Monday, August 13, 2012

Day Three: How Are Your NASCAR Vital Signs?

While we normally use television and media as the theme of these columns, this week things are different. The vast majority of feedback after this weekend was not only about ESPN, but NASCAR in general.

From the starting line issues with the Nationwide Series through the single-car dominance of the Sprint Cup Series race, this was a weekend that started a passionate fan conversation about the sport that is still in progress.

On Saturday, a bizarre dance played-out for those watching on television. In a event moved from nearby Lucas Oil Raceway, the Nationwide Series played to a virtually empty house at the big track. Instead of the racing stories, ESPN flew in Katie Couric to conduct a featured pre-race interview with driver/celebrity Danica Patrick.

ESPN and NASCAR combined to present Patrick once again as the Great White Hope, focusing squarely on her role as a woman in NASCAR. All of this happened on national television despite the reality surrounding both Patrick and the race.

In the real world, Patrick had been out-qualified in the event by 18 year-old Johanna Long, a female Florida resident with a long history of racing success. But in the very strange world of ESPN and NASCAR, Long simply did not exist.

Despite six months of racing this season, Couric's questions to Patrick were themed around her struggles as a woman in NASCAR rather than her Nationwide Series results. The supposed theme for the interview was the statement that Patrick had almost won the Indy 500. This set the tone for the comparison between the IndyCar tradition of the speedway and this NASCAR racing weekend.

The entire pre-race show was run as if there was a standing room only audience. The TV theme was that the Nationwide Series was making history, that all the actions on the track were historic. No references were made to the wildly successful history of the Nationwide Series racing at Lucas Oil Raceway or that the Brickyard was empty even after one year of promotion for this inaugural race.

The start reflected the pre-race show in that questions immediately arose about why the pole sitter did not cross the starting line first. No NASCAR officials made themselves available for comment and the race continued. The reality of what actually happened was never officially addressed.

Patrick's subsequent accident continued the tone as the TV announcers were reluctant to call out the experienced driver for actions her crew chief later called "stupid driving." Patrick's television interview was an exercise in marketing, which seemed to fit the tone.

Ultimately, the day would be dominated by the penalty given to Elliott Sadler on a late restart. Once again, no NASCAR official appeared on-camera as the TV team floundered for an explanation of a ruling that made little sense. Things got worse once the race was over.

ESPN left the air without an explanation of the penalty or even an interview with Sadler. Nothing was said on ESPNEWS and TV viewers were left in the dark. It was amazing to see ESPN sign-off after the hype and promotion of the event. This was not the kind of history that NASCAR wanted to create.

On Sunday the familiar pattern of past Brickyard races continued. After an outstanding TV pre-race show, the action on the track again was limited to restarts and pit road. Adding to this frustration was ESPN continuing to use in-car cameras and tight shots during those restarts. The only actual passing for position was lost on TV as the ESPN director tried to "make TV" instead of just showing the race.

Time and time again veteran announcer Allen Bestwick's call of exciting racing and key passes did not match the action seen on the screen. In no other professional sport would this type of television production be tolerated. TV follows the puck in hockey and the ball in other sports as a golden rule. In NASCAR, the choice of what pictures to show is subjective.

The Sprint Cup Series has been racing since February. Despite the hype, the Brickyard 400 is just race twenty of thirty-six. The key for fans is that the countdown to the Chase is in full swing. In the relatively new Sprint Cup Series points system, every single place is important. Ultimately, it's all about the finish.

In ESPN's reality, it's all about the event. From top to bottom, the Brickyard 400 was presented like ABC handles the Indy 500. This was never more evident than the during the finish of the race. The winner's car crossed the line, the camera zoomed to the checkered flag and in the minds of ESPN, the race was over.

Meanwhile on the track names like Earnhardt, Gordon, Hamlin and Stewart were still racing. Despite Bestwick's best efforts to break the production team from the script, most NASCAR fans who had been watching their favorite driver for three hours never saw his last lap or the run to the checkers.

With time remaining on the TV clock, an extended post-race show then talked to those very same drivers about their race and finish. Many of the issues discussed by the drivers had never made it into the ESPN broadcast. It was a fitting end to a very strange weekend.

So how is your NASCAR pulse? Is it still beating strongly, fading slowly or pounding with anger for what the sport has become? This is a good time to check-in on where you stand with the sport in general as we go down the stretch. We appreciate you taking the time to add your comments.

95 comments:

Nature Boy said...

As with the economy, the NASCAR vital signs can't be good. I still don't understand why sponsors in the NW series want to be at the Brickyard when the stands were practically empty. I would rather have 25,000 fans packed at Lucas Oil Speedway than 40,000 fans in a 250,000 seat venue like they had at IMS. It just looked terrible on TV.

Mike in Pittsburgh said...

I refused to watch the nationwide race, fell asleep during the Cup race and didn't even go back to the DVR. I still enjoyed the ARCA race and the Grand Am race so the weekend wasn't a total loss.

I don't think that anyone should racing and Indy unless it's on the road course. It's just that bad.

How did IRP lose the dates anyway? If NASCAR tried to do this to a Cup race from Pocono, Dover or one of the SMI tracks there would be hell to pay.

Buschseries61 said...

It was pounding with anger on Saturday. But it is silly to hold a grudge from a sporting event. Now my NASCAR pulse just fades away when I see something like this weekend.

It's just sad the magic I felt watching the sport growing up just isn't there right now. There was just something to these races that made the sport more than cars traveling in circles. I felt I couldn't miss a lap. I could run down the whole schedule from memory. Now it just feels like cars going around and around again. I can start watching with 30 laps to go and see most of the action. I couldn't tell you the order of the Chase races without cheating.

Maybe it's because the sport has 'evolved' from the sport aspect to the business aspect. Schedule changes were business decisions, driver situations like Kenny Wallace are business decisions, The Chase was a business decision. I've been around long enough to see too many tracks, drivers, and teams fall out of the sport and become forgotten. (The return of Rockingham was so special this season, rarely do things come back to the sport)

It kills me to see the efforts of Johanna Long, Jeremy Clements, Joe Nemechek etc. to go practically unnoticed while Danica has the media wrapped around her finger as the savior of the Nationwide series for accomplishing everything through marketing and nothing on track. Getting on a magazine cover seems to get you further than driving the wheels off a low budget dumpster. If the people that can actually race had the money and attention she had, the races would promote themselves.

The Chase certainly reduced the meaning of the season as a whole. I still remember Jeff Gordon dominating 2007, but losing the championship due to a reset. Does anyone care about winning individual races besides Daytona, Talladega, Darlington & Bristol? Is whoever the winner at Pocono going to be glad he won there? Or will he be happy with the points and momentum heading forward to the Chase?

It really feels over the past few years NASCAR is manufacturing hype instead of the magic unfolding naturally. FOX promotes wrecks, then a fan bashing campaign develops for fans asking 'where's the cautions?' ESPN hypes the glories of winning the Brickyard 400, and Greg Biffle pulls over and waves Jimmie Johnson to pass him for the lead with 30 to go. Fans have given NASCAR lots of feedback, such as this weekend. 'History' and boring racing did not equal attendance or ratings. But instead of addressing the issues, I read rumors IMS could add lights soon. It makes me roll my eyes and wonder why I even bother to keep up with the sport. Maybe I'm still hopeful the magic will come back.

Darcie said...

I'm losing interest in NASCAR week by week. I used to attend a number of races every year, but since the COT, Nascar's reworking everything every year and finally the totally stupid Chase, I've pretty much abandoned the sport except for taping races and fast forwarding so I can "watch" a race in about 15 minutes.

Brian France only cares about how much money he can pocket, and lives his life like an ostrich, with his head firmly planted in the ground, or his posterior, whichever you choose. He keeps saying the sport is healthy, but many of us see the sport on life support. When drivers like Matt Kenseth can't procure sponsorship, one has to see there are problems, but old Brian just can't, or refuses to see it. But I guess when you're pocketing millions in TV revenue, you don't need to worry.

And then we have the drivers, men who have lost touch with the fans due to a number of reasons, including, but not limited to the perks their huge salaries provide. Today's drivers rarely work on their cars, drive around tracks in golf carts, hide out in their million dollar motor coaches and fly home in private jets. These drivers no longer longer can identify with the everyday fan, unlike their predecessors who had no problem getting grease under their nails.

Now, there's talk of changes, but I'm afraid it's too little, too late. A new style car, maybe removing the Top 35 welfare system and even more changes to the Etch-A-Sketch rule book won't bring the disenfranchised fan back. NASCAR will continue to putter around, accepting all the bad the sport has presented to us over the last 10 years. As long as foolish TV networks continue to pay France millions, and as long as fans continue to accept a bad product, and even worse TV productions, NASCAR will survive, but with far fewer fans.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't Dr. Jerry Punch ask Brad about that final restart that screwed Sadler? Why didn't NASCAR just throw a yellow at the start and make them try it again? Why is this race even at the Brickyard? Why is Brian France still making one mistake after another year after year?

NASCAR wonders why attendance is down and TV numbers are down. They want to blame the economy for everything. The fact is NASCAR/Brian France continue to screw over fans. The Chase is stupid, the GWC is stupid, the CoT was a huge mistake, fake cautions/overly lenghty cautions, the lucky dog and boring races at boring tracks have pissed off fans and they have simply quit watching and attending.

There isn't one network that can get the TV coverage right. Most fans can't stand the Waltrips, TNT totally sucks and ESPN's producers and directors just don't get it.

The entire sport needs a makeover. From qualifying, to what tracks should have races, to TV coverage and even a change in NASCAR leadership. It all needs to change ASAP.

sbaker17 said...

As regards to the NASCAR Cup & NNS series, any more telecasts or races like the ones from Indy and I won't have a pulse, I will have flatlined. I won't waste my time in front of the TV and I'll be off to drag racing, sports car racing and non winged sprint car racing for the rest of the year.

Vince said...

As a NASCAR fan since the mid 60s I believe that NASCAR is on life support and has been given Last Rites.

I feel sorry for today's fans who have never seen the NASCAR that I grew up with. The current NASCAR needs to be revamped from top to bottom. Which under the current management, will never happen.

I went to visit family in IL over the NASCAR Cup off weekend a couple of weeks ago. We went to historic Rockford IL Speedway and saw a great show. It was Military night, so as a Vet I got in free, but the tickets for the rest of the family were only $12 for adults. For that we saw 5 classes of racing, yes I said 5. The car counts were great. Each class had two to four heat races and then a feature. All of the feature races were some of the most exciting racing I've seen in a long, long time. We all had a great time.

After the racing was done the pits were open to the fans for FREE. You could inspect the cars and talk to the drivers, who all stayed for the fans.

Go to your local short track once and I guarantee you'll come back for more. The drivers race hard every lap for a pittance. The winners purses really didn't even pay for a set of tires for them. They just race for the love of racing.

NASCAR is dead and just doesn't know it yet. RIP

Adam Wood said...

NASCAR is going to need to make some changes soon. Here's what I would personally do:

1) Each track on the schedule gets 1 race per year. Just one. This brings down the number of races to 23. Add a race at Iowa Speedway & the Circuit of the Americas and you are at 25 races.

2) Move the Nationwide race (and Truck race) back to IRP. Grand-Am did great, but keep the Brickyard Sprint Cup only. Also, make the Brickyard a night race.

3) The next TV contract needs to be heavily termed. It almost needs to be NASCAR controlling the pictures & producing a world feed like Formula 1. As has been continuously noted here, commercials need to go & online streaming needs to happen.

Rambo M. said...

Doesn't BZF make similarly ominous "I want to see more at-the-buzzer moments" statements every time they're on the verge of making an outrageous new rules change? The crap's nowhere near done hitting the fan, I believe.

