NASCAR REINSTATES ALLMENDINGER

A.J. Allmendinger was recently reinstated by NASCAR after completing his drug program, which NASCAR calls the “Road to Recovery Program.” In my opinion this may have been a bad decision by NASCAR because it seems like they didn’t take his situation seriously enough. NASCAR should have taken time to more fully examine what was going on in Allmendinger’s life, such as looking into Allmendinger’s history and lifestyle. Originally, two drug tests were conducted by NASCAR and both were positive for an amphetamine, which means he definitely had something in him that wasn’t supposed to be there. Yet, Allmendinger claimed he didn’t know what or how it got in his body. If he got through NASCAR’s program in only a matter of a few months, then he might possibly be more likely to “do” drugs again later in his life. Prior drug use could also lead to drug use in the future even after he is retired from racing. An addict will always be an addict even after they quit using drugs and A.J. Allmendinger is no exception. NASCAR’s drug program is important for all drivers and teams in NASCAR because stock car racing is a dangerous sport and drivers and teams do not need anyone in the sport who is using drugs and racing cars at 150 mph. RA

THE COST TALLY OF THE FINISH AT TALLADEGA

The finish of this past weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Talladega was mayhem. The 25-car pileup, which resulted from Tony Stewart’s careless maneuvers to try to block his way to a win, was a spectacle to the fans on the front stretch but could have been deadly for all of the drivers involved.
The Richmond Times Dispatch quotes Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as saying, “If this is what we did every week, I wouldn’t be doing it, I’ll just put it to you that way. If this was how we raced every week, I’d find another job… It’s really not racing. It’s a little disappointing. It cost a lot of money right there. If this is how we are going to continue to race and nothing is going to change, how about NASCAR build the cars? It’ll save us a lot of money.”
While watching the final turns into the front stretch and the pileup occur, I could only imagine how frustrated and outraged many teams would be that their cars would have to be dragged off the track as a twisted heap of metal.
I am curious to know, in a dollar amount, how much the teams could salvage from their car given the severity of the damage. I know that the price in salvaged parts would be nowhere close to the total cost of running the race, but each team must be concerned with getting the maximum amount of money out of its investment. Talk about a risky investment.
With increasing costs in racing, saving money has to be at the top of every team’s “To-Do List”. The point that Jr. made about having NASCAR build all the cars brings up a great point that may be heavily considered in the near future.
One may be surprised how much money could be saved by individual teams if NASCAR had a factory that churned out a pre-built models and then distributed them to each team to finish off. I am not sure if this is a concept that has been considered before but it would appear to be fair and cost effective. If NASCAR could save each team $100,000 a week then that would add up to a hefty chunk of change at the end of the 36-week race season.
At this point in time the money invested in each car may not be a big deal to the larger teams such as Hendrick Motorsports or Joe Gibbs Racing, but to many of the smaller teams it could be a huge step in helping reduce costs. If teams were able to reduce costs each week, possibly new opportunities would be opened up for sponsors. NASCAR may not like the idea of having to build the cars for each team. Many teams may be completely against the concept, but something will have to change in the future. Something must be done when a major figure head of the sport openly says that if something does not change, he plans to find another job. SP

NASCAR REVISES TESTING LOCATIONS

Among the excitement of the unexpected win by Keselowski at Dover this past weekend, NASCAR officials confirmed that in the 2013, season teams will be allowed to practice at four Sprint Cup tracks of their choosing, in addition to the preseason test at Daytona.

In an effort to cut costs, NASCAR teams were banned in November of 2008 from testing on sanctioned tracks. During the ban, teams have continued testing on non-sanctioned tracks such as the Nashville Superspeedway. Testing on non-sanctioned tracks appears to be futile for teams, and ironically cost the teams more money, as the data obtained is often considered ineffective or irrelevant for the Sprint Cup series. As driver Jimmie Johnson said, “We’re all testing at tracks that don’t relate. So in a way we’re spinning our wheels and kind of wasting funds.” (USA Today).

The new policy is met with optimism across the NASCAR community as it will not only redirect the funds being wasted on “spinning wheels” to more useful data, but should prove to be advantageous for the entire sport. With more access to sanctioned tracks for practice, rookie drivers will be able to gain experience, teams will improve their strategies and newcomers will have a chance to enter the sport. This policy has huge implications for the future of NASCAR and the ability of the sport to improve, as practice makes perfect, after all. AM

Ryan, Nate. “NASCAR’s New Rule Could Help Rookies Stenhouse, Patrick.” USA Today. Gannett, 29 Sept. 2012. Web. 01 Oct. 2012.

