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Twitter changing the relationship between NASCAR drivers, fans and media

By admin | February 23, 2010

By Richard Allen

You have no doubt heard drivers and media folks talking about the use of twitter during pre-race shows and other NASCAR programming. So you may be wondering what twitter is and what all the fuss is about.

Twitter, like Facebook and MySpace, is a social networking site. The key difference between twitter and the other two is that it allows for almost immediate exchange between two or more tweeters. It is in real time and messages must be short and concise. 140 characters are the limit for any message.

NASCAR and its drivers pioneered relating to the fans. Drivers have long been noted for signing autographs and talking to fans when athletes from other sports are not nearly so accessible.

Years ago tracks would open the gates and allow fans into the pit area after races were over. Now, that would be impossible. When I first went to a race at Bristol in 1978 there were about 25,000 people there. The crowd who wanted to go into the infield after the race was manageable. At modern day Bristol there would be 50,000 people or more trying to get into the pits after a race. That would be impossible to handle for all involved.

Twitter and these other social networking devices provide a means for drivers to interact with fans in a way far more personal than the quick interaction of obtaining an autograph. Fans can know exactly what their heroes are doing at just about any moment of the day. And, since tweeters can reply to anything that is said, there is even the chance of having a direct conversation with a driver or crew member.

In one very important sense, twitter is changing the way in which NASCAR and all other types of reporting are conducted. Virtually every racing reporter is involved with twitter and offer almost constant updates. There is no such thing as having to wait around for a story to be reported. If there is a story, it will be available almost instantly.

Some very good debates have taken place on twitter between drivers, reporters and fans. If you have an opinion, you can express it. You don’t have to be one of THEM to be part of the discussion.

Want to be the first to hear when a story breaks? Want to have an exchange with a Sprint Cup driver? Want to engage in some lively, real time debate? Join in on twitter and get in on the fun.

You can even follow RacingWithRich by clicking on the link if you choose.

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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

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