NASCAR Fans' Town Hall Meeting: It Is Time

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IMay 29, 2009

CONCORD, NC - MAY 15:  NASCAR CEO Brian France speaks with the media following practice for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 15, 2009 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

While the headlines of the firing of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s crew chief have dominated the world of NASCAR, there was another historic event in the sport this week. 

NASCAR's leadership held its first town hall meeting with drivers, owners, and representatives of all the teams.

Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO, called together more than 80 members of the sport's community.  France, Mike Helton, NASCAR's President and Director, and other leadership of the sport, held two town hall meetings, each lasting approximately two hours.

When all was said and done, France, as well as those who attended the meetings, called them good.  France called it "a productive exchange of ideas on NASCAR's rules, sponsorship and other issues in the sport."

Topics discussed in the town hall meetings included everything from the impact of the economy on the sport to the drivability of the cars. 

NASCAR also took the opportunity to dialogue about its substance abuse policy, especially in light of the suspension of Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield.

France advised that "we heard some ideas today that we're going to consider.  And they heard some reasoning on what our thinking was on staying the course on the new car the way we have."

For those who wonder what the big deal is with NASCAR holding a mandatory meeting with its key players, this is a first. 

As a family owned and run business, NASCAR has never held this type of meeting before, usually addressing issues on a one-on-one basis, sometimes in the NASCAR hauler, the sport's version of the principal's office.

France acknowledged that the sport is facing challenging times, from sagging television ratings to empty seats at the track.  These types of concerning factors led NASCAR's leadership to pull together the meetings after the recent 24 hours of Charlotte event at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

France admits that they heard many good ideas.  He said that the NASCAR brass will now have to sort through them all and "put then in some order."

But the most important accomplishment of the meetings according to France was the opening up of "a better communication line with our teams and drivers."

While NASCAR is to be commended for taking this big and bold step, they have forgotten one important constituent, the fans. 

With these good folks buying the tickets and watching the races, one could argue that NASCAR has neglected to consult their most important constituent base.

In an effort to address this gap, which was probably just a simple oversight on NASCAR's part, this article will serve as an open invitation to any NASCAR fan to come to a virtual NASCAR Fan Town Meeting.

The format is simple.  Since NASCAR fans cannot all sit in a meeting room with Brian France, Mike Helton, etc. at the dais, ready to hear our feedback, please simply post a comment to this article to register your ideas on how to improve the sport.

Fans can comment on anything from double file restarts to NASCAR's substance abuse policy to ways to improve the television ratings and coverage.  This author will then take all of the comments, sort them by topic, compile them together and send them off to Mr. France's attention.

There are just two simple rules.  First, be constructive and solution-focused.  Fans all know what is wrong with the sport.  Let's share with Mr. France innovative but doable ways that the sport can be improved.

Second, refrain from ranting.  Again, if fans want to be heard, we must be objective, sensible, and present good arguments for our cases.  Let's make points that have solid thinking and a good basis for the changes.

The virtual microphone is now turned on.  Step up to it and tell those at the head table, the leadership of NASCAR, your thoughts on how we can nurture, grow and expand the sport we dearly love.

The time is now.  The NASCAR Fans Town Hall Meeting is officially called to order.