Sunday, December 27, 2009

Brian France Message To NASCAR Fan Council Members

After a rough couple of seasons, NASCAR is ready to begin 2010 with some major changes in place. Historically, NASCAR has been one of the least interactive sanctioning bodies. Fans trying to contact the organization were actually given a post office box address in Daytona Beach, FL. Click here to see the page.

Thanks to the efforts of several key staff members, that dynamic has changed rather drastically over the last two years. Now, NASCAR has every series on Twitter along with most of the tracks, teams and sponsors. Information now flows much easier to the media and fans are better connected to the sport.

One hot topic has been the NASCAR Fan Council. Originally a pretty low-key group, they were pushed into the spotlight when France pointed out that the 2010 changes were largely due to their feedback.

Surveys are emailed regularly to the twelve thousand fans chosen to participate and the responses are then sorted by a marketing organization for content. Topics have ranged from Digger to doublefile restarts "shootout style." The questions have been remarkably frank and honest in addressing topics that NASCAR would never have confronted or even admitted in the past.

Fan Council members got an end of season letter from France recently, here is a portion:

Today I want to discuss two exciting improvements you might be aware of that will positively impact the entire 2010 season. Importantly, feedback from fans like you helped make these improvements possible!

First, we recently announced that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races will adhere to more consistent and earlier start times beginning next season. Being able to anticipate when races begin will help both fans in attendance and those watching at home better plan their weekends without missing a minute of racing.

We will be returning to our roots by beginning many races earlier in the day. Next season, twenty races will be moved to 1 pm ET, including the Daytona 500, and most Saturday night races will now begin at 7:30 pm ET. For daytime events taking place on the West coast, a standard start time of 3 pm ET will be established. In addition to being more convenient for the fans viewing at home, I believe these earlier start times will greatly help fans attending the races to get on the way home sooner in the evening. Earlier start times will also eliminate the need for an extra day of travel for many of our fans.

Secondly, Double-File Restarts will be in effect throughout the entire 2010 season in all three national series (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series). This improvement was introduced at the Pocono Raceway event in June of 2009, placing the leaders in the front of the field, double-file, with lapped cars placed at the rear.

These improvements were all made after consulting with NASCAR Fan Council members like you. We look forward to hearing more of your thoughts and opinions in the future, so that we can work together to make NASCAR the best it can be. As we head into 2010, NASCAR will continue to focus on what's most important - delivering the best possible racing to the fans.

That is a remarkable step forward for an organization that has been less than democratic for a very long time. Perhaps, the 2007 start time changes made for the TV partners taught NASCAR a valuable lesson about what group really needs to be the priority in future decision making.

Hopefully, the information gathered from the NASCAR Fan Council members during the 2010 season will be shared in a more timely and public fashion. A frequent reminder than fans are actively involved in helping to shape future policy can only bring positive results.

TDP welcomes your opinion on this topic. To add your comment, 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.


Dot said...

I don't know if it was the fans that NASCAR listened to or not regarding the start times. I read it had something to do with FOX and Fball. I don't remember the details.

If BF wants us to believe that he listened to the fans, that's fine. We know differently.

It is a convenient way to say that he cares about our input and concerns.

However it happened, I'm happy about earlier start times. This coming from a west coast timer.

GinaV24 said...

Well, it was nice to hear BZF acknowledge the contribution by the fans who are part of the council. As Dot said, I'm not sure if NASCAR is really listening to the fans or not -- if they were, they would be doing something about the ugly car, too to make the actual racing better, BUT that said, making the start times more consistent is something that makes me happy. Somewhere I read too that the question was answered as to whether or not the new times was the pre-race start or actual green flag and the answer was ... the green flag would fall within 15 to 20 minutes AFTER the posted start time.

As you say, JD, the fan council survey effort is a big improvement over previous ways the fans could use to "contact" NASCAR. I used to regularly e-mail the fan e-mail address they had and getting the "canned" response - "happy to hear from you, you are very important to us" usesd to just make me angry. I'll give whoever it is who dreamed up the fan council survey idea, a pat on the back, but it would also be nice to get more feeback on the feedback, if you know what I mean.

Newracefan said...

Call me a Pollyanna but I like to think that we fans actually made a difference. Do other sports have an "official" fan council?

