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Author Topic: Will NASCAR live or die?  (Read 2419 times)
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John
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« on: May 27, 2004, 10:25:11 PM »

I have finally found an article that has helped me understand the feeling on this message board.  While this article explains the alienation felt by  the long time fans who have gone to the races in the south for years, it also explains that there are other fans (who could have been long time TV fans) who could only watch the races on TV because they were not being serviced by a track closer to them as well as other issues.  

If you're interested, here it is:

http://www.thatsracin.com/mld/thatsracin/8766118.htm
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ommy Baldwin after Tropicana 400:  "This is NASCAR's world, we just live in it."
sally
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2004, 11:01:17 PM »

John,
   I read the article too, and I find it's full of holes.  I'm a longtime Nascar fan...and I attended my first race, live, in 2001.  Yes, there's a track within 2 hours of where I live (MIS), but even 15 years ago I had no interest in attending races there.  I waited until I could go to a track where I could see the cars all the way around the track without binoculars, and watch them race side by side.  MIS was a cookie cutter before they even built California.  I wwent to Martinsville for my first race, and wasn't disappointed.  I could feel the cars all the way around the track, side by side, beating and banging...it was amazing.  The majority of fans will NEVER attend a race, even if it's in their back yard.  The expense and time involed is scary.  I only spend that sort of money, on my budget, to have the potential for a great race, even without caution flags to keep the field close.  It's not that I object so much to the fact that Nascar is moving races out of the southeast;  it's that they are moving them to tracks that will NEVER offer the challenge and excitement of the ones they are abandoning.  
     Yes, I understand it's a business, and yes, Nascar is entitled to make money.  Is this, ultimately, a good business decision for the long term?  Will ne fans, old or new, be willing to pay top dollar to attend races that are, typically, less exciting than the races at The Rock and Darlington?  Ithe majority of the viewers of races are on television, NOT attending personally.  Will tracks like Chicago and Kansas keep viewers riveted to their seats for the next 20 years?
     Right now, I have tickets for the 2 races at Bristol.  I never went to The Rock, because the investment in time and money at that time of year wasn't worth taking the risk of freezing my butt off!  As it is, I got cought in a blizzard coming home from Bristol in March 2 years ago.
     Sorry.  Didn't mean to go on so long, but I'm tired of being told by David Poole and other media types that I'm too stupid or selfish to think Nascar is a business.  Yes, progress has to happen.  That's what Harley Davidson thought when it sold out to AMF.  It's what Coca Cola thought when it came up with new Coke.  Change just for the sake of change isn't always good.  Guess someone pushed one of my buttons.
Sally
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Vivian
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« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2004, 11:25:34 PM »

John, that is an interesting article.  Makes some good points but I think it also has misconceptions about some of the "old" and "long time fans".
Most of us are not jealous.  We are not afraid to share.  We do want more and new fans.  I think what most of us resent is the fact that they are turning it more into an entertainment than a true sport even though they say they want everyone to know that races and team members are true atheletes.  The entertainment aspect, especially in the Fox booth, is seeming to override all else.  Racers were once seen as tough men who were determined to be the best and have the best car making do with what they had at hand.  Slowly, they obtained sponsors and things started changing and that was okay with us because it gave more people the opportunity to survive just by racing.  Slowly but surely, political correctness has changed the sport into something that really no longer resembles it's roots.  That is okay in some ways.  Those of us who can only watch it on tv can only see the entertainment side of it now.  We are limited as to how far back in the pack we get to see.  We are treated to what the producers give us and the bias of the announcers.  We feel that the competition that really rules on some of the older tracks is out the window for the bigger market tracks that bring in more money and more in person viewers.  The larger seating capacity tracks do not seem to have the same type of competition but seem to be more follow the leader type tracks.  To us that is not real racing.  They are seemingly forgetting those of us at home who still have favorite drivers and sponsors and the fact that we are just as driver and sponsor loyal as the lower percentage of those who attend in person.  TV reaches millions more people than the tracks do.

I could go on but needless to say there are many differences and reasons that create the feelings some of us have.  One of my pet peeves is Nascar's reference to maintaing tradition while bringing in the new and I feel tradition is gone when entertainment and political correctiveness  overrides the competitive sport of racing which made the sport what it is.

