Curtis Turner for 2016 HOF

Curtis Turner for 2016 HOF

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Stuff, Old Stuff, & Why The Network Bias

Thanks to a busy week and Blogger not working right, I wasn't able to get this posted in time but there's a few things that might be of interest to some folks.

Phoenix Reconfiguration to Cost SCCA Races
As a part of the reconfiguration of Phoenix International Raceway (PIR), the infield road course is being taken out to make room for more campers and motor homes. Obviously ISC hasn’t been paying attention to the empty grandstands and half-filled campgrounds at their other tracks. But they feel they don’t need the SCCA races. Why? Who knows what goes on in the empty melons of the Ivory Towers of Daytona Beach. Based on interviews done by Terry, our man in the stands out West, a number of fans won’t be going back to PIR because of the reconfiguration of the track. They liked it the way it was because it was a unique design and challenging to the drivers. So if ISC can’t take the hint by the empty stands at Bristol caused by the reconfiguration, what’s it going to take to get their attention about reconfiguring tracks? Totally empty grandstands?
Darlington Ratings Down
Hard to believe that one of the most exciting tracks on the schedule had its’ ratings drop. But then again, it is believable. According to the “standard start times” that were touted by NA$CAR, the night races were supposed to start at 7:00 PM. Darlington didn’t start til almost 45 minutes later. Not to mention the Ms Terry DeBris caution to bunch the field back up. No wonder folks tuned out and went to bed about 11:00 PM. Maybe if they started at the standard start time, they might have had some better ratings. So which excuse will be used this week? The economy? The price of gasoline? Or the NBA play-offs which were up 32% over last year? Take your pick.
North Wilkesboro Closed Again
After Save The Speedway put in 6 years helping to get North Wilkesboro re-opened, the track, under management of Speedway Associates Inc., has closed after 14 months of racing. SAI claims it’s due to the high front end cost of putting on the races there. I can’t say for sure since I haven’t seen the books. I know that a lot of money went into getting the scoring tower working again, walls being painted, and some of the suites being repaired. It’s a sad thing to see. It’s also strange that it happened after Save The Speedway decided to go look at some other tracks to save. Could it be that Save The Speedway was really the driving force behind getting the track re-opened and kept it going? Maybe, since several members were involved in providing support to the track and their operations. But this leads to the bigger question. Now that it’s closed again, what will Bruton do? Will he finally come down off of his $12 million asking price and sell it to somebody who will once again bring racing back to the track? Or will he let it return to rotting away like he did before? Hard to say. Only Bruton knows what Bruton will do.
AJ Foyt to Drive the Indy 500 Pace Car

It appears that animal rights activist got up in arms about The Donald driving the pace car citing something about a rare albino skunk that lives on his head and him endangering it’s life. IndyCar decided to go with the #2 best driver in 20th century racing history AJ Foyt instead. As AJ doesn’t have any endangered species living on his body, it’s a good choice and the animal activists seem satisfied with it.
James Hylton Sets Record

By starting in the Busch Series race at Darlington, 76 years young James Hylton established a record as being the oldest driver to start in NASCAR’s Top 3 Series. Of course, with BSPN’s coverage, you’d never know that James was on the track or about the record he set. However, this is not the absolute record for a NA$CAR event. 84 years young Herschel McGriff holds the all-time record by running in the K&N Pro Series West at Miller Motorsports Park on April 30, 2011. Maybe this will give the Silver Fox an incentive to return to Cup racing? Speaking of the Silver Fox…
Pearson Not Happy With Current Rules
In a recent interview with Dale Jarrett, David Pearson said that NA$CAR needs to get rid of all their rules. Pearson has been one of the few former champs to be critical of what’s happened to NA$CAR in recent years and he’s not too far from wrong. There need to be safety rules but as observed by a lot of folks, the teams are in a box when it comes to innovation or getting the cars dialed in. This is due to the generic car they’re racing and the multitude of mandated parts which have made the series a high-priced version of IROC.
Fined & Penalty Issued
Rather than cite the on track actions and threats issued over the radio, NA$CAR cited the post-race pit road incident between Mr Happy and Shrubbery as the reason for a 4 week probation and $25,000 fine. Big deal. I guess it’s going to take somebody being hospitalized or killed before a serious penalty is issued. Can’t upset the car maker that owns NA$CAR or the teams’ sponsors. That means using Iron Head’s formula for payback, it’ll happen at Kansas.

