Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Spin Room

Update: The election is over, but the comments are still coming on NASCAR's new approach to controlling the content that is released in the media. Certainly been that way this week.

Originally published 11/5: It's that time of year. After a lot of money and a lot of talk, the race for President is about to be decided. Along the way, most Americans have been exposed to a whole lot of what the media calls "spin."

It is vitally important in today's political world to have a strong contingent of dedicated marketing professionals who only speak to designated points. What they address has been decided in advance and rarely reflects reality. That does not seem to be a problem.

The spin in the media at first is entertaining. It's fun to watch marketing types use catch phrases and talking points to try and influence opinion. Then, the backlash begins. Citizens without an agenda and with their own independent thoughts begin to bristle at being told what to think.

Now, with the Presidential election looming, a key issue is just how much damage the effort at spinning the truth has caused both candidates. Ultimately, each individual has their own perception of what reality is and a set of reasons for their own political views.

This year, we NASCAR fans have seen a shift to the same style of marketing from the sanctioning body. Instead of offering a realistic view of what is actually happening, the message being sent through a wide variety of media outlets is shaped and arranged in advance.

A key piece of this philosophy is to brand anyone who dares move off-message. Buzzwords like hater, complainer and the ultimate scarlet letter of being called anti-NASCAR are quickly thrown at anyone who steps out of line. From on-air personalities to amateur bloggers, anyone with media access is now under scrutiny.

NASCAR is actually constructing a "Fan and Media Engagement Center" in the Hall of Fame building that will continually scan the digital media world and work to influence conversations not in line with the talking points of the sanctioning body. Click here for the TDP post on that topic from July.

Anyone who doubts this can reflect on the published goals of NASCAR's Integrated Marketing Communications group. "The IMC will provide overall thought leadership in the communications space," said the sanctioning body's news release. Well, there is just one little problem.

In today's social media world NASCAR fans are free to voice their own views with the same level of exposure as media members, Sprint Cup Series drivers and even NASCAR executives. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook don't care who you are, they just post the content delivered by the user.

All of this has led to a very interesting dynamic that came to a head this Sunday during the race in Texas. The pre-race chatting on Twitter and Facebook quickly moved from cheering to downright surly once the race began. Following the postings to the #NASCAR hashtag on Twitter and the comments on NASCAR's Facebook page became an exercise in watching pent-up frustration boil over.

Some of the targets were familiar ones. Mysterious caution flags for debris where none was shown on TV. The dominance of Jimmie Johnson in a sport where cars are supposedly equal. The lack of passing when the cars were racing at speed. The frequency of TV commercials shown under green flag conditions and, of course, NASCAR's Chase playoff format.

What is perhaps important to keep in mind is that this is the time of the NASCAR season when the focus should be on the racing. Sunday, it was once again a race that looked a lot like practice. Single cars were spaced out and once in a great while, carefully passing each other. Pit stops and two-tire calls made for the only storylines until late in the event.

The problem is that none of this makes a dent in the marketing spin. What will be sent along through channels is the final lap mini-drama of two drivers actually racing. In a nutshell, that type of basic racing action is what NASCAR fans want to see throughout the race. It is what NASCAR and the tracks promote as being at the heart of the sport. This season, nothing could be further from the truth.

This week pay attention to what you hear on NASCAR's SiriusXM radio channel. Keep an eye on what topics are raised on SPEED's daily Race Hub show. Check Jayski's media links page and scan the headlines for the reality of what you saw on Sunday. It should be an interesting exercise.

Tackling issues head-on and getting public feedback was once said to be a priority. The NASCAR Fan Council was going to change the sport and opinions from the fan base were going to be the primary influence. It seems ironic that efforts this season are to control the message, spin the reality and slap a happy face on what so far is a sport desperately in need of fundamental change.

We welcome your opinion on this topic. Comments may be moderate prior to posting.


LongTimeFan said...

Today's race buddy coverage sucked. The race summary, leader board, and track tracker didn't work. No moderator from RaceBuddy to tell or have explained to us why it didn't work. Of course there is no other Nascar live leaderboard anymore (that function being directed to RaceBuddy). As a previous user of Trackpass, they were always having issues with that service, and racebuddy seems no different. Given that Nascar is trying to take back its internet rights, and expand various services, they better get a handle on how to make their services work or they will continue their backslide into obscurity. P.S. Got bored with the race, so went and hit golf balls on a nice day here in the pacific N.W.

Buschseries61 said...

Bravo! Nice tie-in with the election. Today I watched the Giants game, occationally flipping back to the race to see the Brad and Jimmie show.

I used to express my frustrations, then met the same labels you mention in the article...'complainer', 'whiner', 'NASCAR fans are never happy'. Saying the same things repeadly to deaf ears became tiresome. It just wasn't worth it anymore, so I respond with my tv remote now and let go. Let the powers that be shape the sport however they want. Sandy taught a lot of us in New York about what's important in life and what our priorities should be. There's a lot of other things to do on Sunday afternoon.

Bruce said...

I think the fan council was a well-timed action to counter the sagging economy. Letting more people/fans have more input into the process looks good. Can't hurt. Right?

I've also been a firm believer that the last impression is the lasting impression from any race. The last laps always seem to have the lasting impression... no matter what happens in the middle of a race.

Anonymous said...

It just seems to me that the three groups, i.e. Nascar, teams, fans all have different mutually exclusive agendas. Perhaps the first two groups can no longer meet the expectations of the fans. If not, what can they do?

Or, maybe its just a matter of Nascar and the teams only wanting to maximize profits, the fans can take it or leave it. If so, where do we go from here?

Ancient Racer said...

When I was a Yoot being trained up in the ways of spin by a Master of that Art he, in a bar late one evening (bars being the actual center of commerce in politics and the political nooze biz), through a light fog of Scotch and tobacco smoke, said:

"Kid, just remember the only one who didn't know he was nekkid was the Emperor himself."