There is nothing that can be done about the TV end of this mess, other than to simply stop watching. The networks have made it abundantly clear that they're going to handle NASCAR any way they damn well please. In turn, NASCAR clearly can't be bothered to do much more than write the networks their checks, or logically they would have exerted more quality control over the coverage by now. Nobody in charge of this process cares, so honestly why should any of us?

My gut feeling is that NASCAR will stick to its guns, arrogance, and/or greed to the bitter end and no amount of outside input from anybody is going to accomplish zip, not until some massive upheaval of some sort occurs. Denial ain't a river in Egypt, but it sure is one that has a tendency to lead off a cliff.

Zetona said...

While this is almost certainly the worst NASCAR season I have followed, I hope, and can almost believe, that it is just a passing trend. The 2013 car, as well as changes to things like the top-35 rule that I think are imminent, will help matters next season. There's a lot of other problems, of course, summarized very well by Buschseries61.

The sport is not dead, though it may be at a nadir, and some of the fans alienated during the past 5-8 years will probably never return. But so many things would improve if the racing was better, and I believe NASCAR are working hard to make the racing better. My NASCAR pulse, then, races with hope and expectation.

However—things may fall even further, though this may result in some welcome changes. If, in November, Dale Jr. would have won this year's title had the Chase not been in effect (doubly so if the 48 wins as a result), the Chase may come crashing down.

In the unlikely event that none of these improvements happen and the sport continues to circle the drain in 2013...well, the IndyCar Series is on the rise, Grand-Am always produces amazing racing, and Formula One is having its greatest ever season with as few caution periods as I can remember.

The Loose Wheel said...

I am not going to be doom and gloom here. My pulse is racing very quickly and furiously. The sport has flat out become too political. It's too politically correct. It is too image conscious. It is too concerned about making money rather than producing quality. Someone figured out after Winston stepped up to the plate that NACSAR could have their cake and eat it too. I remember 1998, the celebration around the 50th anniversary and how much marketing and fanfare there was around that. It was the first time I really ever recalled NASCAR tooting their own horn and you know what? It was okay. You figure after 50 years and still being able to put a good product on the table that you deserve to make a little money except it didn't end there. Before you knew it NASCAR got in the business of marketing itself. NASCAR 2000, that ill-fated NASCAR Racers animated series, movies, t-shirts, killing off the few different diecast producers and apparel providers and consolidating it under one giant umbrella. Yeah, that stuff. They turned into a business. They sell naming rights to a race, except if you don't pay ESPN or FOX or TNT extra, you don't get your name mentioned even though you just paid for the rights to name the event. NASCAR got official "this" and "that" everywhere. All the meanwhile the competition diminished, the fans slowly started to file away and the coverage went to junk. This weekend is just a small window into the world that NASCAR has become.

I remember when Indy was special. Has the racing ever been great there? No, but the race actually used to MEAN something because it was Indy. However, that fanfare never overshadowed the story of the race unlike now.

The Chase, the top 35, the Nationwide schedule...all proof that money matters more than quality. Did championships become run aways? Sure but even in 1998 when it was a run away by Indy, people STILL WATCHED!!! They still tuned into the races because they knew that every week even if Gordon had the championship on cruise control, their driver still had a shot. The race weekend at hand actually overshadowed the season as a whole.

Sponsors didn't buy their way into races. If your car didn't make the field you didn't just buy a car and redecal it. You put your decals on an unsponsored car and were thankful to be there.

I could keep going but folks like Buschseries know what I am talking about.

The Nationwide Series has become the 400 lb gorilla in the room too. Leaving IRP for Indy?! Are you serious?! Never been anti-cup drivers in NW. I have LONG said you need to mix that series between Cup tracks and having stand alone dates on smaller tracks. That way you keep Cup drivers discouraged from trying to run the whole season while still allowing drivers to develop at a more realistic pace.

Another tangent here: Why couldn't ESPN interview Danica and Johana? Ask them about their struggles to get to the Nationwide Series. Ask them how they feel about their progress so far. Ask what they feel like they need to make the next step in their careers. But I guess GoDaddy isn't paying them to talk to anyone other than Danica.

Sorry this got ranty, but I'm still as passionate about this sport as ever. Just sad to see where we have come.

Other drivers feel the same way, but since you can't speak your mind anymore without being fined secretly, no one else will say it.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Brian France in London for the Beyond Sport Summit speaking to the Associated Press:

"We can do better. We can have the packages (for) better, tighter racing," France told The AP. "That's our stated goal and we have to get there. With the new car coming (next year), we want to get this right. And we know it will be hard to keep it right."

"If you are a real purist, you may think it was a great event," France said (of the Brickyard). "But if you are a casual fan, you may have wanted to see lots of touchdowns or lots of lead changes. Things that make you go 'wow.'

“I find, myself, I am on the 'wow' side. I want to be wowed by close finishes and uncertainty and lead changes. That's me. But you certainly can find other people that see it differently."

"There aren't a whole lot of people who don't want to see more lead changes, or a photo finish, or slamming and banging coming out of the fourth turn."

"We are unabashed about wanting that. We want to put it more in the driver's hands. It's a contact sport and if you have a chance to win and are in second place on the last lap, would I expect there to be some contact if you have a faster car? Absolutely."

Thanks to AP website for content.

Joseph said...

I tried to buy a Garage Pass for Sonoma this year. They won't sell you one. all those people you see hanging around the drivers with Hot Pass lanyards? They know someone. The drivers are bazillionaires with supermodel wives, and only "cool people" are allowed near them.

Ironically IndyCar, with all its euro-drivers, is the "regular guy" American series now. If you want to get close to drivers grateful for the support, attend an Indycar race.

papaserge said...

I definitely get this vibe that NASCAR is in major, major trouble and the whole empire could come down quicker than we think. And it's sad.

Everything is so sanitized. The drivers are vanilla, their personalities shown via 140-character bites online. The action is terrible, there's no other way to put it at this point.

The media coverage is at an all-time worst, with both TV and print personalities coming off so buddy-buddy with who they cover that the actual issues aren't talked about. It's often an inside joke we aren't given access to. (There's exceptions to this, however. Jeff Gluck's column ripping John Wes Townley was the most refreshing piece I've read in some time.)

The fans are losing interest by the droves. So are the sponsors. We're in a world where Matt Kenseth can't find steady sponsorship and Jeff Gordon has to be sponsored by the freaking AARP because no one else stepped up and saw the value.

I shudder to think what will become of the sport in 10 years. Unless there's change at the top -- it begins with Brian France -- NASCAR will fall from the "major sport" ranks and back into the niche.

As for your question, my pulse is DOA at the moment.

Anonymous said...

I'll be blunt. If Nascar thinks that Danica is the future of Nascar, then Nascar is dead. Nascar used to be about racing. Now, it's about Entertainment, Hype and Marketing. Nascar is constantly developing gimmicks whether its the Chase,COT, Hall of Fame, Pit Road Championship, 2013 cars,etc. The races are now determined by fuel/pit road strategies,etc. I'm a retired, long time Nascar fan. My best friend and I used to spend weekends at Cup races every year. No more. I wouldn't go if the whole weekend was free. I can DVR races and can watch the Wednesday replays, but I haven't re-watched a single race in at least a year. Ditto for all the pre and post race shows. They are insulting and a complete waste of time. I refuse to watch those shows. A total housecleaning of Nascar and ALL the Networks would be required to fix this mess and I just don't see that coming.

Anonymous said...

I am on life support and I am tired of saying over and over what is wrong. The tv coverage is horrible. Anything Wal... needs to go. Producers and directors needs to go. But, those are minor compared to what Mr. Haney has done. We are not even close to bottoming out. I will keep in touch with na$car just to see what other indiotic moves Mr. Haney will make. Until they get rid of him, the sport will continue to go down. MC

terri said...

How's my Nascar pulse?

The Phil Collins song sums it up:

"I don't care anymore."

Anonymous said...

Racing is a contact sport, Brian? Uh, Brian, that's football. If you think of racing as a "contact" sport, you didn't learn a thing from your father or grandfather. Of course there is occasional contact, but that's not the intent of the sport. And if your goal is to actually make it a contact sport, you're going to have to change the name to demolition derby. With a guy of such low intelligence leading this sport, I fear nothing the fans say will make a difference.

Sally said...

I've found my Nascar pulse is getting weaker and weaker. I used to be one of those whose Sundays were totally dedicated to watching the Nascar race. One of the happiest days I had was when I got season tickets to Bristol. In 2008 I gave up my Bristol tickets. On Sundays now I usually have the race on as background noise while I do other things and just check in occasionally. The entire tone of Nascar has changed. The drivers and owners used to be some of the most innovative and tough people in the business. Those who ran Nascar used to love racing. Now they have all had to become marketers first, racers second. The drivers used to feel like 'one of us' and now they have condos in New York City and globe hop. I contend that one of the reasons Junior is so popular is that he is one of the few drivers these days that harks back to the 'good ole days' in spite of his financial success. Spec cars and gimmick 'playoffs' have not added anything. Trying to claim IMS open wheel history as there own has proved to be less than exciting. I don't know how much longer I will even bother to watch the races. I learned to love Nascar through watching on TV. They somehow managed to communicate the excitement that was racing. Now I can barely stand to watch the bastardized version of race coverage that they dish out. Nascar pulled out it's tradition by the roots, and is slowly dying.

Anonymous said...

Crummy racing, crummy broadcasts, crummy tracks. Heroes not allowed, corporate spokesperson required. Risk of not making the race not an issue. Risk of not making a small fortune for a season's racing zero. The image of Earnhardt sitting on the pavement beside his car has been replaced with the impossibly beautiful wife, perfect child, and a decidedly metrosexual driver surrounded by worshippers. 1.5 mile cookie cutter tracks are destroying my interest. The whole package sucks....

Maverick24 said...

I think everybody has summed up everything wrong with the sport today pretty well.

But in general everything just seems to fit under the umbrella of "manufacturing" excitement. ESPN is trying to "make TV", and NASCAR is trying to "make racing".

Double-file restarts are exciting, I'll grant NASCAR that much, but only when your favorite driver lucks into the preferred line at the right time. Which mine did not on Sunday. Something is wrong when losing spots on pit road is actually advantageous if you come out in an odd-numbered position.

Wasting laps under caution. I still can't understand this, and they seem to do it almost weekly now. The time to extend cautions is in the middle of race. Not with under 30 laps to go when there should be as much green flag racing as possible.

Related to that, is this reliance on their precious GWC. If a caution comes out with 8 laps to go, there is NO WAY that should turn into a GWC. Have they forgotten how to use the red flag now? Apparently they have.

NASCAR putting the screws to innovation and mandating everything was also a miserable decision. I still find it laughably ironic how trying to put everybody in the same setup box in an effort to make the racing closer has made the racing worse because of the terrible aero package. I miss the days where some drivers had short run cars and some drivers had long run cars. The differences in setups resulted in actual racing and actual passing. Those who could figure out how to best manage their tires had the best results. Exactly how racing should be, in the hands of the drivers.

And I haven't even touched on the Chase. Which I won't, because those arguments have been hashed and rehashed hundreds of times already. Well, that, and the fact that talking about the Chase brings up bad memories of the highway robbery that was 2007.

I feel like the new car is equivalent to a last resort treatment for cancer. If it doesn't work, it'll be time to start picking out cemetery plots.

David Dubczak said...

It's no use getting hung up over how filled the grandstands were at Indianapolis. The track is a megalith that is almost impossible to fill in this economy. Look at it this way - if you filled Daytona to capacity and teleported everyone over to Indy, it would still only be about 2/3 full! And we expect a Nationwide race to fill it?

