publicity. Thus, it comes down to the question of whether NASCAR should go abroad. With the opportunities for international expansion, NASCAR’s image of once a Southern red neck sport on dirt will fade into a global empire in international racing on different tracks and maybe surpassing F1 in popularity. Aside from its grassroots of fans and history, arguably there should be no limits to the future direction of NASCAR.

We have the World Cup of soccer and the Summer and Winter Olympics, why not have an international NASCAR?

And that’s the view from here.

Minorities in NASCAR: Whose Responsibility?

I am no expert on NASCAR that is for sure. But, I have learned a lot about the organization throughout this semester. Recently in our business of NASCAR class we had a discussion about whether it is NASCAR’s responsibility to make the sport more diverse. So far we’ve seen just one non-white American male in the sport since its start. But does NASCAR need to establish rules or requirements for teams in order to get minorities and women into the sport?

My opinion may be a little old school, and a little surprising being that I am female, but I think no. If you start trying to make too many rules or establish quotas, you’re taking the realness away. People who shouldn’t be racing and people that are only interested in getting a paycheck will be out there on the track taking the place of someone who should be there. It won’t matter who is best, whether they’re a better racer, or if they’re more dedicated to the sport. This is not to say that there aren’t a few drivers out there that don’t belong there already, but that’s another thing.

I have always been a strong believer in the idea that people will become what they want to be. Everyone makes choices and decisions, works hard at a young age or doesn’t, gets involved with certain activities or subjects in school and as a result excels or doesn’t, becomes dedicated or lets their interest wane. I think people and industries should be left alone with little toying to direct what they become. That approach is the only way you can surely know that it’s pure.

Especially with the results of this year’s election, we can see now more than ever that things are changing. And it’s not because the government imposed a new amendment to the Constitution saying that one out of every 44 presidents must be a minority. Our country elected a non-white American president all on its own. The United States, a country that half of a century ago was in the midst of a civil rights movement where women and minorities were fighting for their rights, is changing. Who’s to say that NASCAR, a sport tagged as the redneck’s entertainment of choice, won’t one day be just for the South.

If NASCAR wants to get more involvement from minority groups and women, then I think the thing to do would be start children’s programs that make racing available to young kids of all backgrounds. Many minority groups may not think about a sport like racing as something to get their child involved in. Not to mention the price. If NASCAR decides it wants to become an equal opportunity racing league, then all it needs to do is make racing available by sponsoring children’s events and developing carting leagues.
And that’s the view from here.

Win on Sunday, Buy on Monday??

With recent difficult economic times for the big three automakers, they should consider scaling back their marketing support invested in NASCAR. With the automakers, particularly General Motors, struggling to survive, some might question their longtime relationship with NASCAR. The overall objective for General Motors and others to invest the bundles of money they do into the racing giant is to sell vehicles. There was a time when a race took place on Sunday and fans would walk into the dealership Monday to purchase the same vehicle they saw speeding around the track. Four-door sedans that you can find at the airport rental counter have replaced all the days of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Ford Thunderbird, and even the Plymouth Superbird. The only thing that is common between the NASCAR Impala and the one you find on the showroom floor is the nameplate. The vehicles for purchase are far from your 700 hp NASCAR mandated Car of Tomorrow common template you see circling the track. Those days are long over.
So if NASCAR is supported by corporate dollars, then what happens when the corporations are running out of dollars to spend? General Motors and others will be sure to scale back their investment in NASCAR, but I would not suspect a full pullout because in my eyes that would be the end of NASCAR. To remain competitive, the big three automakers would have to remain supportive. There are still many fans who are brand loyal versus following a particular driver. Therefore, it is important for the big three manufacturers to be represented and to dedicate the engineering dollars that support the teams so they can remain competitive on the track.
And that’s the view from here.

Where Has the Personality Gone?

I am too young to remember the good old days where NASCAR was filled with bright drivers who had even brighter personalities such as Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty. These drivers’ personalities, loud voices, and rivalries brought so many fans into the sport and helped build NASCAR into what it is today. Today Richard Petty is still ever present in the sport and Darrell Waltrip is in the broadcast booth running his mouth just as fast as he ever ran his car on the track. Instead of growing up during this past era, I grew up watching today’s NASCAR, where listening to the drivers speak is about as much fun as listening to nails scratching across a chalkboard. Today’s drivers are discouraged from publicly discussing their opinions, engaging in heated rivalries, or saying or doing anything that might not appease NASCAR or a corporate sponsor. Do any of us really think that drivers such as Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin are boring people with no color or flair? I certainly don’t. I believe that NASCAR, the France family, and the influence of corporate sponsors have turned the drivers into talking bobble heads.

After this past Sunday’s race, I had to listen to Carl Edwards thank “all of the good people” at Office Depot and Ford before he gave an honest, yet very brief response towards his feelings about his second place chase standing. I understand that sponsorship dollars are what drive the business of NASCAR; however, when the drivers are forced to plug the sponsor in every interview to the point of ad nauseam, it simply becomes too much for me. This brief interview with Carl Edwards lasted about thirty seconds. The first fifteen seconds were solely devoted to Edwards plugging his sponsors, leaving the other half to actually talking racing. I believe that the great power that corporate sponsors have in the sport will prevent interviews like this one from ceasing anytime soon. I find this unfortunate and believe that interviews like these tend to dehumanize the driver. Instead of being viewed as opinionated human beings, they are viewed as corporate figureheads.
However, NASCAR can and should relax its policies to let drivers speak their minds regardless of whether they are being critical of NASCAR. When an opinionated driver like Tony Stewart complains about the quality of Goodyear tires, or when Kyle Busch has a gripe about the car of tomorrow (car of today), I believe NASCAR should not punish them. Instead the France family and the other powers that be in NASCAR should listen to them. NASCAR is not a perfectly run organization, and the fans know this. However, the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL are also not perfectly run organizations. The difference is that these other professional sports leagues, especially the NBA, listen to their athletes in an order to improve their league and sport. As a fan of all of these sports, I am accepting that nothing is perfect. NASCAR needs to stop unsuccessfully trying to portray an image of perfection to their fans and start viewing their drivers as valuable resources who can help improve the organization and the sport of auto racing. The powers that be need to understand that when a driver like Tony Stewart voices a controversial opinion, he does so because he cares about the sport and is trying to improve it. And that’s the view from here. SP

