Sunday, November 11, 2007

TV Networks Would Love The Banquets In Las Vegas


As we get down to the end of the season, one question keeps popping-up in The Daly Planet email over-and-over again. What happened to the three Championship Banquets?

How did things get this way? The Cup gang parades to New York City, where absolutely no one cares about NASCAR and the sting of Staten Island overwhelmingly rejecting a new track is still fresh in the minds of NASCAR fans.

The Busch Series drives up the road from Homestead to the Portofino Hotel in Orlando to have a banquet among the Universal Orlando theme park tourists covered in sun block and toting handi-cams.

Finally, the poor Truck Series gets to swing-by the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida and gamble with the Seminole Indians while they hold their banquet in a big conference room next to the highway.

Think about that one. The best series by far this season has been the Trucks. Ron Hornaday, Mike Skinner, Jack Sprague, Mike Bliss, Rick Crawford and tons of Cup drivers like Mark Martin, Ken Schrader, Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick have made this season an absolute blast. Now, their reward is a non-televised banquet in a conference room at the infamous Anna Nicole Smith hotel.

Has anybody out there ever been to Las Vegas? I have. Has anybody been to a big conference or function in Las Vegas? I have. Does anybody know that Las Vegas has over one hundred and forty thousand hotel rooms? I do. Does anyone think that drivers and teams would like to jump on a plane, go to Las Vegas, and have a couple of days of banquets and functions for all three national touring series of NASCAR? I certainly do.

While Charlotte, NC is absolutely the right choice for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it should not even be in the running for the year-end banquets for all three series. There is only one choice of a city that can work to get prepared, handle the fun and chaos of both the NASCAR teams and the NASCAR fans, and then send them home happy. That choice is Las Vegas.

When TV viewers watch the CMA Awards, the Emmy Awards, and even the MTV Music Awards, they tune-in to see a variety of things happen. First, they like to see people out of their normal environment. Second, they like to see the fashion and styles of the day reflected on these high-profile individuals. Finally, they want to see how they interact with each other to get a better feeling about who these people really are.

Television and the Internet can absolutely be the driving forces behind a Las Vegas "NASCAR fan fest" that could easily become one of the hottest tourist weeks that city has ever seen. By allowing the NASCAR television partners to become part of this effort, the sport could finally salvage this part of the season which has become a complete mess.

The best part of putting all three banquets in Las Vegas at the same time would be to allow the drivers who have raced in more than one series to participate in the year-end functions for those series. Simply by being in the same place, at the same time, there would be a synergy for fans and sponsors that simply does not exist at the Hard Rock Hotel in Florida by the highway.

Las Vegas has outstanding TV, Radio, and Internet facilities for getting this multi-day experience out to the public and making them a part of it. Finally, there would be an "investment" in the fans from a sport with four dollar bottled water and six dollar hamburgers.

By making a commitment to Las Vegas right now for 2008, it would allow a professional team of planners to get busy. The TV networks, the other NASCAR media partners, the team sponsors, and the sanctioning body would finally have a group of professionals that could cap-off the season in style and on live national television.

The single issue standing in the way is NASCAR. This banquet has long been kept under control by NASCAR VP Jim Hunter and his staff in exactly the same way then run the Infield Media Center at the tracks. Everything is credentialed, planned, and the "media leash" is kept nice and tight.

Now that NASCAR veteran Paul Brooks has been appointed to head the new NASCAR Media Group, his department can take the three banquets and treat them like the wonderful opportunity for additional exposure for the sport that they always should have been. The resources that Las Vegas can bring to the table can just put that over the top.

By coordinating the TV networks, NASCAR Images, NASCAR Digital Entertainment and the many NASCAR sponsors, this Las Vegas project could grow into something that becomes just as much of a landmark on the NASCAR scene as the Daytona 500.

Imagine the musical acts and artists associated with NASCAR who would come to play this "gig." Imagine the hundreds of transporters and race cars stretched out at the Convention Center. Imagine the fun of being in a place where TV shows were everywhere and they wanted to you participate. Imagine having fun again with NASCAR and ending the season on a high note.

Right before the weary teams go on vacation, a coordinated opportunity to see everyone in the sport one last time before the break would be fantastic. In one place, over just a couple of days, all the end-of-season business would be done and the closing bell would sound officially on ten months of racing.

