Monday, December 1, 2008

Charlotte Observer Declines Sending David Poole To NASCAR Banquet

Several weeks ago, TDP ran a column about the upcoming Sprint Cup Series banquet in New York City. Click here to read it. The title was "NASCAR Schedules A Return To Outer Space."

The thrust of the column was that between the struggles of the sport this season and the dire economic issues facing this country, trying to once again walk the drivers and teams through the scripted banquet festivities was going to be counterproductive. Even the "mini-parade" through Times Square was cancelled this season.

Monday, veteran Charlotte Observer writer David Poole revealed on his blog that his newspaper had decided not to send him to NYC for the Sprint Cup Series banquet and surrounding functions. Perhaps, you might want to take a moment to read that last sentence again slowly while you look at Poole's picture in the center above.

The Observer's is one of the oldest and busiest NASCAR websites on the Internet. Poole may be a curmudgeon, but he is one of the most experienced and well-known NASCAR writers of the modern era.

While Poole tried to downplay his lack of participation, the message was loud and clear from the Observer. The trip was simply not going to be worth the expense.

Charlotte is the home of NASCAR. Despite the protests that may ring from Daytona, NASCAR is moving next summer into their new executive high-rise building in downtown Charlotte where administrative, operational and media efforts will be consolidated.

As many of you already know, that building is adjacent to the NASCAR Hall of Fame whose construction is underway with a hefty price tag. This complex is one of the "anchors" of the new Charlotte downtown revitalization.

To have perhaps the most widely-known newspaper associated with the sport decline to send its senior NASCAR writer to the post-season banquet is a wake-up call that is going to be talked about for some time to come.

Let's work the numbers. A non-stop Wednesday flight to NYC with a Saturday return is $358 on US Air. Three nights at the Sheraton in Manhattan is $1262 and we will round-it-out to $1300 with some tips included. Let's give $150 for three days per diem, $100 for NYC cab fares and another $50 for airport parking in Charlotte. The grand total is $1958.

So, after ten months of racing across the country, thousands of media stories building-up to the championship and Jimmie Johnson about to be crowned the three-time champ, the Charlotte Observer will not spend about $2000 for Poole to cover the story.

In his blog, Poole calls the banquet "dopey" and wonders why fans are not included. Like TDP did a while back, he mentions Las Vegas and Charlotte as possible locations that might make more sense for this function in the future.

One of the biggest reasons that the banquet was located in New York City all these years is because of the media exposure. Now, with texting and Twitter and the Internet changing the media rules the only question is when will NASCAR also change?

Perhaps, having one of the top Charlotte-based writers in the sport home on his couch in Stanfield, NC trying to find ESPN Classic on the cable dial might get NASCAR's attention.

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