Monday, September 14, 2009

Updated With NASCAR Response: Still Wondering About Champion's Week


Update: The NASCAR response on this topic is published at the bottom of this column and also in the comments section for your review. Thanks to Ramsey Poston for the timely information.

Since starting this media project almost three years ago, I have been called a lot of things. Recently, motorsports columnist Jeff Wolf of the Las Vegas Journal-Review added to that list. "Nitwit on the Internet" is actually kind of catchy.

The topic was the first Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week in Las Vegas, NV. To refresh your memory of what was supposed to happen, click here for a link to Mike Hembree's column from back in April. That is when the announcement of the move to Las Vegas was made. Here is an excerpt:

One of the biggest complaints about banquet week activities in New York has been that there have been severe limitations on fan access. In Las Vegas, one suspects the city fathers and mothers will delight in having loud, showy race cars parading down the Strip.

The move to Vegas opens up a world of possibilities for NASCAR sponsors and team sponsors. The city has convention-center type space spread across numerous hotels and its own huge facility. With almost unlimited space, there are boundless opportunities for displays, appearances and autograph sessions by drivers and fan activities. It could be a vastly expanded version of the old Winston Cup Preview, a popular fan event held for many years in January in Winston-Salem, N.C.


Click here for the August 17 TDP column that got Mr. Wolf in such a tizzy.

After failing to locate any information about Champion's Week, we asked how it had become invisible after the promises of fan interaction and potential for change. This is not about one night of awards and awkward speeches, it is about how NASCAR was going to embrace Las Vegas and open up to new concepts for an end of season function.

Luckily, Mr. Wolf decided that he would clear things up for the fans. Click here for his column about NASCAR in Las Vegas. Here are some excerpts:

Though many plans still are being finalized, some nitwits on the Internet have implied that it's going to be a blah event. Not true.

The big Dec. 4 banquet at Wynn Las Vegas won't be open to the public.

Cup drivers, sponsors and dignitaries will begin arriving in Las Vegas on Nov. 30 to play in a golf tournament to benefit the Kurt Busch Foundation. Not sure if the tournament will be open to spectators or if anyone can pay to play, but we're checking on that.

On that Wednesday, there will be some type of event in which fans can meet drivers.

Big events on Thursday will be closed to the public.

After the (Myers Brothers) luncheon, a traditional "victory lap" will happen on the Strip when the top 10 drivers parade in their racecars down the world-famous boulevard.

There will be many driver appearances and interactive displays along the Strip. It will be an entertaining week.


Did that information help you to make a decision about flying into Vegas in early December? Here is a realistic review of the current information available to fans about the schedules and activities.

No information on the NASCAR.com website. No information on the Wynn Las Vegas website. No information on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway website. No information on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority website. There isn't even any information on Ask.com, the official search engine of NASCAR.

Las Vegas hotels are begging for business and room rates are at the lowest prices in years. The Las Vegas casinos are begging for customers and the specials available are tremendous. Airlines have slashed rates on flights to Las Vegas. Is this not the perfect situation for the city to welcome NASCAR fans for a long weekend of fun?

In the simple world of this "nitwit," all fans need is some communication from NASCAR in order to understand if they are invited.

Here is the media release from NASCAR on Monday afternoon addressing this topic.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 14, 2009) – For the first time in NASCAR history, fans will have the opportunity to join drivers, team owners and industry leaders to celebrate the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. This year’s awards ceremony is scheduled to be held at Wynn Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009.

Approximately 300 tickets will be made available to the top 12 teams and drivers, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track operators and NASCAR partners to utilize for fan promotions. Fans will make up about 25% of the audience as they join drivers, team owners and industry officials for the awards ceremony. The available tickets will be used as part of sweepstakes, contests or promotions.

“Making tickets available provides the teams, tracks and partners a truly unique opportunity to reach out to the fans like never before,” said NASCAR CMO Steve Phelps. “We’re looking forward to seeing creative promotions for the limited number of tickets. We’ve worked very hard over the past four months to iron out details for the awards ceremony and the fan element was top priority.”

