Sunday, September 14, 2008

NASCAR Parks The Times Square Parade

NASCAR made the first of what may be several strategic calls in cancelling the Sprint Cup Series "parade" through Times Square in Manhattan this coming December.

It is very clear that the wheels are coming off the greater NYC area where NASCAR and TV sports exposure are concerned. Despite the best intentions of those involved, none of the current NASCAR TV partners have a presence in NYC that makes sense for the sport.

This past week, drivers were run through a whirlwind of TV programs in NYC as an "advancer" for the upcoming Chase for the Championship. It was a disaster. The various TV morning shows had other pressing news issues and the momentary appearance of drivers was often beyond awkward. The biggest morning program, The Today Show on NBC, decided to pass entirely.

While Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon might be able to glide smoothly through NYC, the landscape of media exposure that benefits NASCAR in Manhattan has been shrinking for years. ESPN actually closed the network's Manhattan TV studio. TNT is in Atlanta, GA and the Fox Sports guys are headquartered in Los Angeles, CA.

This may be the first step in turning the banquets of all three of NASCAR's national touring series toward Charlotte, NC. Currently under construction in the downtown area is the NASCAR Hall of Fame that is directly linked to the Charlotte Convention Center.

Despite suggestions from Bruton Smith that Las Vegas should be the Sprint Cup Series banquet location, Charlotte seems to be slowly reeling-in the end-of-season festivities for several reasons. The reason at the top of the list is time.

Daytona testing begins in January and the next time many drivers and teams look-up it is almost Thanksgiving. Between testing and racing, the NASCAR Sprint Cup season in 2009 may be the longest in professional sports.

Charlotte has hosted an NCAA Final Four and other top sports events with no problem. The Convention and Visitors Bureau would love to figure out a way to integrate the NASCAR fans into some activities that could draw additional tourists to the Greater Charlotte area.

It might be a little cold for hot laps at Lowe's Motor Speedway in a Richard Petty Racing Experience car, but with all the NASCAR shops and the Hall of Fame within reach, the possibility of putting the banquets together in Charlotte makes a lot of sense.

Currently, the three banquets are in three different locations. Bringing them to Charlotte would free the team owners from substantial hotel bills and actually let the teams return home after the party in a bus instead of an airplane.

The TV networks hosting the banquet coverage would certainly appreciate the ability to use one set of TV trucks for all three events. The NASCAR Media Group studios will also be located in the Hall of Fame complex giving teams direct access to all kinds of television, radio and Internet access. Sounds like a package deal.

We will keep things up-to-date as last season the TV coverage of the three banquets was the subject of much discussion. The format of the evening, the personalities that host and even the always-interesting comedian and music choices were Internet topics for some time.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Here are some story links on this issue:
NASCAR "Scraps" NYC Victory Lap
No New York Victory Lap
New Yorkers To NASCAR: Yawn
Chaser's Time Isn't Well Spent In Big Apple


Anonymous said...

Finally, someone is getting the idea. If NYC doesn't want NASCAR, then stop forcing it on them.

There are plenty of us who do want it, and since LA doesn't seem to be in that group, we'd appreciate it if you'd give at least one of our races back.

That would mean more than just hiring country artists to sing the national anthem at races.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Bloomberg hates NA$CAR, did not want the parade last year. Why keep going where you aren't wanted?
Whats the big deal about NYC? Media can be anywhere, not like in the "old" days where all the media was in NYC.

As JD stated none of the sports media are there anymore, so why bother? The weather is lousy usually (I got family there) New Yorkers don't care so move it already.

Who cares that Bruton wants it in Vegas? What team does he own? Oh the track in Vegas, since when does he call all the shots? If he does could he do something w/ "media partner"? And the CoT?

Sophia said...

Well it's about time to stop the insanity. Not a great way to endear yourself to New Yorkers to clog up traffic with a S L O W moving race car parade?!

I hope all banquets get to be in Charlotte and SOON. The drivers and their families have to be exhausted at the end of season. To travel yet again to New york? Who needs it. Las Vegas? Give me a break.

Let the guys all have banquets where most of the teams are based.

I just hope they loosen up the reins on the banquets and not make things so "staged" and Hollywoodized.

We don't need two hosts on the one banquet where Krista sat on the couch and somebody else interviewed. That one seemed awkward and rushed. If drives are not a good interview and hate reading the teleprompters, make it easier for them and shorter speeches.

I know it's about the sponsors but the actual drivers award show should be more fan friendly if they want to keep it on tv imo.

