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Why are NASCAR elites trying so hard to alienate fans?

By admin | May 7, 2012

By Richard Allen

 

 

Whether it is intended or not, the message a number of NASCAR elites seem to be sending to their fans of late is that they should be ashamed for not enjoying the product they are being given. And further, raising any sort of questions or concerns about parade racing, debris cautions or a lack of drama equates one to a blood thirsty savage of some sort who will never be pleased until carnage abounds.

To be clear, when I say ‘elites’ I am referring to NASCAR officials, drivers, track owners and certain other high ranking personal entrenched within the sport.

To many of the people listed in the positions above, racing fans’ cries for more excitement, more drama and more intensity equates to only one thing- wrecks. No matter what concern is raised, immediate chastisement will ensue with claims that fans want crashes and destruction. It’s as if those at the top levels of the sport have a filtered hearing device that only allows them to hear the word ‘wrecks’ no matter what fans may clamor for.

This past Sunday’s race in Talladega provided and excellent example.

After that race, driver Martin Truex, Jr. went to Twitter and stated, “I guess the fans got the cautions they wanted today. Goodnight.”

But the clear leader of sarcasm in post-race commentary was Tony Stewart. “I’m upset that we didn’t crash more cars,” the defending Sprint Cup champion remarked. “I feel like that is what we are here for. I feel bad if I don’t spend at least $150,000 in torn-up race cars going back to the shop. We definitely have to do a better job with that.”

And he went on to add, “Like I said, if we don’t crash half of the field by the end of the race, they really need to extend it because that’s what the fans want. They want to see that excitement. I feel bad that as drivers we couldn’t do a better job of crashing enough cars for them today.”

Stewart’s comments may have been more of a backhanded jab at NASCAR’s often reactionary policies than the spectators, but clearly, the word excitement and wrecks were used interchangeably and the fans were most prominently mentioned by the driver.

Many fans and media are laughing off Stewart’s comments and calling him a master of wit and sarcasm. However, if one of the Busch brothers had said the same things in the same tone of voice, there would be an uproar. The fact that many like Stewart bought him a free pass to chastise fans for daring to complain about the lackluster racing that has been dished out to them this year.

But it isn’t just drivers who dish out verbal barbs to any who would dare to question the product being offered. NASCAR officials are also known to get in on the act of trying to pick a fight with those who they most rely on.

As reported by Jeff Gluck of SBNation.com, NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton delivered some strong words for those who would question debris cautions. “Sometimes, some people are a little more needy than others and they want to see that(debris) for whatever reason,” he said. “And whatever their thought process and beliefs with the governing body, they think they need proof.

“Sometimes you see (the debris) and sometimes you don’t, and that’s based on TV coverage, basically.”

Are the people at the top of this sport even aware that they cannot exist without fans? And more importantly, are they aware that criticizing and name calling are not very good strategies for gaining and maintaining a fan base?

The NFL has not blamed issues currently being dealt with regarding the New Orleans Saints on blood thirsty fans “who are obsessed with hard hits and injuries”. That league seems to be aware that insulting fans is not good for business.

NASCAR’s most visible representatives need to learn that lesson because their current strategy of attempting to shame fans into liking the current product does not seem to be working. And there are lowered television ratings and grandstands once filled but now covered by tarps to prove that.

Topics: Articles |

27 Responses to “Why are NASCAR elites trying so hard to alienate fans?”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 1:38 am

    Rich, I have to feel alarmed about Smoke trying to mock the common fan and I don’t feel Talladega and Bristol deserve the ridin is racing methodology. I want some one other than Mr. 5 Time be the Outright Champion.

  2. AndyD Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 3:43 am

    I read your site once a week at minimum. You have many articles that I’ve enjoyed and I like your coverage in general. You’re a better writer than many other bloggers in that you make few spelling or construction errors. But I find your coverage of NASCAR’s controversies to be lacking.

    Several of your articles have been wishy-washy and I wish that you would take a stance on the issues. You often raise questions then dance around taking everyone’s position but your own.

