Friday, November 7, 2008

NASCAR Schedules A Return To Outer Space

It might as well be a mission to Mars. We are now one month away from the Sprint Cup Series banquet in New York City. Put on your NASCAR space suit.

There is no place in the United States more diametrically opposed to all things NASCAR than New York City. There is no borough of the city more completely counter-culture to the NASCAR set than Manhattan. This year more than ever before, NASCAR's entry into NYC for the week is going to be a lunar landing.

Gone are the good old days of Richard Petty in his cowboy hat and the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. in those wrap-a-round sunglasses mixing with the locals. Gone are the days of the big headlines and the national media coming over to cover the Southern stock car boys in town. This year, even the mini-parade has been cancelled (click here) by the city government.

New York City made its feelings known earlier this season when NASCAR's Sprint Cup media tour came to town for a two-day swing to promote The Chase for the Championship. Click here for the NY Daily News story on that event.

ESPN had to send a reporter to the media tour because the network's NYC studios are closed. TNT and Fox Sports sent no one. SPEED sent a reporter, even though that network does not even have a NASCAR news program.

The NASCAR Media Group cameramen made sure to document the driver's awkward group appearance on David Letterman (click here). Even more awkward were the attempts to talk with the ABC and CBS morning shows. Since Fox has no morning program, several drivers crossed-over to the cable TV side and stopped-by Fox News to say hello.

NBC's Today Show told NASCAR not to even bother stopping by. The morning was topped-off (click here) by six drivers including Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson tossing ice cream at each other with Regis and Kelly.

It will be December 5th when the NASCAR gang again comes to town. It will be right on the heels of the worst financial meltdown in decades and shortly after a divisive Presidential election. At a time when American automakers and many citizens are literally struggling to survive financially, the welcome by the citizens of New York City should be a memorable one.

Both the Craftsman Truck and Nationwide Series have their banquets in Florida. The NCTS will be at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, FL on November 17th. The Nationwide gang will once again be at the Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando, FL on November 22nd.

Only the Sprint Cup Series clings to the decades-old belief that having this function in New York City actually serves a real purpose for the teams and sponsors. It certainly does not serve the NASCAR media judging from the emails and news stories of last year. Almost all the reporters are from the Greater Charlotte area, just like the teams and drivers.

The televised portion of the banquet is tough to watch. Even though Dr. Jerry Punch worked hard as the Master of Ceremonies last year, the entire evening is completely scripted from start-to-finish. How and why the banquet has become a politically correct evening of boredom is anyone's guess.

Click here for a video peek at the 1993 banquet hosted by Bob Jenkins, the late Benny Parsons and Punch. The festive atmosphere and solid TV production made fans feel they were a part of the evening, rather than intruding. It was Christmas time in New York City, the racing was over and smiles were all around.

After this season, it will be interesting to see if NASCAR finally relents and moves the function to the Charlotte Convention Center. Next summer the new NASCAR headquarters in downtown Charlotte will be complete. That building is attached to the new NASCAR Hall of Fame that MRN veteran Winston Kelley is in charge of opening.

So, set the DVR or the TiVo for December 5th at 9PM on the ESPN Classic Network. Just like last season, NASCAR is bumped to the "overflow" channel for the original airing of this function. It will re-air in a two-hour version on December 8th at 2PM on ESPN2.

What a way to end a ten month season for NASCAR fans who would like to see the top ten drivers out of their firesuits and in an awards show setting with their families as the final memory of 2008.

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Anonymous said...

Why does NASCAR continue to go where they aren't wanted? NYC is not the "media" capitol anymore. Satellite TV, smaller cameras & all other innovations mean you can broadcast from anywhere ( even racetracks) live. Hopefully you are right & they go to Charlotte next year.

As to the event being shoved to Classic, well, I'm surprised espn is gonna show it at all. As much as they hate NASCAR fans.

PammH said...

It has really sucked the last few yrs-yet I still watch or tape; why I don't know. NYC hates us in spades. But I always taped the cars going thru Times Square, even tho we got about 3 mins at the end of the show. Any idea who will be the sacrifical lamb comedian this yr, JD? I actually liked Jay Mohr-thought he kinda got Nascar much more than David Spade.

Dot said...

To echo Jo, WHY NYC? You know back in the olden days it made sense. The drivers, etc back then never flew on a comml airline and never wore a suit except maybe to a wedding. (I've watched that redneck wedding show, so I'm not even sure of that, lol). Now the drivers go all over the place in their own planes, or their owners'. The travel and dressing up is nothing new to them.

