Hey NASCAR: Wake Up and Smell the Recession

Rebecca SpenceCorrespondent IMay 22, 2009

TALLADEGA, AL - APRIL 26:  Fans watch race action at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 26, 2009 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Economic hardship wipes the smiles of faces of the mightiest moguls. It’s time for the powers that be at NASCAR Inc. to face the facts and wake up! 


The worried yet hushed undertones of most NASCAR vs. State of economy articles should have anybody under the impression that NASCAR is struggling (by their standards) no matter how much they try to hide it.


Ratings for the All-Star event fell over 10 percent from last year, ticket sales are down, even the faithful “sell-out” events are being run with empty seats in the stands.


Wake Up NASCAR! Changes need to be made to ensure the sport's survival. 


With the major car manufacturers declaring bankruptcy left and right, and the waning number of fans in the stands, it’s no wonder that NASCAR has called for a, not mandatory but attendance strongly suggested, meeting at their research and development center on Tuesday.


While they haven’t said much about the meeting's actual topics, the informal hint to crews and drivers was that it will be to discuss the "state of the sport."


In other words, NASCAR is open to suggestions to make their numbers rise, along with their profits.


Here is a simple yet effective idea: Lower Your Costs!


Everything in the sport is too expensive, from the costs for NASCAR and its teams to the costs passed on to the fans. If they would first and foremost lose the car of tomorrow, and go back to, gee I don’t know, racing stock cars.


It would save massive amounts of money. Not to mention, boost the economy by giving back to the manufacturers.


Think about this:


If NASCAR went back to racing actual stock cars, the money being spent by the manufacturers for “r & d” would be cut in half.  The teams could easily implement the safety innovations currently in use in the “C.O.T” and the fans would be able to recognize what the drivers are racing with out the aid of a camera man close up!


Second, lower the cost for fans to go to the races.


These days it’s all about high ticket prices or packages, arm and a leg souvenir prices, and outrageous bartering for everything from parking to snacks.


We are facing one of the largest economic crises in recent history. The fans are struggling to pay for the necessities, let alone the cost of entertainment.


Loosen up on the purse strings, guys, and realize you have to spend money to make money. 


Third, appeal to the female demographic!


Women, me included, are your market NASCAR. In 90 percent of all households women handle the finances. We do the scrimping, the saving, and the shopping.


Women race fans are louder, prouder, and more willing to spend money on the things that please them and their families.  


Your sport is no longer dominated by the 45 and older white males. Make the tracks and events more “family friendly” and you will witness the rise in women wanting to pay for the experience. 


Lastly, at least for now, eliminate the “everything has a penalty” rule book. 


NASCAR rules change so often I usually have to look them up at the beginning of every season just to understand what is going on.  Write one rule book, and stick to it. 


When you do so, please, omit some of the following:


  1. Take out any rule that punishes a driver for what he/she says. 
  2. No more guesses. Keep a clear and concise policy on what action equals what punishment. 
  3. Driver “quarrels": If it’s on track, off track, in the parking lot or the garages don’t make a big stink over it! As long as it takes place in a manner where no “innocent” (and I use the term lightly) lives are at stake, by all means let them fight. 
  4. Chase away the Chase. The worst change NASCAR has made (with the exception of the COT) was going to a “chase” format. Originally, it was designed to make NASCAR similar to other sports by giving it a “play-off” kind of feel. News flash Gentlemen: NASCAR isn’t like other sports and that’s why we like it. 
  5. No more top 35. If a driver can’t race his way in on time alone, it shouldn’t matter how popular or how experienced he is, he should miss the race. Take it back to Old School qualifying!


There are numerous other changes that “we the fans” would like to see. And in economic times like these, the fans are who you need to be listening to.


The call for drivers, teams, and owners to assemble to aid in inspiration is noble. But it isn’t going to save you. 


Drivers who truly belong in the sport would race for little to nothing. Bragging rights and enough money to insure they could race again next week would be enough for them.


If you want to find the funding needed to carry on, make NASCAR a true fan sport; A racing genre of the fans, by the fans, and for the fans. We are where your money is coming from!