    Perhaps you’re trying to generate comments on the issues. Alright, you got one. If you want to play the journalist part, be objective, and report just the facts, then refrain from headlines that bait the readers. In my opinion, you’re a blogger and the lack of conviction lessens my desire to read what you have to say.

    Do you believe that the TV cameras should follow the trucks and show the debris? Do you think that a management shakeup is necessary at NASCAR? If so, who needs to go?

    My answers are Yes, Yes and Mike Helton (given that Brian isn’t going anywhere).

  3. zhills fan Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Good article, you hit the nail right on the head! If you ever go to your local track on Saturday night you see gooood racing, they beat and bang, sometimes wreck, and then help each other get ready for the next weekend. NASCAR racing ISN’T close racing like it used to be, they don’t have to junk cars, just good racing is the answer. This follow the leader thing isn’t getting it, maybe the races are too long. Maybe a different format is needed. Your Saturday night local programs are a lot better than what nascar provides.

  4. Tyler West Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 6:09 am

    I’ll say this. You hit it right on the head. If the Busch brothers had done what fat a** Tony Stewart did they would be out of the sport. Stewart is the biggest p***k out there. He whines and complains that it costs money to run these cars. NO CRAP!! Hey, last time I checked it costs quite a bit to attend these races too. Sure fans are not dishing out hundreds of thousands of dollars but he has allot of nerve to whine and complain about anything. Most of the fan base has real issues to deal with. Stewart is by FAR the biggest jerk on and off the track! It’s not like he’s solving major issues here, he just drives a car. Let him have to get a real job then see how much he complains. He probably couldn’t handle it. SHUT UP STEWART!!! The resrictor plate tracks are the only thing left worth watching.

  5. Al Torney Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 6:36 am

    Good article. NASCAR officials have to realize at some point that they cannot orchestrate races the way one would conduct a symphony. They happen to have 43 players who can’t , or won’t, follow the music. Why Can’ t anyone see that the sport was growing by leaps and bounds until they started changing everything that didn’t need to be changed. Now they are in damage control and are looking everywhere but the mirror.

  6. Jerome Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 7:20 am

    great article Rich;

    I am a fan of NASCAR back from the late 60’s. I am so fed up with the current state of the sport and it has nothing to do with a lack of wrecks. I am not blood thirsty, I just enjoy watching good, hard competition and watching drivers who seem like they actually want to win a race not ‘have a good points day.” The comments from Pemberton and Darrell Waltrip makes my blood boil. We fans are basically being called savages who are too dumb to realize that we are watching great racing. I don’t know why there are not more angry fans. I call for an “Occupy NASCAR” where the fans stay away from the track and keep their TV’s turned off on a given weekend. Maybe that will get the attention of the morons that are running (and ruining) this sport.

  7. Gordon85Wins Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Rich, I could give you the long list of people I know, former absolute NASCAR addicts, who are now doing something else with their time on Sunday afternoons. Myself, my brother, my dad, two of my cousins, and every single person that ever participated in our fantasy league…that’s about another ten.

    And none of it has anything to do with the drivers. It’s the Chase, the venues, the continuation of idiotic restrictor plate racing with new rules every race (which I think was Tony Stewart’s real beef), and speedway after speedway snoozers being added to the schedule while great tracks get kicked off off it. It’s only a matter of time before Martinsville is replaced on the schedule with another Chicago race or something.

    In other words, it is the leadership of NASCAR that is killing it. I truly believe NASCAR will be gone in ten years because of the sanctioning body’s failure to recognize where the problem really lies…with their edicts.

    For Pete’s sake, how obvious could it be that fans hate the Chase? They’ve only been saying so by 75-25 margins in every freaking poll NASCAR has had for the last eight years. And it would cost nothing to get rid of it! To ignore the polls and just insist that it’s great is another insult to fans, and they’re not stupid.

    Pemberton’s statement is the latest example of clueless arrogance in NASCAR’s leadership. I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all for fans to want to see the debris, especially when a debris caution changes the outcome of the race.

