Friday, January 25, 2008

NASCAR Going 'Back to Roots' -- OR -- We Want Your MONEY Back!!

For the past week, articles have abounded about NASCAR, with Brian France, Rusty Wallace and Humpy Wheeler talking about NASCAR 'going back to its roots.' What does that mean exactly? Is the Labor Day Race going to go back to Darlington? Are they going to do away with the confirmed top 35 in points guaranteed a starting spot in races? Are the races going to be kept at their lengths and not shortened anymore? Is the 'Car of Tomorrow" (which should be the 'Car of Today' now) going to be the Car of Yesterday and teams actually get back to using STOCK cars? Is Toyota leaving?

Well, No, No, No, No, and No....

So far, all we've heard is that starting times for Sunday races are going to be put back to where they used to be (and should never have been changed in the first place because NASCAR wanted to accommodate the West Coast fan base. Yes, that huge fanbase that can't even fill up the seats at the super speedways NASCAR has built and promoted out in California, in particular.)

Ticket sales are flat and dropping event by event. Ratings are down a cumulative 20 PERCENT from 2 years ago. Teams are allowed to cheat -- at least certain teams -- and NASCAR refuses to do anything about it unless it's brought out in the media. NASCAR is run by a family who has become too savvy about how to spin the 'State of the Sport' and too slick when it comes to commercialization. Some of us have been vocally rumbling and grumbling for over 7 years now about how the sport has changed for the worse. NASCAR seems to be saying they are finally listening to the fans. Are they? Well, we the fan will be the judge of that.

There's an old song that goes, "too much, too little, too late." Wonder if the NASCAR hierarchy has heard that one?

NASCAR's mouthpieces - Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond, Larry McReynolds enjoy 'telling' us what we are seeing on the track. I have a problem with that. I don't need a commentator putting a spin on something and revising history concerning what I have seen while watching a race. It isn't cool. It isn't professional. It is why these guys have lost a lot of credibility with the 'old' race fans that NASCAR wants to win back. How about putting some folks in the booth that don't have an agenda? These three are entertaining, but they are NASCAR spokespersons first and foremost. Whichever network is broadcasting the race (and that seems to be a week to week change as well sometimes), the commentators need to be free to speak and be constructively critical. That would be a welcome change.