As a NASCAR fan who has been put-off by the high cost of hotel rooms, skyrocketing race ticket prices, and huge crowds of "party fans" at the tracks, I would welcome an opportunity to combine a Las Vegas vacation with the ability to attend fun and casual functions unique to the "NASCAR Week In Las Vegas."

The time is right now to make a change. The best place to announce this change would be Homestead, while all the NASCAR media is still assembled. Before we see the cold drivers parading once again in the snowy streets of NYC while confused commuters scramble for their subways, it would be nice to know this time in New York is going to be the last.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email editor@thedalyplanet.tv if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop-by and leave your opinion.

44 comments:

elena said...

JD, great assessment. For me, the 2 most important include the weather, and the money. New York in winter is horrible. And I think that makes the people a little cranky. My daughter lived in NY for many years, and they hated anytime there were interuptions to their commutes. She hated NASCAR. Las Vegas was built for conventions. They are really set up for it.

I vacation in Las Vegas in winter. Everyone seems to be in a good mood. It would be great to have it there.

Daly Planet Editor said...

The boys from SPEED just dropped-by to remind me they will once again televise the Truck Series banquet. I will have details on the banquet TV in a mid-week post, or you can check Jayski.com.

Kevin in SoCal said...

I completely agree, John. I have watched Championship Week and the Cup Banquets the last few years. During the week, the local New York shows usually promote having the NASCAR drivers and/or the cars on their shows. Last year, I recorded a few of those shows. While watching them, it looked like the sport was completely out of place. I had to fast-forward thru 15-30 minutes of show to get the 30 to 60 seconds of NASCAR coverage. After promoting NASCAR in commercials for the shows, they treated them as an afterthought during the show. For as much as I hate it when people say California sucks, New York truely sucks when it comes to NASCAR. Bring the banquets to Las Vegas where its warmer, and the city is set up to handle a party atmosphere and the locals actually enjoy the sport.

Anonymous said...

Having the banquet in Las Vegas would be great for fans who could attend a much expanded slate of events surrounding the banquet. It's also a great idea to put all the banquets together in one place. (I'm still very much not in favor of fans attending the Cup awards banquet; I don't think any champion or top 10 driver should have to worry about being booed or jeered by some fans - and you know some would do it - in such an atmosphere.)

The issue I see with having the banquet in Las Vegas is TV coverage of champions week. While the awards shows you mention have enough clout to cause national news and entertainment TV crews to fly to whatever city they originate from and give them extensive coverage, I don't think the NASCAR year-end awards have nearly the same clout or viewer interest to get those shows to send TV crews. The CMAs last Wednesday had 16 million viewers.(Closest sports comparison: The ESPYs get about 3.5-4 million viewers on first broadcast and I don't know that NASCAR by itself could come close to that.)

So the interviews/coverage that are done live by the national media in NYC will end up being done by satellite(if they're done at all; the programs might not be interested if the drivers aren't in NYC.) Some will suggest the drivers can fly to LA to do interviews there - and that's not a bad suggestion, but that's also somewhat of a hardship on them with the extra commute to do LA publicity and LV publicity during that week. The LA market broadcasters are probably even more ignorant of NASCAR than those in NYC.

Las Vegas would be great for the fans, but for TV, I just don't think the banquet itself or the week would garner much national coverage. If NASCAR decides not to worry about the TV coverage (which may not be a bad idea) and focus on making it an event for visiting fans (similar to the CMA FanFest in its heyday) I could see that being successful. Otherwise, I don't.

Newracefan said...

Nascar would lose the few minutes on shows like the Today etc (I taped it last year) by going to Vegas but if they were hoping to attract new fans with these shows Nascar is dreaming. They are better off giving the banquets to the current fans and if they attract top acts new fans would be tempted to watch. More importantly better acts would make it easier to have these banquets televised at a decent hour with better coverage. Right now they are boring but I still watch, I like to see these guys as people with their wives/ girlfriends etc. I also think it's terrible the the team is seated in the nose bleed section or even another room that is just wrong. I bet Vegas would have a venue that could accommadate everyone and not have the team be such an after thought

slithybill said...

Last year weren't the Busch and Truck banquets held over the same weekend at Disney World? I seem to recall they stayed at the Grand Floridian.

Kind of ironic that this year they moved the Busch banquet to Universal, which owns NBC.

It definitely makes sense to have all three banquets in the same place over the same weekend. They could alternate between Vegas, Disney and NY. And NASCAR could sell, or auction for charity, tickets for fans.