Also, isn't the point of a pre-race show to get more people to watch the race? Do you think more people would watch the race if the big story of the of the pre-race show is, "Golly, no one showed up for this race"?

Finally, to a true race fan, there are no boring races. Some races are better than others, but no racing is boring racing. There is always drama, there are always storylines to be followed somewhere. We can't have a photo finish all the time - sometimes someone flat-out dominates.

53 yr. fan said...

I saw a big M&M's ad in Walmart
last week that had an M&M holding a sign, but could have been a book, that said NASCAR rules. I would like to have written "melts in your hand" on it. Sounds like
more of the marketing "geniusry" that is killing the sport.

GinaV24 said...

I'd say that I'm on the equivalent of life support with regard to my interest in NASCAR.

Brainiac France tells the media that everything is wonderful and yet -- it's not. NASCAR won't resort to "gimmicks" and yet -- it's been one gimmick after another for the past 8 years - the chase, the lucky dog, the wave around rule, the ugly car, multiple green white checker restarts -- ooohhh yeah, let me count the ways.

I didn't watch the Nationwide race @ Indy. I don't give a hoot about Danica and her imaginary trials and tribulations as a woman in NASCAR. That ground was broken years ago by women who were much more dedicated and without the funding and hype that Danica has at her disposal. You mentioned Johanna Long - she's a racer I can support. I'm sure she's encountered her own share of bias in racing but she's out there doing her deal - maybe if ESPN and others did their jobs, she'd get coverage and sponsorship. Oh wait, maybe she's not willing to take off the majority of her clothes to get it.

Then we have the awful TV coverage which is simply not worth the time to bother watching it.

Colorado said...

My pulse is on life-support right now. I feel like a dying man, begging my family to pull the plug and take me out of my pain. But instead, Brian France is in the room laughing at my pain. He shakes the bed and tells me loudly, "There is nothing wrong with you! Get up and have some Kool Aid!" I wish this were the old days, where you could meet Brian face to face, and punch him right in the jaw. And move on...So many posters here have spoken my thoughts already, but.. I, umm, I'm feeling light headed, can't see.... John? Buschseriesfan? Dale Sr.? Is anyone there? Help...

Joj said...

Pulse? Its on life support, and fading. Fast

Angry at what the once the love of my life has faded into, a mere shadow of itself.

Disgust at what the cash the check & run BZF has turned my sport into.

We live just outside Tampa, we didn't go to Daytona in years, we do drive to Volusia (sp?) for races tho'- When we lived in Texas (Plano) we drove to see Cup races at TMS. When we lived in Ohio ( Lakewood) we drove to races. No More

Last night I sat in front of my computer, reading the play by play of Heat Races from WoO in Canada! They had a terrible time getting the audio right ( link up & server issues) - it was finally working for the Mods & 410 A Main. I sat and the play by play & calling of the races gave me better pictures than the NASCAR TV "partners".

I have had to resort to this for NA$CAR - and the racing is Not As Good as what we got last night.
Am I the only one who thinks something is wrong in NA$CARland?

No - people are turning away in droves. IROC was not popular & this NA$CAR-IROC hybrid is no better. The "racing" shown on tv is not racing. It should be the best drivers are in NNS & Cup. Single car in frame is not racing. Single file parades - drivers over-hyped because of marketing skills - nasty tracks with empty seats.

NA$CAR has the best drivers, crew chiefs & pit crews any motor sport could hope for!

And What gets hyped?
Wrecks, marketable chick, & junk tracks.

Brian France & Flunkies
have taken the money & run. No one protects the integrity of the sport, we look like the WWE. Where is BZF during this "historic moment at Indy" ? LONDON, England.

That is how important it really was. Obviously many real racing fans felt the same.

Anonymous said...

Add me to the list of those who would like to see more coverage of Johanna Long. Build HER into a star, she was there first! Nothing against Danica, but it still doesn't fill the stands, does it?

Anonymous said...

Ditto what Buschseries61 & others have said. The NASCAR of my childhood is most closely reflected by the ProCup series today. Unfortunately ProCup isn't televised anymore...

My NASCAR pulse is so low that with the exception of Martinsville, Darlington, Richmond, & the two restrictor plate tracks I simply don't watch it anymore.

I do spend a few minutes on jayski to keep up...until the start of the college football season then a few minutes turns into a few seconds.

War Eagle.

Keith said...

Since we are speaking about NASCAR in general versus NASCAR on TV, I will say this.

Racing can never go back to what it was simply because too much has changed.

There is too much money made, and it costs too much money to accept more reasonable sponsorship dollars.

NASCAR and the tracks did not used to be a coorporation. They used to answer to fans/customers, not shareholders.

You no longer have cars like the black #3 because you now have a different sponsor and car color on the track every week. I don't care if they do wide angle shots on TV, because I can't pick out my driver anyway based on what wrap they applied this week.

There is a huge disconnect between drivers and fans now compared to years past. It used to be that drivers and crewmen stayed at your hotel & ate at your restaurant. You would see them at the local drugstore buying Goody's powder and a soda. Now you get tweets by drivers earning $20MM/yr complaining that they were awakened by jet dryers while they tried to sleep in their $1MM motorcoach.

There are other issues that the "back in the day" movement will not fix. NASCAR has to become more diverse. When less than 50% of Americans are Caucasion, it doesn't work as a national sport that almost the entire field is made up of white men. Not trying to start a political war, but the fact is that when you watch sports on TV it works better if you can see a reflection of yourself competing. That is what made Dale Earnhardt a legend to working class Americans. That is what made Jeff Gordon a legend to the children of working class America. Hopefully, it will make a Bubba Wallace or a Sergio Pena a legend one day as well.

MRM4 said...

Since DirecTV has lowered the price of the NFL Sunday Ticket this year, I am seriously considering buying it this year. If I do, I will have to avoid the Sunday NASCAR races. It's not a good idea to spend $199 for that package and then miss part of one game and part of another game to watch a race. That's my current dilemma.

And unless I get a free ticket or a really cheap ticket, I will not be attending the Bristol night race, which will mark the first time in 20 years I have not gone to one of the Bristol races. That is where I'm at right now.

The TV coverage gets worse every year. It's bad when you look forward to a race each week and then can't wait for it to be over an hour into the broadcast.

Anonymous said...

I still love racing but my interest in watching NASCAR races has been waning all year. NASCAR is doing nothing to actually improve the racing and the on-track product. Leaving short tracks (in Nationwide and Trucks) and going to larger and larger tracks is only proof of this because with the current car, larger tracks = poorer racing because they are so aero dependent.

The only hope is that the racing is improved with the new cars next year, but I doubt it will be any different. They will have the same hard tires that don't fall off. They will be racing at some of the same tracks that aren't conducive for passing, such as Indy.

And one of the most important things, I think, they will have the same points system that doesn't properly award wins. Do people really think there is nothing wrong when Greg Biffle lets Jimmie Johnson by with 30 to go and THAT is the pass for the lead?! So wins mean so little that he didn't put any sort of fight to WIN THE RACE?! This should be proof that despite what NASCAR says, WINS MEAN NOTHING in the current point system. 3 points is not worth any risk to these drivers and it has become more and more obvious they are all points racing to make the chase.

I've been watching Formula 1 this season, and even the Hungaroring this weekend which has nearly no passing was more exciting and had better TV coverage than a lot of the NASCAR races this season. And winning actually matters in that series!

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Appreciate muchly your analysis and comments on NASCAR/telecasts ...to the point ...PXP should call racing action, not be limited to comments on director/producer choices ...analysts are there to educate, not opinionate (see Benny, Ned, Paul Sherwen-cycling; David Hobbs, Steve Matchett-F1)...as for production improvement, bring back the Lingner Group (see non-ABC IndyCar broadcasts)
Walter

James said...

I agree with all being said above. When Dale and Bill jr passed, so did the "everyman" spirit that SO defined NASCAR. TODAYS NASCAR is not fan friendly at the top due to its lack of leadership and understanding. Brian does not spend every weekend at the track or in the garage area, he has "people" who do that for him. How can you have the iconic moment at Indy while the CEO is in England. The fans of the sport that where loyal, always felt the NASCAR was loyal to them, from the drivers and owners to the sponsors. At some point, FINANCES and FRANCES became more the importance, than competition and image. This past weekend NASCAR looked like the leaderless army it has become, from the confusion with restarts to the lack of fan support, all the while its leader, from a foreign land proclaimed the sport "healthy". IMHO the only thing healthy, is NASCARS bank account. Dale Sr may have acquired some wealth, but he never flaunted it in the face of the fans, most fans believed he earned it, he never was voted "most popular driver" while he was alive, his fans showed their loyalty with t-shirts and hats, that is not the case with todays "stars", for all their generosity, their are many tax related benefits attached. I have a hard time identifying with todays NASCAR, their is a history lesson here, Indy car HAD a similar issue, I hope NASCAR wakes up, but my pulse is questionable!

bowlalpo said...

My BP is 220-170, but my pulse is 45. I left IMS Saturday (didn't go Sunday) as if *I* got robbed. It was only $25 to get in and I saw 10 hours of action, but I felt empty.

On the ride home listening to XM, I listened to Kez and his arrogance was insulting (as was his VL interview). The explanation by Pemberton was a joke (that was not a "normal" restart). And this week the NASCAR-affiliated radio hosts have toed the company line as you'd expect.

To make matters worse, last night I got to watch my DVR of NNS and that made me fume even more. Once Sadler took the black flag, WE NEVER SAW HIM AGAIN!! Never once while he tore back from 25th place to 15th in 9 laps...not once after the checkered flag flew (even though during commercial break at track I heard Petree mention via scanner how PO'd Sadler was when he got out of his car, and that ESPN ordered a hand-held to follow him).

You can't tell me that ESPN could not extend the show by 15 minutes to put a bow on the controversy. Jeez, much of a drag-racing telecast is taped anyway!

NASCAR...epic fail.
ESPN...expected fail.
FANS...exponentially (another word that begins with 6th letter of alphabet).

ps: Why do you play the Kurt Busch tirade unless you purposely want to embarrass him? Was that ESPN payback for the Punch episode? I'm sure the Doctor wasn't happy as he moved on from it months ago.

Yes, I'm MAD!

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to figure out how a sport that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998, using basically the same formula all those years, suddenly was all wrong a year or two after the big TV contract commenced. For half a century its growth was steady. By the mid 90s tracks were filling stands as soon as they could build them. People liked what they saw on TV and wanted to see it in person. Once there they were hooked and spread the word.

By the time cable finally spread to our area in 1987 we were treated to basically the entire schedule televised live. Between then and 2000 the biggest changes were restrictor plates at Daytona and Talladega, and the pit lane speed limit. Yet since the big TV contract, we've had the lucky dog, Chase format, a complete change in how points are scored, double file restarts, more prime time airings, auto qualifying for top 35 in points, the yellow line rule at D and T, just to name a few. That is a heck of a lot of change to something that motored along just fine for 50 years.

What's it mean? To me it means TV quickly realized they overpaid for the product and pressured NASCAR for changes. At the same time they ignored the fact their new way of coverage was causing a disconnect between the fan and the racing. It has all been outlined here many times. Too many commercial breaks, too tight shots, too much focus on too few drivers. Annoying announcers who are more concerned with how funny they might be, than actually bothering to tell us what is going on. Sometimes ESPN Classic reairs some of the old races from the 80s and 90s and I swear, pimitive as the presentation was back then, sometimes without so much as a position scroll across the screen, somehow I knew a hell of a lot more about what was going on than I do with today's mega camera and talking head count productions.