If they have to travel, Bruton has the right idea, Las Vegas. It's a slow time of year (even slower now), so rooms tend to be cheaper. We have alot of venues to accommodate them. We on this side of the country would embrace them. And to appease the Emperor, it's not that far from his beloved H'wood. That crowd parties here every weekend anyway.

Knowing this would never happen, Charlotte is really the best place for the banquet. I hope they move it there next year. I like to think of the drivers being able to stay close to home during the holiday season.

I will torture myself again this year and watch it. I hope Bodden is on (I forget his first name, Andrew?). He's a hoot. You think Punch will be the MC? (sarcasm) JD, will you get the scoop on the entertainment? Let us know. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Much to all of your shock, there are true NASCAR fans who were born and raised in NYC. I love it when NASCAR comes to town.

Jennifer said...

just an FYI, the Portofino Hotel is at Universal and not at Disney

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks Jen, no wonder they did not take my Disney dollars!


Anonymous said...

Someday all the raggin' us fans are doing will convince NASCAR to move this event to Las Vegas, where it belongs. Charlotte makes logical sense but Vegas is the perfect American venue. Imagine all the fun things they could get the drivers to do - burnouts on the Strip, donuts in front of Caesar's, canal boat races (with pit crews as rowers) at The Venetian, Carl Edwards could backflip into the Bellagio fountain or bungee jump off the Eiffel Tower at Paris. Just think of the cross-promotional product leveraging synergies!

Get out of NYC, NASCAR. Las Vegas awaits!!

Anonymous said...

Good place to hold this event:
1. Charlotte
2. Daytona Beach
3. Las Vegas
378. New York City.

NASCAR needs to just wise up and move the ceremony. No one (except drivers like Jimmie Johnson, who live there, maybe) wants it held in NYC.

Anonymous said...

JD, I'll do exactly what I've done for the past 3 seasons - find something else to do while the banquet is on. Have no desire to see it - the coverage is too choppy, the master of ceremonies is never very humorous, the interviewers are ridiculous, and gone are the days when the drivers WANTED to be there. It's a command performance and most of them look as bored as the viewers.

It's time to take the banquet back to NASCAR roots!

diane said...

About 2-3 years ago I watched bits of the banquet, but it was all Robo speeches. Their PR guys write out a long list of sponsor plugs, there is no real emotion and no spontaneity. Boring, boring, boring. I won't be watching this year, like I didn't watch last year.

DrTeplisky said...

JD...NASCAR better hope that none of the jurors (or potential jurors) in the Grant v NASCAR case get hacked off when the media circus shuts down Manhattan traffic.

The other thing this does (besides thumb a nose at the fans and make for dreadful TV) is set up NASCAR's appeal if they lose the case, and ask for a change of venue again because (Boo-Hoo) those nasty New Yorkers don't like us and we didn't get a fair trial.

NASCAR's chickens...are comin' roost. And unfortunately, the fans seem to be getting a big dose of what comes from the south end of those north bound chickens.

speedangel said...

I wish they would change the Cup banquet format to resemble the other banquets. Have the drivers in a more relaxed, talk show-like setting with an MC that most-to-all of them have a good rapport. (Allen Bestwick is the first that pops into my mind because he's done it so often, along with Dale Jarrett in the supporting role.) For the championship team, they could invite the driver, crew chief and owner over for a conversation.

To solve the issue of sponsor mentions, take the big-screen directly behind the drivers and scroll the sponsor logos and some highlights from their season for the duration of the interview, or even scroll the sponsors across the bottom of the screen if they so choose.

As to where they hold the banquet, I can see why so many want it moved, but I can also see it being held in NYC as something extra special and unique for those invited.

red said...

i've said it before and i stand by it: nascar banquet should not be in nyc. i know there are plenty of nascar fans in nyc but that, in and of itself, shouldn't be the reason for having the banquet there. after all, there are plenty of nascar fans in philly, too, but i don't hear any clamoring to move the banquet into this market.

and i don't buy the "nyc is the heart of the media" argument anymore: IF the media wants to cover the post-season banquet, they will. if they don't, nothing is to be gained by having it in nyc. i love manhattan but it is the most expensive city in the us in which to throw an event of this sort. and i'm not convinced that having 10 drivers lined up on letterman or six drivers throwing ice cream at each other really enhances our sport as a sport.

i don't know what the purpose of the banquet actually is anymore. if it's to reward the drivers, then they should have a voice in where it gets held. do they want it close to home or someplace they never see during the season? do they want to just drop in, do the banquet and head out on vacation or would they look forward to a week in some location? is it just another nascar-required sponsorship event to them or does it have an importance in their eyes? ( i know how my driver feels about it but he really hates being anywhere but the race track and home so he's no help in this discussion!)

if it's for nascar only, what are they trying to do with it? is it to promote the sport to folks who are those elusive "casual fans"? or to reward longtime fans? or to try and get new track locations? or to generate publicity? what is it they want the banquet to do for our sport? (and why can't they honor the heritage of our sport at the same time? will the hall of fame in charlotte change the dynamic?)

it simply can't be all things to all people and nascar needs to decide WHAT it is before they decide on WHERE it is. until that happens, discussions about where to have it are fun but not important. if you don't know what you're trying to say, does it matter where you are when you try to say it?

for myself, i won't be watching: too dull and poorly produced for me.