The shows all need a re-haul if you want my two pennies. :)

The music gets on my nerves as does the host.

I have an old tape around here of the awards before they went hollywood somebody sent me. Also an informal good bye to DW when he retired that apparently happened during a rain delay or something..the guys were in a room in street clothes just talking honestly from the heart and no "fake stage stuff"...I don't know IIRC that's whats on that tape...but truly, even though a fan only since 2004, I can see this sport alienating it's core base more and more. Continuing to fix things that ain't broke.

Thanks for the update on what could be happening.

Anonymous said...

>>Whats the big deal about NYC? Media can be anywhere, not like in the "old" days where all the media was in NYC.<<

NYC is still the media capital of the US. You simply get more media exposure there than anywhere else. There will be NASCAR photos in magazines this week and month that otherwise wouldn't be there. Also, there are major studios there wired to let the drivers connect with tons of outlets. Remember that little wire microphone Jeff Gordon had on NASCAR Now? He had it on all day - didn't even have to leave the seat he was in and he could be hooked up to radio shows, local TV sportscasts, one-on-one interviews, everything.

If they take year-end festivities out of the prestigious Waldorf Hotel (perhaps our country's finest grand old hotel - if you haven't been there it is unbelievable) and stick the event in NC it will be for one reason only: to save the travel and other expenses for the teams. But it won't be because NYC is less significant.

Anonymous said...

Waldorf is beautiful,been there, its still not enough reason to stay where we are NOT wanted. Media exposure? No you can get that anywhere. If those little blurbs on selected shows are
media exposure well, thats funny, no one seemed to thrilled to have them on the shows. It was ho hum here we go heres blah blah from blah. How about moving it so it doesn't cost an arm & leg in exchange go where we are welcome?

Anonymous said...

So where will Brian send them now? To Hollywood, maybe? You know, amongst all the glitter and glamour he seems so enamored with....

Glad that New York has fallen by the wayside. Now if we could just get that parade back to the roots of NASCAR where it belongs.

Anonymous said...

Anywhere but Hollywood. I can tolerate Manhattan, but Hollywood is a no.

Why not Indianapolis, Charlotte, Daytona, or Atlanta?

Anonymous said...

The NASCAR banquet should by all rights be held in Daytona . How would any other location make more sense ? The second option would be Darlington for obvious reasons . The third would be Charlotte , though a distant third . All are locations where the awards banquet is considered important .
The location of the banquet only ever mattered to a small handfull of yuppies at the NASCAR offices who managed to convince Bill France that stock car racing would be taken seriously in the Northeast and LA if only people were exposed to the gala event .
The yuppies were incorrect , as they have been in almost every move NASCAR has made in the last 5 years .

Anonymous said...

My point was & is - if NYC does not care ( & they don't) move it where its wanted. LA is not gonna be the only choice, Daytona is an option.

Just make sure the weather is fairly decent at the time of the banquets, put them all in the same area, not how it is now. Last year there was an article about the Harvicks adventures in being in 3 places at 1 time.

BTW wasn't NA$CAR saving the owners $$$$ w/CoT? Why not move the end of the year galas to 1 area & make it fan affordable?
Good hotels & affordable around Thanksgiving (or most times) & NYC are not usually placed in the same sentence. At least not by those of us having to pay for them.

Anonymous said...

JD...even more interesting comments.

Is it possible that this is part of a grand strategy to show that New York is NOT friendly to NASCAR? Reason I ask is that the Grant v NASCAR pre-trial conference is scheduled for October 3rd...and this could be used by NASCAR's lawyers as part of an argument to change the venue of the case, if it should go to trial. There are a possible 225 million reasons why this could make sense, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

JD...even more interesting comments.

Is it possible that this is part of a grand strategy to show that New York is NOT friendly to NASCAR? Reason I ask is that the Grant v NASCAR pre-trial conference is scheduled for October 3rd...and this could be used by NASCAR's lawyers as part of an argument to change the venue of the case, if it should go to trial. There are a possible 225 million reasons why this could make sense, IMHO.

September 14, 2008 11:25 AM
Anon11:25 are you a lawyer? because even my "lookin for a reason" mind didn't think of that one! Good job ;)

Anonymous said...

JD, I'm glad you're finally accepting Charlotte as the main option for the banquets. For the longest time, you seemed very firm on insisting Las Vegas was the best option for the Cup banquet in your previous columns about the banquets. Even when it was pointed out here by a poster (me) that Dale Jr said - in response to Bruton's Las Vegas pitch - that Charlotte should be the only alternative to NYC. (though Dale Jr said liked NYC too).