    Brian France got his wish…added millions of casual fans. Only problem is that they used to be the diehards.

  8. Lydia Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I didn’t take Stewart’s comments as being derogatory to fans…I took them as remarks more towards the ever changing whimsical flippant weird and money hungry NASCAR elite. Despite the tonuge in cheek rantings of Stewart..he is right..and I applaud him for taking the chance (of being fined) and saying how he felt about plate racing! Talladega takes my breath away…I hate seeing the carnage..but love the racing in-between the wrecks. I DO think (if they put their little heads together) the powers that be can find a way to put on a great race…but not cause so many wrecks and endanger so many lives. NASCAR needs to quit listening to ANYONE…put on their big boy panties..and do what they are making the big $$$’s for…make the racing fun, safe, entertaining, and worth the price of a ticket (and the price of a wrecked race car)!!! It can be done…they just need to quit taking the easy way out!!

  9. Tyler West Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 9:23 am

    What really sucks is they (NASCAR) and the media have totally messed up something that didn’t need to be messed with. The Chase is a total JOKE. Your basing a championship on 10 races, REALLY! It’s completely insane. A champ should be crowned for the whole season, not get to the chase and then see what happens. There is no hard racing because they want to get to the chase, nobody goes and tries to win at all costs. Why doesn’t NASCAR see this or do anything about it? Because, I’m afraid they really don’t care. The Chase is the worst idea EVER! Well, that and expanding to all these markets where you have spread yourself thin. And then complicated the matter by buidling boring multigrooved tracks. These tracks are too “PC”. What was SOOO wrong with the “good ole boy” image. It worked allot better than this garbage we have now. I don’t like where they are trying to steer this sport. Does everything have to be garbage these days?They’re going to either price themselves into obscurity or just kill the sport through lack of attendance. Once that happens morons like Stewart will have nothing to whine about.

  10. Russ Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Maybe its just another indication of the difference of viewpoint between the participants, and the people that pay the bills.

    Its not just Nascar itself that is the problem anymore.

  11. midasmicah Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I guess na$car is enjoying the mass exodus of long time, core fans. Wow! Let’s blame the sorry state of affairs on the people that keep their coffers full. Yea, the fans. Let’s blame the cookie cutter tracks condusive to only boring racing on the fans. Let’s blame the the God awful chase and points system that discourages side by side racing for fear of missing the “play-offs” and pleasing sponsors on the fans, even though the fans have spoken loud and clear how they feel about this system. Let’s blame the whiny, millionaire drivers that are so disconnected with the ordinary Joe on him and his bethren. Yea, the fans. And that boxcar masquerading as a stock car on who. Once again, the fans. Look, I’m not and never have been a fan of massive mayhem on the track. What I am a fan of is exciting, side by side racing. And yes, with that kind of racing there will be cautions. Just not the contrived cautions we see nowadays. And in ending, I guess nas$car will continue to keep it’s collective heads in the sand or up their hineys and blame the self destructive road they’ve chosen to take on who. Yea, the fans.

  12. mr clause Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 10:51 am

    NASCAR has no leadership! BZF gets hyped for the major TV deal, counts his money, avoids coming to the races, and ignores the lack of quality in the broadcasts. Helton was once said to look like a mafia don and a lot of the time acts like one. John Darby has pretty much gone over to the dark side with his eyeball being far superior to actual measuring devices. Robin Pemberton is an arrogant A** who at best speaks with a forked tongue. Each of those mentioned has no commitment to the fans that took NASCAR to once great highs and has no problem with demeaning them.
    NASCAR has through greed and power and their unquestioned lack of any sense of reality, reduced a once great show to a shambles of it’s former self. Why are fans leaving? Just maybe it has to do with the mega millions that have removed the sport from the love of the everyday man for his car and/or driver. Gone are the days of the greats that built the sport, like Smokey, Robert Yates, Suitcase Jake, Jr Johnson, the drivers that got their hands dirty like Bill Elliot, Dale Sr., Childress and so many more. Now NASCAR has built a spec car where innovation is punished not praised. NASCAR was built on innovation, on the little guy fighting to make a place for himself in the sport he loved, on the backyard mechanic learning his craft. Now those types of people are derogatorily classed as start and parkers. Yet they are the ones that NASCAR is based on. Like front row Joe, Tommy Baldwin, they are winners in our sport now they are deemed to be taking up space and purse money that should go, I guess, to the teams with the mega millions.
    NASCAR is in a major decline because of decisions made by those I mentioned at the beginning and it will be their ignorance and arrogance that steepens that decline until one day someone at Daytona asks, hey, where’d all the fans go? The show by then will be the Gibbs, Childress, Penske, Hendricks, Roush, show with their 16 or so cars and a couple of thousand fans still hanging on. NASCAR is being eaten from the inside like a horrendous disease with seemingly little chance for a cure.