Last April, NASCAR made the decision to move the awards ceremony to Las Vegas after holding the prestigious event in New York City for the past 27 years. After considering several options for the 2009 awards ceremony, NASCAR formed a partnership with Las Vegas Events, with Las Vegas becoming the “Official Host City of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week.”

In coming weeks there will be additional announcements about the events planned for “Champion’s Week” in Las Vegas. Specifically, more details will be provided about the Top 12 Victory Lap Parade, entertainment and other fan event opportunities.


TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PammH said...

In this economy, I'm pretty suprised that LV doesn't want Nascar fans crawling ALL over the place! Shows they are clueless as BSPN, imo, of course.

Andrew S. said...

This nitwit emailed the LVCVB after your original column about the NASCAR banquet and is still waiting for a response

Ted said...

Just this week I listened to a radio interview from a comedian who works in Vegas. He was saying how slow things are out there. Many shows are running about 1/3 the number that they normally do. Ticket prices being slashed as well. This would be a great event to get some fans of NASCAR into the city, but honestly it doesn't sound very fan friendly. I am sure Mr. Wolf thinks it's great because the media members will have a lot more access to the events then the typical fan.

Vicky D said...

Wow, only 10 of the chase drivers will drive down the strip. I guess the other 2 will stand on the corner of Flamingo & LV Blvd. and sign autographs. What was written about it in your column, it doesn't sound very fan friendly to me at all. I also thought that since a lot of the functions were NOT open to the public what is the point of anyone trying to go to Vegas and try to enjoy it or be a part of it. I always found the banquet on tv very very boring too.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't get too worked up about his article. This is a guy who last month said that the chase format has "wrecked" the drama in the points race. I about spit out my morning coffee on my paper when I read that headline.
He normally is a very good writer and I look forward to his column every week. Sometimes though he has a brain fart.
All this does not take away from the fact that the public has not been told any info about the events. This is wrong.
I've been waiting since the announcement to find out the schedule of events so I can put in my time off request to attend functions. I hope that I here something before the first week of Nov. because I have to give 30 days notice.
I still am very excited about the whole event and especially excited about the "victory lap" coming down the strip.

Phil in LV

Daly Planet Editor said...

Phil, if you see anything locally please drop me an email at editor@thedalyplanet.tv anytime with a link.

Lots of folks looking for info and wanting to make plans.

Thank you,

JD

Anonymous said...

JD, no problem, I'll keep my eye out.
Phil in LV

Richard in N.C. said...

JD - oops, pardon me, Mr. Wit - I believe that clears everything up. It's a secret.

RvNGrammy said...

I made reservations for the trip to Vegas, hoping that there will be fan-friendly events. So all the big events are closed to the public? To heck with it. Sounds like a total waste of time for a fan to go to Vegas for the celebration. Good thing I have plans to meet with family members for some fun.

Nick Doyle said...

JD --

I wonder if some of the hesitation is due to the financial situation that many of the teams find themselves in this year.

For the 10 teams chosen to drive down the strip, that cross-country round trip for the car transporter is an expensive proposition (fuel, driver[s], hotel rooms, etc.) that they may find to not be worth it.

Air travel may be down to Las Vegas, but what a pain getting there. Teams/drivers with their own planes still have to buy a bunch of fuel for a trip to the West Coast.

Do you think it's possible that NASCAR may be facing some opposition by the teams?

Cheers --

Nick

Anonymous said...

Did you hear Kurt Busch's interview after Richmond? He said the banquet in New York was special and he was looking forward to it - words to that effect.

Maybe he knows something we don't, LOL?

Guess we'll save our pennies and stay home. Doesn't sound as if fans are on the agenda beyond the most basic of gestures. Too bad.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
darbar said...

I think it's obvious that the terms "fans need not apply" will be perfect for this year's banquet and other team activities. Sounds to me that either Las Vegas was totally unprepared for this move or else Nascar wants to keep things away from the fans and have a big party for the Big 10 of Nascar and their sponsors.

JD, is there any way to find out if there will be sponsor-only events in Las Vegas that are already planned?

darbar said...