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea. I was at a convention at Ceasers in September, and loved everything about it.

New York in the winter-who does not worry about travel problems with snow and ice going there?

I don't know if having the banquet in Vegas would make me watch anymore of it, but I think the teams would love it. I used to hear the drivers saying their wives loved to go to NYC for the shopping-but that was 15-20 years ago. Now some of the drivers have condos there.

I was visiting NYC in the late 80's and I did not know the banquet was going on, until I walked into (the old, nasty) Times Square and saw a race car. I did not take a photo and don't recall whose it was, but it attracted no attention. On the same trip I think it was Macy's I was in, and saw Robert Yates in there. I knew one thing-I was probably the only person in the store who would have known who he was.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with the opinion that NASCAR does not have the gravitas to make
the banquet a high profile media event. If promoted properly, a NASCAR Championship Week could rival Daytona Speed Week as a destination event. It would be even bigger if the Busch (Nationwide) Series and NCTS banquets were also included. Their banquets could be staggered throughout the week at the same facility. There is ALWAYS a busy convention taking place in Las Vegas somewhere, but rooms are still available.

I have attended World of Outlaw banquets at the Monte Carlo Hotel in Las Vegas. Many of the drivers, their team members, track promoters and their respective family members etc. were able to get attractive room rates at less high profile hotels. The banquet coincided with the last race of the season. Since the World of Outlaws finished their season at The Dirt Track at Lowes Motor Speedway this year, they had their festivities in Charlotte. Outlaw teams and drivers do not have the deeper pockets of NASCAR teams, so that makes financial sense for them. NASCAR schedules their banquets as separate events.

In my opinion, with the right broadcast partner, NASCAR could create a "must attend" tradition that would become an anticipated event for both teams and fans.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Cup Banquet:

1. - There would be anarchy if the banquet were ever opened to the fans! It's bad enough trying to get thru the Waldorf Lobby w/all the Gapers trying to get autographs, photos, etc., and there is no way to avoid them and no security to hold them back like at the Track.

2. - No one wants to go to the banquet to begin with. It is to the point that people fly in at the last possible moment, and fly out as soon as they can following the banquet.. usually Friday nite and at the latest the crack of dawn Sat morning.

3. - The banquet is too crowded, lousy food, and boils down to just another function having to deal w/sponsors and their whining wives.

People go to great lengths to sneak off and eat at a decent restaurant and/or order room service and watch the banquet on TV getting back downstairs in time to put in an appearance.

4. - Everyone is counting down the days until the season is over. People have plans and a long list of things that have been on the back burner waiting for Sunday nite at Homestead.

People either want to stay home or go off by themselves to a quiet place .. a place where they know no one and no one knows or cares about them.

5. - It is a mystery why the banquet is televised or why anyone would even watch it. Lousy speeches is about all you see.. actually it's about all there is to see.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 1:24, good to hear your perpsective as it sounds like you've "been there".

anonymous 12:34 said: 'I'm still very much not in favor of fans attending the Cup awards banquet; I don't think any champion or top 10 driver should have to worry about being booed or jeered by some fans - and you know some would do it - in such an atmosphere.'

Agreed. I think many fans would boo the drivers,and also say "I paid for my ticket so I can do what I want", i.e., boo. Throw in all the (awesome) free drinks that Las Vegas casinos provide and which fans can partake in before the banquet? Disaster.

anonymous 12:34 also said: 'Las Vegas would be great for the fans, but for TV, I just don't think the banquet itself or the week would garner much national coverage.'

Also agreed. If they forget about TV coverage (other than SPEED or ESPN) and invite fans to a bunch of elaborate NASCAR events for the week - but not the banquet - it sounds like fun. A number of fans would probably attend.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I think its important to remember that the current format of the banquet is not what we are talking about.

The concept is to create a media and fan friendly atmosphere that would ultimately result in a primetime program for all three series.

SPEED has the Trucks and the banquet, ESPN2 has the Busch Series and their banquet, and finally ESPN can decide where they want to place the NEXTEL (Sprint in 2008) banquet.

The final finished TV product could take on a totally different format, including edited portions recorded earlier and a good combination of entertainment and racing.

In the same way that NASCAR Images provides the basic TV platform for the networks that cover racing, they could provide the equipment and manpower for all three programs in Las Vegas.

Stepping away from the canned speeches and the controlled script reading by the sponsors, this function could take on more of an atmosphere of a recapping the season while talking with the drivers and personalities that provided the thrills.

