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

Should NASCAR Take the Show on the Road Internationally?

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.

And that’s the view from here.

WV

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.
JLY

WHAT DRUG TESTING POLICY?

With the recent revelation by Aaron Fike that he had used heroin while competing in a Craftsman Truck Series race, many NASCAR drivers are coming forward requesting NASCAR take a more proactive stance on random drug testing. However, NASCAR’s upper management believes that the current policy is “working” (my quotation marks). NASCAR feels that the tiered approach to drug testing — owners and teams doing their own random testing — allows NASCAR to continue its policy of testing only for “reasonable suspicion”.

Now, I’m not one in the “know”, but it appears to me that NASCAR believes “reasonable suspicion” exists for every team when it comes to setting up their car, using illegal parts, etc. How else can NASCAR explain its extremely invasive inspections prior to qualifying and immediately after a race? There must be some reason, other than “reasonable suspicion”, for these inspections. Right? It’s because NASCAR knows how much teams “stretch” the rules. If NASCAR assumes the stretching of rules because it finds such things happening, shouldn’t NASCAR assume drug abuse by drivers or pit crew members in light of the fairly well-known incidents over the past couple of years with substance abuse by drivers?

The real issue for me isn’t whether a driver is “high” when on the track. The issue is the safety of the other drivers given how quickly accidents can happen at 180 mph. Heaven forbid that an accident occurs and it’s found later than one of those involved was “using” and no one in NASCAR had “reasonable suspicion”.

That’s the view from here.

Jon

One Change France Should Make: A Modest Proposal for the Top 35 Rule

After several years at the helm of NASCAR, Brian France said last Monday that NASCAR will minimize the number of changes it makes this year. His rationale was that NASCAR needed to bring back lost fans. I (and others) couldn’t agree more that the rapid changes he instituted did dampen the enthusiasm of many fans toward the sport they love(d).

However, there should be one change instituted as quickly as possible — the elimination of the “top 35 rule.” Joe Menzer in his NASCAR.com column on Tuesday called for the rule to be eliminated. Jeff Burton has indicated that sponsors for teams outside the top 35 are few and far between since there is no guarantee their teams will make the race. Even Darrell Waltrip was quoted in Menzer’s article acknowledging that the “top 35 rule” has drawbacks as well as benefits to the sport.

Last year I wrote that the “top 35 rule” was patently unfair and in effect was creating “franchises.”

If we’re not going to eliminate the rule entirely, how’s this for a compromise: top 12 must qualify on time (with so many past champions probably in the top 12, the chances of those drivers not making it are miniscule), positions 13-25 are guaranteed starting spots, and 26-42 (26-43 if no past champion’s provisional is used) qualify on time. That gives teams that have faster times than those in positions 13-25 a much better chance of making the race and not having to pack it in for the weekend at great expense.

Then again, I’m probably “spitting into the wind” on this one!

Jon

Resurrection: A Halloween story for the middle of April

“I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone”
Bruce Springsteen

This is a timely blog. Read it in the daylight.

Ghosts. Do you believe in them? Have you ever felt a chill down your neck or the hairs raise on your arm? If so, I wonder what the chill nighttime must feel like around graveyards* with such names as:

Darlington (The Lady in Black)

Greenville-Pickens

Hickory

Nashville (now Music City Motorplex)

North Carolina Speedway (Rockingham)

North Wilkesboro

Road America

South Boston

A legion of others……

I wonder what the pits are like in the deadlights of the moon. Do surreal crew members appear from the mist and then vanish with the first rays of the sun? Do fenders grind in the night as cars run as if possessed?

We have the “Car of Tomorrow,” but where is yesterday?

I have a modest proposal for NASCAR. Let’s resurrect yesterday.

Each year choose one or two (old) track(s) for a special ‘rewind of time’ race. You can work out the details. After all our roots run deep, don’t they?

The moon is rising so I must vanish. For now.

That’s the view from 1963….

Michael

*Yes, I know some still run either a partial NEXTEL schedule or other NASCAR events.

Is NASCAR Rebounding?

Prior to the Daytona 500, and then again heading into the California race this past week, several media reporters suggested that NASCAR (and Brian France) had its head in the sand by stating that NASCAR’s off year in 2006 was a glitch.

Well, let’s look at what’s happened so far. Daytona’s TV viewership was down from last year (10.1 rating in ’07 vs. 11.3 rating in ’06) but was still one of the top five ratings in the race’s history.

Again there was no sell-out in the stands for last week’s California race — NASCAR estimated the crowd at 87,000 while California can seat 92,000 plus the suites and 2,000 RV spots (sixth race in a row that was not a sell-out) — but California officials are pleased with the crowd size, especially given the weather on Sunday.

Nielsen reports that TV ratings for California were tied with last year’s ratings (6.2 rating) but lower than 2005.

So where does that leave NASCAR? Too soon to tell but Las Vegas might be a better barometer of NASCAR’s performance.

Here’s a thought to ponder: My colleague Mike suggested that NASCAR consider moving one race each year to a track that no longer has a Nextel race — rotating once every three to four years as needed. Might spark some new interest, especially in those areas that have lost their race(s) to other tracks.
— Jon

The New Season

Top 10 Fearless (but not ones we are betting any cash on ) Predictions for 2007:

10. Staten Island – DOA; Hello, Seattle!

9. The rising cost of attending a race drives fans away.

8. Introduction of Toyota–what will be the reaction, one like Jack Roush or more like Brian France? (We know, we know, it is more of a question than a prediction)

7. New demographics– Montoya’s entree into Nextel and Busch’s points race in Canada lead to new viewers

6. COT confuses fans who don’t want IROC-style racing.

5. JPM finishes well and two more F1/INDY drivers follow.
4. New Busch Series Sponsor — big deal or non-story, and will there be a “target” on the new sponsor?

3. The fines just keep on a coming
2. Toyota wins by seventh race. (Ensuing controversy good for solving item # 9).

1. No one can replace Benny.

Big stories of the Week:
“Just in time for Valentines…The Candymen deliver”

1. David and Lazarus are appropriate monikers for the front row holders of this year’s Daytona 500. By providing Yates Racing and Masterfoods, Inc., the front row for this Sunday’s classic, perhaps the folks at Snickers can place into their rearview mirror their strange Super Bowl commercial.

2. The only question left to be answered is the “water into wine” miracle for Michael Waltrip (perhaps we should say “mystery liquid into ‘oil’ “). Hey Matt, that should show you that a few misplaced holes are not that exciting.

3. On the other front we are guaranteed that for the first time since 1963 — when Smokey Cook ran an MG (yes, you read that correctly) at Bowman-Gray stadium in a 200 lap event won by Junior Johnson — a foreign entry will run in a NASCAR points race. Wonder what took them so long?

4. James Hylton age 72 looking relaxed and … well, need we say more ?

5. New life for Chip Gnassi !

Overall: Score a -3 for the Toyotas and a +1 for candy.

— Jon and Mike