Anon 11:36. Do a google search. The only blogger to write about the banquet, and lack of information about the event, is JD. So maybe it's time you wake up, dude.

Dot said...

@ Anon 11:11, I caught that too, re Kurt Busch.

Why does the banquet only showcase the top 10? I can't remember.

Doesn't NASCAR pay for any of this? I believe the drivers and families pay their own way. But how rude for NASCAR to expect the teams to pay for the haulers, show cars.......

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David said...

Ummm, correct me if I am wrong but doesn't everything this Wolf guy has wrote about sound EXACTLY like NYC?!

How in the heck does this make the banquet or "champions week" or whatever they want to call it MORE fan-centric?!

Hearing alot of this "closed to the public" crap makes me wonder what this move was really about.

I got a bit excited when they said they were going to Vegas but the little info I've heard so far, not so much anymore. NYC just not in NYC this time...

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Dot, its always featured the top 10. Top 10 used to be a big deal before the Chase, and when they added the other 2 drivers they just decided to keep it at 10 so that way guys would still "race" to get in the top 10 to be honored at the end of the year rather then once the realistic hopes went away, they just went through the motions the final few races.

Also Nick, most of the big teams that take a show car to LV will be regional I am sure. It will not require a full transporter or anything of the type. They will merely bring a show car with a de-tuned engine that is cruising around the country already.

So that part is not a major burden for the teams.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

At this time of year I think we call that a ......FUMBLE!

Good job DP. I had no idea, but, if I was interested, I would be making plans to stay home and watch football.

MRM4 said...

Since the public isn't going to have much access, wonder if this is at the request of the drivers, NASCAR, or both? Seems to be a waste of time and a great opportunity to move it to Las Vegas and it be ran just like it is in New York.

50 yr. fan said...

Time to move the party to Charlotte
and the new HOF and leave the
city slickers to their whine and
sleeze.

Bruce Simmons (NBaP) said...

First, I'm thinking that if everything Wold said sounded like something from the NY event... then maybe he found that new function on his computer... cut and paste!? (Just wondering...)
.
Not accessible? That doesn't sound very much like NASCAR.
.
Yea... 10 cars. The other 2 drivers will help direct traffic.
.
On being called a nitwit... don't worry Mr Editor. My mom used to say that suspicions of others are due to knowledge of one's self... whatever that means! (eyes rolling)
.
So in conclusion, does Wolf work for ESPN??? (Sorry, had to toss in an ESPN bash somewhere.)

DL said...

Same, I thought the deal with moving to LV was to allow the fans more access to the party. I had heard the banquet (balcony) was going to have a limited number of tix for fans, but I guess not. Unlike NYC, plenty of casinos to do individual driver events for fans, but I have no word! I have friends at the Luxor who are digging. It's now Sept, you would think things are moving, but we won't know the 10 drivers til the end and it's hard to plan for someone unless you know who it is.
Re: Kurt Busch, you think someone has finally told him that the party has been moved to his home town? Incentive for him to stay top 10 huh, and I'm betting bro Kyle will be a party crasher.

OSBORNK said...

I agree with 50 yr fan. Why do they want to go so far away from their fan base except for change for the drivers and teams? They are apparently the only ones invited to the party.

GinaV24 said...

Wow, and this guy has the nerve to call you a "nitwit". Considering the lack of any information of substance included in his article, that makes no sense at all. Also,I thought the idea was to make it more fan-friendly -- guess not. Why would I waste my money to go to Vegas so I could just watch the 10 car parade? I'll save my money.

I think 50-yr fan has it right -- schedule it in Charlotte at the HOF. Oh wait, NASCAR wants to be "more upscale", not so southern-based. Take a lesson from the Atlanta race -- not the Fontana track on Labor day. It was fan-friendly and FUN.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if there are other NASCAR fans like me who love watching races, love reading JD's columns but don't really care at all about the banquest.
Honestly I get enough driver interviews, comments, slice of life moments, etc, throughout the very long season. I don't feel the need to add even more after the season is over.
I watched it in 2007 on whatever channel it was on but really have no interest in it again.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

Annon, I agree. By the time the banquet gets here, it will have been 42 weeks since Daytona, and even longer since the pre-season buzz. By the time Nov. gets here I am NASCAR'ed out and look forward to the offseason to get the juices flowing for Daytona again.