The hardest thing in TV is to step way back and open-up to change. Otherwise, you wind-up with the situation that we now have at the end of the season.

Anonymous said...

JD
I think you overlook 2 points about NYC as the site. First, most of the sponsors of NASCAR are connected there thru Madision Avenue agencies. Second, the WIVES and Girlfriends LOVE the event being in Manhattan! Christmas, shopping etc.After the 11 months spent without a husband/boyfirend, this is a much needed and deserved reward for them. Vegas doesn't cut it on that front!
Make no mistake, the Banquet is NOT for the racers. Its for the sponsors and the media coverage-period. It was decent tv back when Lingner Group produced the event in the 80's and 90's. Its unwatchable now.

Anonymous said...

daly planet editor said...
"When TV viewers watch the CMA Awards, the Emmy Awards, and even the MTV Music Awards, they tune-in to see a variety of things happen. First, they like to see people out of their normal environment. Second, they like to see the fashion and styles of the day reflected on these high-profile individuals. Finally, they want to see how they interact with each other to get a better feeling about who these people really are."

One problem for a primetime event might be that some of the best Cup drivers, even though high profile, absolutely hate being in the TV spotlight. Best example would be Matt Kenseth. He said on the banquet preshow last year he was told that he had to walk the red carpet instead of going around it, which he wanted to do. Since he was told to do so, he did it and he was professional, but that doesn't mean he liked it. His wife said the same thing, that she felt uncomfortable.

Also, while I as a viewer enjoy watching the wives and girlfriends on TV - in fairness they aren't celebrities and shouldn't be judged as fashion icons if they don't want to be. This leads to awkward moments like Tony Stewart's gal being asked who made her dress (she didn't know). Or Kim Burton being asked if her gorgeous dress (from a very prominent designer, whose name she knew) was a designer loan - the standard for celebrities. Kim, very sweetly, had to confess that no one had ever offered to loan her a designer dress. Some drivers and wives are comfortable with that type of atmosphere, some are not.

The other problem might be is entertainment. NASCAR fans are so far apart in tastes that I'm not sure you could get a number of musical acts for an awards show that wouldn't alienate one part of the audience or another. (Hint: If you they go country, they're going to have problems.)

Daly Planet Editor said...

I think those points are very valid. But, when you play at this level you have to deal with some things that might not be totally comfortable.

If clothing is an issue, then maybe there might be a change from black tie. If the red carpet is an issue, then drop it just like SPEED did after their mess with Ms. Rivers.

What I am suggesting is to go through and solve these problems, go through and make these changes, and then try it one time in Vegas and see how it works.

Anonymous said...

slithybill - Universal Studios is owned by GE and NBC-Univeral ...



CMA Awards had increased ratings BECAUSE of the high profile of people from American Idol in the ads & show ... Fickle teenyboppers watched it for the first time, but they most likely will NOT watch it next year if people like Carrie Underwood & Kellie Pickler are NOT nominated (Side note - Carrie should NOT have been nominated this year for work on an album that was nominated last year) ...


I get tired of Vegas and all that surrounds it ... Bruton wants the banquet ... Let Speed handle the banquet tv coverage ... The yellow carpet would've worked w/o Mikey & Melissa ... TNT royally screws up the banquets because they insist on Bill Weber ... Will Disney make us suffer through Musberger, Suzy & Brad?? IF that's true, I will not watch it ...

Tripp said...

If there ever was a place that didn't care about NASCAR...

That would be the Big Apple. The last time they celebrated an event with any gusto was when a guy named Shepard rode in a big tin can waaaaaay up there.

Vegas is the ticket because that place knows how to do events. It has any type of venue NASCAR wants and will provide all the hype they want and more. There is no other place on the planet like it and geared for the "big show".

Even though the France family has more money than the average "banana republic", Vegas would be cheaper to do on a number of counts. Labor, hotels, parking, food... all cheaper. The hoopla/$ ratio is substantially higher in Vegas.

Finally, if NASCAR wants more Hollywood glitz, Vegas is the ticket. Get Kevin James, The Rock and anyone else with star power out there with a quick ride in a Lear. Who are you going to get in New York? Helen Mirren? I don't think so.

I say this with a very strong personal dislike for Vegas. I've been there for enough events and conventions to know that the only way I'll go there again is if motivated by someone with automatic weapons. I'd rather have a root canal without laughing gas. But... I would watch the banquets in Sin City on TV

Vince said...