  13. tim pridgen Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Thanks for the article. I, too want more exciting racing!!. Give me Cale Yarbough, David Pearson or Buddy Baker anyday. Put this cry baby drivers of today in a 1969 Ford Torino or a ‘69 Dodge Charger with Boss 429’s or 426 Hemis and see what they can do. Let them go as fast as they can go and see who has the most nerve. Now that would be exciting to watch! And when someone gets bumped or wrecked, get out and just whup the other guys ass and be done with it, no pissing and moaning and finger pointing.

  14. Lydia Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Per the comment from Russ…the people who pay the bill are the fans! We buy cable tv to watch a race at home, tickets to go to a race, and products from the sponsors of the teams. No matter which way we cut it…when a car gets wrecked, a race is poor, or a driver fails to make a race..the fans have paid for it. I don’t know about anyone else..but my skinny wallet would like a reprieve! If NASCAR wants to remain popular the governing body, teams, tracks, media, and sponsors need to buck up, talk amongst themselves, and quit making stupid changes that alienate those paying the bills! As I said in an earlier comment..I don’t Stewart was pointing at the fans..I think he was trying to make a point to NASCAR and their knee jerk reactions to try and “fix” things!

  15. Greg Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Um gee SORRY but I do not see how the fan that buys 1 diecast , 1 hat and maybe a TSHIRT can be upset with Tony’s comments.

    He is the guy fitting the BILL to fix the wrecked race cars.

    If the fans want a DEMO DERBY go to the local fairgrounds lots of them destroying $150.00 cars.

    I want to watch a race that requires RACING to win , not 1/2 the field destroyed and the rest watching the TEMP / PRESSURE gauges, do enough of that stuck in traffic in August.

  16. Bill B Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Want to fix everything. Just run 36 races at Martinsville. Problem solved.

  17. Bill B Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Well, maybe half at Martinsville and the other half at Darlington.

  18. patsy C Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I still hate the Chase and Toush-Push. I want someone else to win beside the #48. I don’t go to races to wrecks. I go to see good competion racing, not a Chase. Go back to having to work for the Championship all year long! NASCAR is the one killing the sport. Get rid of Brian and some others and maybe once again we will see NASCAR in a different light and a place of prominence.

  19. DMan Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    tony was a jerk (as usual), nascar is getting dumber by the day (DW and larry mac must be contagious). 3 easy fixes that wont cost brian france one red nickel are: do away with the top 35 BS, do away with the chase, and remove those stupid restrictor plates….

  20. Chris Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Well I do not consider what we saw on Sunday racing with the exception of what Brad K. did at the end to break the standard “Leader can not win on last lap plate races” we have seen for so long. Hats off to him on that move! Tony is not off the mark in my opinion and if you think he is “To fat or rich” to place himself in the fans place all I have to say is have you ever been to Eldora?? Ever seen Tony drive a dirt car? He knows racing and he does his best to provide a good “Racing” experience for the fans. Also I have been a Race Fan for alot of years and back in the day was a participant working on race cars at our local track and area. All any racer wants is a fair playing field to compete in and if you wreck the car going for a win so be it. But to have a sanctioning body keep changing rules to manufacture an outcome or a product is crazy. Especially is those rules cause wrecked race cars. Lastly, fans can take offense to Tony’s remarks but again been going to races along time and there is a larger element of fan today that only wants to see the carnage. Pretty sure that was the fan base Tony may have been directing some of his frustration to.