I did have a thought this morning, why doesn't NASCAR set up some type of open fan forum with the top 10 drivers, maybe 2 hours, open it to fans for $5, donate it to the NASCAR foundation or whatever, and allow the fans to ask questions to the drivers. Fan friendly, good cause, cheap, interactive...win-win?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Here is the update from NASCAR released Monday afternoon on this topic:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 14, 2009) – For the first time in NASCAR history, fans will have the opportunity to join drivers, team owners and industry leaders to celebrate the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. This year’s awards ceremony is scheduled to be held at Wynn Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009.

Approximately 300 tickets will be made available to the top 12 teams and drivers, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track operators and NASCAR partners to utilize for fan promotions. Fans will make up about 25% of the audience as they join drivers, team owners and industry officials for the awards ceremony. The available tickets will be used as part of sweepstakes, contests or promotions.

“Making tickets available provides the teams, tracks and partners a truly unique opportunity to reach out to the fans like never before,” said NASCAR CMO Steve Phelps. “We’re looking forward to seeing creative promotions for the limited number of tickets. We’ve worked very hard over the past four months to iron out details for the awards ceremony and the fan element was top priority.”

Last April, NASCAR made the decision to move the awards ceremony to Las Vegas after holding the prestigious event in New York City for the past 27 years. After considering several options for the 2009 awards ceremony, NASCAR formed a partnership with Las Vegas Events, with Las Vegas becoming the Official Host City of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week.

In coming weeks there will be additional announcements about the events planned for “Champion’s Week” in Las Vegas. Specifically, more details will be provided about the Top 12 Victory Lap Parade, entertainment and other fan event opportunities.


Thank you to Ramsey Poston and the rest of his staff at NASCAR for making this information available.

JD

Snafam said...

Keep in mind, that if the banquet had remained in NYC, there would be no cars rumbling down the street. The populace hated it, and flooded city hall with complaints. It received nothing but bad press, as it mired traffic. People were calling for the head of the person who released a permit for it, with the Mayors office swearing they would get to the bottom of it.

Charlie said...

To get good deals for a vacation you usually start looking and booking 3 months ahead of time.
Having Nascar keep this a secret about what is going on and how much the fans are involved makes it hard to decide if this would be a worth while trip or not.

Having them write an update like this -

"In coming weeks there will be additional announcements about the events planned for “Champion’s Week” in Las Vegas. Specifically, more details will be provided about the Top 12 Victory Lap Parade, entertainment and other fan event opportunities."

doesn't help for planning a trip. Most of us fans can't wait until a week or two before this event to make plans. It is to expensive if you have to book at the last minute.

TexasRaceLady said...

"Approximately 300 tickets will be made available to the top 12 teams and drivers, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track operators and NASCAR partners to utilize for fan promotions. Fans will make up about 25% of the audience as they join drivers, team owners and industry officials for the awards ceremony. The available tickets will be used as part of sweepstakes, contests or promotions."

Which means that ordinary, every-day, blue-collar fans aren't invited. The PTB with the teams, tracks, et al, will see to it that their "friends in high places" will get in.

Big whoop.

Anonymous said...

JD,
"Approximately 300 tickets will be made available to the top 12 teams and drivers...." Does this mean it will be the top 12 instead of top 10 as last year...?
One wonders why they didn't just go to Atlantic City. It is a lot closer than LV.
Did the Nascar person who said this was going to be all about the fans, the same person, who at Mich. in June, said that he would take care of the "little guy" and then gave us Carl Long and Mayfield as examples...?
Marybeth

darbar said...

Big Flippin' Deal !!! So they're going to give out 300 tickets to teams and have contests to see who's going to get them. Yeah, like that's going to bring the fan who supports Nascar all season long. I can just see those tickets going to the old "who do you know" group and not to any ordinary fans.

We all know why Nascar moved this to Vegas---for the partying and gambing, and of course, the weather to play golf. None of this benefits the fans one iota. So they're going to parade down the Strip. Big deal---they had a parade of haulers before the race last March.