JD, I agree. I think that with a totally new format for the banquet and awards show, Vegas would be a perfect place. NY doesn't care about Nascar. The drivers don't really care for NY, I don't think. Their wives might because of the shopping, but that's it. The drivers and teams like Vegas. They are always excited to go there during the season, because of the "extracurricular activities". I think if done right it'd be a great choice. But they would have to completely redo the current format. I agree with a previous poster who said it was all for the sponsors. I think it should be for the fans. Vegas is big enough and used to events like this. They could make it fan friendly without having the fans intruding on the actual banquet. Anybody ever been to a Superbowl or lived in a Superbowl city? I lived in Tampa for years and they've had several Superbowls. The NFL always has a ton of fan friendly events going on in the area during Superbowl week. Nascar could get more involved with the fans along the same lines.

Nascar needs to do something. The current format is terrible. I don't live in NY, but I don't remember much in the way of fan friendly events there. The banquet itself seems uncomfortable for most involved. I'd like to see the drivers give a real speech with out all the endless sponsor promos. What's next? Tux's with sponsor logos on them?

Anyway, back on subject. I think it'd be worth a try to give Vegas a shot. Say have all the three series at Vegas for one week for the next three years and give them a shot.

SophiaZ123 said...

Melissa Rivers was DREADFUL.

Was she the one Waltrip had to stand next to and LISTEN to her embarrassing questions or was that another girl Waltrip was with. Was he with Wendy? I cant remember who got stuck with Rivers but she was plain bad.

Rivers was wince worthy. Her nosy questions..she has no class. Just like her mother. That schtick was not conducive to NASCAR.

I don't know who they could ask this year to fit into the NASCAR mold and be classy in GREETING the drivers.

Hopefully, they will not do that insipid red carpet thing. That's no fun at today's Academy awards either. Years ago the actresses used to (gasp!) dress themselves and maybe wear Diamonds by Harry Winston.

We don't want NASCAR to become like that but the Driver awards show is a MUST MISS in my book. I watched last year and thought it dragged out over three hours...or maybe it was the year before i watched...Only because tony won.

New York in the winter? As appealing as cold, wet pajamas. ;-)

slithybill said...

Anonymous said...
slithybill - Universal Studios is owned by GE and NBC-Univeral ...


Oops. Thanks for the correction.

I guess the point I was trying to make was that last year the Busch and Truck banquets were at an ABC-affiliated resort, and this year the Busch banquet is at an NBC-affiliated resort. If NASCAR is interested in improving the media exposure of the banquets, maybe they should work with their current broadcast partners. I'm sure ESPN Classic would devote more than one hour to the Busch banquet if they could show off the Disney resort at the same time. There's no way they'll show any of the non-banquet activities that take place at the Portofino Hotel or the Universal parks.

If the banquet was at Disney, ABC might get Regis and Kelly or The View or Good Morning America involved. Yes, I know they all film in NYC, but how involved will they be for Champions Week? Disney might give the drivers and their families additional TV time.

Does Disney (or Fox) have any corporate assets in Vegas? What about the major sponsors?

Also, doesn't NASCAR have some kind of a pre-season banquet in Daytona Beach as well? Nobody televises that. Shouldn't that be part of SPEED's Speedweeks coverage? I'm sure all attendees would hate that.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous@4:20 that the red/yellow carpet on Speed would have been fine if Melissa Rivers and Michael Waltrip hadn't been on the show. If they'd just had Wendy (and perhaps Krista Voda to assist),all would have been fine.

Melissa was the one who asked all the awkward questions and mispronounced names, and made fun of Kasey Kahne for still having a tag on his tuxedo. Michael nodded his head a lot and made Melissa ask the already embarrassed Kasey Kahne if he could have a hug (a new Mikey low).

Despite that, the concept was good and it was very entertaining when Wendy did the interviews because it was just like on RaceDay except everybody was dressed up. I would have liked to see them do it again this year. I just don't think you can have a big time awards show without participants being dressed up -at least semiformal like MTV -and without a red carpet. But they could get rid of all the awkwardness by not asking the "who did your dress" questions that Melissa brought to the show. In the past on Speed, the reporter (was it Shannon or the NASCAR Nation lady?) would just say to the wife/girlfriend they look beautiful/lovely etc. and start asking general questions.

Anonymous said...