Words to live by. :)

RFMjr said...

And the band played on...

Thomas said...

Brian France is working hard to normalize mental illness and to infect others with it. The Big Lie. 1984. Joseph Goebbels. Brian France has learned from history all the wrong lessons and works to implement them on a daily basis.
A palace coup may be in order to save NASCAR from itself. No one in Daytona Beach seems to think that the infamous woes of Indy Car could happen to them. Wait. It's coming.

I propped myself up on a sofa and dozed off shortly after the green flag fell. I awoke in time to see the last twenty laps. This cannot be undone by spin, NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

I tried watching the race. I slept threw the pre race. I missed the opening 50 laps as I dozed off again watching the bengals broncos game. Flipped back to the race slept another twenty five laps. Was awoken by the restart crash. Ate dinner came back and flipped to speed to watch the re air of the F1 race. Now When I got home yesterday around noon yesterday those were the first results I checked up on. I knew the results. Knew who crashed out. Knew how much vettel still led by. But I wanted to see it for myself. I coulda cared less about the NASCAR race at this point because even the drivers don't care about the first 250 laps of a 334 lap race. I was so entertained I almost stopped flipping back in time to watch every pit stop for those fake yellows. But that's a different argument. NASCAR needs to make itself interesting throughout the entirety of a race again. Drivers need to race every lap. Not just ride around for 75% of an event and suddenly care and drive like a fool or whine when somebody jumps a restart by 20 damn inches. Gasp! How dare Brad actually use up Jimmie's stuff while they actually race for a change. It just sickens me to watch pri-madonas like JJ and Kyle consistently whine over the little things while brad is actually a true wheeler. But NASCAR got what they wanted. A two race shootout between these now rivals. I hope to god brad eeks it out. Otherwise I'm officially done after the 500. I can't take another season of this. I think we all agree it's almost as bad as these never ending campaign ads. But fortunately for both the season are almost done

OSBORNK said...

My local newspaper doesn't give me the spin because they have almost quit covering NASCAR. A week of NASCAR "news" is now about what they used to have in one regular day. This is the newspaper where the Bristol track is located. The local TV used to devote hours to the Bristol races with reporters camping out with the race fans and talking with a lot of the drivers. It now gets the coverage of a college football game.

The spin seems like it is backfiring. Did you see the empty seats at the race? I think the attendance and TV habits are slowly showing the results of the spin. When people are fooled once by the spinning, they don't come back for more. As anyone in sales well knows, it is easier to retain a customer than to win one back after you have lost them. The American auto makers learned that the hard way.

allisong said...

I'd like to respond to Bruce's comment, "The last laps always seem to have the lasting impression.." and just add AND SO IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN.

Let's leave aside the talk about how the media is presenting it and just talk about the RACING for a second. Think about what you have heard or seen about races in the "good old days". The Petty/Pearson battles and Cale and DW and all of them. Those great moments you hear about, did they occur on lap 20? Lap 100? No, they occurred when it all was on the line at the end.

And what was happening up until those great moments? Cars were being lapped wholesale by the scant few cars who had the $$ to spend on speed. It is a myth to think that the racing was ever side-by-side paint-swapping from green flag to checkered. So to expect it now is unrealistic in my view.

If you want to debate the difference between the modern fan and what they find exciting and the fans from the old days, then that's something worth talking about. But the media is not the problem, IMHO.

Colorado said...

First off, the very phrase "thought leadership" makes me think of Germany 1939. If that isn't Nazi-ism, I don't know what is.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday was the first time in years that I turned the channel to watch something else. I want to see cars passing, bumping and racing hard. Not this follow the leader.

They can spin all they want but I believe what my own eyes tell me.


GinaV24 said...

Just like in politics, the amount of spin in NASCAR has made me simply "tune out". I've been changing the channel or muting the tv during all the political ads for the past 2 months, I don't answer any of the robo-calls that say 'vote for me" either.

The NASCAR media, et al, can call me negative, a naysayer or whiner, I don't really care. The "product" simply isn't worth my time or interest.

I intentionally watched very little of the race yesterday. Texas is never that interesting to watch on TV IMO and since the story line is so predictable, I didn't need to waste hours of my time listening to ESPN yap at me as if it was exciting.

I was following my driver with trackpass until the audio went out. Supposedly this was due to some issue at the track, but I can't tell if they are telling the truth or lying to me either.

I watched football on Sunday in between chores around the house and getting my yard cleaned up after the storm.

Are there still 2 races to go? I don't care and probably won't watch either of them.

NASCAR, Sirius, ESPN, Jayski and the tracks can "spin" themselves until they are sick, but they can't make me watch.

Anonymous said...

After watching an early NFL game, I forgot the DVR was taping the race. After spending the last few hours of sunlight and eating dinner, I turned on the race to see the last 10 laps. I felt like I did not miss anything, so I just deleted the race from the DVR. I just do not have any interest...and judging by the crowd at Texas, a lot of fans feel the same way. Spin? According to Nate Ryan NASCAR estimated 146k people in attendance yesterday. Give me a break. That place was a little over 1/2 full! Like in politics, spin is about creative a narrative, right or wrong, and trying to influence the general public. NASCAR needs to give up on the PR people, and just tell it like it is.... Aaron in WI

sue said...

This blog used to be informative but in recent months has spewed nothing but negativity on the sport I love. Don't know who has done you wrong JD but sadly its been showing on your blog. Now is the time for me to call it quits on your Daley Planet.

Thank you for all the time and effort you had put into this blog and I certainly wish you well in life.

Dolores said...