Sometimes perceptions are misunderstood and people jump to conclusions due to what they think they read and hear rather than what was actually written or said.   :?
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sally
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2004, 11:39:16 PM »

Vivian,  you need to read the article by Mark Ashenfelter in this week's Nascar Scene.  The gist was that, no matter what happened with attendance at The Rock or Darlington, the races there are gone.  Nascar and IAC just give lip service to saving those tracks, when they want them gone as fast as possible...are are too chicken to admit it.  And you're right on about attendance vs. TV audience.  Only about 10% of the "audience is at the tracks...even the big ones (if we can believe Nascar and TV about ratings).  If the TV audience is bored to tears by the races at California and Phoenix and turn it off, will it matter how many butts are in the stands?  If they could move The Rock to California, I wouldn't give a darn if the race wasn't in N. Carolina...it would still be a great race.  But to trade that type of racing on for California?

As Staci pointed out, it isn't just the "old" fans" who think the coverage we get on television is less than stellar.  But, it's easy to blame the "old fogies", isn't it?  Convenient excuse to ignore what you don't want to hear.

Sorry again.  Guess my button got stuck.
Sally
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John
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2004, 03:18:49 AM »

My first response from reading the article was what I was feeling all along.  While change happens, as much as we complain about it, we will not know now how the racing will be in the future.  Does it make everyone feel better to bicker about it, constantly.

I, like Sally (well, maybe not that long), have been a fan for almost 20 years and I finally got to go to my first race in 2002 at the fall race at New Hampshire, at the expense of North Wilksboro.  It is the only track we can travel as we have to drive 9 hours just to get to it.  Other tracks are even farther.  So some people have stopped buying tickets to certain tracks in protest of ISC and NASCAR.  If I decide I do not want to go to NH, that's fine because someone else will be more than willing to make my seat.  That track sells out both races of 100,000 and the Bahre family have worked hard to make it a competitive track and it is starting to show.  So if most fans never attend a race, well there's a good reason.

Change for one person may not be good, but for another, it is.  It depends on where you sit.  I agree that some of these newer tracks leave something to be desired, but I'll argue until I'm blue in the face that Rockingham was an exciting race on TV.  As far as I'm concerned, that is where the, "Through The Field" was born on TNN because when most of the field was down a lap, poor Buddy Baker needed something to talk about.

I've always said and I asked people who do not watch racing, but maybe hockey, baseball or football, "Why do you watch it?"  Is it because you need so many hours of "sport" to make your life balanced?  No, you watch it to be entertained.  Didn't you get a thrill or a charge to see Jamie McMurray hang on to his car Saturday night or even watch in anticipation whether Ryan Newman's 30 lap tires would be enough to hold off Matt Kenseth?  If that is not entertainment, what is?  

Sure there are down falls to the TV coverage we get and the direction NASCAR goes in by the decisions it makes.  But should we allow it to consume us to the point that we overlook the fact that there are 36 races a year with 43 drivers and 36 winners that will determine a champion by however means.  I, for one, am happy that I can turn on a TV 36 races a year, to watch them all live, regardless of what network it is on.  Why, because there was a time when I could not.  I do not watch any other sport and very seldom turn the TV on for anything else.  NASCAR is my sport and I enjoy it.

What I got out of the article was that regardless if I'm a new or old fan, gone to a race or just watched on TV, or whether the cars race at Rockingham or New York City, there will be a race taking place somewhere and that people will be watching it.  If you choose to have it in your life, how you let it affect you is up to you.  And I know I maybe pushing it by saying this, but here it goes:  Do you really think complaining about it here is going to make any difference?  Each of us on this message board are very little fish in the NASCAR ocean.  Change is change whether it is good or not and there is little we can do.  I really don't think anyone is paying attention to us, so why bother, other than to vent your frustrations.

Sorry for being so long as well, my buttons got pushed months ago.
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ommy Baldwin after Tropicana 400:  "This is NASCAR's world, we just live in it."
sally
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2004, 11:21:47 AM »

John, you're absolutely right.  No one will listen to us, and Nascar will do whatever it damn well pleases whether we complain or not.  I have, however, never been the sort to sit back quietly when things happen that I think are wrong.  Maybe it's because I was on a college campus during the Viet Nam war, and I got used to voicing an opinion, hoping it could ultimately change things.  I've never believed that sitting back passively was the way to go (obviously)!  Maybe I just like havinga place where I can vent, where someone DOES listen?

I drive 12 hours to go to Bristol instead of 2 hours to MIS.  I choose to do so because I don't consider what they do at MIS to be the type of "race" I want to spend my money to see.  I don't pick a race because it's in a good "vacation destination".  I go because it has a high probability of exciting racing.  I feel sorry for fans who only have the option of paying for a race at California, or Kansas, or Chicago, because they are seeing a watered down version of racing.

Yes, before big sponsors it wasn't unusual to have only one or two cars on the lead lap.  That seldom happens now, since so many of the teams have major backing and have closed the competition gap.  Settling for mediocre seems a sad commentary.

Boy, I enjoy a good debate!
Sally
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John
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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2004, 01:41:32 PM »

I'm really glad you enjoy a good debate Sally, because nobody offered one here.