I've watched the Cup Banquet couple of times but have never watched a Truck or Busch banquet. I knew they were on, I just never tuned in.

This column by Dave Moody makes them sound pretty cool. Carl Edwards gets up and plays guitar with the guest band (Robert Randolph and the Family Band, no less)? Now I would tune in for that!

http://motorsports-soapbox.blogspot.com/2006/12/busch-truck-banquets-produce-real-drama.html

Anonymous said...

The idea that NYC does not like NASCAR is foolish. What do you want, 10 million people yelling it from their windows? It's a complex place with many draws especially in sports. Just because a new track was refused, does not mean that the place doesn't harbor a huge fan base. We know a boatload of NYC folks who are race fans, and thousands travel to New Hampshire every year.

Keep the banquet in NYC ... NASCAR is already signaling the reduction or eventual end of NASCAR racing in New England with the sale of NHIS. Now this, too?

It seems like NASCAR has abandoned the tried truth in business: take care of your existing customers first. They are so hung up on "new" markets strictly out of greed.

Anonymous said...

The question here, JD, seems to be:

Who from NASCAR PR is floating this trial balloon re: Vegas? You suggest it isn't Jim Hunter...but this looks and seems a lot like how NASCAR tends to gauge opinions on things they consider. The "tightly controlled" credentialled media plays along, publishes the discussion, and we see great analysis on sites like yours, and some discussions and ruminations that don't quite measure up.

What would happen in Vegas, were the NASCAR Champions Week to be moved there, would not necessarily stay there--thanks to the networks.

Hope someone has Gil Cates (the ONLY TV producer who can serve up a major gala style TV broadcast IMO) on speed dial.

Daly Planet Editor said...

NASCAR is certainly looking at options, and one reason is the season ends for all three series on the same weekend.

Going somewhere to blow off steam, get the money and hardware, and then be done for the season would be positive.

All kinds of sources tell me NYC is done. The prices are incredible, the weather is bad, the traffic is horrible. It served its purpose of making a statement that NASCAR could come to the big city and get some additional media attention.

Now, with the changes in technology, that is not a problem. Las Vegas was floated because it is a professional convention city. Anyone who has been to big meetings or conventions there knows that they could host NASCAR and take care of every need.

As for the format of the banquets, it should be interesting to see if the pressure to be "hollywood" continues, or if NASCAR decides to talk to some TV professionals and weigh their other options.

Anonymous said...

It seems like NASCAR has abandoned the tried truth in business: take care of your existing customers first. They are so hung up on "new" markets strictly out of greed.
...which is an excellent reason for NASCAR to quit trying to build a track in New York.

And move the banquet to a more traditional location.

Anonymous said...

JD,

Do you know if ESPN is going to re-air the banquet on ESPN or ESPN2 late night for those who don't have ESPN Classic?

Thx.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I respectfully disagree with the opinion that NASCAR does not have the gravitas to make
the banquet a high profile media event. If promoted properly, a NASCAR Championship Week could rival Daytona Speed Week as a destination event.

November 11, 2007 1:21 PM

That seems to be the question. What works well for fans won't necessarily work on TV. Daytona Speedweeks are popular with vacationing fans -and copying that for Las Vegas seems like an excellent idea - but you don't hear anything much about Speedweeks on TV outside Speed Channel.

NASCAR may have to decide who Champions' Week is aimed at - the media, the sponsors, or the fans. After they decide that, they can proceed with how to approach TV coverage and if that becomes less important overall.

I've seen two drivers comment on this last year. Jeff Gordon thought it was important for the Champion's week/banquet to be in NYC, because currently the week/banquet is mainly set up for the sponsors and for sponsor networking so that team owners can land new sponsors. Since many of the marketing executives are in NYC, he thought NASCAR needed to be there. (As seen by the resulting show, TV is an afterthought.)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said if is not in NYC, it should be in Charlotte N.C.

``I think Charlotte would be the only thing worth even pondering,'' Earnhardt said. ``But New York's great, over the past several years (the city) seems to have embraced it a little better and been more eager to have us here.'

Anonymous said...

Re: Banquet:

The banquet airs on ESPN Classic from 9PM-midnight EST Nov. 30.

It replays on ESPN2 from midnight -3AM EST immediately after the ESPN Classic broadcast (Dec.1).

There's live NBA and college FB on ESPN and ESPN2 during the 9-midnight timeslot, so there's no chance the schedule will change and the live banquet airing will move from Classic to those channels.