I have finally had it with NASCAR. I no longer watch, I have been a die hard fan for over 20 years, went to races and watched every sunday religously. I stopped watching all together a couple of races ago, it is just follow the leader and watch the chase drivers. I believe the chase is the killing of NASCAR and no longer care.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
"The IMC will provide overall thought leadership in the communications space," said the sanctioning body's news release.
Huh? What need for thought leadership should a sanctioning body have? NONE! ...unless said leadership, using the term loosely here, cannot acknowledge it's ineptitude and inability to move the sport forward ...wait, what is that I hear? ...the death knell of a once-vibrant sport or Big Bill and Bill Jr spinning in their graves ..."CLICK" for this 50+-yr fan

Anonymous said...

Society has very little patience nowadays. Everthing must be instant. Beforehand, sending a letter via mail was fine for communication. Overnight mail was used for important messages.

Mail slowly gave way to email which allowed a person to send something whenver they could find time to get on a computer.

And now, more communication occurs instantly using twitter or SMS depending upon the intended audience. Though everything has to be instant.

NASCAR, and auto racing in general is not designed for instant gratification. Except for a bonus point for a lap led, no scoring occurs until the very end. All of the "stick and ball" sports award points all throughout the contest.

A pass in lap 14 of a 300+ lap race has nothing to do with the final outcome. A 1st quarter touchdown will affect the final outcome of a football game.

In the old days, people were fine to sit through a 4 hour race, understanding the strategy involved, and anticipating the finish.

Racing has gotten better from the days where there just may be a couple of cars on the lead lap, however, society has changed so drastically, that even a race where 35 cars finishing on the lead lap just doesn't cut it.

NASCAR will never be able to attract a short attention span viewer.

NASCAR needs to take a page out of the election and focus on trying to bring out their base supporters.

Michael Stoffel said...

NASCAR is being "Johnsoned". Unless you're a fan of his, the race is unwatchable as he leads week after week. If he's not in the lead, it's an inevitability that he will be.
Yes, he's great, but I just don't wanna watch it. So I switch to the NFL game.

Joj said...

NASCAR has dug its own grave, and they can have it. I watched the race in 38 minutes using FF on DVR. Why watch a boring fuel mileage parade led by the 48 - when there is NFL, F1, or sunshine & beaches? OK I live in Tampa - yet there was a time when I stayed home indoors to watch NASCAR. On nice days. Now - no more. I do not need to be told what to think, thanks anyway BZF.

I know a lackluster, uninteresting mess when I see it.

We used to spend Thousands of dollars per year attending races, now we won't drive across the state to see Daytona 500.

Since we don't go to races - the grandkids don't go to races (Mom & Dad work to hard & long). Another generation of potential fans lost.

We do NOT want "more value for the dollar" ( like concerts & junk) we WANT Better Racing. And till that happens we vote with our money & remotes!

Spin that BZF & Co. Or better yet Just Do It.


James said...

With the exception of the last ten laps (the best real racing of the chase this year), I guess I am not alone in wondering why there are so many mile and a half race tracks in the chase. They really do not have close racing, the speeds are incredibly high and dangerous and for speeds this high the fan cannot see 175 from 205, so again why? Races at shorter tracks are much more competitive and fun to watch. I guess it has to do with it being easier to seat more folks at a mile and a half than at a track of only three quarters of a mile. Richmond is a great example of a track this size, and the “show” is most always more entertaining than the one in Michigan? Five wide, really, what happened to three wide in the tight corners? Why do the two road courses deliver more excitement than all the mile and a half’s combined? The idea is to have stock cars racing. It has become more like planes in formation circling the track. Indy cars have gone away from circle tracks to street and road courses because of why? Has NASCAR ever thought of going to a street course? Maybe one in Manhattan, they have the Marathon, why not a NASCARTHON? With the current TV packages, attendance certainly is not the necessity it once was. Who cares how many fans actually attend the event, think boxing or wrestling. Fans can buy souvenirs over the internet, if they choose to. Don’t you think it would be cool to see the Cups cars really go around the “big apple”, so what if we moved to Vegas for the Champions Dinner! Marketing is the most important factor, not the competition. The car manufactures could certainly use the exposure, the drivers have been properly schooled to maintain the lines of decorum. It could be BIG. Downtown L.A. that would be a great venue. All the glitz and glam and all the Celebs, why it would be perfect. The Ultimate NASCAR “SHOW”, think of the possibilities. A Celeb race, a Celeb “roasts”, this could be huge. Maybe this is what is needed to give NASCAR the lift it needs to turn the tide of sliding down that slippery slope and make a comeback. Open the “show” to a new audience. TMZ and OMG and who knows what other “SHOW” might outbid the current possibilities and raise even more cash for the cause. And in the end, is this so far from what is taking place today? When the competition takes second place to marketing, who can really tell. They can tell us how good the racing is, but when I see it, I know it for what it is.

KoHoSo said...

I seem to recall sometime in the past history of this blog that another Planeteer and I had an exchange using the example of how NASCAR is now using the same type of spin used by politicians and big corporations...never admit any mistakes, dismiss or attack the "opposition," put a happy face on everything, and never deviate from that script. I am glad to see JD has taken that to a much higher level as we appropriately close out what I believe is one of the most disgusting political seasons in the television era.

Perhaps this is a more fitting context for the "us vs. them" feeling I have gotten from NASCAR going back to the time on TWIN when Michael Waltrip started complaining that fans like me didn't really love the sport. Then again, maybe that's what NASCAR wants. Perhaps research is showing them that the gravy train days are over and never coming back even once the economy inevitably improves. By using their current tactics, they lock in whatever they can of the current audience where I would swear people actually believe it is just as much a patriotic duty to watch NASCAR every weekend no matter how terrible the racing or TV coverage as it is to take one's hat off when saluting the flag.

