Welcome to our blog. We are professors of management (and NASCAR fans) who teach a course on the business of NASCAR at Virginia Commonwealth University. We will post regularly on the business issues of NASCAR during the season and will include posts from our students. We invite comments. Dr. Jon Ackley and Dr. Michael Pitts
This blog will be what I wished the season had been – short and sweet. Of course I do not wish to say “Bah,Humbug” or take anything away from the accomplishments of the season, but for me it was “the season of blandness.”
Maybe the economy has some of us singing the blues, but I found most of the racing uninspired and, well, just full of what I call “Yak.” At least we will have standardized times next year but, please, we are not the NFL so do not give us hours of pre-race filler and hype — we “get it,” but we do not need it to excess (this is my “Leave me alone” sentence).
Let’s just race.
So 2010 can not be worse. Scratch that — let’s be positive: 2010 will be better.
With declining numbers of attendance and TV viewership, NASCAR is making some very needed changes. The controversial COT, or better known as car of tomorrow, had been a cause of decline. Fans did not like the fact that all the cars looked almost identical except for a few stickers. This situation posed a problem for new fans since it was not easy to differentiate between drivers.
NASCAR has now addressed this by revealing four new COT’s for the Nationwide Series. Fans are very excited with the new designs, and the fact that the cars are a lot more realistic looking. With the new look of the COT cars for Nationwide, NASCAR has announced that the Sprint Cup COT cars will also get a facial uplift to give a resemblence to the newer Nationwide cars.
It seems like a good idea, which is getting a lot of positive feedback for NASCAR. This change is the closest to production looking cars since the late 80’s/early 90’s. In a bad economy, NASCAR is taking big risks by introducing new cars. Hopefully this time, NASCAR executives listened more to fan feedback rather than worry about cost saving measures.
And that’s the view from here.
Many NASCAR fans are unhappy with the current format of the Chase for a variety of reasons. Some say it favors one driver in particular, Jimmie Johnson, while others argue that there needs to be a road course included in the Chase. Regardless of the reasoning, it is clear that there is a large percentage of NASCAR fans who are disgruntled by the way NASCAR crowns its champion, and it is becoming apparent in both the television ratings and race attendance.
It can’t hurt for NASCAR to listen to the outcries of its core fans. There are a number of remedies suggested to curb the angst fans feel toward the Chase, such as adding more drivers, diversifying the final ten races to include a road course, or changing the points system. Since the inception of the current Chase format in 2005, both television ratings and race attendance have plummeted. One has to ask, “Can NASCAR afford not to listen to its fans for much longer?”
The NASCAR diversity disparity would make anyone wonder why there isn’t a larger percentage of drivers that aren’t Caucasian or male.
Could it be that James Brown’s song “This Is a Man’s World” is the breathing image of NASCAR?” According to About.com, “In 2009 there are no women competing in the Sprint Cup or Nationwide series. The Craftsman Truck Series has had a few female competitors in 2009 including Gabi Dicarlo, Michelle Theriault, Caitlin Shaw and Jennifer Jo Cobb. However none of these women have full-time ride in the series.”
I believe that if there were more women drivers more women fans would be attracted. I know women will come out in droves for “girl power”. However, my only question is, if there were more women drivers, could a man handle them winning? In the case of more ethnic drivers, I believe that an increase in ethnic drivers will also increase a more ethnic fan base. At some point these disparities will need to be addressed because I believe that if people are going to enjoy a sport they would like to see themselves reflected in some sort of way.
And that’s the view from here.
Many people just don’t like driving in the rain, and they come up with several reasons. First of all, it is hard to see when the rain is coming down on the windshield. Second, the wet conditions of the road affect stopping and turning ability of the car. In other words, it’s just not the right time to drive while it rains.
When it comes to safety, one should imagine how much worse it would be if people don’t have any windshield wipers at all, or the tires had¬ no tread on them. Thus, there is no doubt why NASCAR drivers aren’t reckless enough to race in the rain. Although it’s true that other motor sports race in rainy and wet conditions, there are a few aspects of NASCAR racing that make it especially difficult to race in the rain. In order to fully understand why NASCAR doesn’t race in the rain, we need to learn about the safety aspect when racing in the rain. Just take a look at how the tires handle in the rain and what happens to the tracks when they’re wet; one can see very clearly that racing in the rain is not a good idea. Not only NASCAR tires but also any other type of tire does not respond well when driving on a wet road. Tract condition is slippery and makes it even harder when driving one or two hundred miles per hour. For NASCAR, days of planning go into just one race, the track is tested and the cars are ready.