Nascar is fast becoming a sport that's no longer for the fan. And this move to LV is not because of the fan either---it's all for the drivers and their enjoyment.

David said...

Well good golly gosh 300 tickets! Maybe I can win the NASCAR lottery and get one!

The average NASCAR track holds somewhere near 90+ thousand fans, so we are giving away 300 tickets for what is allegedly supposed to be a fan-centric event? Sure, its 300 more than we had in NYC but does that really matter? Most teams will distribute those among close friends and such, maybe 100 legit "fans" will wind up there.

I understand Posten saying this is the first year there so they are experimenting, but they have to do better than that.

My previous idea would be a start...

Hopefully they announce something big soon and not in a month or two like they make it sound in Ramsey's release.

Vicky D said...

I still don't think the average fan will get to see the inside of the banquet room. The extra 300 tickets will go to friends of the teams.

Anonymous said...

Oh, brother! First Mr Blog guy is so egotistical to think that the Las vegas column is all about HIM... and now he thinks that NASCAR put out a press release because he brought it up.

GIVE ME A BREAK, MR. NARICISSM - IT ISN"T ALL ABOUT YOU.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I just had to leave that one up there for you guys to see.

At least they spelled it right.

JD

red said...

one question keeps coming to mind for me and it's the focus of the dicussion for me: why has it taken this long to get any news about these events? it's not as if nascar just decided where to hold the banquet and attendant activities this year. and it's not as if vegas doesn't do banquets just about every day of the year.

so -- what happened? why the looonngggg delay in getting the info out so folks could make plans, get vacation requests in and approved, save the money, get hyped about it? it feels as if the entire event is some sort of after-thought and that it surprised nascar that fans are getting impatient for information. where was the ball dropped on this one?

sometimes, just sometimes, it feels as if nascar just goes out of its collective way to take what should be an amazing event (or race) and just pound it down into the sand until few people care any more.

for me, this is one of those times.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Red,

I thought NASCAR would hire an entertainment company, put together a package of fun things to do on a four day weekend and then sell an all-inclusive deal to fans.

There was never a suggestion that fans attend the banquet or the Myers Brothers luncheon. But, we do like to have fun and party so group activities, concerts and even laps around LVMS came to mind.

Just don't understand, if NASCAR is really in Las Vegas for the long run, why this has not come together.

Maybe if they do one year and then move everything to Charlotte for 2010 we will have our answer.

JD

red said...

jd, i think that was exactly my first thought as well: work w/vegas folks and put together an awesome package that even those of us on the east coast (some of whom dislike vegas!) would want to buy in! there are PLENTY of event organizing companies out there who could have handled this easily!

make it four days of nascar-themed "stuff", celebrate the chase teams (not just the driver and owner but the ENTIRE team!), show off the very best our sport has to offer. do Q&As with nascar media personalities, maybe have helton around for the fans to talk with, have show cars available, maybe take bus tours out to the vegas track and let fans do ride-alongs -- activities that would make the fan think "hey! that sounds like a neat time! let me see if we can swing it financially."

i'm not certain fans want to sit in the balcony for the banquet but i'm certain they'd be thrilled to see the town celebrate their sport and make them welcome. i suspect vegas is willing to do just that but may be waiting for nascar to take the lead here and set the tone -- something nascar seems to have failed to do.

waiting until charlotte is ready is obviously what is happening here and i understand that. but to allow the visibility of the interim location to fade from the fans' eyes is a big mistake in my opinion.

Halifax said...

I can't believe that NASCAR has ditched NYC ... we've gone to every Champ Week for the past 15 years, and now it's gone. Packed streets, the rumble of engines in Times Square, hard to accept this.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Halifax,

NASCAR even got paid to move to Vegas. That was after the rumble of engines was silenced for good by NYC and let's face it, no one cared.

There is some great video of the final "Victory Lap" on You Tube. Talk about people being mad at NASCAR for stopping traffic!

This year's festivities are certainly going to be just as interesting, but hopefully not in the same way.

JD