(and many thanks for the comments on the n'wide and cup races this past weekend: i spent time this morning reading thru them and you guys made me laugh right out loud -- again! thanks!)

Photojosh said...

Screw NY. And not in the bogus "NY isn't full of real americans" political crap way. NY is filled with real americans as much as any city or town in the USA.

However, it isn't filled with "real NASCAR fans" at all. Baseball & football rule the day there. With a little love left over for NBA and NHL. And now that the "info age" has spread the media out all over god's green earth, there isn't even a logistical reason to have the banquet there.

Send it to Charlotte or Daytona or even Indy. Hell, why not Vegas? That town loves a party and has a track.

FWIW, I find the banquets to be more boring than the CSPAN. And CSPAN puts me to sleep.

Richard in N.C. said...

I feel certain there are more corporate executives (of current & potential sponsors) and media buyers in NYC than anywhere else who can be entertained and smoozed incident to the banquet in NYC and who would not make the time to go to Charlotte.

Also, as I recall taking the banquet to NYC was Bill France, Jr.'s idea and I suspect the family may have some reluctance to undo what he did.

red said...

richard in n.c. said (in part):
"Also, as I recall taking the banquet to NYC was Bill France, Jr.'s idea and I suspect the family may have some reluctance to undo what he did."

with all due respect, richard: the family seems to demonstrate little reluctance to do just that anymore. in my opinion, the failure of the current executives at nascar to honor the totality of what big bill gave us as a sport has landed us where we are today. and that is not a good place, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand the hatred of New York.

There is one reason they are having the banquet in New York: The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It is probably the grandest of the old grand hotels, and if you were to claim it was the single nicest hotel in the US you might get some argument (maybe) but no one would say you were flat-out wrong.

And so, after the season is over - when the Cup citcuits best want to throw a lavish party, they go for the best. These are guys who make millions, sometimes tens of millions of dollars a year -- and aside from a fancy winnebago and private jets, they really don't get much chance to spend it.

So I forgive them for wanting to throw a big bash in the nicest place in the country to do so. Yeah, I guess it might mean more to the fans if they picked the best hotel in Atlanta, or NC, etc... but this banquet isn't for the fans. It is for them. I say let them enjoy it. Who cares if it is in NYC? The fact that the mayor didn't want Cup cars causing traffic problems doesn't make the Waldorf any less awesome. I've stayed there and was blown away. I can't imagine staying there with Cup Driver money. I mean, really.

Have a good party, guys. NYC or not, you picked a great venue!

Anonymous said...

There really isnt a reason to go back to NYC. Yeah, there are fans there but obviously, they arent welcome by the city itself.

Have it in Vegas or Charlotte. Maybe when the Hall of Fame opens have it there.

Gone are the days of spontaneity by the driver. Up there joking and having a good time. Now the "suits" write the drivers speeches.
I remember when they would just get up there and talk off the top of their head. Now they get teleprompters.

I dont even record it anymore. If I do, I use it to help me fall asleep.

red said...

anon @ 3:15: you are perpetuating the mistaken idea that those of us who argue for the banquet being moved from nyc must "hate" nyc. that's simply not the case and, quite frankly, it's fast becoming annoying that folks turn to that whenever someone suggests that manhattan may not be the best location for this.

i know the waldorf is an amazing hotel, full of elegance and history and i personally love manhattan. but my point is that nyc has little to no connection with our sport and i fail to undersand why nascar continues to have the banquet there. if they weren't having it at the waldorf, would you feel the same way?

as i posted earlier, i don't know any longer what the purpose of the banquet is and who it is for. your position is that it's a reward for the drivers, correct? ok, under that premise, i say: so let the drivers and owners choose where they want it to be each year. if its their reward, give them a say on where they want it to be held.

on the other hand, i feel it is nothing more than yet another sponsor event and that it has little to actually do with the teams. witness stewart's team being relegated to the balcony the year he won the cup. if it were truly about the chmpionship TEAM, those men would have had seats on the main floor. they didn't.

and the fact that it's going to be carried on a cable channel that is only available by paying a higher cable fee tells me it isn't for the fans at all.

bottom line for me is that i no longer watch the banquet because it bores me. i know how my driver feels about it because he's been honest when asked and, if i'm not a fan of that year's champion, i'm not sure why i'd watch such a poorly produced tv show. i suspect there may have been a time when it was a fun show to watch (i'm thinking of earnhardt sr and jeff gordon's glass of milk toast) but those days are clearly gone.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand the hatred of New York.