Last but certainly not least, NASCAR needs to embrace the rivalries between their drivers. The fierce competition between Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch that was displayed both on and off the track this season has been highly entertaining. Instead of telling drivers to work out their issues, NASCAR should take a page from the NBA. The NBA capitalized on the Shaq and Kobe feud and turned it into a soap opera. I know that I’m not the only person who remembers the high drama of the Bad Boys of the Detroit Pistons roughing up Michael Jordan during the late 80’s and early 90’s. If NASCAR would let rivalries like the one between Edwards and Busch mature, I believe they could capitalize on them to and draw greater television ratings. I beg of you NASCAR, to please let the drivers show their personalities.
And that’s the view from here.


Jesus in NASCAR

As the realities of an economic recession begin to become apparent to NASCAR, and traditional sponsors start to leave, the loss of Kodak and Craftsman are prime examples, NASCAR team owners are going to be forced to find not only new sponsors, but sponsors from industries that previously had no affiliation with NASCAR. One possible sponsorship could be a church. I am not talking about a neighborhood parish, but instead a mega church that has upwards of 10,000 members.
There are several reasons why one of these churches would be interested in sponsoring a car. For starters these kinds of churches have the money. They could, through member donation, easily raise the money necessary to become a primary sponsor. Another reason is that some of these churches are beginning to see a stall in new member recruitment.
According to a September 9 USA Today article, these mega churches are not making as much as progress as they would like in increasing membership. A NASCAR sponsorship is a fantastic advertisement that could draw on potential new members, as well as fans that already identify themselves as Christians.
Faith-based promotions have worked in other sports. An organization called Third Coast Sports has been promoting “faith nights” at minor league and major league baseball parks all over the country with a great deal of success. At NASCAR events, Motor Racing Outreach holds worship services in the parking lot.
Is it really that far of a stretch to imagine a faith-based organization moving that ministry to the asphalt of the track inside? Finally there are so many drivers and team owners, Michael Waltrip and Joe Gibbs being the most prominent, who wear their faith on their sleeves. I would imagine that Gibbs or Waltrip would be very enthusiastic about gaining a church-based sponsor.
Certainly there are arguments against a church getting involved in NASCAR. NASCAR wants to appeal to as many people as possible, and the introduction of a religious based car could turn some people off or cause some people to stop being fans.
My arguments against this backlash are that NASCAR needs to retain its base, and companies that produce controversial products are already sponsors in NASCAR. NASCAR’s core fan base is still Southern.
There is a disproportionate number of these mega churches in the South, and I am guessing that quite a few of the members of these congregations are NASCAR fans. Remember the South is called the Bible Belt for a reason. As hard economic times loom for all United States citizens, decisions about whether to purchase race tickets are being made by all fans. Ticket sales and television revenue will probably drop significantly over the next couple of seasons. If NASCAR is to survive these trying economic times, it must retain its core fans, and the majority of these core fans are Southerners. The race car sporting a church sponsor might actually help in retaining Bible Belt fans.
There are controversial products being sold consistently in NASCAR. Jack Daniels has sponsored a car, which probably infuriates organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the implication being get liquored up on Jack Daniels and then get behind the wheel. Despite the possible backlash, NASCAR let Jack Daniels be a sponsor. It’s also important to remember that NASCAR was sponsored for years by tobacco companies and thrived under that sponsorship.
I have no inside information to tell me that a mega church is going to get involved with a team, but I think ostensibly it is a reasonable proposition.
And that’s the view from here.

New vs. Old

There is a topic that every NASCAR fan has an opinion about: the old point system or the new point system. For whatever reason this topic always seems to add heat to any conversation.

I tend to favor the old point system. This system built the sport to what it is today. If a driver dominants, let him dominant; a good season should not be wiped out 10 races before the season is over (regardless of who that driver is!). Or what about the other side, if a driver who has had a bad season, no matter how good they are the last 10 races, it does not matter. I am by no means a Kyle Bush fan, but you have to feel sorry for the guy. He was having an amazing season and not only has it gone downhill by a landslide, his points were wiped out 10 races before the end of the season.

I also do not agree with the bonus point system. Who cares if you lead a lap during a caution because you did not pit? That is not racing and should not be rewarded. And do not even get me started on the “Lucky Dog.” Two weeks ago in Atlanta, Jimmy Johnson finished 2nd. The only reason he finished 2nd was because he was given his lap back after going a lap down. Jimmy was given his lap back. Without this rule, how much closer would Carl Edwards be to closing the gap in the Chase?

I can argue my point all day, but my main concern is the sponsors. NASCAR teams are fighting for sponsors, with many teams not knowing who will be on the side of their cars in February. This is already an issue and I feel like the Chase only makes this harder. What sponsor wants to put out millions each year to not have any television time for 10 races? Basically, if your car is not a sure bet to get into the Chase, sponsors will find somewhere else to take their money. Who knows, maybe without the millions each year NASCAR will remember the fans that made the sport what it is today.
And that’s the view from here.