TV keeps blaming the product and Brian France buys it. It's hard to imagine anything wrong with something that could celebrate its 50th anniversay largely unchanged. There was never anything wrong with the product. Tv got sidetracked with the production rather than the racing. People stopped tuning in. Changing the sport is nothing but unsuccessful exploratory surgery leaving nothing but a scar.

NASCAR blames the economy. Sure, people can't afford to go to the track anymore. We know that. How is changing the sport going to put money in their pocket so they can attend. And if NASCAR thinks the changes are improving the product, then whay aren't people tuning into the TV broadcast? You'd think if a fan couldn't afford to go to the track anymore they would make sure to tune in to the race, right?

I can't say anymore. They've almost lost me. I've loved NASCAR for too long to arbitrarily dump them. I still look in their direction, hence why I'm here expressing my views. But sadly, its just not that important anymore. Seems too made for tv with a production crew that doesn't know how to present it. Double fail.

bowlalpo said...

Oh and one other thing...all the experts are saying that Sadler KNEW he had to give the position back. When? Where? What if NASCAR rules two laps later that, after Sadler lets Kez by, that Kez's actions were deceptive enough that Sadler's questionable restart was OK after all? At that point, you can't tell Kez to re-give the spot back, because he would (rightfully) say he raced for it.

I watch (too many) races. In IZOD Indy Car, race control gets on the radio and tells the offender to give the spot back. Same thing in F1. When two cars come out of pits in a dead heat, all series, even NASCAR, radios the teams as to the order of the cars.

Yes everyone is supposed to KNOW the rules. But since there are so many gray areas (and I'm OK with that), I'd make it a rule that, if a spot is to be given back, it must be done after thorough review and within one lap AFTER A NASCAR RACE CONTROL RADIO MESSAGE TO THE DRIVER. Otherwise, it's the drive-thru. It was too big a situation to "assume," and you know what happens when you assume.

Coffeeshop42 said...

Dang,i'm late,had to go to bed at 10:00 last night.This is how i feel about NASCAR now(and my driver is the points leader).

In my restless dreams,i see that that sport.Old Nascar.You promised you'd take me there again someday.But you never did.Well,im alone here now,in our special place,waiting for you.

Words can't put it right how i feel.I remember that day when i was a just a boy back in Feburary 2004 When the 8 car crossed the finish line first(I will NEVER forget what Allen Bestwick said right before he reached it,"The legacy continues").Everything seemed so perfect then,like a dream that would just continue on.

And now look at way things are.It seems like such a long time ago,almost as if it never happened.I dont want to get too personal here,but i have been in psychological misery for a little over a year and since i got the internet back a few months ago after 3 years without it,i have spent 8 hours a day on it and nearly drowned myself in it

.Right after Dale died about a week after ESPN Classic aired a 12 hour special called the "life and times" of Dale Earnhardt,and they showed 2 hours each of 4 different wins of his.My Dad recorded it all on tape.I remember when i was a smaller kid,all i ever done was watch those tapes,like literally for a space of time i ate crapped,slept and watched those tapes.

That was what kindled my interest in NASCAR.I still have those tapes today,but i am petrified to play them,i am hoping to summon up enough courage to transfer them to DVD soon.There are many diffenent reasons we follow NASCAR,but for me it's because it's in my blood and right now it gives me some solace while i live in my own private h---.

It saddens me to no end how different things are now.My Dad used to be a big NASCAR fan when he was younger,and obviously a Dale fan,but after he died,his interest slowly waned.I have not seem him show a real interest in watching a race in about 7 or 8 years,we talk about it and discuss it sometimes,but i always have to tell him what goes on.

My whole life,i have had one friend(and my only one),my cousin,and back when we were little his dad didnt have cable so almost every race weekend he come over to our house to watch the races.They still come over every once in a while,but it hasnt been to watch the races in over 5 years.I remember (sorry Gina)every time (he used to hate Jeff Gordon,but like many he has come around) Jr passed the 24 he would laugh,and i would with him.Those are the days of NASCAR i so long for,when there was so much unscripted excitement but yet the feeling of simplicity that was unmatched.

I Miss the red 8 car.I miss the old car itself which acutally done some passing.I miss the old pack racing at Daytona and Talladega.I miss the veterans we had then(Labonte,Marlin,Burton,Jarrett,Rusty,the list goes on).I just miss everything the way it was then.As for my pulse?It's still beating,but something has to change.Thanks JD and good luck(no,this is not a goodbye).

mrclause said...

What I found interesting in all these responses is that all the posters were targeting NASCAR and the show they present with their complaints and disenchantment and not the economy as NASCAR presents as the problem. This is the type of article and the kind of replies that BZF should read several times until it actually sinks in that it's his show that has begun to reek of greed and total mismanagement.

Anonymous said...

What is my pulse for NASCAR? Very weak with help from a pacemaker. There are many reasons, my once white-hot interest in all things NASCAR has decreased. COT, Chase, BZF, and TV exposure.

I love auto racing, and there is nothing better than seeing an event live. As mentioned earlier in the thread, the racing at a local track, such as Rockford, or in my case, Slinger Speedway, is fabulous, and it the REAL reason I became a fan of auto racing. As a child we would impatiently wait until the pits were opened to the general public, and then run to see all the "cars and stars"...at least in our eyes. These were everyday men who did this for fun...and as a child I could not want for more. On the contrary, present day NASCAR is nothing like a local short track track show or provides the fan the same experience. It is all big business and as p.c. as possible. Richard Petty used to sit at pit road and sign as many autographs as the fan requested. It was NASCAR, but still had a local feel. Now? some drivers will sign a few autographs to fans when separated by a chain link fence or some garage window. Antiseptic... cold.

BZF has destroyed what Big Bill started and Bill Jr. expanded on. BZF does not know what old NASCAR is like, how it got to the heights of the late 90's and early 00's and has no idea how to solidify NASCAR for generations to come. BZF was instrumental in consolidating the TV contracts and that began the paradigm shift to "Big Business" NASCAR. Once the soul was sold to the TV networks, and NEXTEL for the all mighty $, NASCAR lost any semblance to the past it once had. Gone where North Wilkesboro, the Southern 500 from Darlington, Rockingham, etc, for 1.5 miles at Chicagoland, Kansas, and the 2 mile Fontana. Money pushed the move to bigger TV markets, and NASCAR responded. The drivers changed too. Gone was the burning desired to race as hard as possible to put food on the table, and make a decent life, and it was replaced with multi-million dollar sponsorships, driver contracts, private jets, motorhomes, etc. The link to the short track racer is forever broken, and left for the past.


con't

Anonymous said...

...con't

BZF has destroyed what Big Bill started and Bill Jr. expanded on. BZF does not know what old NASCAR is like, how it got to the heights of the late 90's and early 00's and has no idea how to solidify NASCAR for generations to come. BZF was instrumental in consolidating the TV contracts and that began the paradigm shift to "Big Business" NASCAR. Once the soul was sold to the TV networks, and NEXTEL for the all mighty $, NASCAR lost any semblance to the past it once had. Gone where North Wilkesboro, the Southern 500 from Darlington, Rockingham, etc, for 1.5 miles at Chicagoland, Kansas, and the 2 mile Fontana. Money pushed the move to bigger TV markets, and NASCAR responded. The drivers changed too. Gone was the burning desired to race as hard as possible to put food on the table, and make a decent life, and it was replaced with multi-million dollar sponsorships, driver contracts, private jets, motorhomes, etc. The link to the short track racer is forever broken, and left for the past.

Even with the big money of NASCAR and losing the traditional southeast tracks, I was still a fan....but that began to change in 2004...the CHASE. No longer would a full season of excellence be rewarded, but rather it is a gimmick created by BZF for NBC. Breaking the race schedule into two seasons diminished the value of each individual event, and caused the drivers to drive more for points, rather than wins, as consistency is rewarded. Rather than push the envelope for the win, a driver would settle into 3rd and take it as "a good points day". The Chase changed the way TV covered the races also. Now an overreaching storyline of the Chase and its participants dominated the coverage of the races from mid summer until Richmond in Sept. Once the Chase started there were haves and have not's. TV focused solely on the Chase drivers, and the remaining 30 drivers were only mentioned in the pre-race, and post race. Fans of the non-Chase drivers had to rely on a scoring loop, to have any idea where their favorite driver was at. How has the Chase improved TV ratings by making more "Game 7 type moments" as BZF has stated? Worse. Down 40% from 2006.

con't

Anonymous said...

con't



COT. Just say COT to any NASCAR fan, and a majority of them will have nothing but negative to say about it. Common templates, wings, poor body proportions, and the mechanical front splitter. Gone was the visual look of a sleek race car, that looked like the local track super late models, and replaced with an ugly box with the only difference is the front headlight sticker. I understand the need for safety, and the rationale that the body proportions had to increase for safety. However, the effort of NASCAR to go to common templates made the Cup cars no more than IROC cars, with different manufacturer engines and head/tail light stickers. Gone where the unique look of each car. Just think of 1988 Daytona 500. Bobby Allison in a Buick, Davey Allison in a T-Bird, Earnhardt in a Monte Carlo, Buddy Baker in and Oldsmobile, and Richard Petty in a Pontiac. Each one of these cars were unique, and had advantages and disadvantages of its shape....but the teams and drivers raced what they had. Some cars where faster on the big tracks, others were better on smaller ones. The cars looked like something from the street, and there was not a dependence on aero, like there is today. The cars were slower in the corner, allowing for more side by side racing, and the cars moved around with bias-ply tires. Drivers had to monitor their tires and race accordingly. There was movement up and down the field as tires and car setups would determine who was coming through the field and who was falling back. Think of "Days of Thunder" with Trickle and Hogge talking about tires, and how they gave up during a run. Now? Radial tires that do not give way, allow the drivers to run the same speed throughout a run. Add this with a common template, and a strict COT rules package, there is very little to separate the field. When the cars are all going the same speed on the race track, the tires do not fall off, how is anyone going to pass? Simple? you can't.

The current points system is a disaster. The long gone Latford system rewarded consistency. This new system, spun as easy to understand, SEVERELY penalizes for a bad finish. Under the Latford system, 43rd place earned 34 points, the winner would earn 180. The last place finisher would score 18% of the winner. Now, the winner earns 47 points, and 43rd, 1, or nearly 2% of the winners total. Drivers are point racing like before, but even more so as they are racing to AVOID a bad finish, rather than the win.


con't

Anonymous said...

con't



What can be done to revive my pulse? Easy.... 1) BZF has to resign effective immediately and be replaced with a competent, respected promotor, and former racer. Someone who understand racing, and the fans. 2) Get rid of common templates and aero matching. Allow the car companies to make what ever racecar they want with all the character lines and dimensions used on a street car. Increase the height of the front valence, and side skirts to remove aero dependency. Allow spoiler to be set at any angle, but reduce spoiler overall height. Keep the body rules consistent, to keep from the bodys being distorted like the pre COT cars. 3) GET RID OF THE CHASE, TOP 35 AND CURRENT POINT SYSTEM. Go back to fastest make the field with a few provisionals, the Latford point system, and scrap the chase completely. 4) 2013 car have promise...don't mess it up. 5) Go back to bias-ply tires that have give up over the length of a run. 6) TV networks need to show side by side commercials and offer online continuous video streaming for the fan at home during green flag periods. Cautions period... fill with regular full screen ads. 7) TV networks need to comment and show racing throughout the field...not just following 1 car around a track in tight shots.

Maybe just maybe then I could be brought back to a full and vibrant heartbeat. Thank you John for allowing me to rant.

Aaron in WI

Anonymous said...

I know a number of the drivers are fed up as well. A number are seriously thinking about leaving the sport as well.