Here’s what the NA$CAR VP for Racing Operations said regarding the penalty:
Not punishing fans, we would have issued 100k and pts penalties in past, this was mild-issued because of pit road.
Uh huh. And what about the folks who were scrambling on pit road because of Mr Happy‘s rolling car caused by Shrubbery pushing it into the pit wall after it was parked? Mild-mannered? Pull-ease!

Rolling Thunder Modifieds Saving Teams Money
Unlike NA$CAR, who every time they’re saving teams money it ends up actually costing them money, the Rolling Thunder Modifieds have a money saving solution for their competitors. They’re letting teams use the F-35 Hoosiers they got from any source to be used providing they’re scanned into the system and are deemed safe for use. Now, when was the last time NA$CAR actually saved the teams money? Way to help out the small guys Rolling Thunder. Two thumbs up.
Focks Bias Towards One Carmaker
Back when it was announce that the carmaker with it’s international headquarters in Japan was joining NA$CAR, one of the things that was done to secure their place in NA$CAR was the automaker ponying up big bucks to not only NA$CAR but also the networks. This is from a 2007 NY Post article but it gives you an idea of the money being spent on just the commercials:
Toyota paid at least $2 million for the TV time - the equivalent of a Super Bowl ad buy - for "Chasing Sunday: The Race to Cup," according to industry sources. Fox is part of News Corp., which also owns The Post.

While the documentary is a behind-the-scenes look at the sport, Toyota wasn't allowed to use the Nascar name or logo in the title because of Ford's sponsorship.

The TV special comes on top of the ads Toyota bought during the race - advertisers pay as much as $500,000 for a 30-second spot - and throughout the season to promote the Tundra.
The auto maker has earmarked a reported $100 million dollars to tout the 2007 Tundra, which the company has called the "most important launch in Toyota's history in the U.S." That's on top of an estimated $200 million it will spend on its Nascar effort.
The Japanese automaker's journey deep into the heartland and a beloved American sport infuriated some fans. As foreign competition forces U.S. automakers to curb ad spending, the Japanese Toyota has money to burn.

The sponsor-friendly Nascar commissioned a study to gauge fan opinion and claims 93 percent were "favorable or neutral" about Toyota entering Nextel Cup racing. "For Nascar it's about the racing product," said spokesman Andrew Giangola. "Having another manufacturer in the sport helps raise the level of competition."

I think they must’ve sampled the wrong market because of the number of complaints I’ve received over the last 4 years since the entry of Toyota into NA$CAR. I’ve probably received 93% against and 7% for or neutral.

But getting back to why Focks is biased towards the Japanese carmakers. Just look at the amount of money being spent on their TV ads. Look at who they own in the announcing booth. Is it any real wonder why the Focks broadcasts are so biased towards JGR, MWR, and other Toyota teams throughout the 3 top NA$CAR series?
Read more:


  1. Hate it that they are changing Phoenix. I also hate it that North Wilkesboro is closing. I enjoyed the race highlights I saw on YouTube while it was open.

    FOX coverage at Darlington was horrible. I was furious over at the Daly Planet the way Waltrip handled the Kyle Busch incident. If his bias prevents him from analyzing, get out of the booth! The cartoon, tight shot, personality driven coverage hasn't done anything to help the ratings.

    NASCAR should focus their energy of change towards Nationwide & Trucks. Shrub continues to blow away from the rest and win everything in the lower series. Nationwide has been terrible all year and the Truck teams are dropping week by week. Regan Smith's surprise Darlington victory was one of the only things keeping me from walking away from the sport in frustration.

  2. They'll find out at Phoenix how well the changes have gone over with the fans come the fall. I'm expecting to see a lot more empty seats there because of the track changes.

    Fox needs to dump DW, period. He does nothing but bring down the quality of the commentary and his bias is so obvious it's not funny. The overall camera coverage is horrible. If I wanted to watch one or two drivers I'd get Track Pass or something like that.

    Based on JGR's recent history of tinkering with magnets and the like, I'd do a total teardown on all of Shrubbery's vehicles. When he leaves Ron Hornaday flat footed on a restart, something isn't quite right. And why NA$CAR won't do a teardown on the ignition boxes and alternators is beyond me. Those are the 2 most common places for teams to hide traction control devices. Is it so bad that everyone is using one or is it just a case of the inspectors being to blind or lazy to look for them?

    If NA$CAR really wanted to do something effective, they'd eliminate any and all points, money, and airtime that any of the Buschwackers and Truck Trash get. Then there would be no incentives at all for them to be there in either series.

    Unfortunately, NA$CAR keeps using the Truck Series to experiment with. We've got generic truck's coming and if the generic cars didn't teach BZF and company anything, you know the generic trucks won't.