  21. sylvia richardson Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    WHAT A MESS.Don’t us fans really believe the [old poops that have ruin this sport are just great? We know better. They [brain and old mike] love the money.

    Well great fans we are the dumb ones. We are not the [top dogs] they are.
    Why do we have to watch that stupid chase that we all hate? Why that stupid top 35,lucky dog. the [GREAT COT CARS}

    YES BRAIN AND ETC. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK AND YOUR MAKE OF RULES.
    We don’t care we are just FANS.

  22. Sandy Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Racing has just gotten worse and worse since they went to the “car of tomorrow” and “the chase”. Most fans I know liked racing the way it was before all of this, and now NASCAR is losing fans by the droves. I don’t understand why they don’t get that. Some of the ‘knee-jerk’ rules changes have made for some memorably bad racing - Talladega being one of them. What a ridiculous waste of a perfectly good day, sitting and watching that fiasco. It is terrible for the fans and the drivers!

  23. jerseygirl Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Good article, Rich. I replied to Truex’s tweet - mainly because I was already annoyed with DW & Johnson’s tweet fest from the previous weeks about the fans “not appreciating good racing” and “wanting only wrecks”. Then Robin Pemberton got into it with his “needy fans” comments. I’m not in it for the wrecks, but if there is a caution for debris, show it to us. Personally I don’t like RP tracks since they are a total mess.

    I’m with many others here. I want to see racing but that isn’t going to happen with the stupid chase, the IROC brick on wheels, the cookie cutter tracks AND on top of that the TV broadcasts that only show single car shots. Why the heck do I want to sit around wasting my day?

    We used to go to a lot of races, these days the “product” on the track is not worth paying the $ to go. Staying home and watching it on TV - maybe the last 20 laps, but not for the entire afternoon, not any more. DW babbles away over nothing for hours, even worse now since he has his brother to babble back at him, overload of commercials and the cameras are showing me a picture of the inside of a race car, the bumper of a race car or some other goofy shot that doesn’t actually show the race and I should just shut up and be happy?

    Nah, I think I’ll just opt to do something else for most of the day and tune in for the last 20 laps or maybe just the last 10 races since the first 26 are only seeding efforts anyway.

    Most businesses try and make their customers happy. They generally don’t tell them they are too stupid to get it and still expect them to buy it.

  24. Sue Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Good article. Just one more thing. It is also the TV people, announcers and reporters, that are running down the fans. At sometime lately, I have heard them all insinuate that we the fans don’t know a thing about good racing. I recently told a few of them that if we were shown the racing all over track instead of just a few cars, we might have a different opinion.Fox did do better job Sunday. Now if they could just get DW to shut up once in awhile.

  25. Webb Racing 97 Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Corporate racing has ruined racing. Too many sponsors to please! Real races never say “It was a good points night!” When I was running at Crown Point Speedway, I was not there to please my sponsor, I was there to try to win races. I was just a small billboard to help promote the person who helped me financially and my sponsor knew that. My teammate knew I would tear his back bumper off to pass him, or anyone else who got in my way for a position, and I expected nothing less from my competitors. We RACED EVERY LAP!!!

  26. Russ Says:
    May 8th, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    To clarify my point. It was that the teams and drivers as well as Nascar are no longer motivated by the number of fans in the stands on any given Sunday.
    Their money comes from sponsors, licensing of product, and the TV money, not the purse.
    So why is it any surprise that those are the people
    who they are catering to?

  27. Sue Rarick Says:
    May 9th, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I’ve been in Europe for the past few weeks and haven’t bothred much with Nascar at all. Sadly the snooker matches were more of a draw than keeping up with what was going on in Nascar land. I think this is going to be a not watch Nascar year for me.

    I read about the races quickly on Mondays and thatis about it so far this year.

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