However, when the rain comes, all of that planning is canceled. Aside from the danger involved, bad weather conditions hurt the overall competitiveness of the sport. In conclusion, NASCAR should not race in the rain for the reasons that it is too dangerous especially put NASCAR drivers’ lives in danger.
And that’s the view from here.
With attendance numbers steadily declining at the tracks, are corporate sponsors becoming more concerned with where their investment dollars are going or is there more than what we see at the track? This is a question that top-level executives of companies such as Sprint, Aflac, UPS, Best Western, DuPont, and other major corporate sponsors continue to reassess. Over the years NASCAR has become an intriguing place to invest for major corporations not only because of fan loyalty but also because of the potential profitable relationships that can be developed via NASCAR’s B2B Model.
NASCAR’s B2B Council sets up events quarterly where official sponsors can get together and come up with ways to make their partnerships profitable. This forum for B2B partnerships makes NASCAR even more attractive for investment and keeps its sponsors happy with the valuable relationships they’re able to develop. A recent example of NASCAR’s B2B model is “NASCAR’s Fuel for Business Driving Business Award” winner Aflac. Aflac used NASCAR’s B2B event to establish profitable partnerships with companies who can use their services, such as Office Depot, Ford, and Cintas.
As attendance continues to decline, it will be interesting to see how NASCAR is able to continue to provide new avenues of value for its sponsors.
With sponsors like Lowes, DuPont, Budweiser, The Home Depot, Miller Lite, Jack Daniel’s, and Red Bull, NASCAR sponsors are more appeasing to the male audience versus the female audience. For the month of October some sponsors chose to put a twist on things and appeal to the female audience.
The month of October is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness month. To raise breast cancer awareness and to honor and remember those affected by breast cancer, four NASCAR teams took at least one car and tricked it out in pink. In an effort to contribute to the cause, at Lowe’s Motor Speedway near Charlotte, North Carolina, the number 96 car driven by, Bobby Labonte, raced to raise breast cancer awareness to millions of Americans.
The sponsor Ask.com launched a full campaign for the month of October to raise breast cancer awareness among female Americans and all NASCAR fans. Many fans that already have their favorite drivers who they support temporarily chose to root for the “pretty in pink” race car to honor breast cancer awareness also. Among those drivers whose sponsors also tricked their cars out in pick colors to support the cause were Elliott Sadler, Kyle Busch and Bill Elliott.
I think that this promotion was an excellent way to appeal to the female fan base of NASCAR. It shows support for those fighting the battle with cancer and respect for those who lost their lives to the battle of cancer. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer found in women and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. One in eight women will get breast cancer. I feel that NASCAR’s efforts to educate and recognize its female fan base and millions of female Americans were very effective and efficient. I have three breast cancer survivors in my family and as a female I am statistically at risk also, so I truly can appreciate and respect the efforts that NASCAR took to support the cause in raising Breast Cancer Awareness not only to race fans but also to millions of Americans.
Outside of the support NASCAR gave in raising breast cancer awareness, I still feel that there is a lack of female targeting sponsors within the business. I feel that NASCAR should touch bases with this matter and gain more sponsors to reach and appeal to its female fan base. Although the breast cancer campaigns that some sponsors ran during the short thirty one day month of October were successful in the attempt to connect with the female fan base, I still feel that just that alone isn’t enough and that there should be more.
And that’s the view from here.
NASCAR has undoubtedly become one of the biggest and most popular sports in the U.S. As NASCAR has grown in popularity in this country, the growth of its popularity has also expanded internationally. This growth raises the question of why NASCAR is not expanding further into the international community. Currently, NASCAR races in the Nationwide Series in Canada, and previously in Mexico as well. But NASCAR has not had a points paying race in the premier Sprint Cup series in the modern era outside of the United States. Although there have been experiments with the premier series outside the U.S., specifically Japan in the nineties, it never caught enough attention for NASCAR’s liking.
Another question is raised from this issue of NASCAR being international: why does NASCAR need to expand internationally when there are markets currently in the U.S. that are underserved, such as the Pacific Northwest to the Mecca of sports in the U.S, New York City? Opponents of NASCAR going international feel that the faithful American fans in underserved markets deserve to have a chance of having a track in their market. This belief makes sense to me given the economic situation is so negative at this time; new tracks could create jobs and revenue for Americans in those underserved areas.
As a result, I feel that NASCAR should focus its efforts on serving its loyal fans in their own country first, especially those underserved by the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.