Anonymous said...

The best thing the CMA did was abandon their one-year experiment in New York, and move the awards back to Nashville. Now if only they'd leave the downtown arena and return the the new Opry.

I think it's time Nascar do the same thing - return to their fans. Either a place with a historical link (NC, Fla) or to a place where there is at least a race (Vegas).

Daly Planet Editor said...

In reference to Charlotte, at the present time the downtown area is undergoing a change toward residential renovation. The old convention center is being changed into a big commerce center, and the area offers almost nothing for race fans.

Once the NASCAR Hall of Fame is complete in two years, the area may be once again considered for this type of function. Earnhardt's point was that none of the NASCAR folks would need hotels in Charlotte, and that there were enough rooms for the sponsors and others who would attend. It was a point well taken at the time.

Right now, Vegas offers the most options for visitors including the teams and sponsors. It also offers the most venues for entertainment and functions. Once this year's banquet in NYC is again a TV disaster, these points will have added weight.

SPEED has dumped their extra coverage, and ESPN has put the Cup banquet on the back-burner.

I appreciate your ideas, and I encourage you to have an open mind and suggest what you would like to see from your NASCAR stars as an end-of-season celebration.

Desmond said...

I agree that moving the banquets to Las Vegas is worth trying out. As far as ancillary activities, I would like to see something like NFL Experience or NBA Jam Session, where fans would drive simulators, be part of a pit stop, or even simulate a victory lane interview.

One of the other comments was something like, "The L.A. media cares even less about NASCAR than that in NYC." I agree with this due to firsthand experience. I have written and published a novel which centers on a NASCAR driver who is uprooted to what can best be described as a "country heaven."
(If you are interested in more information or to buy the book, e-mail me at desmond.hobson@netzero.net and I will reply with the website address. I won't give out that information here in case policy prohibits commercial use.)

To help promote the book, I sent e-mails to the motorsports writer of the Los Angeles Times, one of the columnists of the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, and a sportscaster at local TV stations CBS2/KCAL9. I included my contact information and consented to interviews. That was four months ago. I never heard back from any of them. Not even the racing writer responded. I am very disappointed about that.

Also, thanks for whoever provided the link for the coverage of last year's Busch and truck banquets. The people in charge of the Cup event can learn a lot from those other series.

Anonymous said...

I thought SPEED isn't having a banquet show because of ESPN contracts, not because they dumped their coverage.

Anonymous said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...

SPEED is carrying the Truck Series banquet, as that is the series that the network covers.

What we were speaking about was SPEED's attempt at a "red carpet" style show from the NEXTEL Cup banquet. That will not be happening this year.

Please keep your comments focused on the subject at hand, and your personal views on the issue.

This is a great topic to discuss this week, and the points raised in these comments have been fantastic. Keep them coming.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, NASCAR has to find a way to bring a level of spontaneity to the banquets themselves.

With the ESPYs and most other award shows you don't know who's getting the award until the night of the awards. Even though you might have a pretty good idea, you still have to tune in to find out. That's not the case in NASCAR. We know who finished where (there's no way around this aspect), and most of the contingency awards have already been announced prior to the banquets as well.

What's the point of tuning into an awards show that you know exactly who's won what before it happens?

Anonymous said...

I like the idea from the link about the Busch/Truck banquet,posted above at 11:21 pm (thanks).

Instead of having the drivers give speeches, have them accept their awards and then sit down and be interviewed by a (good!) interviewer. Since I didn't see the Busch awards, I don't know what this 'living room' set looked like -if it was part of the stage or what. But it sounds like the drivers were more relaxed, even though the pictures show they were in formal wear.

No matter how good some of them are in one-on-one interviews or sponsor tent appearances, some simply can't deliver formal speeches to a large crowd. (From what I understand, that is why a speechwriter for NASCAR public relations had to be brought in to help certain drivers write speeches, and the teleprompter was introduced. Thus, boringness).

Music? I don't know. Maybe let the top five drivers pick one music act each. Maybe not all would be available, but if each driver provides a list of five acts as soon as they are selected for the Chase, perhaps they can book one of those five from the top five guys lists.

Some columnist talking about the banquet one time said the sponsor names should be run on a scroll while the driver is talking so the driver doesn't have to list them. That sounds good to me.

Anonymous said...