Whether purposeful or not, this type of attitude culminating in the criticism of fans as being "needy" and all the rest is a big reason why I have stopped watching anything related to NASCAR other than what comes through my Twitter feed through JD, Mike Mulhern, and Tony Johns. If it's obvious that NASCAR doesn't want me because I "complain" and ESPN doesn't want me because I follow a non-Chase driver, why should I bother forcing myself on them especially when the racing and it presentation are obviously boring people to death?

Anonymous said...

The spin being created by NASCAR is that this race had an incredible finish and fantastic racing throughout!! It simply didn't. Sorry. But when you have to manufacture fake cautions to stop never ending green flag runs then you begin to lose credibility. It's absurd that the attendance number was even over 100k. It wasn't even half packed. And I guarantee the ratings will be abysmal. It's just sad. I had no problem with them letting the spring race run its course. But yesterday was just awful. Except for the end. Which is all that counts.

Bruce said...

Hey "allisong,"

My reference (which may have been too vague in my effort to be terse... hmm) was more about how the fans come away from a race and how they feel about it. (first/last impressions)

There can be days that the racing is pretty good in the beginning and middle, but when the last 15 or 20 laps is nothing but the leaders strung out with no fender rubbing, it seems that the socially-enabled fans call the race out as anything but exciting, forgetting about how the cars got that way... the tactics, the maneuvering, the paint swapping (If or when there is some).

But as John made point, is the last few laps with fender to fender, tire smoke and drivers exchanging numbers (the paint of door numbers!) that gets spun and fans seem pretty excited about "the race" after that.

I myself totally appreciate how the race unfolded. The technical aspects of how a team kept their car in contention and from personal experience, how hard it is to wrangle these hugely powered beasts of metal and rubber. These drivers make this sport look easy... and that's a huge deception.

No, I'm not expecting a race full of paint swapping. But what I am seeing is TV coverage designed to pull in the newbie fan. Coverage or more to the point, ads about the coverage making it seem pretty exciting. It's basic marketing.

No. The media is not the problem, they're only doing their job. It's the attention span of new fans that worry me and how that drives different facets of the coverage of our beloved sport.

Though you do bring up great observations yourself allisong. Not discrediting them. I just hope I'm adding to them.


(Psst: See what happens when I turn off my terse mode? Egads.)

PattyKay Lilley said...

Like John, I have long understood the meaning of "Spin", because I employ it to some degree in my own writing. We all do, those of us not too lovingly referred to as "The Media." Recently, that term has become so negative that I generally beg off and declare myself independent of it.

However, the idea that Brian France thinks, imagines or believes that he or his "thought police" are capable of any sort of though control of this media member is completely and totally repulsive to me.

I do not write from the wild side; I have a fine command of the English language, which I use to correctly describe and depict both persons and actions. In short, in any direct confrontation, in person, on the phone or in the media, I can and do talk circles around Mr. France. I have invited him many times to come join the fans and me in conversation. Alas, he declines, and does so because I cannot be "spun."

I'll not go into what I feel is wrong with racing today. You can stop by RacersReunion and read that any day of the week. Today, I only want to pass along what I tell my own friends and readers alike.

Read carefully! Then, read again... whether you are reading my offerings or anyone else's. Before you can argue effectively, you have to know what's being discussed. My mantra has long been, "Understand what I said... not what you 'think' I said. There is usually a vast difference."

With that said, and not at all out of meanness, I challenge anyone reading this to understand ANYTHING that Brian France says. The man cannot form a cogent sentence, let alone thought. As the Ancient Racer said earlier, "The Emperor is the only one that doesn't know he's nekkid."

Anonymous said...

Nascar has become boringly predictable. I think most race fans could predict the 2013 Chasers and get 9 out of 12. Why bother to watch the inevitable?

The Daytona 500, Talledega and Homestead will give me all the racing I need, along with ARCA.

Sorry Mr France, unless you put on your big boy pants the family legacy is in trouble.

Anonymous said...

As Dale Earnhardt Jr. has stated several times in past interviews, the races need to be shortened. Less laps will lead to "harder" racing, and would elimate the "follow the leader" type of racing. The shorter races in the Camping World Truck Series are proof that less laps make the racing more exciting. Shorter and better races would attract the "short-attention span" viewers and give the "diehard" race fans something to love again! I have wondered why Nascar has not listened to Dale Jr.? He has been around long enough to know what "fires up" the race fans!

Maverick24 said...

I was watching the race yesterday on both Racebuddy and the TV.

I know there was passing. I know there was racing. Quite a bit of it actually, I saw it with my own two eyes flipping between the various onboard cameras throughout the race. Was this back-in-the-pack racing shown on TV? Nope.

Texas has actually become quite a good track with the weathering of the pavement causing the tires to wear out like they do. That lends itself to lots of coming and going.

And don't get me started on the "debris" cautions. Week after week, when I can consistently predict within about 15 minutes when the next caution is coming out after a long green flag run, something isn't right.

Watching Brad battle the four-tired Goliath known as Jimmie Johnson on his two tires yesterday was amazing. He had actually succeeded in running away from him not once, but twice. But in true golden horseshoe fashion, of course two cautions come out to negate all that great driving.

I realize that sort of thing is just the reality of racing, but when the reality of racing falls in favor of the same guy over and OVER, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Anonymous said...

The only thing wrong with the present chase is that it doesn't go far enough. I propose that all races be set at 60 minutes of green flag racing divided into four quarters. Each race will be scored at the end of a quarter with points to be awarded as follows: First place is awarded a touchdown of 6 points, second is awarded a field goal of 3 points, third is awarded a safety of 2 points, and fourth is awarded an extra point of 1. Everybody else is a loser who gets nothing. The winner of the race is determined by adding up the points awarded in each quarter. Thus points awarded in the first quarter are just as important as points awarded in the fourth quarter. Drivers will have to race hard from beginning to end.

