NASCAR Is Facing Many Battles of Its Own This Memorial Day

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IMay 24, 2009

Memorial Day is all about remembering those who have served this nation so proudly and ably, especially those that have paid with the ultimate sacrifice...their very lives. 

This special day calls attention to those who fought in the many battles in various conflicts from the big World Wars to the more recent conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan.

The focus should never be taken away from the military, especially on Memorial Day—the most special day of remembering their service. 

But Memorial Day reminds us that there are many battles brewing, even here in the world of sports.

There is no greater battlefield recently in sports than in NASCAR.  It seems that the sport is having to fight battles on all fronts, from the recession to the latest drug testing scandal.

NASCAR is having a major battle with the economy.  Many of the sport's sponsors have been significantly affected by the economic downturn, thus pulling back on their racing sponsorships.

Another major economic battle facing NASCAR is the battle affecting the major automobile makers.  Because NASCAR receives support from the "Big Three" automakers, the sport is also battling to maintain its integrity in spite of the automakers' struggles.

NASCAR is also battling sagging television ratings.  Fans have been tuning out in a big way, and the leaders of the sport can't seem to put their finger on what exactly the issues are causing fans to take this course of action.

The sport is also battling one of the biggest "scandals" to date, that being the positive drug test and subsequent suspension of Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield. 

Mayfield has hired a killer lawyer and has vowed to fight NASCAR regarding the charges.  NASCAR, on the other hand, has publicly stated that they will go head to head with Mayfield, vehemently defending the sport's zero tolerance drug policies.

NASCAR also has another battle on its hands.  Fans have basically revolted against the governing body regarding the drastic penalties assessed to Carl Long, rendering that part-time Cup team defunct because of the severity of the sanctions.

NASCAR alleges that Long's penalty is just and that the sport needs to send a distinctive message that teams cannot mess with the engines in any way, shape, or form. 

But fans have rallied around this "little guy" team, alleging that NASCAR is simply being way too severe with the penalties invoked in this situation.

The fact is that NASCAR is battling on so many fronts that they are now calling a mandatory meeting with all drivers and team owners on Tuesday to have a little pow wow on the state of the sport with their most important constituents.

And perhaps NASCAR is now deploying the best battle strategy of all, sitting down with all the players and brainstorming the next steps to address all of these various struggles.

The one thing that NASCAR is missing, however, is deploying another significant battle strategy...that of sitting down with the fans that make the sport what it is.

NASCAR's fans are some of the most astute ever and can give sage advice to NASCAR on how to best take on some of the challenges currently raging on all fronts.

Several years ago at the end of the year sports marketing forum, NASCAR even put together a fan panel to discuss the state of the sport with those that are buying the tickets, patronizing the races, and updating their diecast collectibles.

Not only should NASCAR call together the drivers, owners and teams, but they also should cosider one of the most important tactics of all, asking the fans for their feedback and input.

So, as we pause to remember those that truly have served in battles to make our country what it is today, we also should take a moment to hope that NASCAR can effectively battle the challenges facing the sport.

And as all of us as race fans watch the Coca Cola 600 that will now be run on Memorial Day because of the rainout on Sunday, we hope that NASCAR will indeed win the battle.

Regardless, here is wishing that we all remember the true meaning of Memorial Day, now and every day. 

For NASCAR fans, Happy Race Day.

But most important, Happy Memorial Day and thank you to all who have served our country.