JUST WHAT IS NASCAR’S CHALLENGE?

Writing in his NASCAR.com column last week, David Caraviello shared his views on “NASCAR’s real challenge” — not TV ratings or ticket sales. Rather, “fan base” is the real problem: the disparity between “traditional fans” (spell that “old timers”) and the “new fans” (see “chardonnay” in your dictionary).

Caraviello suggests that the traditional fans need to understand the need for NASCAR to change in order to continue to grow while new fans need to realize that those who came before see NASCAR not simply as a sport but as a “prized heirloom passed from one generation to the next”. Thus, traditional fans need to accept the “car of today” and that NASCAR will continue to evolve and new fans must understand that a Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon is more than just entertaining clients.

I would like to inject my opinion on what else constitutes the “NASCAR challenge”: NASCAR’s inability to reconcile its desire to “keep racin’” with placating its financial supporters. What do I mean, you ask? A couple of days ago Juan Pablo Montoya was fined $10,000 and placed on Busch Series probation until December 31 for making an obscene gesture during Busch Series practice. NASCAR stated that he was in violation of Section 12-4-A of the Busch Series rules book: “actions detrimental to stock car racing”.

Let’s get real here children! Anyone reading this blog is probably guilty of “actions detrimental” to their offspring riding in the family car when someone cut them off in traffic!

I doubt most followers of NASCAR were even aware of JPB’s adolescent behavior — or care! The problem is NASCAR’s inability to understand that driving 160 mph oftentimes leads to tempers flaring. NASCAR’s desire to be non-controversial in order to keep sponsors happy has led to “too much grease on the squeaky wheels” and way-to-many trips to the wood shed. If NASCAR wants to fill the grandstands and increase TV viewership, it needs to be less concerned with “regulatin’” and more concerned with “good ol’ racin’”. What do you think?

(By the way, I prefer cabernet.)

Jon

NASCAR and the Academic World — Coming Together?

Academic interest in NASCAR continues to grow.
When Mike and I started teaching our “Business of NASCAR” Honors module, we couldn’t find anyone doing anything similar, although the “techies” were offering courses. Now a program has been developed at Belmont Abbey College in Charlotte, North Carolina, that has some support from Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The program is a business concentration in Motor Sports Management (check it out here).

In addition, Keith Green, director of public relations at Richmond International Raceway, is teaching a course on the “Business and Marketing of NASCAR” at Virginia State University, located between Richmond and Petersburg. Keith has spoken to our class on several occasions and told me that the course Mike and I teach was the inspiration for his course.

Clearly, academia has begun to recognize that motorsports, especially NASCAR, is not just “sports” but big business as well. Maybe Mike and I really did know what we were doing!

See you next week — and again we welcome your comments.

Jon