Each quarter will have fifteen minutes of green flag racing interrupted by two debris cautions, or timeouts, after five minutes of green flag runs. The timeouts will be used to bunch the field and provide for TV commercials. Teams may pit for gas, tires, and adjustments but will resume the race in the position they held when the debris caution was called. This will eliminate pit strategy, passing in pit stops, and fuel milage races.

The break after the second quarter will be called halftime and will last a half hour. This allows for more commercials and commentary by TV windbags. Fans in the stands will be entertained by bands and cheerleaders.

At the end of the fourth quarter, the race winner is determined by the total of all points accumulated. The winner is awarded one additional touchdown of six points. In the event of ties, the teams divide up the six points equally. Everybody else is a loser who gets no additional points.

There is a little room for tune-tuning, but this is a sound basis for individual races.

Brian in Florida

JakeL42 said...

Not much i can say,if the weather had not been so cold and windy,i would have just went to the park and played tennis with my dad,no manufactured excitement there,just plain fun,like Nascar used to be.

I even heard Jr himself on the radio say the cars are too heavy and clunky,so that tells you alot of what you need to know.Nice post again,like the election comparison,just so sickening the levels Nascar HQ have stooped to now.

Anonymous said...

The playoff system will be changed as well. The season begins with 43 teams competing in the first 10 races. At that point, the points from the first 10 races are added up. The top 30 teams go forward along with two wild cards voted in by fans. Danica and one other lucky driver will fill out the Round of 32. The other teams are losers and are eliminated. They are done for the season.

The points are reset to zero to begin the Round of 32. Six races are run and the points of those six races are added up. The bottom sixteen teams are eliminated and are done for the season. The fourteen leading teams and two fan voted wild cards (Danica and one other) will compete in the Round of 16. The other teams are losers and are done for the season.

The Round of 16, Round of 8, and Round of 4 also have points reset to zero and consist of six races each. At the conclusion of each round, losers go home. Well, fan voting insures Danica moves forward along with one other team.

Just imagine the present excitement and pressure of Richmond. Only now it occurs five times each season!

At the conclusion of the round of four, only the winner and one fan favorite wild card move forward. The winner of the Round of 4 meets Dale, Jr. (sorry, Danica) in a two car match race in the Daytona 500 to determine the champion of the race and the season all in one. The Daytona 500 has been called our Super Bowl, and it's time it determined the champion.

Having this super event determine the season champion also moves it into Fox's portion of the season. We will be treated to DW reading the drivers' minds every step of the way. DW's commentary and stories deserve a stage only the Daytona 500/Season Championship can provide.

While we're at it, the name of the Daytona 500 trophy will be changed as well. Who, besides a few car geeks, every heard of Harley J. Earl? The trophy will be renamed the Vince Lombardi Cup. To remind everyone of the importance of winning, it will be inscribed with a Lombardi quote: "Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing."

Bestwick is right. Only the contenders for a championship matter. Every other team is a loser. NASCAR doesn't need loser teams, loser sponsors, or loser fans.

I predict sellout crowds and skyrocketing TV ratings all season long.

Brian in Florida

mrclause said...

It's the next step for NASCAR to purchase a remote control company and to consider getting into the sleep aid business. They might could make up for the slipping income from the empty seats and lower ratings.

Chadderbox said...

Nascar Cup races have been reduced to "a race off pit road."

In many ways Cup has slowly become a glorified version of an IROC Race!

Marketers can spin that all they want, because I won't!

I am still continuing to DVR the races and a watch the "race off pit road" and a few passes on the restarts. That sucks man! Seriously!

allisong said...

@ Bruce -

What troubles me is not just the depleted attention span of today's fan, but of the so-called "journalists" who are covering this sport nowadays. It wasn't yet lap 50 in a 300+ lap race when I started seeing tweets from media bloggers whining about being bored.

We all can identify "newbie" fans among those we know, but I think the same is happening in the media corps. I could mention a couple of names of bloggers who have only been covering this sport less than a decade and who are the first to whine.

Maybe I'm just getting old and grumpy, but I love this sport. I still watch every week and follow my driver. I think if you're going to cover this sport, you should appreciate the strategy and the history. And I will stand up and say the racing IS better today than it has ever been, and that race yesterday was a GREAT race.

Anonymous said...

Howdy, I enjoyed the race. I'm a Matt Kenseth fan and if you followed his day it was entertaining. There is a difference between being skeptical and being cynical. I thing this blog has a lot of cynics. Kenseth was frustrated with the caution right at the fuel window BUT NASCAR fans hate fuel milege races! So NASCAR wants to put on a good show but they will catch crap wheather they throw cautions or not. I'll still watch.

RWM8828 said...

The problem is with the producer of the broadcast. There are ways to make a race interesting to watch, like showing more than 2 cars. Watching a race is like watching a baseball game with the camera focused only on the pitcher. As long as he is pitching a no hitter, all is good, but the first hit and there you are watching the pitchers eyes follow the ball into the outfield, waiting for the announcer to tell you what happened after the people in the studio recap the parts of the game that you have not seen for 10 minutes. It is not the racing that is boring and uneventful, it is the part that we get to see that stinks. Fire all of the TV producers and let a fan do their job, see who is better. This problem has been here for the entire FOX tenure, caused by football people not knowing a thing about racing.

JT said...

I'm a fisherman. I liken NASCAR's decine to an inexperiened angler (BZF) who backlashed his bait casting reel by casting carelessly.

When you backlash a reel, you are confronted with a bird's nest of looped & knotted line. The impatient angler will reach for his knife and slash out dozens of yards of precious line. But the patient angler will pick out the loops and knots, save most of the line, and learn to be more careful next cast.

