A news article aired on News Radio 780 WBBM in Chicago showed just how far the folks who run and sponsor NASCAR have come in their alienation of their fan base. While some articles point to there being an increase in the fan base, the recent story aired gives one a reason to look with skepticism on other reports.
For the past few years NASCAR events have been innundated by the showing of people with the special press and pit passes, the fans with their big, expensive watches flashing with enough light power to drown out the pixels in some cameras, the talk of sponsor after sponsor pouring millions of dollars into the teams, the appearance of the big team stores and other NASCAR -related shopping venues, and the corporate basing of the races.Instead of what I remember, when the car number seemed to come before the sponsor, now it seems to be, “And here is the HHH car, number 18, driven by Speedster Gimlet.” The big -name sponsor comes up first, then the driver’s car and the name, indicating the push to mention the sponsor first and give credit there instead to the achievements of the driver and his or her team, that made the win possible.
NASCAR has become so elitist lately that I, as a one – time big -time fan, having grown up in Tennessee and watched, listened to, and constantly heard the results and the analyses of the races all the time, have stopped watching the televised events. At one time I was pleased to hear about the Brickyard 400, but no more. I know now what I will see whenever the events come on – the big watches, the expensive clothes, the celebrities who have nothing to do with the race itself taking up camera time just because someone wants to name – drop, the talk of the big bucks, the garish logos taking up every inch of space on the cars, and, somewhere in all that mess, the drivers and their pit crews who make the race happen.
Some of the new drivers are arrogant enough without having to talk up a heavy -money corporate sponsor, and many of these drivers have not the class behavior and the appeal that drivers of decades ago had. I liked watching the Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt and Mark Martin types but ever since the reign of the sponsorship and the appearance of the young and glorified and gilded driver who of a sudden is worth millions and has a great -looking wife with the sunny -celebrity face, and who can hardly contain himself when bubbling over and turning flips in the victory area, I find it difficult to sit through even a few laps. The young guys could stand to learn ways to manage their behavior – but then I see that problem with a lot of younger people these days. It is not just athletes that have anger issues or arrogance and pride clouding the times when they do something really stuning or worthy of the highlight reels.
Then again, NASCAR has gone the way of most professional sports organizations these days; big money, big – time television, T-shirts and other team gear, scandals, suspicious goings -on, billions spent on promoting certain people or corporations, and of course the chance for food and drink companies to intrude on the process by filling up the airwaves with more corporate lingo. Well, enough of the “Sprint Cup” the “Race for the Chase“, the NASCAR equivalent of the Final Four in the last few races of the season, and the ridicuous race names that take up two lines just to describe.Also the cars have become so look -alike that they cannot be called “stock cars” any more. They have to be trimmed and built to such specifications for every race, have restrictor plates, and cost so much to deal with that it takes the figures out ot the realm of the average fan who cannot even begin to think of spending a quarter – million dollars or more on a fresh car every time they need one. Come on, who can buy a Lamborghini or Ferrari each time the whim strikes?
NASCAR… Nasty Car; well, thanks but no more. NASCAR…. Dis- qualified!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thank goodness we have other choices of what to spend our time watching.
Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashvilleand Chicago, 2012.