I grew up in and around auto racing. I was born on a Thursday, and was at the races on Saturday 2 days later. My dad was a race driver and owner of several speedways. My brother was pure greatness behind the wheel of any race car he drove. I was driving the pace car by age 10, working on my brother’s cars, announcing at speedways by age 12, and I drove NASCAR stock cars and anything else with wheels. To say auto racing is in my veins is an understatement. So – it pains me to say how I’m bored and concerned with the current state of NASCAR racing. Judging by the abundance of empty seats at some of America’s greatest speedways, and television ratings that aren’t what they once were, I’m not alone.
NASCAR is a victim of their own success. Here’s why I say that.
1. They grew so big so fast and built HUGE stadiums and filled them to capacity, so prices skyrocketed. It is hugely expensive to attend a NASCAR race in person. The backbone of the sport, Joe and Jane Sixpack can’t afford to go, so they stay home and watch on television.
2. Television makes it so much easier to watch racing from the comfort of your own living room. Big screen in HD. Beer isn’t $10 a cup at home, and you never have to wait in line to pee.
3. Success with corporate America has forced NASCAR to change the drivers. NASCAR is a sport that needs Billy Badass. A driver or two with attitude and aggression who can back it up on the track. Think Earnhardt, Sr. (The Intimidator), A.J. Foyt, Cale Yarborough, etc. Today’s Billy Badasses are Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart. They have attitude and can back it up behind the wheel, but since corporate sponsors don’t like being associated with ballsy brash attitude, NASCAR tones these men down by issuing HUGE fines whenever they speak out of line. Snooze fest.
There are other problems like race format, similarity of the cars, etc, which are hindering NASCAR’s success right now. These issues can be solved with relative ease. The issues listed above can’t, and that’s why I say I’m concerned. When I find myself watching PGA instead of the race, something is really really wrong.