NASCAR's current troubles are a by-product of BZF's arrogant attittude that he could run NASCAR like the NFL, where the fans addicted to fantasy football and sports books are at the mercy of greedy owners who control the sport that feeds their addiction. His dumb luck in bagging the first TV deals and replacing RJR with Nextel as series sponsor convinced him that he could do no wrong.

But here we are with a season that is too long, races that are too long, a "playoff" that is not a playoff, ugly cars that are designed to run the same speeds, most races held at generically-designed tracks, where drivers move through the paddock surrounded by their posse, who hide out in luxury motorhomes, avoiding traffic with helicopters and avoiding TSA by being chauffered home in private jets.

Add to that TV partners who feel that they are smarter than the fans . Who force-feed fans propoganda that a certain model-so-so-driver is the "The Face Of NASCAR". And we have one hot mess.

But things can be corrected with the proper stewardship, willing to patiently un-wind the mistakes made during the reign of BZF.

Anonymous said...

You all just do not know how you feel! Go over to Jayski and check out Jim Utter's "Survey zeroes in on 'avid' NASCAR fan". Things are looking gooood! MC

Brian said...

I was watching the Steelers-Giants game yesterday when I figured I'd take a look at the race to get a quick rundown. It was approximately lap 195 and Earnhardt was the last car on the lead lap. As soon as I said to my wife that the caution was going to come out, Bestwick said that he was monitoring Nascars race channel for possible debris in turn 1. Next, as he says it looks like the debris moved out of the groove, the caution flies and he and Petree stumble thru the next couple of minutes explaining how that debris might come up into the racing surface and cause a problem. Another "break" in a series of good "breaks" over the years for the 88 driver. Coincidence? I don't think so. Nascar plays favorites and treats these races like the WWE, as Tony Stewart said a couple of years ago. Think about the officials in the NFL, whose professional integrity is without reproach. Now think about Nascar and how they run these "shows", talk to the "never happy fans", and what you see is polar opposites. It's no wonder fans are not watching anymore and are leaving in droves. Count me as one of them.

Bruce said...

I hear ya Allisong...

Yea... now a days the blogger has changed the landscape. It's not always about the news, but opinion. that is what differentiates some of the sites. To each their own in regards to what readers can appreciate or not.

There are millions of newbies out there in TV land... that's who networks target. I've been in sports bars and the only thing that catches the attentions of these fans are the "spectacular" wrecks and "dramatic" moments.

I'm not condoning it... I'm just recanting what I've seen and some of the information I've had access to from my other venues of interest.

Yes... the racing over these last few years has been some of the best... indeed!

Anonymous said...

Didn't go to the Texas race as I usually do and I see I'm not the only one to forgo attendance this year. Friends that did go reported they had freedom to change seats at will. Last night on WFAA sports director Dale Hanson had a scathing editorial for Jerry Jones and fans saying nothing will change for the Cowboys til attendance drops enough. Same for NASCAR. Til then, both organizations run by members of the 1% will employ techniques of FOX news when it comes to spin. And then this morning I read on Jayski that Robin Pemberton made a vow not to listen to NASCAR talk radio. Why is that sir? Is the truth too painful? Your disdain and contempt for what the fans think too powerful? Seems the only person in the NASCAR hiararchy that has his eyes open and has the stones to admit this sport has become a stinking bore is Bruton Smith! But the spin machine works against him too as they call him out, ala Gov. Christie, for not being a good soldier who falls in line. My interest in NASCAR is dangling by a thread and if that 2013 car doesn't get the job done by race 6 I'm out. For good.

Colorado said...

And then they hire Howie Mandel for the awards show. He hasn't been relevant in, what, forever? If Matt Kenseth and Clint Boywer are so damn funny in the garage (and we never see their humor) why don't they have them host the awards show? Or are they too busy campaigning in the Spin Room? "Yes. Mr. France.We. Are. Happy. With. The. State. Of. NASCAR." Since we have the NASCAR K&N Series, they could re-name the Sprint Cup Series to the NASCAR Stepford Wives Series. Or is that too needy, Robin? Speaking of the spin room, did everyone get the memo that there are only two entries this weekend at Phoenix? The 2 and 48 are the only ones entered. All of the other drivers have been told by ESPN, that their services are not required at this closed test session.

Anonymous said...

I've been a fan since 1997 and I've seen the latter part of the boom and now the bust. So I don't wanna hear this newbie crap. Don't get me wrong guys. This year has had some awesome racing across all of the series. It's just been so strung out at times that it's hard to bear. Hence me turning to other motorsports. I've watched more motogp this year then ever. And add to that formula one. Now I went to the July New Hampshire race. A lot of fans there shared the same thoughts and sentimets that I did. Heck my section booed when they threw a phantom yellow. It's criminal that NASCAR ignores the fact that picking and choosing the yellows to make better racing only cheapens their product. Heck when kahne blew his tire I really thought they'd let it go on. But nope. My only hope is the new car brings a new era. I've accepted that tv will only show two cars at once and every bit of action will be shown on replay. What I can't accept is blatant manipulation. Whether its by team 48 and their cars. Or NASCAR and their yellows.

E-Ticket said...

You want proof of the Spin? Ron Jaworski calls Mike Wallace Rusty Wallace on the MNF pregame show on ESPN. Then said Mike is just as fast as the NASCAR race car... Folks it is over... Will the last real race fan that leaves Charlotte please grab the Winston Cup Trophy, and turn the lights out?

Buschseries61 said...

Texas ratings are posted. A lot of people involved in the sport have to do some thinking, They have to decide: what are we doing this for? Right now, most of the field seems to be sleepwaking to Homestead and the fans are running someplace else. What's the point of these drivers doing what they do? Is it points, wins, speed, danger, passion? Why do we have 38 events per year? Are we at certain tracks for the racing, attendance, geography or casinos? Why are races a certain length? What should amount to a season champion? Wins or consistency?

