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« Gibbs teams lost their oil pans but made a strong pitch for Edwards in Michigan | Main | Robby Gordon hurls serious accusation toward Goodyear, NASCAR during Sonoma race »

No positive spin for moving Cup races to Speed and Red Bull leaving

By admin | June 22, 2011

By Richard Allen

 

There has been no shortage of ‘Silly Season’ rumors to race through the NASCAR garage area and beyond over the past week or so. Two of the biggest pieces of information have involved the Fox television network and Team Red Bull.

It has been reported that Fox, a television partner of NASCAR since 2001, is considering moving as many as six regular season Sprint Cup races to the Speed network. Speed has previously shown events such as the Sprint All Star Race and the Gatorade Duels on the cable station. The move may not be made until 2014 or later, if at all.

Just this past season, the ABC network moved most of the Chase for the Championship races from the main network to cable sports provider ESPN. The result was that significantly fewer households watched the playoff events than in the years in which those races were shown on the primary network.

If Fox does indeed follow the lead of ABC and move races to a cable only network, there is no way to put a positive spin on this for NASCAR. This is especially true after the results posted by ESPN last year.

Likely, it will be said that the racing related network will offer enhanced coverage and expanded pre and post race interviews and specials. However, the simple fact of the matter is that not nearly as many households have Speed as Fox. That fact acknowledged, this will be viewed as what amounts to a downgrade to minor league television status.

Fox Broadcasting Network is owned by News Corporation, which also owns Speed. While NASCAR and its fans will lose out if such a move takes place, it is News Corp. that stands to gain. Having regular season Sprint Cup race air on Speed would allow for strong arm tactics by the parent company against cable providers to put the racing channel on the basic packages of each cable region.

The bottom line in the possible move of Sprint Cup races to yet another cable only network is not good for the sport. It also further shows, much like so many empty seats in places like Michigan and Bristol this year, that support for the sport is eroding. If a major network were making big profits from the airing of races, they would never consider such a move.

And at almost the same time as the Fox/Speed rumors began to circulate, it was reported that Team Red Bull is planning to terminate its NASCAR operations at the end of the 2011 season. The team currently fields cars for drivers Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne.

Just like in the case of the possible television moves, there is no way to put a positive spin on the loss of a fully sponsored two car team for NASCAR. There have been a number of reasons mentioned as to why Red Bull might be about to make such a move. No matter what the cause, a sport that has seen its number of teams dwindle in recent years will now see more defection.

Even if reports are true that other investors may be able to salvage the remains of the Red Bull team, the fact is a profitable company has willingly chosen to leave the sport.

The last few days a couple of very bad pieces of news have come out. When the so called rubber meets the road(or track), there is no way to spin these stories in a positive way.

Topics: Articles |

3 Responses to “No positive spin for moving Cup races to Speed and Red Bull leaving”

  1. Tyler West Says:
    June 23rd, 2011 at 8:08 am

    It seems like everything associated with the sport took a downward spiral as soon as Fox got involved. Nascar needs to stop trying to pander to the “idiot new fans” who only know the 88 car. They have been going out of their way to create a a big league atmosphere for the viewing audience. Who cares if the general public does not think of racing as it does stick and ball sports. The sport was much stronger when they were mainly in the southeast region on the U.S. but they had to go to California, run to Chicago, Kansas and Las Vegas and so on. All these tracks SUCK!!! They are a boring style of racing. Another thing I feel is hurting the sport is that moron like Bruton Smith totally messing up Bristol. You can go the day of the race and get a seat when in years past there was no way. Way to GO!!!!! The sport needs to return to its roots where people really give a darn about it.

  2. Russ Edwards Says:
    June 23rd, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Rich, well said. Both News Corp and Red Bull are businesses, just like Nascar. And dont forget the two holding companies that own the majority of the tracks, ISC and SMI, all are in there for one reason to make money. If Fox is losing money, as they likely are, this will allow them to cut their losses and add programming which may be profitable for them.

    As for Red Bull, I think we are continuing to see the contraction caused by the out of control cost (some if not mostly caused by the teams themselves) of competing in Nascar. Even the manufacturers dont have n unlimited supply of money and will concentrate it in fewer and fewer teams. So look for it at some point to be Gibbs, Hendrick, Roush and their surrogates.

  3. Jim Says:
    June 23rd, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Hey Tyler, when was the last time you saw a good race at Charlotte? Can you say, That track SUCKS!

    Rich, your point about moving races from Fox to Speed is valid and well taken. I feel for the fans that don’t have cable and rely solely on over the air feeds. The upside is, the fewer races that are shown on Fox, the better. It’s just too bad Speed hired DW.