I hate that Danica has become more important then the real up and comers. I'm impressed with Johanna Long and she should be the one with the encouragement rather than "Miss Thong".

Auto racing everywhere except dirt has turned into a billionaire's joke like horse racing. It's become a place where millionaires watch and wait for the next car crash, so they can see someone die on the track. I've been up in Speed Club and I despise the people there. They are angry because there are no car crashes, none of the drivers are getting hurt "like the old days", and too many pretty boys on the track.

I'm not certain about NASCAR anymore.

Bruce Ciskie said...

Haven't watched more than 20 minutes of a race at one time since like March. Haven't missed it much, either.

The TV coverage is awful, yes, but I'm convinced at this point it's exactly what NASCAR wants. It's too similar across the board, with only the voices and graphics changing. There has to be a directive for tighter shots of cars to keep sponsors visible and happy ... it's the only thing that makes sense.

Outside of that, the racing is largely unwatchable. Too many parades of cars up front. When the best racing on the track is for 20th place, we have a problem. That's what it seems like now.

Anonymous said...

BZF doesn't read anything that criticizes him or the sport. I doubt he even reads the Fan Council surveys. He has no business being in London. He should be given the boot by the family and he and Tony George can go hang out on a beach somewhere far away from the sport.

Unknown said...

Its fading quickly but also at the same time angered. I dont know where to start:
-TV coverage is mediocre at best this year
-The constant DANICA references and hypercoverage despite the fact that another woman is outperforming her in a less funded car. We should have foreseen how much hype would be forced on us when I saw on a ESPN promotion for a Nationwide Series Practice session for her 1st NW race in 2011 "Nationwide Series Practice Featuring Danica Patrick" What a joke.
-ESPN's forced storylines that ignore anything that doesn't fit into their little box
-The fact that Formula 1 (with the most excited, passionate commentators and pit reporters of any sport) Indycar and Grand-Am racing is so much better this year, these guys can actually still pass each other even if its been several laps since a restart.
-Attend an Indycar or Grand-Am Rolex Series race, I am amazed at the access I get as a fan with no connections other than my purchased ticket where I can have actual conversations with drivers in the paddock if you catch them at the right time. You wont see that anywhere else!

It is so frustrating, I have been a NASCAR fan since 1989 and I don't remember a time in this sport where the actual racing and the coverage has been so horrendous. Its a perfect storm right now, if the racing was better maybe the coverage wouldn't seem so bad and vice-versa. If NASCAR doesn't get their act together next year and we see the same kind of strung out racing with the new 2013 cars then NASCAR might just become an afterthought in my racing lineup. That's a painful thought because I have so much invested in my many years of following the sport.

Thanks for the platform Mr. Daly!

KoHoSo said...

First of all, kudos to all that have already commented, even those that are looking at things more positively than me. Everybody seems to have brought their A game today so I will try to measure up.

Count me as another that is on life support and about to use my last bit of strength to pull the plug. I think the only things that have kept me in it this long are...

1. The hope that the new broadcast contract will bring changes to the abysmal TV side of things.

2. The hope that the new car will bring an end to the aero-push era.

3. The fact that The Daly Planet exists.

On that last point...The Daly Planet has been at this since 2007. I was actually poking at the shortcomings of the TV side as far back as 2001 as a writer on a now-defunct NASCAR fan site. Here we are all this time later. While TDP has had significant victories (the killing of Digger, the rearrangement of the ESPN announcing crew), the fact is that the races are painful to watch without some sort of online enhancement.

Again I point out that I have been a NASCAR fan since 1970 when I was five years old. One thing I know about racing is that change is to be expected and embraced. Unfortunately, the changes of the past decade have mostly been for the worse and, bad economy or not, it shows in attendance, TV ratings, and the respect and attention shown by the regular media (or, these days, the lack of same).

This is the first year I have willingly missed watching Cup races. I never would have thought such a thing a few years ago. I am finding that both the televised and on-track product are making me not care. BZF can talk until he's blue in the face but I have no reason to trust him as we have seen how NASCAR has acted under his leadership where they have taken every advantage for themselves to the almost complete detriment to the fan. Even the anti-NASCAR side of the equation, Bruton Smith, has not provided any relief after everybody saw his shameful behavior in the wake of the 2011 debacle at Kentucky.

And it's not like fans well beyond the scope of TDP haven't complained and asked for change on any number of issues. Most have been ignored or, in what we saw this year with Fox, outwardly ridiculed as not being real fans or, from NASCAR itself, "needy."

What sort of business acts in that manner? Only weird, bizarre ones like the real-life "Soup Nazi" from Seinfeld can pull that off. Maybe that stuff works at the high corporate level but, for the family-oriented NASCAR crowd, I believe it is a strong turn-off.

Anyway...I'm probably on break from Cup until Bristol. After that, I'm not sure if I will care enough anymore to see if the new car gives better racing and forces Fox, TNT, and ESPN to put better pictures on the screen. Either way, I feel I am being honest that, if I do hang it up as a fan of this series, it will not be a case of me leaving NASCAR but, instead, NASCAR leaving me.

And while that happens, I'll be humming to myself an old folk song that was made most famous by a man that would have turned 70 years old today, Jerry Garcia.

Goin' down the road feeling bad
Ain't gonna be treated this a way

Anonymous said...

Pulse fading, slowly dying.

I pretty much only get angry when I see blatant laziness from those presenting the telecast. That question in victory lane "What does this win mean for you?" particularly boils my blood. What in the world do you really think a driver is going to say? "Well, I've won so danged many times I really just want to get on my private jet and go home." It seems like everyone from Brian France on down is just phoning it in these days, content to follow the formula and collect a paycheck.

I only go to one race a year now; November's TMS evnt. But honestly there's only a 15% chance I'll be there. An exciting Bristol race or a serious championship drive from Junior are the only things I can foresee boosting my enthusiasm at this point.

Oh, and TMS: instead of adding more amenities, how about lower ticket prices. Cuz when I read "amenities" I see "ways to get more money out of people".

Joseph said...

A big problem for me is the shows that surround the races on Speed and Sirrius XM. Everybody involved in the sport is happy to be there, and we sit outside of it. Golly, I'm glad y'all are having a good time, but I'm tired of watching you laugh it up while the sport itself bores me to tears.

OrangeTom said...

One of my favorite races of all time was Dale Jarrett at Michigan in the late '90's where he about lapped the entire field. Were there many lead changes? Nope. Did it meet Brian's definition of "wow"? Nope. But it's a race I'll always remember because the dominance was so obvious. Had to appreciate the talents behind such a performance.

That was also the Gordon era if memory serves. And there'd be races where the superiority of his race car was so obvious the outcome was never in doubt.

You rarely see races like that anymore and I think that makes the product suspect. NASCAR is tinkering way too much with the competitive balance in their pursuit of more fans.

In short, my NASCAR pulse beats sadly

Tracy D said...

JD, amen. And amen again. Last Sunday was just sad. We tried to watch, but mostly, we didn't. I couldn't imagine that happening a few years ago.

But Indy isn't where I feel Nascar should be, tho the drivers all seem enamoured.

"Sad" seems to be the operative word. Makes me feel as if the joy, the fun, the brashness of Nascar has been deleted.

Ir42nate2bhere said...

I like to think of myself as a realist and a glass half full kind of guy, but my NASCAR pulse would at least make me have to take some prescribed meds for it's weakening.

When did the change begin, probably with the arrival of Hendrick and "outside money". NASCAR saw a big picture and went for it. Hey this is America, you are raised to dream big.The problem was a lot of bad management, bad decisions, and stubbornness. Started with Bill Jr.(as@nateryan wrote today realignment 2004 was on his watch), and BZF drove it to where we are now.

I believe in business cycles, so I believe there will be a rebound. Back to it's best days, no, but improvement will come. NASCAR is doing a few things better if you look hard enough.

I like sports. I enjoy watching the competition that leads to seeing a winner in the end. I like NASCAR. I am a bit of an info geek, so i will always read up on most all NASCAR related. The actual events, I'll watch, but not appointment TV for most races.Unlike the past when i probably spent 10% of my earning some years on NASCAR stuff, I spend zero today so my opinion does not really matter as far as my expectations are concerned.It is free entertainment for me, like any other TV show.

I hope i get to see NASCAR improve.Seeing people moan and bi*** all the time about every little NASCAR thing really makes me sad where it has gone.

PS. If I had 1 NASCAR change I would make,I would eliminate the point system of racing, make each race stand on its own. Make the purse good,the facilities likeable, teams and fans will show up and race.The strong will survive, the week will fail and other tracks will step up. Just my wild dream

Vicky D said...

I daresay if Nascar leaves IMS for another track, all the drivers will say - it wasn't working out anyway. They always say nice things about Nascar's way of doing things. I don't think the big track should be for the NW cars either but then again, I'm just a lonely viewer trying to watch a race broadcast that is unwatchable.

Ancient Racer said...

I am a lazy sort. I read the post very early this morning then shuffled off to do things of interest and obligation figuring if I did when I returned I would have had written for me my feelings and I have been rewarded. What has been said here I cannot improve upon right down to and including @Vince's exhortation to get thee out to thy local track.

NASCAR exists for me as a legacy and because of that of momentum, but momentum is a product of motive power at some point and I know -- though for some years I tried to deny it -- the motive power sputtered and pretty much died about the time the COT, the Top 35 and all the other things that are in no way gimmicks including the 1.5 mile McTracks appeared, became the norm and racing was replaced by a product in much the same way real, say, genuine Mexican Food has been has been supplanted way whatever the stuff is Taco Bell peddles

Now the momentum is fading and has faded as such a phenomenon do: slowly at first, then faster and faster until now I am barely moving and I feel for all the world more and more frequently when I see a NASCAR promo spot or some other such like I am very close to becoming Rhett Butler.

I am close heading to the door, putting on my hat and turning back only to say, "Frankly, NASCAR, I don't give a damn."

Trevor C said...

Until ESPN realizes there are other drivers in the race beside Danica, they will continue to lose viewers, which IMO is directly impacting attendances. Allen Bestwick is the only think worth watching on ESPN, the rest are playcating to the idiots and trying to teach them nascar.

In the end its just sad, Sadler got completely screwed out of a win, Danica was heralded as perfect and she doesnt make a mistake, Johnson dominated a snoozefest, and the Grand-Am race was marred by bad calls, stupid wrecks, and a Phenomenal interview by Starworks Owner, saying what needed to be said.

OVerall the entire weekend should be noted for a complete lack of attendance for "One of the biggest events" in Nascar's season.

Anonymous said...

@Ir42nate2bhere

"Started with Bill Jr.(as@nateryan wrote today realignment 2004 was on his watch), and BZF drove it to where we are now."

Actually Bill Jr stepped down as head of NASCAR in 2000 and BZF was CEO of NASCAR starting in 2003. Bill France Jr. was on the board of directors past 2000, but was neither president or CEO past 2000.

Coffeshop42 said...

I wish somebody would lock Brian France up in a room and force him to read this.And Nate,i disagree with you,plain and simple.And moreover,I dont think things will get better as long as BZF is in charge.

It's like he's in the twilight zone or something.Us fans just want to see NASCAR races and coverage that we can enjoy.Is that too much to ask?

Dewy9 said...

My NASCAR pulse has been better...

Last year was very good. Not only did my driver have a resurgance, but there were so many great finishes and stories ON the track.

This year has been ho-hum. It started at Daytona. The biggest story of that race was a jet dryer.

The restart fiasco was more proof of some of NASCAR wanting to micro manage things. Keselowski is well known for trying to be too clever by a half. After the start, it was clear that if the leader doesn't go, then second place can. Brad didn't go, as seen by the fact that 2 cars beat him to the line.

