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 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, 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.

Mr. Excitement on SPEED, Craven on ESPN

Just a quick reminder that as we head down the stretch in the Sprint Cup Series, both ESPN and SPEED offer one hour Monday NASCAR programs.

First up is NASCAR Now on ESPN2. Allen Bestwick is back after a rough Monday for Nicole Manske last week. Bestwick has a great panel in Ricky Craven, Randy LaJoie and Ray Evernham.

This Monday show is the pride of the fleet for ESPN in terms of content and production. The network has spent a lot of money and made a lot of changes in the past three seasons. What you will see at 5PM ET on ESPN2 is the result.

Over on SPEED, the roller coaster ride that is This Week in NASCAR continues with yet another twist. With Michael Waltrip away on a trip to Italy it will be Mr. Excitement, Jimmy Spencer, filling-in on the panel.

Spencer will be joined by Chad Knaus and host Steve Byrnes. Spencer was an interesting choice for SPEED. Kenny Wallace has previous experience on this show, while both SPEED's Hermie Sadler and Phil Parsons are former drivers who now work in TV. Spencer was chosen for a reason and viewers will see how things work out at 8PM ET on SPEED.

Media Notes: Lots of email on Tony Eury Sr., who was involved in a car accident and spent the night in a local hospital. He is being released on Monday afternoon and expected to recover fully. Thanks to Mike Davis for the info.

This week's NASCAR TV schedule is being assembled on the right side of the main page. Put all plans for Saturday on hold, full day of action including the Whelen Modifieds and Camping World Trucks live on SPEED. The Mod race from New Hampshire may be the best of the weekend.

Looks like Fargo, ND was the only ABC market that cut-off the NASCAR pre and post-race for news. Seattle also had news scheduled, but made a change to NASCAR before air time. Outstanding cooperation this season from the ABC local stations.

This is the week that the Chase drivers go to NYC for a media tour. NASCAR Now will move to 5:30PM and run for an hour on Thursday. Mike Massaro will talk with the gang of 12 from the Hardrock Cafe.

No new updates on the possible daily motorsports TV show from SPEED for 2010. NASCAR Fan Council members were asked about a new show in a recent survey. SPEED says it is just exploring options. Let's hope those options include more motorsports and less towing.

You can easily follow us with live updates all day at

We welcome your comments on these topics. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you.