Hello, Race Fans! It’s soapbox time. NASCAR has finally decided that they need to get back the long time fan. That’s a step in the right direction. In my opinion, if you weren’t a big fan back in 2003, you just aren’t a Fan. And no matter what gimmick NASCAR tries to get more fans, (ie. football fans) those fans will not stay long. They are, after all, football fans. And they aren’t football fans BECAUSE there’s a playoff. They aren’t going to stick with NASCAR just because there is a Chase.
NASCAR Scene asked the question of it’s fans when they prefer watching a race. 64% said they prefer 1:00 ET. Now, the poll was all fans. And those subscribing to Scene are long time fans. These are the fans NASCAR should be listening to. But they announced the schedule for 2008 and very few races start at 1:00 ET. NASCAR isn’t listening. They have a contract with the Networks and make the schedule according to what the Networks want. Instead of what the fans want.
It’s no wonder there is poor attendance and poor ratings. Fans have to drive home in the dark, or find a place to spend the night. That means more time off of work. So, fans just don’t show up at the tracks. And when the race starts later, fans have already found something else to do. I, myself will watch the race whenever it’s on, but I will not travel to go to a track if it means taking an extra day off.
I live in Upstate New York. I could go to Pocono, or Watkins Glenn, but I can see things better if I stay home. I could go to Lauden, New Hampshire, but it’s only a 300 mile race. A Busch (Nationwide, if you will) race. So, why bother? I go to Dover. They polled the fans and decided we wanted races to start at 1:00, so that’s when they start the race. And I can get back home by midnight. And be back to work on Monday. Tired, maybe, but I don’t have to spend another night in Dover. Because Dover listened to the fans.
In my opinion, the Bill France’s knew what they were doing. Racing was great while they were in charge. Bill, Jr. got R. J. Reynolds into racing and started the Winston Cup. The trophy was a cup. And RJR got the fans to NASCAR. I, myself watched a race in 1996 and was hooked forever. I may not have been watching since forever, but I can see the (needless) changes that are taking place. Winston Cup got us hooked. And it hasn’t been the same since Brian France took over.
In 2003 Matt Kenseth won the Championship by being consistent throughout the whole year, despite having only one win. So Brian decided it would be better if there was a Chase for the Championship. NASCAR decided to have a playoff of sorts to get the football fans to be NASCAR fans. I repeat. Fans don’t watch football BECAUSE there is a playoff. And they won’t watch NASCAR just because there is a playoff. When it was first announced, I thought it was a poor idea and couldn’t see how it could be implemented. A playoff starts within Divisions. The top Teams within the Divisions play each other to determine the Division winner. And the Division winners go to the Super Bowl to determine the Champion. There are no Divisions in NASCAR. So, how was that supposed to work?
Unfortunately, I found out. The season was shortened to 26 races. And the last ten races are now the Chase. That way, 10 Teams have a chance to be the Champion. Why that is exciting, I’m not really sure. Before Brian, it was exciting to see who was going to make it into the top ten, and who would drop out. Now there are twelve (started out with ten) drivers going for the Championship. The big problem, in my opinion, is there are still 43 drivers out there. So, how is that a playoff? Those not in the top 12 are just in the way, and aren’t allowed to do good because one of the Chasers will be affected. And, of course, the media only talks about those in the top 12. Therefore the older fans with drivers not in the top 12 just don’t want to watch. They will never see their driver, even if they are doing well.
I remember when ESPN2 did the coverage. With Bob Jenkins and Eli Gold and Ned Jarrett doing the announcing. That was good coverage. And that’s why I loved to watch. Jenkins covered everything that was happening. Jarrett knew what was going on and why teams were doing what they were doing because he was a former driver. And Gold went through the field, telling us something about every car and driver on the track as he got to them. Whether they were in tenth place or twelve laps down. These days when they go through the field, they only talk about the top ten or twenty and skip over the others on the track. Who wants to watch that?
And Nextel comes along in 2004, along with the beginning of the Chase. Now it is Nextel Cup. Even though the trophy is no longer a Cup. They signed a ten year contract to sponsor NASCAR, but it is now the Sprint Cup. What’s with that? The media was so confused about it all, they made everyone Nextel Cup Champions, even when they had never won a Nextel Cup race! So now it’s just Cup racing, even though the Trophy is no longer a cup. And they wonder why they are loosing their fans! I say cut out the crap and let them race. Show us racing. Show us all the cars. I want to know how every driver is doing. I don’t want to see on the ticker at the top where someone is. And not know how they got there. I want to be shown what happened.
And commercials are a problem. If they want to be like football, they should do the commercials like football does. You wouldn’t go to a commercial during a play. So, why do they go to a commercial while green flag racing is going on? Wait for a yellow flag and commercial away during cleanup. Don’t tell me what happened while we were away. Why did you leave when something was going on?
Ok, enough of the soapbox. NASCAR, are you listening? This was the greatest Sport, ever. If it aint broke, quit trying to fix it.
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley
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