It isn't hatred. (Why does everyone throw that word around so much nowadays?) It is simple recognition that NYC doesn't want, nor does it care about, NASCAR.

You do a NASCAR parade in Charlotte, you get 150,000 people lining the streets (I've seen it)--you put stock cars on the streets of NYC and you get angry motorists and politicians who don't want to be held up from their Important Business.

There are now plenty of places that rival or surpass the Waldorf in elegance; times have changed.

The national news media, based in NYC, doesn't cover the banquest at all, so there goes that argument. Local media cover how much of an annoyance those cars are on the city's streets.

Hold it where it is appreciated, not where it is considered a nuisance.

Anonymous said...

It is simple recognition that NYC doesn't want, nor does it care about, NASCAR.

Leaving aside that tremendous insult to NYC NASCAR fans, even if the city doesn't want them, the Waldorf is still an incredible place to hold this event. The drivers actually stay there after the TV cameras go off. It is their place to part.

I'm sorry, but the nicest hotel in all of North Carolina can't hold a candle to the Waldorf. These are millionaires throwing a party for themselves. Does everything they do have to be about the fans? For all these guys do for the fans - more than athletes of most any other sport - let them have their night.

Give the drivers a choice between the Waldorf and the nicest hotel in (Southern City of Your Choosing) and whether or not NYC is hospitable to NASCAR won't enter into the equation. It's their celebration and they can afford the best, why wouldn't they want the best?

cncspd said...


You know the real reason why I want it to stay in NYC. (no pit pass needed) I say leave it.

From what I hear the parade was cancelled. A few years back one of the driver's did donuts in the center of Time Square. It was a great show but the NYPD did not like that so much. I always wondered if they would have cancelled the parade if he did them in a taxi.

As a fan that is not able to get to the tracks as often as I like hopping on the train down to NYC to get my fix.

Having fun talking to people as they walk around the race cars parked in the center Times Square is adventure. You'd be suprised by the number of questions, and all good questions most New Yorker's ask.
Last year several people asked what Chad did at Daytona with the rear window on the 48 car and most understood how it worked. The year before people asked what RCR did with tire pressures on the 31 car. WOW was I in shock when people from NYC asked those questions.

Trying to explain the difference between cheating and "bending the rules" really is a challenge.

It goes to show you that there are NASCAR fans in NYC.

Anonymous said...

These are millionaires throwing a party for themselves. Does everything they do have to be about the fans?

Look at what you just said.

They're millionaires. And who made them so?

The fans.

So, yes, everything should be about the fans, without which they would be running their local dirt track on Saturday night hoping they didn't wreck because they couldn't aford to fix the car for next week.

Anonymous said...

Give the drivers a choice between the Waldorf and the nicest hotel in (Southern City of Your Choosing) and whether or not NYC is hospitable to NASCAR won't enter into the equation.

I can think of several "nicer" places in Las Vegas than the Waldorf.

Richard in N.C. said...

red, as I recall Bill, Jr. was still involved to some degree when the plans were laid for the COT and The Chase - so I would assume that he, at least, did not disagree with the concepts. Implementation is another matter.

My recollection is that taking the banquet to NYC was really a big deal when Bill, Jr. decided to do it. I can imagine some reluctance in the family to change what Bill, Jr. did without at least his tacit blessing.

My main thought though is that NYC is a location where corp. executives and advertising buyers are more likely to attend the banquet (and be smoozed)if all it involves is a an evening and a cab ride, rather than having to fly somewhere and break up 2 days. Besides, I believe several awards are presented by sponsor officials, many of whom may have NYC offices - either at the banquet or one of the 2 or 3 events a day or two before the banquet.

I used to be with a large, international organization and our Christmas dinner-dance was really for the wives - and I'm told the NASCAR wives really do enjoy going to NYC for Christmas ( & other) shopping.

Anonymous said...

I used to be with a large, international organization and our Christmas dinner-dance was really for the wives - and I'm told the NASCAR wives really do enjoy going to NYC for Christmas ( & other) shopping.

People who own private jets should have no trouble going to NYC anytime they wish. Shopping is no justification for holding the banquet there.

Richard in N.C. said...

