FOR SALE BY OWNER - 8 min read
NASCAR has reached out to investment bank, Goldman Sachs to help find a lucky buyer. But who will it be? Founded in 1948 by Bill France Sr, NASCAR is still owned and operated by the France family. Although no one of official authority has confirmed what brought on the recent action, many believe that the move might have something to do with the recent year-over-year decline in attendance. But why? How can a once-thriving sport that packed seats to the gills, and ruled TV ratings be in the crapper?
Teams are downsizing, and long-time supporters are leaving the sport. Big names like Target and Home Depot have left the scene, and even Jimmie Johnson’s long-time support, Lowe’s, will call it quits after this year. Sponsors can’t find the ROI to justify the investment of huge multi-year contracts.
Back in 2012, when the US ARMY sponsored a team, they held a survey to see how many recruits joined because of the NASCAR sponsorship influence. The numbers were so low that they soon pulled the cord. With the power of social media, companies have found cheaper ways to reach their audience.
NASCAR had hoped that partnering with an edgy brand like Monster would draw in the 18-35-year-old demographic. At an estimated $20 million per year, it’s likely that Monster will not be renewing after the 2019 season. It’s just not taking off like they hoped.
So what’s happening here?
I should state that the following reasons are of my own option, and have no actual backing. But as a long-time fan, I feel the following are important to discuss. Just like any large problem in any organization, there is no single answer to its cause, or single solution to fixing it.
NASCAR is an old sport, and its home-grown fans are a dying generation. Blue-collar fans idolized blue-collar racers like Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, and Rusty Wallace. From a fan’s view, these guys were “real”. They talked and acted how they wanted. Their suits got dirty, and they smoked cigarettes.
The younger generation of “fans” lack the attention span to watch a 3 hour race. Not to mention who watches TV anymore when everything is available on our smart phone? I have to wonder if Sprint bailed on their sponsorship a bit too early before all this crazed-technology.
Low attendance: Tracks that once filled 100,000 seats, are now only filling about 40,000 of those. People watch things differently now. With smartphone technology, we no longer have to sit in the 90 degree hot sun to watch an event. We as fans get better coverage from the comfort of our broken-in couch.
What was once a unique selling point of NASCAR: its “low-cost”, basic concept of the cars and mechanics just don’t have the “pizazz” as compared to other motorsports. They still use manual floor jacks, 5-lug wheels, and gravity-fed gas cans. Outlawed real-time data acquisition, and lack of active driver-controlled adjustments create an outdated feel. Heck, it wasn’t until a few years ago, that they switched from carbureted to fuel injection. Years ago, all of this was “basic” cool. But now it’s just eh.
It’s too cookie cutter, even down to the drivers. There’s no diversity. Every driver appears too robotic, and there’s no sense of individuality. I.e.-the same speech patterns in interviews, same hat and sunglasses look, and the need to overelaborate ever sponsor. It’s just boring, even down to the way they hold their beverages (yes, I know it’s sponsor exposure, but it’s just too predictable). It’s cheap.
The races are too long. As mentioned before, younger fans lack the attention span to sit for 3 hours to watch cars go in circles.
Cheezy finals. The “Chase”? Come on now. I realize every sport has its finals or playoff games, but NASCAR doesn’t need to follow. Driver with the most points at the end of the season wins. Simple.
Rain= no racing. How fun would it be to see these guys sliding around the wet?
Simply put, it’s boring. It’s stale. There’s no personality to the cars nor the drivers. I give NASCAR credit for trying new things, but they’re just cheezy. I.e.-driver intros on stage with fireworks.
It’s grown out of control. For the same reason teams use manual jacks, NASCAR tries to keep costs down. So is it necessary for teams to have multi-acre complexes, private planes, $1.5 million dollar coach busses, and extravagant salaries? Racing is expensive, no one needs to explain that twice, but I feel that it has stepped a little too far from being “America’s family sport”.
So how do we fix it?
The problem is, that there is no single problem. However, slapping band aid on top of band aid isn’t helping. Sometimes you just need to scrap everything and start on a new page.
Smaller racers. No, I don’t mean smaller heats, combined to make a 3 hour event (as they currently do). Simply, have smaller races. Perhaps an hour and a half?
More diversity in racetracks. How about more road courses? Dirt tracks (think rallycross style)?
Allow the fans to get “hungry” for more. It’s quite overwhelming to follow 36 races in a season.
Take the fucking exhaust tip decals off the rear bumper! It’s grossly cheap, and is a clear identifier of how gimmicky it’s becoming.