NASCAR–fulfilling its role in CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) has become an integral part of business world now as huge corporations and even smaller businesses are now looked upon to show their commitment to their communities. NASCAR is not lagging behind in fulfilling its role of Corporate Social Responsibility. For example, the NASCAR Foundation came into being in 2006 and has been involved in charitable causes since its inception through different programs and with the help of various non-profit sponsorships. One of its emphasis has been on initiatives to help children to live, learn and play.

This time NASCAR has come up with the Coca Cola Chase for Charity Program in collaboration with its sponsor, the Coca Cola Company. This program involves auction of collectibles, autographed items from race tracks and Victory Lane, and drivers’ and teams’ personal collections. And since this auction is combined with a noble cause of charity, it has doubled the attachment of fans to this effort. This auction will conclude on December 3. I see this action plan of NASCAR executed at just the right time, when the audience is declining and reduction in viewership is occurring. It is a great way to attract fans in two ways, one by creating excitement of getting NASCAR related collectibles through auction and another by touching fans emotionally through this cause of being charitable.

Besides the NASCAR Foundation there are two more projects NASCAR is carrying forward in betterment of the NASCAR community. One is a “Green initiative” to reduce the environmental footprint of NASCAR and the other one is “Drive for Diversity” to increase minority and female participation in the sport. These efforts of NASCAR towards the good of the whole nation positions NASCAR distinctively in the minds of its viewers and fans. I, being fan of NASCAR, really appreciate the ways it is playing its role in CSR. I believe when our favorites come up with such good causes, the fans feel proud and the loyalty towards that brand increases. The current efforts of NASCAR towards the well being of community is once again making its hardcore fans feel immense pleasure in being associated with this sport and it may also help NASCAR regain some of the lost viewership and attendance. FA

Have NASCAR Rules Become Too Stringent?

Have officials in NASCAR become too tough on drivers and car specifications? If you were to ask Clint Bowyer, I’m sure he would say absolutely. After his win in New Hampshire, Clint Bowyer thought he was one step closer to his first Sprint Cup championship, but during a post race inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center, officials found that the backend of the car did not meet regulations. Instead of being second in points after the win, Bowyer was docked 150 points and wound up in twelfth. Bowyer and owner Richard Childress had been warned about issues with the rear of the car after the Richmond race, but no further action was taken until his win at New Hampshire. Bowyer was certain that the car was legal before the race and thinks it must have been damaged when the car was pushed into the winner’s circle or during the cool down lap after the race, according to ESPN.
It seems that the officials should consider the damage that happens to the cars during a race. With bump drafting rules being lightened, cars are receiving more damage than the past few years. I think that if NASCAR wants to add more excitement by allowing more bumping and banging around, it should adjust the rules and templates to match. I think that if NASCAR is worried about car tolerances and specifications, it should do more pre-race inspections. While this may not be feasible, it would add more to the fairness of the current rules. It would also alleviate the issue of cars not meeting specifications after receiving damage during or after a race. TL

Is it fair for drivers to pay back one another in races?

The Kyle Busch and David Reutimann incident at Kansas City was interesting. Should Reutimann be fined for costing Busch points? Should Busch have been punished for wrecking him earlier? They have been dealing with questions like these since 2004. Is it ok to pay back a driver who is racing for a championship? I don’t think you should get special privileges since you are racing for a championship. If a driver intentionally wrecks someone to get ahead and the second party has the potential to pay back, I think it’s fine. I agree with Reutimann that you should have respect for all drivers and you shouldn’t run over the top of them because of who you are. I believe it was rude of Busch to do what he did and then when Reutimann retaliated it was a problem. I always believe in the saying “Do unto others as you want them do unto you.”

David Reutimann’s sportsmanship record is flawless. So I don’t believe he really meant to do all that he did. I think he just wanted to tap him a little and not cause all the controversy. But he said something had to be done. He had come to a point where he couldn’t take any more. I agree but I think it’s unfortunate that Busch dropped from 3rd to 7th in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship standings. That is heartbreaking for Busch but I guess all is fair in the world of NASCAR. JC

Will NASCAR go Green?

The rising concern for our environment along with the fear of gas prices has lead more drivers to purchase hybrid cars. Overall, the latest move towards purchasing “green” products has increased sales for a variety of markets, the car industry in particular. Leading car manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda, Ford, Lexus, Nissan, Chevrolet, and many more understand the importance of developing a hybrid line for consumers and the environment.
Many corporate firms have joined the movement by supporting hybrid driving. Today, companies are investing in the popular Smart Cars, as part of their promotional strategy to represent support for the environment. Companies that are following this trend include Mobile 1, Verizon, Little Debbie, Lindt Chocolate, Target, McDonalds and many more. The SMART Car owned by Mobil 1 is an exact replica of the race car Sam Hornish Jr. drives during NASCAR races. From an article on businesswire.com, it is explained that Mobil 1′s motives are to express ExxonMobil’s support for the Alliance to Save Energy and its Drive Smarter Challenge.
How does this all relate to NASCAR? This multi-billion dollar industry is notorious for its speed, but with speed comes gasoline. The average race car gets 2-6 miles per gallon, whereas a hybrid car’s gas mileage ranges from 30-50 miles per gallon. Hopefully, you have noticed the discrepancy in mileage. Many environmentalists have criticized NASCAR as being a gas guzzling industry, and I am sure oil companies across the globe are proud to have race teams around for their own economic benefit. Considering the benefits of hybrid technology, will the leading racing industry be next to join this movement? HK