Anonymous- It's an event, a happening. These people are still human and they don't all have jets.

red, Yes PR reps and PC have sucked all the life out of the banquet, especially now that the Intimidator is no longer around to stur things up.

Anonymous said...

People who own private jets should have no trouble going to NYC anytime they wish. Shopping is no justification for holding the banquet there.

November 6, 2008 6:41 PM

They race 38 weeks a year. When they're not racing or testing, they're making appearances for? You guessed it: The fans. Other than the drivers who actually live in NY (total of three), no one has time to take their wife there. You've got to be kidding about can jump on a plane and go anywhere. And news flash for you: several drivers don't own their own planes and fly on the team plane! Not everyone is flush like that, even if they make a couple of million in winnings a year. Planes are expensive.

Plus there are crew members and others who work hard all year for the winning team while their wives and girlfriends stay home and never get to go anywhere. This is their time to treat them. They're in Charlotte/Cabarrus/Catabwa Country etc. all year long, so no - it is NOT a treat for them to stay home, like it would be for them to be wined and dined in NY.

Anonymous said...

The best part of anticipating Champion's Week: is NASCAR going to eat crow and allow the 11th and 12th place drivers to participate in media appearances for Champion's Week and speak at the banquet? I'm asking since only the top 10 are supposed to participate in these media opportunities as a "reward", according to Jim Hunter?

'Cause last time I checked, the most popular driver in NASCAR and the guy who won the most races this season are currently 11th and 12th. Nightmare scenario for NASCAR PR.

I'm waiting for the Jim Hunter change-of-heart reasoning for letting them attend. I actually hope Jr and KyBu say, "Hey, you said whoever finished 11th and 12th isn't invited, so forget you. We're starting vacation early!"

glenc1 said...

While I personally think Las Vegas would be a better alternative, NYC is 'special' for the teams--if they wanted to have a party in their backyard, well, I think it would take a lot of the excitement & fun out (well--whatever excitement there is in a rubber chicken dinner and canned speeches...)

Anyway, the banquet is not there because it's a 'media' capital--it's there because it's where the corporations who sponsored were headquartered (not sure if that's true anymore.) And no, there aren't a huge number of fans in NYC but who cares? It was something *different*, not the everyday. I think Vegas would work for the same reason, and your travel costs would probably be balanced with cheaper facilities, plus you can shop AND gamble, lol. Miami might be fun too.

dot, you mean Alonzo Bodden? (I keep forgetting it too.) He would be a good choice. I thought Mohr & Spade were both awful.

Dot said...

Thank you glenc1. At least I got the first letter correct. :)

Anonymous said...

This is their time to treat them. They're in Charlotte/Cabarrus/Catabwa Country etc. all year long, so no - it is NOT a treat for them to stay home, like it would be for them to be wined and dined in NY.

How about Las Vegas?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous- It's an event, a happening. These people are still human and they don't all have jets.

Which dirver in the top 12 does not have a private airplane at his disposal?

Anonymous said...

The poster said "own" a plane, which would imply a driver can call his pilots to fly to New York at will. Not have access to a plane and arrange and pay for a private flight like any businessperson can do.

Of course all drivers fly private planes every week, but they are often not their own. They can charter planes (often using the same charter and pilots) to fly to the track and private appearances, and/or use some of the smaller planes in the team's fleet.

I don't believe Clint Bowyer owns his own plane. I'm not sure Greg Biffle does either, though I believe he has taken instruction on flying planes and helicopters. If Kyle Busch owns a plane, he just got it this season. Not sure about Jeff Burton, either.

Going down through the top 15 in points, Kasey Kahne just got a plane this season, managing to make it four seasons before this one without owning one. I doubt David Ragan has a plane; doubtful about Truex Jr, too.

You might be surprised who owns and who charters. I think it's silly to assume that top 12-15 in standings means you own your own plane and can jet off anywhere you like anytime you want.

Anonymous said...

I could be wrong but I think Roush has a 'fleet' so to speak that the drivers can draw from (I just remember in 2004 Jack saying he made sure all his pilots were commercially trained.) I believe other teams may charter with his fleet as well. We know it's not unusual for them to hitch rides with each other. I don't think travel is really an issue for any of them...wherever the banquet is, they can fairly easily get there.

Anonymous said...

These millionmaires do NOT have to wait for a banquet to "get to" go to NYC.

That's not a real reason to hold it there.

Anonymous said...

oh, and take their spouses anywhere they want to go too...

Richard in N.C. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

These folks comparing the hotels in Vegas to the Waldorf are kidding themselves. I've stayed in top-line suites at Wynn and Bellagio, the two best on the strip... and they don't come close to the Waldorf. Not even.