Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Social Media Delivers Hendrick Appeal Saga

The evolution of NASCAR media coverage continued on Tuesday. The appeal of the penalties against the Hendrick Motorsports #48 team was being held at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina.

This facility is right down the street from SiriusXM/MRN Radio, the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the SPEED studios and many NASCAR race shops.

Last year, a small group of media casually interacted with a small group of fans on the social media service Twitter as the reporters waited in the same spot for results of an appeal hearing by Richard Childress racing.

As we have documented repeatedly, this year the NASCAR social media scene has exploded. There was no better example of this than fans, teams and drivers interacting with the media group assembled throughout the day on Twitter.

SPEED took the new step of providing live cut-ins throughout the day. Danielle Trotta anchored from the studio and Wendy Venturini was the reporter on-scene. ESPN also had a satellite truck at the R&D Center and reporter Marty Smith was joined by analyst Tim Brewer for a liveshot in the 3PM NASCAR Now program.

The erosion of the wall between the NASCAR media and fans is basically complete. Imagine several years ago having media members sending pictures of each other sitting in the R&D Center parking lot out to fans. Ultimately, there was a daylong informal media question and answer period about the #48 situation.

With social media it's not really about who tweets, but who watches. When something like this appeal is in progress, Twitter is watched by all kinds of folks connected with NASCAR. Since Brad Keselowski's Daytona Twitter adventure, it's also clear that the sport is surrounded by a very active group of Internet-savvy fans. You have to wonder just how many of them kept an eye on this situation during the day.

Even though the media stakeout was fundamentally boring, it allowed Twitter users who are NASCAR fans a behind the scenes look at a unique part of the sport. Media members on-scene were kind enough to continually update everything from weather conditions to the lunch menu.

When the afternoon bell rang that a decision was in, it was Twitter and those very same reporters who passed along the information long before it made it to TV or radio. Social media once again confirmed that it has a fundamental value in terms of speed when used correctly.

The ability of any fan to interact with a NASCAR reporter, driver or team is still rather amazing. Twitter and Facebook have become the home to an incredible amount of NASCAR content that is changing the way younger fans view the sport.

These social media platforms have also given the remaining full time NASCAR media members a new lease on life. Instead of being cornered into an existing corporate website, the freedom to publish directly on Twitter and Facebook has changed everything.

Aside from the story links and pictures provided, it is the ability of the fans to interact with the wide variety of NASCAR media personalities that continues to evolve. That was on display again Tuesday as conversation ranged over a wide variety of NASCAR and racing related topics as the day went on.

NASCAR now has 2.7 million Facebook "likes" and over 500 thousand Twitter followers. While it might be high-profile moments like Keselowski tweeting at Daytona that draw the mainstream news coverage, it's the informal and spontaneous happenings like a media stakeout in the R&D Center parking lot that continue to shape just how social media continues to change the sport on almost a daily basis.

We welcome your comments on this topic. Below is posted the official statment from NASCAR on the appeal. This is what NASCAR sent to media members when things were complete. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet.

On March 13, 2012, the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel heard and considered the appeal of the #48 Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team.

The penalties concern Section 12-1 of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing;” Section 12-4(J): “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR Rule Book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the Event;” and Section 20-2.1(E): “If in the judgment of NASCAR Officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance, will not be permitted: Unapproved car body modifications.”

This stemmed from an opening day inspection for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2012.

The original penalties assessed prior to the deferral were:

Car Owner (Jeffrey M. Gordon) – Loss of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Car Owner points;

Car Driver (Jimmie K. Johnson) – Loss of 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver points;

Crew Chief (Chad A. Knaus) - $100,000.00 fine. Suspended from the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events. Suspended from NASCAR until April 18, 2012. Placed on NASCAR probation until May 9, 2012.

Car Chief (Ron P. Malec) - Suspended from the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events. Suspended from NASCAR until April 18, 2012. Placed on NASCAR probation until May 9, 2012.

Upon hearing the testimony, carefully reviewing the facts and historically comparative penalties, the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel was to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR.

The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer.

John Capels
Leo Mehl
Dale Pinilis
Ed Bennett - Appellate Administrator and non-voting member


Anonymous said...

I hope you've been keeping up with the Kenny Wallace Mac Tools Social Media storm thats aimed for Bristol. Mac Tools got 3,000 followers in 7hrs.

RacerFan88 said...

Excellent blog, JD! You get social media...let's hope NASCAR and the folks running NASCAR do as well. We are witnessing some historical times right now for social media and the impact Twitter can have on a sport. Great read!

AncientRacer said...