Run the Race or Go Home

Of all the topics covered so far about NASCAR in our Business of NASCAR class, the one that confuses me the most is the “Start and Park” racers. These are racers like Joe Nemechek, Dave Blaney, Todd Bodine, and Michael McDowell who will qualify for a race, run maybe fifteen to thirty laps, and then park their car due to “engine trouble.” They then collect a big fat paycheck for showing up and go home. These racers are a hotly debated topic in the world of NASCAR racing. On one hand, allowing these guys in the races keeps forty-three cars on the track, which makes for more exciting races overall. They also aren’t hurting anything or anybody, even making the later laps safer for the teams who stay in, who no longer have to contend with so many cars on the track.

The other half of the argument is the one I agree with more. Why are you letting racers who have no intention of even trying to win be allowed to run in the race? Granted, many times, it’s not the racer’s fault. Some teams just don’t have the money to run a full race. With the economy the way it is, sponsorship dollars aren’t exactly flowing freely. My irritation comes from more of a managerial, business person standpoint. Letting these racers start and park is like letting an employee stay in the company who only does a quarter of the work you expect him to, and then paying him six figures to do it. It’s ridiculous and frustrating, but most of NASCAR seems to think of it as a necessary evil. Heaven forbid they race with less than forty- three cars.

Some articles I read on the subject stated that NASCAR has started pulling the first car to start and park in each race as one of the vehicles they do random inspections on. Maybe that’s a sign that NASCAR, though allowing it, certainly doesn’t condone it. AT

No Gas!

During this time of rising gas prices, how will NASCAR adjust to the cost of one of its most costly resources? Also, how will NASCAR evolve or adapt when its most important resources (gas) begins to be replaced by “green” fuels? If NASCAR doesn’t begin to adapt to changing environmental situations, will NASCAR will be no more?
One more thing, I believe NASCAR should either retire certain drivers’ numbers or allow owners or drivers from different teams bid for legendary drivers numbers. NASCAR would receive a lot of money from the profit they will make during the auction for the numbers, for example, the legendary #3 AC

CHANGES FOR THE 2011 NASCAR AND F1 SCHEDULES–The Impact?

On August 18 Brian France, Chairman and CEO of NASCAR, announced the 2011 Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Series schedules. Among the most notable changes are the addition, or “realignment” as Mr. France calls it, of two race events. The first change will be seen at Kansas Speedway on June 5, which will be the second Sprint Cup race of the year at Kansas Speedway. And the other “realignment” of the 2011 schedule will be a new Sprint Cup date at Kentucky Speedway on July 9. This is the first time since 2001 that NASCAR has added a new track to the schedule, those being Chicagoland and the previously mentioned Kansas Speedway.

Under these changes NASCAR seems to want to open its doors to new venues, being the bluegrass state, but also it seems that they are making sure they can fill the seats of these venues. Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway are both 1½ mile tracks, but both have less seating capacity than Richmond International Raceway (RIR), a ¾ mile track. RIR seats roughly 112,000, while Kansas Speedway can fit just over 82,000 and Kentucky Speedway can only seat 66,000. My belief is that NASCAR and the track owners, International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports, Inc., respectively, want to be sure they can retain the value of their ticket prices.

In other motor sports news the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and Formula One World Championship (F1) have announced the plans to open an FIA sanctioned event in Austin, Texas. The track is scheduled to open for the 2012 season and will be the first time in over five years that F1 will have an event in the United States. The Austin F1 Circuit will be 3.39 miles in length, feature 20 turns, elevation changes of over 130 feet and top speeds reaching 200 mph in a “proper” F1 car. Renowned F1 circuit architect Hermann Tilke, who has also designed the Bahrain International Circuit and Yas Marina Circuit, which start and end the F1 season respectively, has designed the track. Included in the final design is seating for 100,000 plus fans, and considering it will be five years since the last F1 race was on United States soil I can only imagine that ever seat will be occupied for the entire race weekend. According to the F1 Times, the circuit and its organizers, Full Throttle Productions, are hoping to make $300 million dollars annually for Elroy, Texas and Austin.

The questions I pose to readers are:

How will the “realignment” of the 2011 NASCAR season schedule affect viewership and attendance numbers?

Will the addition of an FIA sanctioned event in the United States affect the 2012 NASCAR season?

JA