Is the thrill of NASCAR gone?

After attending my first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, I made an observation about the empty seats at the track. Other sports organizations such as NFL and MLB have been seeing an increase in viewership and attendance. So, why is there a decline in attendance at the race tracks and viewership on TV? I speculate that the recent economical crisis has had a significant impact. In this financial environment, people have been lucky to keep their roof over their heads since money is tight. One thing is for certain: it becomes clear that what one wants and what one can do financially may not be the same. I also speculate that the interest of NASCAR is declining due to the lack of rivalries among the NASCAR drivers and the lack of rear car bumping leading to spinouts and accidents, which really draws attention and gets the adrenaline flowing. How many times this season have you notice feuding among drivers? I’m pretty sure you can count them on one hand.

Another thing that is rarely seen in recent competition is the bickering among drivers and the pushing and shoving while on the track. Maybe having good sportsmanship or not wanting to cause conflict has taken all the action away. Another speculation of why the interest of NASCAR has declined is the fact that Jimmie Johnson has won the “Race for the Chase Sprint Cup Series” for the last four consecutive years. The fact that Jimmie Johnson has won the Chase have some wondering if the Chase is rigged, if he has an advantage over everyone else, or if he’s just that good. People are tired of the same old same old results occurring; they want change, but not too much change. Finally, the alternative ways of tuning into NASCAR is another speculation as to why popularity is declining. NASCAR no longer has to be watched on TV; it can be watched online through computers or other electronic devices, listened to on the satellite radio, recorded on DVR or TIVO, or watched by catching the recap of ESPN SportsCenter when it airs. It can be speculated that all of these factors are impacting the declining interest of NASCAR. So, what can be done to get the adrenaline running again in NASCAR? CB

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