Now do I think BF actually cares what I say no but Nascar as a sanctioning body and me as part of a group well......

red said...

one feature that was also introduced in the council newsletter is that we can now drop feedback on the fan council twice a month aside from the survey responses. i will most certainly be taking advantage of that over the 2010 season!

i'm not sure who took it over but it's clear to me that someone in daytona is reading the responses and starting to ask the tough questions. the final survey of the season showed me that. so, props to whatever team at nascar corporate has realized that fan voices are important and need to be heard within the organization.

add to that, france showing up at a tweet-up and i'm beginning to think a dim light is finally dawning in daytona. for me, they have a whole lot more to do and need to do it consistently to prove to me as a fan that they are serious about listening to our voices. and they need to be more open: not asking for transparency (altho' that's be sweet!) but at least provide much more information, more freely and be available to fans at the race track.

so, nascar folks, here's my latest idea: thru twitter, randomly select fans to attend a meeting at every track all season. folks submit their info to nascar via twitter and nascar randomly picks 15-20 fans to meet with for about an hour sometime during race weekend. provide a topic and then let the fans talk. have helton or pemberton be the face of nascar each week. want to re-gain fans? start meeting with us, listening to us, making us partners in the sport.

but -- credit where it's due: someone has started to listen and some action has taken place. do i want to see more? certainly. but dealing with these smaller but more visible issues is a good start.

RvNGrammy said...

Since I know that many of us on the Fan Council did complain about start times, maybe Brian is telling the truth about listening to us.

I agree with would be nice to get some acknowledgement of our submissions. But even having the council is a big change.

I like that they have opened it up so we can send them comments twice a month instead of waiting till we get a message from them. Used one of mine to ask why two winners from last year aren't included in the shootout while several oldsters and also-rans will be able to race. No answer and no change in the lineup...yet. ;-)

Vicky D said...

Like Dot posted, I don't really believe BF listened to the fans at all I think it had to do with the broadcasting stations regarding the start times. One of the best things is the DFR and with the truck series instituting it for next year, it's a step in the right direction. I'm disappointed with Memphis & Milwaukee Mile though.

KoHoSo said...

This is the free market system in action. NASCAR, along with the television partners and probably at least a few sponsors, finally got hit hard enough in the wallet to start paying attention to those they previously considered to be whiners, bellyachers, and old fuddy-duddies that were stuck in the past. I think there is also an element to this that they all finally realized that this was a long-running slide and not simply attributable to The Great Recession. Thank goodness NASCAR has finally started to listen and make changes before it was too late.

Let us all hope that this continues to lead to better things both for fans watching at home as well as those that go to the track. Despite what some in the NASCAR media might believe, I really would like nothing more than to come to TDP every week and praise both the TV coverage and NASCAR in general rather than point out their many failings.

Let us also hope that this will be a great lesson learned by Brian France and that he will never again be so arrogant or fall so far behind the curve as far as fan sentiment and desires are concerned. I would also love nothing more than, many years down the road, to be able to laugh about how badly he did at first but then praise him for how well he turned things around.

Jonathan said...

I give props to Brian, I know most of you dont like him but I feel a lot of changes coming this year and next! Everyone hates him for the COT and trying to connect w the west cost fans but at least he tried! The COT is for saftey and now we have version number 2 that hopefully will end up replacing the cot #1 (even though I dont mind the look of the ride it just needs some tweaking to make the racing better) so were getting to where we want to be! Brian I appreciate all you have done for are sport!

50 yr. fan said...

Brain Farce is probably somewhat
honest that the Council got some
attention, but I believe that
you JD, and the comments of the
Planeteers making their ideas
open for all to read, have gotten
the most attention. Punch?
Thanks for all your hard work.

saltsburgtrojanfan said...

Finally Brian France comes to his senses. Now NASCAR has to really get rid of the vanilla crybaby attitude that has overwhelmingly taken over NA$CAR

Unknown said...

I think the low ratings and general fan apathy have finally gotten the folks in Daytona Beach's attention, and cudos to them for finally listening.

The next great hurdle MUST be the race-ability of the COT. The safety built into the car can not be overlooked, and we've witnessed some hellish wrecks that, not for the COT, the results would have been tragic.

But, the bottom line is, the thing is crappy for producing good racin'!!! Loosen the reigns, let the best and brightest in the garage area be able to actually work on the car, and the overall product will improve.

Credit where due, they're moving in the right direction,,,but for heavens sake, do something with that darn car!!!

Richard in N.C. said...

I hope all the Planeteers enjoyed a wonderful and melting Christmas. I think a nice after-Xmas present would be a NASCAR e-mail box to which fans could express themselves to NASCAR.

GinaV24 said...

Richard, that would be a great idea, but as long as TNT is behind the curtain, and all e-mail goes through them, I don't expect to actually see that happen

Anonymous said...

Brian France would have announced his resignation if they were really listening to fan feedback.

saltsburgtrojanfan said...