Could you imagine a show like "Pit Bulls" in today's NASCAR world. Me neither.

And whatever happened to rivalries? Past generations of NASCAR was defined by rivalries. Petty vs Pearson, Gordon vs. Earnhardt. None of that anymore. We need our good guys and our bad guys, and for the bad guys to embrace what they are.

I fear what the racing will be like in 10 years. Passing has gotten VERY hard, especially in the final run of the race. Clean air can compensate for a mediocre car. The competition is closer, yes, but with the aero package, it makes passing nearly impossible.

The double file restart is a great idea, except for 2 tracks- Indy and Martinsville. I feel like my guy gets screwed over more than anyone.

NASCAR needs to get back to the basics. Why in the hell would they leave IRP for the big track? The stands were PATHETIC all weekend. We have left the interesting and unique tracks like Rockingham (which had several last lap battles between 2001-2004) for cookie cutters. Yes, I'm smart enough to know every track is different, but I feel like I'm looking at the same one every week. I'd like to see something different, like a 1.75 mile oval (like Homestead). "D" is not the only shape tracks come in.

And the economy has nothing to do with lower ratings. Basic cable is something just about everyone in this country has.

Why not lower the ticket prices until the economy turns around (assuming it does)? They can make the same profit or more by getting more butts in the stands, but instead the tracks would rather block off large sections of the stands.

I laugh when I see the Bristol commericals... "we asked the fans what they wanted". Um no. We never wanted a change to begin with. Bristol was about the bump and run.

Furthermore, why are the Pocono races so close to one another? Didn't we just leave there?

The 2013 car better deliver. But why does anyone want to see grocery getters going 200 MPH? Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, and maybe the new Celica would make so much more sense. LAME.

NASCAR needs to get its act together. By and large I love it. I still get pumped about the weekend, but they need to get the on-track product better.

tommy1946 said...

@Ancient Racer said it pretty darn well!

Adam in Chicago said...

My NASCAR pulse has basically flatlined.

I am 31 years old and have been a racing fan as long as I can remember - I practically grew up at Raceway Park and Illiana Speedway with my dad and uncle. For more than 20 years, racing and NASCAR in particular was my biggest hobby.

My interest started to wane when the Chase came in, and it has fallen off considerably since then. I used to watch ever bit of NASCAR programming - this year I watched I haven't watched more than 10 minutes, Daytona included.

It just isn't the sport that I grew up watching anymore. Self-serving announcers on FOX, uninspired telecasts on TNT, unwatchable race presentation on ESPN, the absolute murder of what the Busch/Nationwide series used to be, constant rules/points system changes, the proliferation of 1.5 mile tracks at the expense of shorter tracks with character, the lack of any new stars, a crop of long-time drivers that have become astonishingly unlikable, and a leadership group whose actions demonstrate contempt for their own fan base have all killed the sport for me.

My week used to revolve around NASCAR. Now, I tune in for a few minutes (at most, and not every weekend) to see how many empty seats there are. The whole situation makes me said, but I refuse to keep putting my time and money into such a broken product.

Congratulations, Brian France - you and your corporate vampires have managed suck out every last bit of NASCAR blood this long-time fan had. That's quite an accomplishment.

allisong said...

How's my NASCAR pulse? Still beating strongly, thanks for asking.

I look forward to each weekend's racing action and watch all three series as much as possible. I am excited about watching my guy try to earn a Chase wild card spot in the last six before the cutoff. And if that's not to be, I look forward to watching him try to win at all of the last 10 races.

As I type this, there are 53 comments above mine (although there may be more by the time I finish this. I want to get my thoughts together.), but I haven't read any of them. I don't need to. I know what they all likely say.

Instead of responding to the comments above, I'd rather focus on the points raised in your column specifically.

First up, the Danica interview. ESPN, like all other networks, chooses features that they figure will resonate with most of their viewing audience. Just like when SPEED makes sure that they always update Junior's day, good, bad or indifferent, ESPN knows that there is a LARGE group of people watching who want to know about Danica. You state that the interview was themed around the fact that Danica almost won the Indy 500. That is a perfectly legitimate reason for a feature, to contrast that experience with the one she was about to embark on.

Next, you stated, "No references were made to the wildly successful history of the Nationwide Series racing at Lucas Oil Raceway or that the Brickyard was empty even after one year of promotion for this inaugural race." I gotta ask, in what universe is THAT going to happen on a pre-race show?? I can hear it now. Nicole: "Boy look at all those empty seats. Rusty, what do you think?" Rusty: "I think this race is gonna SUCK, I'll tell you what!" Nicole: "Let's throw it up to Alan in the booth." AB: "Boy I sure do miss IRP, but I guess we gotta do this anyway. We're about to go green and NASCAR's about to go down the tubes."

No, there is a time and place for thoughtful analysis of the state of the sport, but the race broadcast isn't it. Shows like NASCAR Now or Race Hub can tackle those subjects, but the analysts on the race broadcast are there to analyze the drivers, teams, and racing, IMO.

And lastly, the part of your column that intrigues me the most, the paragraphs were you go on and on lamenting the fact that this race is hyped as an event as opposed to being one part in the road to the Chase. But wait? Haven't you preached for years that the races should stand alone in importance and not be looked at as just another stop on the road to the Chase? I'd be willing to bet that if this same event hype had occurred during the Chase, and the winner was a non-chaser, you'd be happy as a clam. Can't have it both ways.

OK I'm done ranting now. I am making a conscious decision to avoid this blog because I am choosing to leave a toxic environment. I will continue to watch and enjoy all the racing I can.

LpMv2407 said...

I doubt anyone would argue that LOR puts on a better race than IMS.

Other than that there is no reason for NNS to be at LOR.

There was 10% more people at IMS than LOR last year. NASCAR gets more TV money. It saves ESPN money on needing addtional personel/equipment at 2 different locations the same weekend. It potentially can save teams money & travel time by not needing equipment & personel at 2 different locations during the weekend. Some teams share equipment & personel between Cup & NNS. The purse for the NNS was 40% larger than LOR last year. Fans who went to qualifying got WAY more track activity and bang for their buck than years past. I'd also say as long as you are still packing more people in the facility than ANY SUPER BOWL you're doing pretty good. The Cup event has a title sponsor. Looks pretty good to me. Is it ideal? NO.

Stick to TV coverage. It still sucks.

bowlalpo said...

I probably owe it to JD to actually answer his question, so my IMS rants are now over.

I still love to watch the races...but so many people I know who used to watch as much as I...not only fail to watch, they fail to care.

Perhaps NASCAR has not recovered from Dale Sr's death. Ask yourselves "have any NASCAR icons been created or emerged in the last 7 years?"

Junior? A fave, mostly by name though he's an excellent driver, but hardly an icon.

Smoke? Maybe the next closest thing; I actually rank him above Junior as the top current icon due to excellence and versatility.

I'll put Kyle Busch 3rd due to volatility and wheel-manhood,

Then you drop down to JJ (yes I say drop down, and he's only as high as 4th due to his championships). After that you can throw Edwards, Biffle, Harvick, Hamlin, Kahne, etc. in a bag, shake it up and never know who will fall out first. I excluded Gordon because he was well established prior to 2005, but he and JJ are on equal footing.

Compare that to 1979-1985 (also 7 years), where I have true icons like Petty, Yarborough, Pearson and B. Allison in my top 4. A steep difference from today.

The difference grows farther down. Compare my 2012 "bag" with D.Waltrip, B.Elliott, R.Wallace, Dale Sr., etc.; I know I've forgotten many but to me the difference is stark.

What we 50-somethings remember, but what we can't identify today, is what weakens the pulse in our eyes. If I was 20, I'd have a different opinion. I just don't know what TV is doing today to help cultivate new heroes, or even new villains, for you can only become an icon if you fill both roles in the eyes of racing fans.

I can only hope that NASCAR does not suffer the same fate as bowling, which used to draw 9s on ABC on Saturdays, but by 2014 will probably only be available for public viewing via primitive 2-camera pay-per-view on the Internet. This started when cable grew, and when we got more choices, we took them. Is that happening to NASCAR today?

LpMv2407 said...

Id like to add IMS also is some of the most expensive tickets on the circuit & Im sure the NNS race at IMS was higher priced than LOR.

Coffeeshop42 said...

C,MON PEOPLE LETS GO!Let's reach 1,000 comments!No,seriously,let's get enough of a movement on here to actually do something.If we speak up loud enough,we can't be ignored.I dont mean to sound rude,but we need to stop b------- about the situation and actually do something about it(IF there's anything we can do about)!There is a Wikipedia page that already mentions the Daly Planet so we've already done something right.We need to do everything we can,be as active as possible,and encourage everybody to see this site.Do whatever you can,go on Facebook,Twitter,Myspace,Forums,Youtube, anything and get people intrested.Tell all your friends,just do anything to promote awareness for this site.I think it's high time we stepped from the shadows and done something about it.We've got the best leader anyone could imagine in JD,and hopefully the resources.Remember in the Shawshank Redemption when Andy writes the government for funds?Based on the idea that they couldn't ignore him forever he never gave up.It took some time,but he eventually got those funds.If we uprise enough we can't be ignored forever.It will take time and we will fall on our face at times,but we can't give up.To paraphrase a famous line from said Andy,"It's time for us and NASCAR to get busy living,or get busy dying".

(Sorry if i offended some here,but i think we need to wake up and do something rather than just lay in the weeds!)

tle said...

All I can say is at least we have the Truck races and Speed, that is about all I can stand anymore!

MRM4 said...

TV is part of a big problem of what's going on. Often times, their focus is on what's going on up front instead of actual action elsewhere in the field. Often times, I use the ticker to see what's going on in the race, especially if my driver happens to be back there.

Dustin Long has an interesting story in USA Today about declining attendance. Aside from the other issues other readers have posted, hardly anyone says anything about ticket prices. Most tracks offer some kind of special priced tickets, but those are usually the ones they can't sell. Rarely, are prime seats offered at a reduced price.

I'll use Bristol as an example. No sellouts for two years and most seats are still priced the same. Then people wonder why attendance is down.

Ryan said...

The lack of passing and a tire that wears have been the biggest difference I have noticed from a product standpoint. It's bad when Indycar races on road and street courses feature more passes and battles for positions than a nascar race on most ovals. Goodyear and Nascar's inabilty to fix aero issues have caused enormous problems to the racing.

On the tv side Nascar MUST demand side by side commercials in the next deal. FOX and TNT have killed interest in the races with their commercial bombardment. ESPN has at least made an effort with side by side during the chase. The follow the leader, tight shot style as JD has mentioned also needs to be fixed. Lastly, the announcers need to be more critical of nascar. When I watch an Indycar or F1 race the announcers are never afraid to question decisions made by the officials. I rarely see this done by anyone on Fox or Speed, and gives a bad impression that they are shills for the sport.

Coffeeshop42 said...