Right now, ratings and social media show the fans asking these questions. The sport has remained pretty directionless for years besides the quest for safety, competing with the NFL, and money. The best Chase battle NASCAR had ever seen last season is barely a blip on the radar. Stewart won a block of metal, lots of cash, celebrated in Vegas...that was nice. Then the energy just died off. There was no emotional appeal or passion that carried over into 2012, it just went back to counting points. Watching races left me with an internal emptiness this season. It just goes back to the question, what are they doing this for?

Anonymous said...

Colorado...FYI, Howie's on a show called America's Got Talent. Might not be the world's biggest gig, but it makes him relevant; it gets decent ratings. Funny--well maybe, maybe not, but yes, relevant. Look for the exchange between him and Brian Scott at Fontana. Maybe they should hire Brian.

Anonymous said...

Brian. It gets old saying debris cautions are for dale jr. Then how do you explain all the other ones when it does not effect Jr. What about the ones when jr. was not even in the race. If NASCAR was trying to help jr he would be winning.

The racing is boring for everyone and that is the reason for the cautions or just maybe every now and then a piece of debris does fall off of a car.

Until they fix the follow the leader races then viewers will continue to drop. I love plate races because you never know what will happen from lap to lap. The others you can just check in every hour or so and the leader will be the same.


GinaV24 said...

Buschseries, yeah, I saw the ratings and thought, well, I'm not the only one who had tuned out. As the season progresses, it becomes more a more a question of "why should I watch?". I used to watch to be excited and entertained, then I watched from habit, now I watch the last 10 laps and call it a day.

"Brian in Florida" - your post was a great parody of what brainless is thinking that's for sure. thanks for the laugh.

the law of unintended consequences has kicked in - BZF wanted the casual fan, he just created them out of the diehards.

Anonymous said...

Linda, Come on! A blind man can see that NASCAR throws fake debris cautions for Jr. Not all of the time, but many times. They are either thrown to bunch the field up or protect junior.

I have a revelation for everyone. You will see NASCAR throw fake debris cautions for Manica next year also. It's coming.

Like was stated earlier, NASCAR has become the WWE of racing. That's why driver's in other legitimate racing series like F1 laugh at NASCAR. It's a joke and the free-falling ratings prove it.

Brian France is running NASCAR into the ground.

Here's another revelation. The new 2013 car will generate a little excitement the beginning of the season, then ratings will fall off again.

Maverick24 said...

Buschseries61, that's an excellent question.

It ties in to my feelings that at one time were regret that the season had to end. Every race seemed so exciting. It helped that back then, crews could actually make adjustments over the course of the race, and that lent itself to having no real idea who was going to win. Now? Once Jimmie Johnson asserts himself atop of the leaderboard as he's done for all but one of the past 7 years, I just want the thing to be over so we can reset and move on to next year.

You know why that "closest battle in history" is barely a blip on the radar? It was fake. All fake. Imagine if that result had occurred over 36 races instead of 10? Now that would have been real drama...because it occurred organically.

James said...

An Organic conclusion to the season, REALLY? What about teams testing another “new” Car and the rules have not been determined as to the shape of the body, so NO sheet metal is available to REALLY allow the teams to learn or acquire data of this “new” Car? NASCAR just decided to give the teams two more TESTS to help them get ready for next year. This “NEW” car, the teams have been told NOT to say anything negative about, is a disaster. While testing it, the teams complained that the balance was so far off, major changes are needed to help the top heavy feel of the car. They need to take weight out of it, and exotic pieces will be necessary to accomplish this exotic like carbon fiber and titanium. It sure will not be a cheaper version of the COT. Needless to say, the teams are not happy.
I listened to XM radio yesterday, and to say the “SPIN” was in full blown everything is beautiful mode would be kind. Chocolate Myers and Rick Benjamin are so invested in the spin it was nauseating and downright rude. Any attempt to point out the obvious was quickly stopped and diverted to how great it is?
Like many of the posters to this blog, I used to admire the frankness, honesty and common sense people of the NASCAR community would speak, like MR Jim Hunter. I also was smart enough to know when it was just a “show” and accepted it as part of the “deal”, like MW. Today the spin is the show and that IS the deal. REALLY.

Chadderbox said...

Buschseries61 those are some great comments!

Yesterday there was an election and one campaign pretty much nailed it as far as who the demographic of the electorate would be on election day 2012. The other campaign thought they knew who the demographic was going to be, they were wrong and they lost. There was a change in demographic of the electorate and many political (so called?) experts missed it. The campaign that nailed it targeted the right demographic throughout the summer and fall and they won on election day. Nascar is either ignoring its demographic or they have forgotten who the demographic is. Now the stands are not as full and the ratings are down. The core demographic is losing interest while they (nascar) try and attract a new one. Not sure how this is going to turn out for nascar in the long run. Nascar has always had a dedicated fan base but its slipping. No?

GinaV24 said...

saw an article on Jayski today that "avid fans don't want shorter races or a shortened schedule" by Bob Pockrass. Results of some survey supposedly.

Guess i'm no longer an avid fan since I'd like to see both things happen. Then again, what I'd really like to see is good racing over a full season, but I won't get that either.

Hotaru1787 said...

The Facebook page is just a dumping ground for whines that go unanswered. And that's EXACTLY RIGHT these people are complaining 'bout the same thing almost every week.

Anonymous said...

anyone else notice this

from wikipedia

Commentators (As of 2013)

Mike Joy (lap by lap announcer)
Darrell Waltrip (Color Commentator)
Larry McReynolds (Color Commentator)

Pit reporters (As of 2013)

Erin Andrews
Steve Byrnes
Matt Yocum
Krista Voda
Jeff Hammond (also works the garage area)

Hollywood Hotel (As of 2013)

Chris Myers
Michael Waltrip
Phil Parsons

Darcie said...