Very good column. I had the Twitter on most of the day yesterday and what struck me was how much like a crowd milling around waiting for something to happened it was. The people on the ground at the R&D Center were definitely not "alone" as there were thousands of people with them virtually. Most of the Twitter traffic during the day was pretty much just like what you cold hear were everyone physically there. Jokes, gossip, sniping, predictions, smart alecky comments, information tidbits, rumors etc.

Then came the decision and the chattering about it, but here what surprised me was how fast the print reporters filed stories -- maybe not in their final form but in a readable one. Now, they probably, I know I would have, had a lot of the story written before the decision so they could just fill in the final details. But still it was fast. I think I saw the first Tweet about a minute before the first story.

GinaV24 said...

Great info, JD. It will be interesting to see though if NASCAR tries to punish media members if they say anything that the 800 lb gorilla doesn't like.

I don't tweet a lot on twitter but I do follow quite a few of the NASCAR media to get info without having to wait for tv and radio. Also since I gave up my sirius radio subscription due to lack of interest in what was being covered as far as NASCAR, twitter and FB is a good alternative.

Charlie Spencer said...

AncientRacer inadvertently summed up my feelings. I guess I have better things to do than hang out in a crowd all day waiting for something to happen, something that won't affect my life when it does happen, something I'll learn about from other sources in what I consider a timely fashion. Jayski and the morning paper are fast enough for me. I do applaud NASCAR for apparently taking no action to block what is obviously a popular delivery method.

Daly Planet Editor said...


What is that supposed to mean? You are better than us because you don't pay attention to social media? That does not make sense to me. It's just a technology,


c said...

No, and I'm sorry if what I wrote could be interpreted that way. I freely acknowledge that just because I don't 'get it' doesn't mean it isn't useful to others, just like any other tool. I thought my crediting NASCAR for not discouraging the use of social media reflected that, but apparently not.

I read AncientRacer's post. His comparison to a milling crowd struck me as appropriate, especially the part about 'waiting for something to happen'. "Most of the Twitter traffic during the day was pretty much just like what you cold hear were everyone physically there. Jokes, gossip, sniping, predictions, smart alecky comments, information tidbits, rumors etc." Those strike me as ways people kill time when they don't have the choice to be elsewhere. You commented yourself in your previous blog entry, "There is absolutely nothing for the reporters assembled there waiting for news to do other than get on the Internet and send some pictures." That doesn't strike me as a recommendation that following this incident on Twitter would have been a good use of time, but then my wife doesn't understand why any of us would watch cars go around in circles.

I don't feel superior to those who are successfully using Twitter and other social media; mostly I feel confused about how or whether I can get any value from it, laced with a shot of envy. My most recent try with Twitter was my fifth and longest since the service started. If it wasn't for the genuine enthusiasm you expressed for it here, I doubt I would have looked at it this year. Even with the new interface, it still left me unsatisfied with it as an information gathering tool. This is due more to my inability to filter the overwhelming data stream than any 'superiority' on my part, although the sluggish response and large number of spammers contributed to the negative impression.

If the rest of you are happy with it, go for it. I may (or may not) take another look at it in 12 or 18 months and see if I can benefit from it. In the meantime, is the discussion of social media limited to positive comments?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for the follow-up!

Sally said...

JD, I'm with Charlie here. I've tried Twittwe, and find I also can wait for more 'traditional' sources for my information. If other (like yourself, obviously) think it's great, good on ya. My bias may come from watching kids in the halls of our local high school walking through the halls with their phones always at the ready. They seem oblivious to the immediate world around them, being so intent on texting or Tweeting.

The whole camping out for the results of the appeal seemed ridiculous to me, and not worth hanging on all day for the result. Much ado about nothing.

MortonGroveDon said...

I can sympathize with Charlie. I have never had twitter, never looked at anyone's account.I hear them quite often enough on the radio when it comes to sports. I guess since I dont make my living off of the sport, I can still live with out it and wait for the info. I too see people, not just kids, staring at their phones now constantly, and when something does happen rather than talking about it, I see them type. People talk too much with their thumbs these days, me thinks......

AncientRacer said...

Charlie & JD

Thanks for your responses. I agree with you both.

I agree, Charlie, to boil your point down, that being on Twitter all day was unnecessary and essentially a waste of time. I would get the news timely enough by the established avenues.

But I look at it this way. I had the time, and had I been handy to the R&D Center I might have wandered on over to see what was up. With Twitter I could do so virtually, still get some work done ... and do the laundry.

I resisted Twitter for Eons as time in the social media age is concerned until JD forced me kicking and screaming into it, but so far it has been fun.

Too, if I have too much to do I can turn it off. The only problem is Twitter is very much like potato chips... :)