Here are a few ideas(some of these are reruns)
1.Cut off part of the spoiler and have less downforce on the cars.
2.Go Back to Rockingham(just DO it).
3.Restore the REAL Southern 500.
4.As one earlier guy said,go old school with the tires.What's the point of racing on tires that dont wear?
5.Return the banquet to New York.
6.If they want to keep the chase,rather than decide "seedings" on wins,go by their position,have 3 point increments that go by the position at the end of the "Regular season".
7.Return the season finale to Atlanta(I dont want to hear about the weather,they finished the 2001 season at New Hampshire in late November and had no issues).And go back to 2 dates there,Atlanta is the most underrated track in NASCAR.
8.If they insist on going to intermediate tracks,go to as many as possible with at least 20 degrees of banking.Atlanta and Charlotte are 1.5 Milers but they both have 24 degrees of banking therefore they still manage to have decent racing.
9.Lessen the Claw.
10.This is radical,but go back to a 34 race season with a couple more off weeks.Even during good times i wish there was a little more off time,and it would also allow for some intresting race schedules.
11.With the proposed 34 race season,have these as the final 10.
#25 Bristol
#26 New Hampshire(trying to be realistic)
#27 Dover
#28 Talladega
#29 Charlotte
#30 Texas
#31 Martinsville
#32 Phoenix
#33 Rockingham(dont be afraid
#34 Atlanta
BTW the 34 race schedule would still end on the same weekend,just with a couple off weeks subsituted for some snoozer races.As for the rock,i think NASCAR should pour every resource into reviving the rock.They should help to upgrade the facilities to modern standards(not TOO modern though),repave it(it hurts,but has to be done)and do as much as possible to bring it back.It was a truly unique track that should have never lost NASCAR,and with today's oversaturation with every track being the same,it would be so welcome.These are just a few ideas,i'm sure you can think of many more.

Ir42nate2bhere said...

Anonymous 1:40, I stand corrected then, but I got that date directly from a Ryan twet before I started and trusted his knowledge.

Shayne Flaherty said...

My interest in NASCAR has be on the decline since 2004.

The best series sponsor, RJ Reynolds (Winston Cup) was forced out of NASCAR.

The worst NASCAR chairman and CEO, Brian France, is running the sport into the ground.

The mainstream media, corporate sponsors, and team owners have failed miserably in their attempts to make NASCAR something it's not...mainstream. We're a fiercely loyal fans, not some short attention span "what's hot right now" crowd.

The product being sold is anything BUT quality racing.

Everything else is BS and marketing schemes.

Sophia said...

So many GREAT POSTS! I'll keep my comment tweet worthy/short! You all spoke for me.

Regarding evolvement i.e. NA$CAR? selling it's soul for hype?

1.
COT Safety-GREAT! Hard to race drives like a bus=HORRID Racin!

2.
In-car cams RUINING races like Zoom/tight shots has thus I.Give.Up!

3.
TPTB don't care about fans on this blog/with our feelings.

4.
Other women deserve mention. SICK of "D".Not all that + bag of chips!

5. Katie Couric for interviews. Really. Really? #AnotherSharkJump

6. Bottom line? Horrid camera presentation=RUINED RACIN'! #FromTheCOTorTV ?

Colorado said...

Coffeshop: They did repave The Rock. They held a truck race there this year, and I thought it was good...I would throw in Watkins Glen as a Chase race. And I don't want to hear from the drivers/owners that complain that it's too much of a wildcard. If you're afraid, go bag groceries for a living. I would put lights at Talladega, and watch the ratings SOAR! Ditch Indy altogether, go back to IRP, and , wait for it, wait for it, run one points race on dirt. Yes, I said it. ARCA runs on it, the charity race is run on it, and look at the genuine excitement from the fans and drivers! In the words of the General in "War Games": "Hell, I'd pi** on a spark plug if it worked..."

The Loose Wheel said...

I've missed you Sophia!!! Always an amusing spin on such serious issues.

As I said before, I don't want to be strictly negative. I applaud the fact that the sport is safer than it has ever been at any point in the past and that the sport has national and global exposure. Just wish the person in charge had an original and coherent thought in regards to what his vision for the sport is and would actually listen to the fans.

His sound bytes are pretty GWB-esque in that he seems so out of touch. From assuming ALL fans ANYWHERE love the chase to calling this a contact sport, to wanting more personality (while at the same time punishing those who do not toe company lines.) He's just laughable.

Then the ongoing feud with Mayfield... Nothing more need to be said there.

Joe said...

Everyone who's commented has pretty much represented my views. Here's how NASCAR has put me on life support over the last few years:

1. Car of the future. Had to say goodbye to good racing 5 years ago.

2. The Chase. My driver was robbed of a championship, and Jimmie Johnson won every. single. year.

3. Cookie Cutter Tracks. All tracks come in a D shape now. I am sick of the 1.5 milers! What happened to the real tracks like Wilkesboro, Rockingham, and IRP?

4. The Schedule. NASCAR needs to lose about half the cookie cutter races, and put the real Southern 500 back on it.

5. TV Coverage. No matter what network the race is on, the coverage is bad.

Anonymous said...

I've been a fan since 1983, at five years of age. DW was my guy. Harvick is now.

I just think it's too bland now. I like the safety aspect. I don't want to see drivers getting killed. But I do agree about these corporate shills killing my passion.

Examples? I'm sick of seeing drivers accompanied by their PR/Marketing handlers.

I'm sick of the ridiculously corporate victory lane celebrations (completely phony) with all of these people coming out of the woodwork to be a part of it.

I miss the Firecracker 400 and World 600 and other historic names.

I miss broadcasts without the need for two or three extra people in an infield studio contributing nothing but noise.

I miss tracks with character. North Wilkesboro, The Rock, etc.

Overall, the racing is better. Except I don't like cookie cutters.

Bobby O said...

My pulse is almost gone!
Basically I don't watch commercials, and I'm tired of yelling at the TV to zoom out!

One thing that is a theme here, everyone hates the cookie cutter, and D shaped tracks. But they also hate Indy and Pocono? I always loved the square and the triangle because it was different racing. I guess I don't understand.

Brian said...

This year was the first year I have missed watching any of the Brickyard 400. Part of the issue is that a marquee event should not have a name changed several times in 18 years. Funny thing was missed the race on TV due to a traveling commitment and totally did not think about radio coverage to listen to it until about 3:00 CDT time. Could not find the race on the radio even though I was in an area where have gotten it before. Biggest issue is the race was alomost over before I even gave it a thought. Been a fan since the 70's and this year have barely watched any races. The coverage sucks on any of the TV broadcasters as there is too much focus on a few and not much on the rest if at all.
Pulse slowed to barely findable for NASCAR. Watched the INDY race at Iowa now that was fun. Wish they ran those cars at Richmond again as that was also a cool race. I am one of the loast fans everyone talks about. Watched almost every race until 2005 and have lost interest so much that even when home I am doing other things and might remember to catch the end of the race.

Unknown said...

John, my "NA__AR pulse" has flat lined. I completely gave up on Cup Lite a couple of years ago when it just became a series for the Cup teams yo pick up a little extra pocket change from teams who actually needed it.

My enthusiasm had dropped IRT Cup since the advent of the playoff format and the new race car. I haven't watched but a handful of NA__AR races this season and the ones which I did watch were watched most during the final twenty laps or so when some actual racing might break out. When you toss in with the horrible product NA__AR produces, with the TV coverage, which is apparently designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, would someone tell me just exactly what there is to like about what was once a relavent and exciting sport?
As I stated, my NA__AR enthusiasm has gone from rabid, to disenchanted, to on life support, to now flat lined. It's just sad, sad, sad.

Anonymous said...

It is absolutely still beating strongly...and the closer I get to the sport & it's drivers, the stronger it gets.
Thankfully I was at the Nationwide race & missed the overhype on Danica, but I told Mom when she wrecked that they "must have been talking about her too much". I am still going to have to go back & see how much they talked about Jeremy Clements, he had a GREAT run, for sure!
The Brickyard NNS race was actually pretty interesting. That being said, I did miss (going to) the race at LOR. They always put on a better show over there, but that's just the nature of short track racing vs. a track like Indy.
The Cup action has been pretty good this year too and judging the racing based on the TV coverage isn't very accurate. Maybe they should let Allen Bestwick have the reins of the coverage one week & see what happens, I'm sure he'd give every fan exactly what they want...and not leave out any deserving drivers in the process.

Dot said...

The best part of BSPN's race coverage is the Cup booth, AB, DJ & AP. I feel sorry for them though. They bring up issues that are never followed up on. Or, talk about a pass that's in progress that we're watching and the camera changes to one car on the track. I was hoping to get my survey from the nascar fan council, but alas I didn't. I think they knew they'd get an inbox full.

I guess there's no use in complaining. Do you think brian france cares? Apparently not with all the TV partners guilty of showing us sub par coverage. And, it's only going to get worse at BSPN the closer we get to the chase. Ugh!

SWGfan said...

Thank God for this column, just about the last place where I can meet kindred spirits who also remember the way it was, before the big TV money came in and ruined the only sport that I have really cared about in my entire life.

Kevin Grussing said...

I've refused to watch the TV Coverage as much as possible, or at the very least which it muted.

In NASCAR's world, Danica Patrick is the bloody Queen of NASCAR. In reality, she's either crashed or finished behind the NASCAR equivalent of Rodney Dangerfield (Joanna Long).

The TV Coverage is absolutely atrocious and the sport in general is more about the $ and the power rather than the reason this sport resonates, THE RACING.

Moving the NNS from Lucas Oil Speedway to the Big track was a horrific decision b/c of the Sadler debacle and the fact there were a TON of empty seats. Something you DON'T connect w/ IMS.

If NASCAR is pushing forward Danica Patrick, a female driver whose never fully shown her potential and has NEVER won a race in America, as it future it is in serious jeopardy of becoming what it was prior to the mid-late 80s. And that is a niche not worthy of a national contract.

There NEEDS to be a change in thinking and a bloodbath in the boardroom (aka mass firings) if they wish to avoid this. But I heavily doubt it.

Bob in VT said...

I still enjoy NASCAR...i listen to a few hours of Sirius everyday (just not TMD) and read jayski, mulhern and TDP. But the races themselves aren't the focus anymore...I only watch 3-4 races a year live now sitting at the TV (Daytona, Homestead and a couple others) and maybe about 15-20 in a bar with friends where we just update each other now and again where our drivers are running. I've been following the sport closely and until recently saw every televised race from the 80s til about 2005 when i started listening more on satellite radio. Each year i watch less and less race coverage and now almost no pre-race coverage, but I'm still a die-hard fan, last week i went to NHMS for the track tour (where I'd been to every NASCAR race until the last few years) My favourite tracks i've ever been to were Rockingham and North Wilkesboro (just great memorable experiences) not sure there's a track now I feel in any rush to "Visit".

DW and Rusty being the "Voice" of NASCAR really turned me against the TV coverage...DW was always a good sound bite but in his prime no one really cared about his opinion other than for it making a good headline, and Rusty was always more likable behind the wheel than once his mouth started moving. Before that we had Benny and Buddy as broadcasters who weren't exactly the Marquee drivers (though very good) but had the right personality to bring the sport to the fans. I'm hoping when the next changing of guard in broadcasting comes I enjoy them better than the current generation...maybe because i'm old enough to remember DW and Rusty enter NASCAR i don't look at them the say as the legends of my youth (i know their antics too well to just look at them at face value)

Rambo M. said...

Oh, it probably still might, Kevin - albeit not without the fire-ees being dragged out kicking and screaming. If sponsors should start walking out, well... money talks.

Now that I think of it, the sanctioning body is in desperate need of some bad karma for snatching major sponsorship arrangements out from under teams.

Tracy D said...

Don't blame Danica for the hype. If the press/media is too lazy to dig up good stories on other drivers, put pressure on them. Want to hear more about Johanna Long? Complain. Let the media know

Dennis said...

Pretty much agree with everything that's been said. A fan since a teen in the 70's. Changes since Brian took over have been mostly bad. Double wide restarts has been good. The cars used to look like the cars you would see on the street. Been a VERY long time since then. It's now a boring aero-push spec series where you get to cheer for a decal.

Get rid of the front airdams/splitter. I'd return to bias ply because the cars would slide around on them without the suddenly spin that the radials produce. Move away from the cookie cutters that produce aero-push parades and go back to unique smaller tracks where aero doesn't rule the day.