I have been reading quite a bit of spin with regards to this season, a lot of it being focused on how great the Chase is and how fantastic it's working. I'm constantly asking myself "Who's writing this stuff and what are they being paid to write it?". I don't know of any real Nascar fan that thinks the Chase is fantastic. Most of the real fans have hated it since it's inception. Yeah, you have two drivers, one who's constantly winning despite the idea that these cars are supposed to be equal, and another that most wish WOULD win, but the fact remains, the Chase is, and has always been, a disaster.

But what tickles me is reading beyond these Nascar Cheerleaders who extoll the Chase, only to find that the ratings for the Texas race was down BIG TIME again. So, I ask these supposed journalists, if the Chase is so darned great, why are the seats empty and why aren't people watching at home?

Anonymous said...

Chadderbox , Maybe NASCAR can prosper if they give 47% of the crowd free tickets?

Sally said...

GinaV24...when I read about that survey, I found myself thinking, "Too bad they didn't ask people that would describe themselves as FORMER avid fans.' Id be willing to bet it might have come out a bit differently.

Brian said...


I used to listen to the Sirius Nascar channel once in a while on my lunch hour. Chocolate Myers is the biggest Nascar apologist I have ever heard. He actually said he liked the two car tandem drafting at Daytona and Talladega. What?! After the tragedy of the lightning storm at Pocono this year, Dave Moody berated a caller for questioning Nascars decision to not stop the race sooner. He said that if they stopped a race at Pocono every time there was lightning, they would never race there. Needless to say, I don't listen to that channel anymore.

Tom said...

For the nine Chases, there have been different leaders after Race 26, and they've gotten squat for a reward. Had the system rewarded a full season of effort, Johnson would have only two championships, not five (and maybe six).
Stuff to amaze your friends with: The list of leaders after Race 26 since the Chase started in 2004 (with point margins before the "reset"):
2004: Jeff Gordon (60 over Johnson, 61 over Dale Jr.)
2005: Tony Stewart (185 over Biffle)
2006: Matt Kenseth (57 over Johnson)
2007: Jeff Gordon (312 over Stewart)
2008: Kyle Busch (207 over Edwards)
2009: Tony Stewart (179 over Gordon)
2010: Kevin Harvick (228 over Kyle Busch)
2011 (new points): Kyle Busch (3 over Johnson)
2012: Greg Biffle (12 over Dale Jr.)
I can see the grief the fans are feeling, if this list is any indication.

Sally said...

It occurs to me that Nascar polling 'avid' fans is yet another way to spin information. By definition, if someone is an 'avid' fan, they are certainly going to watch the races and 'love' what they see. Nascar already has them as fans. Wouldn't it be more useful to find out why the NOT avid fans are no longer watching? Of course, you then fun the risk of getting answers you don't want to hear, don't you? So, the poll was basicall another way for Nascar to rationalize their not so brilliant decisions of the past years. Wow. That's really going to help, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Mike Helton's recent appearance on Wind Tunnel was shortly before the election, and his interview struck me by how much it was like a polished politician. His handlers had prepared him for every question, and he stayed on message. His answers appeared responsive to questions, but he really said nothing specific that could be used to pin him down in the future. Despain allowed him to get away with this either because he is too polite or because SPEED management has removed his private parts.

For instance, Despain asked him why attendance was down and TV ratings were sliding. Helton responded by blaming the economy but only addressed track attendance. If people are staying home from NASCAR races and other events because of economic factors, why aren't TV ratings up? We will never know Helton's response on that because Despain let him get away with it.

Helton also responded on the subject of alienating long-time diehard fans. In his best PR-speak, Helton thanked long time fans for the many years of growth and success. But he also said NASCAR has to continue to seek new fans. For those who need a translation, Helton was saying old-time fans are dieing off and need to be replaced. Besides, advertisers don't care about old people. So while old fans are welcome to stick around, NASCAR is not going to do anything to try to please them.

Helton's response on concussion policy was appalling. I had a sense of dejavu of having heard it all before. Go back a few years, and just substitute the word "drugs" for "concussion". Everyone knew NASCAR's drug policy was ineffective and years behind other sports, business, and government policies; and yet NASCAR vigorously defended their policy as the most effective anywhere. Reality finally slapped NASCAR in the face when one of their licensed drivers was arrested for using heroin in a public parking lot.

Now Helton claims NASCAR concussion policy is the best around and most effective. The advances in concussion science and advances in policy in other sports are ignored. NASCAR continues to stick its head in the sand. I would feel far more confident if NASCAR's concussion policy was in the hands of Dale, Jr. and his sister.

By the end of the interview, I was expecting Helton to weigh in on the subjects of apple pie, motherhood, and the American flag. I presume NASCAR is inseparable from those three subjects.

Politicians can usually get away with "Spin" for a while. They only need to carry it off until an election. Once the election is over, most people turn their attention to other things; and politicians seldom are required to reconcile their spin with reality. NASCAR faces a different problem. The scrutiny of fans never stops or goes away, and spin is soon revealed when reality rears its ugly head. The spin doctors are revealed as fools and charlatans.

The media covering NASCAR is composed almost entirely of sycophants who never utter a discouraging word. They remind me of the band on the Titanic, playing pleasant music to distract the passengers. NASCAR sycophants will be just as effective as the Titanic's band in staving off reality.

Meanwhile in the pilothouse, Captain BZF and chief mate Helton are issuing confident statements assuring the public that everything is fine, nothing to worry about.

The France family and Helton have the advantage of knowing that NASCAR is not really a ship, and they are in no danger of drowning. As NASCAR slowly sinks into irrelevance as a third rate sport, they can sit back and count their money from the glory days.