    Regan Smith's win was a breath of fresh air. It's nice to see an underdog win a race. In this day and age, it's a major accomplishment rating up there on the miracle scale. It would be nice to see some more of those types of wins instead of the "usual suspects" week after week. That keeps folks interested. Not the same old same old week after week.

  3. Better check your facts again about the promised start times - The start times were to be 1:00/3:00/7:30, with the green flag flying approx. 15 mins after the listed start time. So the Darlington race started right on time. If you pay attention you will see that the invocation begins exactly at the times listed above.

  4. The idea of getting rid of the infield road course at PIR makes no sense. The entire 2.5 mile road course was the reason for the famous dogleg. As for the ratings, keep in mind ESPN's NBA ratings are based on the luck of the matchup. Boston-Miami on the Toronto Dominion Garden parquet is clearly a game that will be higher in ratings than Memphis-Oklahoma City at either FedExForum or Ford Center. Bigger stars and well-known franchises are different than two teams that haven't been playing for ten years on either side.

  5. Mikey, I read your column on Laidback Racing about politics and the Hall Of Fame, and thought I'd respond to you here. I agree fully with what you said about both Jabber-Jaws and Hendrick. And I also agree that neither should be admitted to the Hall anytinme soon. Jaws is way too full of himself. And my feelings toward Mr. Hendrick are not complimentary in the least! Whenever I see that guy, he gives me the creeps! Unfortunately, he has a major ace up his sleeve in his friendship with Brian. Mikey, I like reading your blog, and your other column, but personally, I hope you're wrong about those two getting into the Hall before way more deserving people get in. Unfortunately, both you and I know you're most likely right. And if both do get in this year ahead of people like Raymond Parks, Red Byron, Herb Thomas, Buck Baker (People who deserve to be in NOW!), it will be the final proof that the Hall is a complete farce. Sorry to vent, but I had to get my own frustration out about this.

    Lastly, it's nice that money doesn't get you special privileges in Indy Car like it does in NASCAR. There is no way The Donald should be driving that pace car! Glad Common sense has prevailed! Go A. J.!!

  6. If you folks think coverage for other races was bad, wait until Saturday night. They are having MW in the booth with DW & Mike Joy. If I were Mike I would offer my services to ESPN. This is true, not just a nasty joke.

  7. Mike, If you folks think coverage for other races was bad, wait until Saturday night. They are having MW in the booth with DW & Mike Joy. If I were Mike I would offer my services to ESPN. This is true, not just a nasty joke.

  8. That picture is hysterical! Do you have your pictures archived anywhere? (I was looking for the one with the turkey from awhile back...)
    Thanks for the laugh!

  9. "made the series a high-priced version of IROC."

    Not really. The IROC cars were aerodynamically fairly neutral, and being the lead car gave no particular speed or turning advantage. Those cars could run close and competitvely without "taking the air off" of each other and causing each other to either lift or crash.

  10. Good points Jayhawk but I think you understand the point I'm getting at.

    No Cathy, the pictures aren't archived anywhere. I have them on my hard drive though along with a bunch of others that I have to wait on to use. Should BZF be convicted on his illegal campaign contributions, I've got a bunch of those ready to go.

    I'm not quite sure what happened but my DVR dumped the All Star Race. Maybe it got indigestion from too many Waltrips in the booth. Mike Joy doesn't deserve to be stuck in the booth with those two clowns. I think ESPN would be a good place to go and he could replace one of the car owners on their broadcast.

    Thanks Ken. I've been talking with a few legends of NASCAR about the HOF and all of the politics that's going on. One of them has said he won't even go to the HOF even if he's inducted that's how upset he is about the politics. About the only time I'd go is as a sign of support for one of my friends. How they can overlook Red Vogt, the man who created the term NASCAR, is beyond me. There are a lot of greats who should already be in there. But because it's the France Hall of Fantasies, it'll be years before they make it in if ever. I was glad to see AJ is going to drive the pace car instead of The Donald. Definitely a common sense choice as well as a classy act. The first time I met AJ was in 1964. I've admired the man since the 1960's. He's a living legend of racing. Had AJ tried Formula 1 and gotten a championship, he'd have beaten Mario Andretti as the #1 driver of the 20th century.

    It makes no sense to me either Bobby. The infield road course gave PIR many more options and opportunities to present more types of racing there. But then we have to remember the same folks who screwed up NASCAR are also in charge of ISC. So it's an equal opportunity screw-up. I know what you mean about the luck of the draw on the NBA play-offs. I tuned in for one Dallas Mav's game and they lost, so I didn't bother watching any more. Thought I was jinxing them.