Anonymous said...

(Anon 11:25)

Jo...just an interested observer, remembering an important rule when analyzing an organization's actions: "Follow the money."

Anonymous said...

And ALL the $$$ goes to Brian

Anonymous said...


Where does Brian live?

Anonymous said...

Allegedly in Florida LOL any bets on NYC?

Anonymous said...

Brian France has a $10 million apartment in the new 15 Central Park West building in New York City.

Jeff Gordon lives in the same building (was one of the first to purchase, actually; Brian is a trend follower, not a trend setter).

Anonymous said...

See I knew he wasn't Florida, just maintains his addy. Nice to see the king of NA$CAR is a follower. Pretty much explains everything.

Anonymous said...

Adding that I wrote the address because it's ***the*** prestigious building of NYC right now and every resident that moves in is written about in the NY media -who they are, what apartment they purchased and how much they paid for it.

The resale prices on the apartments have gotten outrageous; One is on sale now - one of the biggest ones - for $90 million and the owner paid 33 million for it last year; Jeff Gordon could easily sell his for three times what he originally paid for it and make a 26 million dollar profit.

In Manhattan it's not a bad thing for people to know what building you live in. It's part of the prestige.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:42AM,

You are almost correct. I wanted the 2008 and 2009 banquets to go to Vegas. The NASCAR Hall of Fame was not suited for either, but now they have made changes and the Convention Center is almost as good as the Vegas facilities.

In talking to various NASCAR personalities, we could not even calculate the cost savings if all three banquets were in Charlotte and all the teams did was show up and then go right back home traveling by ground.

All of the associated activities would have gone great in Vegas from the shopping and hair and make-up for the wives to the golf and poolside fun for the guys.

Now, Charlotte has grown-up and seen that SPEED Street vibe they have during the Lowe's race could return with a coordinated banquet celebration.

I will keep you posted, as I am getting email on this issue from all sides.


GinaV24 said...

Wow, someone finally got a clue! It's about time -- move the banquets to somewhere that actually enjoys NASCAR. I know there are some NASCAR fans in NYC and certainly in the surrounding area, but let's face it, the whole going to NY thing hasn't worked now for a while. The media blitz was terrible and awkward, just as you said, JD. I like the idea of moving it to Charlotte, especially if the fans could be more involved in the festivities and if the crews and teams can go home at night, man, I'll bet they'd be grateful as heck. While they are at it, how about having Allen Bestwick emcee the banquet again instead of some loser actor or comedian who knows absolutely NOTHING about NASCAR. Talk about embarrassing the drivers and the sport -- quit forcing stuff and let's have some fun.

Anonymous said...

It also didn't help that last year, the Victory Lap drew a large crowd... and caused quite the gridlock in Manhattan on the same day that they had scheduled the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza!

Bloomberg used it as an excuse to go head hunting.

I have to admit that the show at the end of the year is hard to watch. The humor is strained and feels so canned and off timed that it's distracting.

I can't watch it in real time.

Anonymous said...

I live in NYS. Please be sure to understand that it is *not* the same as NYC, and if you've watched Watkins Glen, you know that. There are cows and grapevines and cornfields and all that stuff, lol. Anyways, I personally thought Vegas would be a great location. Why? Because the drivers and their families/teams see it as a vacation and seem to have a lot of fun while there--I have no real issue with Charlotte, but I'm just not sure it would be so 'special' because it's home. Vegas has great facilities, plenty of hotel rooms and fancy ballrooms. Yes it would save money and that's something I think NASCAR should discuss with the teams. Flying to Vegas, though, and hotel rooms, would not cost more than NYC, probably much less. The argument was always that the *SPONSORS* were headquartered in NYC, and that was the reason for it. Not sure if that's still so. But I agree, media is still the focus there, not *sports media*, but media in general. But I think other options should be looked at. I do think Sprint might have an opinion as well.

I don't think weather has anything to do with it. They're in a hotel. It's only a matter of travel and that's not usually that bad in December.

Anonymous said...

I have long thought that the NYC idea has run its course. It's apparent that the enthusiasm just isn't there. I don't know if it's culture, a lack of marketing skills, or something else.

I also think that Charlotte is better than Vegas as a banquet site. The drivers and teams need to be close to the families as long as possible.

Finally, I find it interesting that the CEO of NASCAR and one of its most famous drivers now live in the same place.