I also believe no spontaneity hurts the banquet/awards. Watching overall coverage last year, IMO the only spontaneous thing was at the lunch they had on Speed with the some awards the night before the banquet.

Somebody from Chevy called Jimmie Johnson's wife Chani up to the stage and thanked her for her support of Jimmie and gave her keys to a new Corvette. Yeah you could argue they don't need a Corvette, but she and Jimmie were genuinely shocked and thrilled, and it was very nice to watch.

Mentioning the ESPYs above - it would be nice if the drivers would do a few - emphasis on a few - comedy things like that. But it needs to be funny, like some of the Jeff Gordon skits on Saturday Night Live.

Other than Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson doing some taped skit with Jay Mohr last year, did they have anything like that at the banquet? I can't even remember what happened in that skit so it must not have been written too well.
So NASCAR needs to get them some good material.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Daly:
"NASCAR may have to decide who Champions' Week is aimed at - the media, the sponsors, or the fans. After they decide that, they can proceed with how to approach TV coverage and if that becomes less important overall."
anon @ 11:47 am.
I believe this paragraph is the central issue to be answered.
We all know that, if the NASCAR executive collective wanted the banquets together and in any other American city, it would be done in short order, so the discussions on the relative merits of NYC vs Vegas serve no real purpose until it can be determined what NASCAR wants.
Media, sponsors or fans. I think you'd also have to factor 'ratings' into the equation. With ratings on the decline since 2005, an upgraded banquet telecast might be an increasingly hard sell, especially until the overall issues concerning broadcasting during the regular season have been addressed.
We know what the banquets (and the telecasts) have been; now NASCAR has to decide what they want them to be in the future.
Just my take...
(My own opinion - I don't think BZF would seriously consider Vegas until the problem of LVMS's second date issue is resolved!)
Tom in Dayton.

Anonymous said...

"I think you'd also have to factor 'ratings' into the equation. With ratings on the decline since 2005, an upgraded banquet telecast might be an increasingly hard sell, especially until the overall issues concerning broadcasting during the regular season have been addressed."
Tom in Dayton.

November 12, 2007 3:58 PM

Good thought: what network would air a new and improved primetime NASCAR awards show? Especially an improved production which will likely have an increased budget.

Unfortunately, no way ABC would go near it for the time being, with the ratings they got for NASCAR in Primetime and the Young Guns show. NBC always aired their condensed version on Sunday afternoon, not evening.

Cable - I don't think the nonsports networks would go for a NASCAR Awards show. CMT tried to air the Miss America pageant for two years and now they're giving up, it's on TLC next year. Sad that Miss America used to be a big deal but gets shipped all around cable now.

SPEED would be the choice, but ESPN wouldn't go for that. Would ESPN buckle down and air a special on the main network or ESPN2 in primetime? They probably would, but the end of November/first of December is full of live weekend events -so the show would probably have to be delayed and air on a Tuesday-Wednesday to be in primetime. If that's acceptable, then that would be an idea.

I'm trying to think of another sport that has year end awards or entertainment show and I can't. Except the Pro Bowl skills challenge - It used to be on ESPN, but it's on NFL Network now.

Changing the banquet is a GREAT idea, though maybe NASCAR will have to wait to get its network off the ground to get the awards/banquet really going.

Jon in TN said...

Something off the wall - how about a 'celebrity roast' format for part of it, let the drivers mess with each other, tease and laugh, and blow off some of the tension that builds between competitors during the season?

That would be worth watching much more than a formal banquet/speech format to me. Some of those guys have a great sense of humor, it would be great to see them let their hair down and have a few laughs after 9 months of stress.

GinaV24 said...

I'd like to see them move all the banquets to Las Vegas, too and then open it up for the fans. The stuff from NYC comes across really stuffy and the entertainment such as it is on the broadcasts for the Cup version is so lame and just puts me to sleep. Move and let all the drivers have some fun.

Anonymous said...

Mark these anonymous words...the banquet according to Bruton "off the record" will be in Vegas next year.

Anonymous said...

Just to let the rest of you know, I get the NYC local channels, and they NEVER mention anything about NASCAR on any of their sports news on evening news shows. Why Nascar kisses their butts up there, is beyond my thinking. Vegas would be a great place to have the banquet.


Oh, Nascar has a commericial on about 8,000 horses coming uptown (downtown NYC), and showing a cop ready to direct them, so that is the only NASCAR spot on any of the NYC locals...

Anonymous said...

who is the host and musical guest this year for the banquet?