“Epic” is defined as “extending beyond the usual or ordinary, especially in size or scope; undertaken on a grand scale” (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary). Did we witness an “epic” NASCAR season this past year? Opinions certainly vary on the answer to that question. However, we saw an “epic” first-time “four-peat” Sprint Cup champion; an “epic” old-timer finish second in the championship batter for the fourth time in his career; two “epic” crashes at Talledaga; and an “epic” drop in race track attendance and TV viewership across the board throughout the season.
“Epic” indeed! Length of races epic in scale; TV preview shows epic in length; a bouncing bobblehead gopher held in epic distaste by viewers yet a popular concession item; “start and park” drivers epic in number–and the “epics” continue. And “epic” disappointment for drivers and fans: no wins by last year’s race win leader; the most popular driver finishing behind a rookie-of-the-year in points; legal battles in courts that tarnish the respectability of the sport; and continued grumbling by fans about, you name it–COT, lack of competition, boring races, and so on and so on.
Well, now we’ll close the season with an “epic” banquet in Sin City, including a drive down the Las Vegas strip with casinos turning night into day with their glittering lights while black jack players and one-armed bandit aficionados stand by looking distracted!
Well, maybe next year won’t be so “epic”–we can only hope.
And that’s the view from here.
Today I wanted to talk about a great opportunity that NASCAR and the United States are facing today. Recently, NASCAR got another chance to expand internationally. Saudi Arabian Prince Faisal bin Abdulla al-Saud (member of the royal family) approached Mr. George Gillett (majority owner of Richard Petty Motorsports) with a proposition to form a stock car league in Saudi Arabia. The partnership is still in the talking stage; however, Gillett feels that expansion in the Middle East will definitely take place. Gillett said that he was surprised to learn how enthusiastic the Saudis are about NASCAR and racing in general. “They have a tremendous interest in speed and love automobiles. I don’t think any of us had any idea about the respect they have for this kind of racing.” (ESPN)
By expanding into the world of Middle East, there would be many benefits for NASCAR and the United States. One of the benefits would be expanding the fan base of NASCAR and promoting the sport. Addition of new sponsors to the game would benefit the sport, teams, tracks, cities, government and so on. Additionally, all of the current sponsors would benefit by getting international exposure and recognition. Companies that manufacture cars and parts for them would also benefit, because the need for these would definitely increase. People of the United States would also benefit by the addition of new jobs required to feed the racing industry. Government would benefit by collecting a nice chunk of taxes from all goods produced, sold and exported (tariffs). Additionally such a partnership would be a great step in improving the image of the Unites States and relationships with the Arab world. By engaging in such an American sport, the Saudis definitely take a step ahead toward opening its doors to the rest of the world. Lastly, I believe the sport would benefit a lot by creating additional challenges for American drivers. They have gotten used to doing it here and competing against the same drivers. However, when you go to a new track, race against unfamiliar drivers and get to battle new climate conditions, that would definitely spice up the sport.
And that’s the view from here.
The Johnson City Press takes a look at the importance of the Bristol track and the races it hosts to the area’s economy. Jon Ackley is quoted, noting that it was natural for fans to curtail spending on some items this year.