You have your reasons for attending different races and it is great you have a choice.  I know people in my area say they have gone to NH a few times and now they want try Dover or Charlotte, but that is another day of traveling.

It was amazing the first race I went to, when 43 cars started their engines and then when the pace car dropped off to pit road and then those same 43 cars took the green flag.  It was probably the first time in my life that I was that happy (well I better say, besides my wedding day).  I was amazed by the speed of the cars (even at NH).  What you see on TV is not the same as seeing it live.

And again, you are right that NASCAR will do what it pleases.  But I'm curious if the attitude towards them came about because of the new TV deal, the new title sponsor or the new President?  Or was it the same back in the early 70's when Winston came on board and Bill France changed the schedule and where they raced at back then?  Is it the same or is it different.  If it is different, then we have to wait and see what happens.  If it is the same, things worked out ok.  (No more dirt tracks, etc.)

If the racing becomes a snooze fest at these new tracks, you know NASCAR will do something to try to improve.  Change happens whether it is good or bad, time will tell.

Sally, If you were voicing your opinion during the Vietnam War, you couldn't break out soap box again.  Bush is trying to straigthen out Iraq yet there 7 or 8 guys in the US they are looking for.  It's not working except making a better profit margin for the Oil Companies!  Thanks
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ommy Baldwin after Tropicana 400:  "This is NASCAR's world, we just live in it."
Vivian
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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2004, 08:46:52 PM »

John, before racing was ever on television I had been going to Daytona for years.  I have been a fan since 1958 and yes, that tells my age.  There was competition and the sound and speed of the cars was one of the most humbling experiences I ever had.  I especially remember one year when Cale Yarborough had a really neat sound and I could hear it coming before he got to my part of the track.  Color was neat too.  Meeting a couple of the drivers back then and seeing them as just plain folks was also quite an experience.  Being able to sit in the same restaurant as some of them and talk to them was also quite unique.  Being in the pits was a rush because you were actually in the pits, not fenced in to certain areas.  At that time not too many women were around so the men could be themselves and did not have to always be p.c.    And I still think that the chase scene and sound in Bullitt was one of the greatest entertainments of all time.  And, no I don't want to live in the past.  But it was great and yes, change is exciting and I am glad we change on an ongoing basis.  
Seeing Jamie hang on those last few laps was entertaining certainly, but it was also competition.  Watching Ryan and Matt duel it out was competition and yes, entertainment.  The kind of entertainment that I like.  What I don't like are the announcers in the booth and the hollywood hotel trying to entertain us with graphics, 10 silly questions, singing, trying to start fueds where there are none and constantly telling us how they would do it or how they did it rather than just showing us the field, all of it, and letting us watch the race and competition without all the (IMO) silliness they feel like throwing us at the time.  Why is that so hard to understand and differentiate between??  Am I wording it that poorly?  I am thankful I have television and am glad I get to watch the parts of the race they choose to show us each week.  I would be crazy not to be glad and thankful.  And you are right, people will continue to watch and buy tickets because they can and for different reasons.  I watch because I love cars and speed and most of all competition.  I probably will continue to watch for those same reasons.  I just prefer to do it without what in my opinion is nonsense.  That does not mean my reasons are right or wrong and it does not mean those reasons are right for everyone.  

Now, for the reason I watch football.  Back in 1970 I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of players and I got sick of women bitching because their men were so involved in watching that I decided not to fight them but to join them.  I made myself become interested and started by focusing on some of the best looking butts in the game(s).  Then I read instruction manuals and soon I was focusing on the plays more than the player's butts.  I could also converse intelligently with the fellows.  And guess what, it became a family tradition to have Monday night football at my house and before long, some other women came to see what was going on and then they became fans.  I am sure scenes like that took place all over the country and now there are as many women watching as men.  You know what, I like football for the competition and yes, the entertainment and I sometimes get irritated with the crap some of the announcers come up with in the booth.  When Dennis Miller was working Monday night, I hated it but now that we have John Madden in there I think it is great.  

Guess it could be like John Madden versus Dennis Miller and then Alan Bestwick versus Darrell Waltrip.  I happen to prefer John and Alan.

Sorry I ranted, but you asked.
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marrtinigirl
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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2004, 10:59:24 PM »

I can't believe what I am reading.  Has it really come down to "If people don't like you the way you are, change until they do?"  That is exactly what we are doing here.  The rich young yuppies out west didn't like Nascar and the image they portrayed, so let's just keep changing it and watering it down until they do.