As for the TV broadcasts, NASCAR needs to severely reduce the number of commercials allowed and they have to pan the cameras back and show the racing. As it is, the races have become unwatchable, SPEED's truck coverage being the exception.

So, why my heart still beats, it's slower as my frustration with the TV broadcasts makes it very difficult to enjoy the races.

Anonymous said...

First let me just say up front I'm progressive minded and I have no major problems with most of the rule changes that have been made over the last few years. I believe most of the problems are media/car/track/driver.

Media: They need to get out of NASCAR's pants and start calling it like it is. It's just insulting to fans to try to play up how great a boring race has been. They also need to hugely tone down all the banter, humor, production, etc that distracts from the racing. A little is fine but FOX especially just goes way overboard.

Car: I have no clue what the technical issues are here but clearly the COT has been a massive flop for racing quality. It has to be possible to bring the safety innovations to a more competitive car. I won't pretend I know the technical reasons these things are happening but it's just obvious that it's not working. Another thing about the cars today -- they have to stop with these different color schemes. I have no clue who's who week to week. It makes it really hard to follow what is happening on the track when the announcers aren't talking about it. NASCAR should mandate one color scheme per season and be done with it.

Tracks: Given the huge cost of building a track this is a big liability that just isn't going away. Conservatively I would say 50% of the tracks on the circuit consistently offer bad racing year after year. As a fan why I would I bother to go to this track or even watch on TV? I know it's going to be bad. Everyone knows it. It's time NASCAR stopped pretending the fans are too stupid to realize this. It seems to me that rules packages more targeted to specific tracks could help here. The real solution is to ditch these tracks or at least race only once per year there.

Driver: This is a weird one because I feel like the drivers have actually gotten better and smarter but to the detriment of racing quality. I suspect a lot of this is just unfixable. You can't ask the drivers to get dumber or stop running such perfect laps. If the drivers have become 'too good' then the solution is to make it a bigger challenge. Not sure how you do this other than just pushing the drivers out of their comfort zones.


I do think NASCAR is pretty close to a total collapse. I think a lot of people continue watching out of habit more than anything else. Eventually they will find something better to do. NASCAR is probably just going to need a dark ages to fix these problems. The stakes are just too high now and there's too much money involved. Give it another 10 years or so and I think things will get better.

fbu1 said...

About eighteen months ago, after a particularly poor race broadcast, I began an ongoing informal survey of friends, family and acquaintances, including some very avid NASCAR fans. I was curious to see if I was alone in my disatisfaction with NASCAR on TV. I've talked to at least 60 different people in a variety of situations. I made an honest effort to keep my own opinions to myself. I acknowledge that racing fans are not a monolithic group. We all have our own reasons for watching racing and have our own opinions about what satisfies our expectations.

The consensus among the majority was that NASCAR is losing its way. It is no longer real. There are too many gimmicks, too many rule changes that hurt the smaller teams. The interests of loyal fans are being displaced by pandering to commercial interests. Driver interviews are now passionless sponsor mentions. Stating one's mind can result in a secret fine. The "freedom of speech" issue alone was a game changer for some. Almost everyone I talked to expressed a withering contempt for Brian France. Some of the more significant things that I learned over the last year and a half:

A local group of racing fans used to attend at least two races every year. They rented motor homes and convoyed to a campground near the designated track for a long weekend. The group's last NASCAR trip was two years ago. The economy was not a factor for them. They just felt abused by the ever rising food, service and merchandise prices. They felt like their pockets were being picked.

After watching a soccer match with friends at a sports pub one recent Sunday, I asked the manager to turn on the race, hoping to catch the last laps. The pub was crowded and the TVs were showing soccer, golf and baseball. No NASCAR. The pub manager told me that the requests for NASCAR have fallen off steadily over the last year or so.

I learned about two workplace fantasy leagues that have dumped NASCAR after a decade of activity. The reason is that there was not enough interest to justify the time that it required for administration. One area where BF may have been right: the travails of Dale Jr coincided with the loss of interest.

All five of my grandchildren and their friends like motor sports in some fashion, from monster trucks to motocross. Drag racing is particularly popular. None of them like NASCAR. Hours of watching a few cars driving in circles is boring and stupid. In my opinion, this is the result of TV focusing almost entirely on the race leaders. NASCAR is in danger of losing its future fan base.

One particular criticism of Brian France caught me by surprise. Many of my fellow veterans expressed disgust at the way Brian France has cynically wrapped himself in the American flag. They do not doubt the patriotism of NASCAR teams and fans, but they believe that BF has exploited the military in order to deflect criticism of the way he has conducted NASCAR business.

And finally, all of the TV broadcast networks produce boring shows. Even the most avid fans say they often ignore TV until the last laps of a race, preferring the radio broadcast that includes updates on all the cars. Most of the people think that the racing media has sold out as well, quick to jump on Kurt Bush, but never questioning the decisions made by the NASCAR hierarchy.

My informal survey may not meet academic standards, but it does produce enough empirical evidence to concern me. My personal conclusion is that the poorly produced racing broadcasts, coupled with the almost universal contempt for Brian France, is damaging our sport. NASCAR's focus on "spectacular events" as opposed to the racing itself does not build the lasting relationships with potential fans that it needs to sustain itself. I fear that interest in NASCAR has peaked. Where are the future fans coming from once us older folks fade away?

fbu1

Tom said...

Somewhat off-topic thought here, but following up on the Danica Patrick/Johanna Long "battle" for attention, I found an amazing stat.

Of the 13 races Long has run in the Nationwide Series this season, she's finished ahead of Princess Patrick SIX times!

Now imagine where Long would be in the points if she had been able to run the full schedule.

Sadly, even if Long were actually ahead of Patrick in the standings, she still wouldn't get nearly the media attention.

And that's a shame.

HarpAmy/Amy in FL said...

I'll add my 2 cents worth.

As with the PC crowd in America, so goes with NASCAR. Stop the PCness and let the drivers, etc. be themselves. Do jump on Kurt and Kyle Busch so much either. They have a right to speak their minds and drive how they want. The penalties that NASCAR has issued for free speech and driving styles is bunk.

Allow the teams to innovate without punishment. The teams have been put too much into a box and the racing has become boring. I was at the Coke Zero 400 this year and the pack racing was actually boring and that was a first for me. I can remember back in the middle part of the last decade that the pack racing was more exciting. It was actually nail-biting and edge of your seat the whole time. The tandem actually brought about more passing than the pack.

The economy has hurt NASCAR in more ways than one. It's hurt the fans ability to go to the races. It's hurt the teams ability to find sponsors. And, it's hurt the driver development. It's also hurt the racing cause drivers/teams are fearful of losing sponsors cause of the way NASCAR punishes certain drivers for their on track actions that may have been precipitated by others' actions all year.

As for me, I still love NASCAR and will probably never give it up. NASCAR is about the only thing that my dad and I have in common and it binds us together and gives us a relationship and for that reason alone, I'll be a fan forever. My hubby and I have our land for sale/lease and I plan on establishing a racing savings account to be able to go to many races a year. My bucket list includes going to every track on the schedule so I need a big account.

As for the broadcasts, I like Nicole Briscoe. Nicole actually brings a unique perspective being the wife of a race car driver, she can give us a sense of what they're going through when the times are tough. Nicole's tribute to Dan Wheldon was superb. I also like the Waltrips. I'm not much of a fan of TNT. I like Fox the best, then ESPN, and then TNT. I like the Speed broadcasts of the trucks. I really like it when the media will tweet with us fans and keep us interactive. I also like the behind the scenes tweets from the production crews.

I really think it would behoove the NASCAR tv broadcasters to go full-time side-by-side commercials. A few weeks ago, I was at my brother's house and he recorded the cup race for me since that Sunday afternoon was a celebration party for my nephew's baptism. I was finally able to watch the race partially on Tuesday even though I knew who won. When I did watch the race, I fast forwarded through the commercials so those advertisers did NOT get their moneys' worth from me. If they'd go side-by-side with all the DVRs now, they'd get more bang for their buck since no one could fast forward through the commercials cause they'd miss the racing.

So, to sum it all up.

1. Allow free speech from all involved. Media/drivers/teams/etc No secret fines or fear of loss of sponsors for speech.
2. Allow the teams to innovate.
3. Go side-by-side commercials.

Thanks JD for this forum.

Buschseries61 said...

Some positive news, John Wes Townley's debut never got past his practice warm-up lap. The pulse of the field is relaxing now.

Seriously though, there have been some really great comments on here.

Bobby O said...

I was going to leave a long drawn out response in my previous post, but everyone else has stated what I thought.

And really, we have all been saying the same things for years.
So I decided I would not waste my time.
What is the definition of crazy?

That is why I have No pulse for Nascar. Just resentment. Sad, really sad!

Anonymous said...

I have grown indifferent to NASCAR races, mostly because of the terrible TV coverage. I do not multitask, and I do not care for radio. NASCAR's attraction to me is 95% visual. If TV doesn't deliver, I'm gone.

For about 60 years NASCAR was a growth industry. In such an industry, everybody makes money, thinks they are a genius, and thinks it will go on forever. A rude awakening comes when an industry reaches saturation.

Television coverage essentially reached 100% of the population, and NASCAR even became something of a fad where it was cool to be part of the crowd. That maximized the audience, but it couldn't last. Some people decided NASCAR wasn't for them. The fad factor wore off. And the growth industry that was NASCAR now finds itself in decline.

Brian France is guilty of two major failures. One is the failure to recognize the law of unintended consequences. He created the chase but it attracts attention mostly from the TV networks who use it as an excuse to ignore any team not in the chase. It also creates an atmosphere where teams race conservatively in order to make the chase. Concentrating on a few teams alienates most fans and makes it difficult to find sponsors for most teams. So Brian's chase gimmick annoys the majority of fans and threatens the economic survival of all but the top few teams.

Another NASCAR principle to always extract the most money in the short term without regard for what it does to the long term health of the sport. The present TV contract is a good example and has brought us to the sorry state of TV today that is driving away fans.

Brian's second big mistake is ignoring the cumulative effects of decisions. Taken individually, the closing of a smaller track like Rockingham or North Wilkesboro or taking a race from Darlington is defensible. But when they are all added together, the result is disastrous. The schedule is dominated by the mile and a half cookie cutter tracks. We see single file racing at 190 mph and the inevitable aero-push. Races at Darlington, North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, etc. were much more fun. While decisions to move individual races seemed logical to NASCAR in its search for more money, the cumulative effect has been to drive away the TV audience.

The arrogance and greed of people at the top of the sport has also been turning away fans. Their attitude seems to be, "Shut up, you don't know anything, believe what we tell you, and give us your money. Above all, give us your money."

No single person, not even Brian France, is responsible for all of this. There is more than enough blame to go around. While NASCAR was a growth industry, everybody tried to extract more and more money from that golden goose. The cumulative effect was to choke the life out of the golden goose.

Industry growth is not an inevitable event. Just ask the steel industry in the U.S., the California real estate market, or the TV manufacturers that are trying to sell 3-D TV to restore sales. I think NASCAR has peaked and has now entered a long term decline. There will be short term fluctuations, up and down; but the long term outlook is down. I just wonder how long the contraction will take and how low it will go before reaching a stable plateau.

I have been following NASCAR for about 50 years. I like to keep track of it now as a sort of example of business management. I follow off track developments on TDP and Jayski mostly out of morbid curiosity. It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. My interest in individual races is on life support. The broadcast networks will all have to make major improvements before I will return to watching races like I used to do.

Bobby O said...

Anon 3:40,

You sound like an astute business man that may also have some link to nascar.
I agree with your evaluation! Sadly agree!