Nascar Drivers Face Dilemma: To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IApril 18, 2009

FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 04:  Michael McDowell, driver of the #47 Tom's Snacks Toyota, kneels next to his car on the grid during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

As if NASCAR drivers do not have enough to worry about already, from figuring out when to pit to trying to feeling if they have a tire going down, they now have to make another critical decision: to tweet or not to tweet.

That's right, even they are facing this "ultimate" question. Should they participate in one of the nation's most rapidly growing social networking sites or keep their tweets to themselves?

Jeff Gluck, Associate Editor for scenedaily.com, reveals that Michael McDowell, one of JTG Daugherty Racing's Nationwide drivers, has made the decision to tweet.

And not only is he participating in the world of Twitter, but he has also admitted to tweeting while driving.

McDowell, whose Twitter name is "mmcdowell47," feels that this communication device brings driver and fan even closer together. He said, "It's more personal...it's just myself being myself".

For those unfamiliar with Twitter.com, it is a free service that allows individuals to send out "micro-blogs" of 140 characters or less. These short messages are called "tweets," since they are quick outbursts covering everything from the profound to the mundane.

Twitterers can sign up, send out their tweets, and follow the tweets of others.  Twittering provides a unique look into someone's life as they share insights, activities, and feelings right there and then in the moment.

But should the celebrities of racing be sharing that kind of "up close and personal" information with their fans? While Michael McDowell may think so, other drivers feel quite differently.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for example, said he would never participate in that kind of a site.  He put it pretty bluntly:

"I don't have a MySpace, a Twitter or none of that crap."

Junior continued, "I really would never get into social networking—it's just a dangerous area to be involved in, especially if you're high-profile".

For NASCAR drivers, there may be other dangers involved as well, especially if they are tweeting behind the wheel of a race car. McDowell acknowledges that they "need voice-activated tweets. Then we'd be set."

In spite of the inherent dangers, these drivers will indeed have to deal with the changing technology and decide how they will engage their fans, many of whom are simply addicted to these newer methods of networking and keeping in touch.

Many drivers have embraced other social network sites, such as MySpace or Facebook.  Whether they actually post themselves or if staff (or perhaps even other fans) post for them, it is another way to engage the supporters.

According to some drivers, tweeting may provide a little too much information to fans. Others, however, have embraced Twitter, like Kyle Petty and Bobby Labonte, who post quite regularly.

Every Nascar racer will have to decide if he feels the need for the constant communication that is Twitter or if social networking sites will be avoided at all costs.

Let's just continue to hope that tweeting and driving at over 100 miles per hour does not cause the deadliest "tweet" of all.

Sources: scenedaily.com and nscrwriter on Twitter.