Let's make everything PC, ban sponsors we don't think they will approve of, and make sure that we hand them as many race dates and free tickets as they need.  Let's put those darn southern rednecks in their places and show them that we don't need them to survive.  Now, we've got the big bucks coming in from the trendy markets and dammit, we will make it work.  Even if we have to water down the racing, change the schedule and shorten races, we will do it just so that they will like us.  And if abandon a few thousand people along the way, who cares?  We'll just keep moving the schedule and giving away tickets so everything looks the way it should.  So that we can stand back and look at all of those people who were complaining and say, "See, told you we didn't need you."

As long as everything appears to be the way they say it is, who can argue.  But does that really count when they are giving away tickets to fill seats?  Does it really prove anything when ratings have dropped but they always have some lame excuse as to why?  I don't think so.  I think we are shooting ourselves in the foot just to impress the new fans and will end up looking stupid when the new fans find something else to entertain them.

It's kind of like last year with my daughter selling girlscout cookies---there was a huge prize for selling the most cookies.  So my family bought up every last cookie just so she could win.  Does that count?  It appeared that she had sold the most, but my family just manipulated the system to make it look that way.  With giving away tickets and moving prime dates to these tracks, Nascar is manipulating the system.  Would California fare as well if they were given a date during the rainy season and no corporate seats were given away?  We'll never know, because Nascar isn't ready to play fair.
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John
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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2004, 12:34:47 AM »

Vivian, I should have know it would be you that would understand the point I was getting across.  

There are 2 issues that we could go back and forth with.  TV is one issue.  I have grown imune to it, I can live with it.  It must be my short attention span!  (I'm not going to let that go!)  Personally, I don't think TV is going to kill the racing.  Since the new TV deal, the numbers are up over the old deal, even if they are down slightly this season.  Racing is the other issue and that is up to NASCAR.  The France family started the sport and they still own it.  We have to live with it.

The reason I started this thread was (1) the article and (2) to get the people here to think that there are different points of view whether you agree with them or not.  Things will change and the forty-some people that post on this message board will not make a difference.  Having said that, there could be five hundred and forty-some people posting messages here if they feel like they weren't on the outside looking in.  If there were more people here, I would not have to rely on pushing Sally's buttons! :lol:

Debate is healthy, I look forward to it again.
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Vivian
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« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2004, 01:11:22 AM »

Staci,
No, I am not saying change until people like you.  I am saying change is good because we are growing.  That is not limited to Nascar.  My intent was to mean that all things change and that is good.  The cars, the drivers, the growth of the sport.  That does not mean I like all the changes and that I agree with them.  Technology has changed us all.  I don't like some of the new rules and I won't change my mind about that.  I don't like the cookie cutter tracks.  I liked Rockingham and North Wilkesboro and more than anything, I liked the racing of the 60's through the mid 90's.  I like competition, period.  We aren't allowed to see much competition any more.  We have to watch what they give us or not at all.  I know we can't change it and I want to say again, I don't agree with all of it.  But I am thankful I can watch if I choose.  If it were up to me, I would let anyone sponsor a race and would not care if it was redneck or not.  After all, my favorite driver is Tony Stewart and he is far from p.c.  As far as entertainment; real competition can be entertaining and I think we can be entertained without compromising competition but I think it is very sad that we have to put up with some of what Fox thinks is great entertainment.  I hope I have explained my feelings better.
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marrtinigirl
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« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2004, 06:22:38 PM »

Oy, Vivian, no, I wasn't making that comment towards you.  I just meant Nascar in general.  It seems to me that they aren't satisfied with the fans that they do have, so they are going to change the sport until someone else likes them.  I understood fully where you were coming from.

I think that change is definitely good, and I understand technology and the need for upgrades.  I realize that as the sport grows, obviously some things become obsolete and new things are needed.  What I don't agree with, however, is all of the changes that are being made to attract new fans.  If they didn't like it in the first place, should it really be changed until they do?

There are lots of changes that could have been made to please the fans that they already had, but you know the old saying, why buy the cow?  We were already buying their product so they no longer feel the need to please us.  As they say, if we are true race fans, we will swallow whatever they feed us.  And I must admit, it's pretty accurate.  For all of the complaining we are doing, I don't really see any of us just plain turning off the TV.  Of course they aren't going to listen to us, we're still buying.
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Vivian
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« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2004, 07:42:13 PM »

Staci & John,
You know, I got to thinking about the way we have been carrying on and I was wondering if Cheryl was at home if she would be telling us to calm down.  Were we getting a bit testy with one another??   :twisted:
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sally
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« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2004, 07:44:31 PM »

Why so you think you haven't heard from me in a while?
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Vivian
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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2004, 07:55:11 PM »

Yeah, Sally...
What ya been doing?  Where ya been?  Who ya been with?   :?
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