First off, does NASCAR, really need to be saved? Short answer, no.....
but it damn sure can use some help. In the short run, I'm sure Danica's
presence will help.
Jimmy Johnson has won 55 Cup races. As well as 5 Championships, in a row
in what is arguably the most competitive form of motorsports in the world.
Just think for a minute about how many times you see Jimmy on TV in non
racing related situations. Versus Danica who's all over the TV, seemingly
all the time.
Surprisingly, the driver next to Danica, that I see the most on TV outside
of the races is Casey Mears, in his GEICO commercials. Personally I liked
the ones with Mike, & Lauren, Wallace, "story with me is, put him in the
wall." See, if I still remember it. It was an effective commercial, but that
ship has sailed.
The jury's still out on whether she's better known as Danica, the racer, or
Danica, the Go Daddy Girl. The real point here is that she IS, known.
The combination of her talent, looks, & a deep pocket sponsor,
( I'll let you sort these into any order you like, ) have all come together
into the 'perfect marketing storm'.
Until she is able to balance this marketing blitz, (or hype,) with on track
performance, many long time NASCAR fans are going to continue to be turned
off. Regardless of how they feel about this, they're not going to abandon
On the other hand, she does have the ability to attract new fans.
In this respect, her presence can't help but be good for the sport.
We've all read the stories about how Dale Jr. winning, will give NASCAR
a big lift. No argument here. Every fan wants to see his, or her, driver
winning. As Dale Jr. has the most fans, then it stands to reason that his
winning would be very good for the sport.
That having been said, this sport is bigger than any of it's stars.
It's bigger than the sum of it's parts, but some of it's parts aren't
doing so well.
My opinion is that overall NASCAR's not nearly as healthy as they
would have us believe. The France family, on the other hand, are
doing extremely well, but are they slowly killing their golden goose?
The economy is getting the lion's share of the blame, & there's no doubt
that it's a big factor, but the decline started before the economic
NASCAR has a number of things that need to be addressed to help reverse,
or at least stabilize, it's slide. I'll just focus on a couple of them.
They need exciting on track action. Fights, feuds, & wrecks, serve as
distractions. But until they can come up with a way to make the week, to
week, racing on the so called, 'Cookie Cutter', tracks something that
fans look forward to. Then they've still got a lot of work to do.
Running cars that fans can identify with would be a very good start.
The second thing they need, & this is absolutely critical, is financially
As things stand, being a NASCAR owner, in either Cup, or Nationwide
is absolutely the worst job in the sport. You don't see the drivers going
broke, & leaving the sport, but it's common for owners. Kevin Buckler,
& Rusty Wallace were just the last in a long line, & they won't be the last
While Rusty, didn't technically go broke. He shuttered his team to avoid it.
Thus proving that his eyesight is still plenty good enough to read the
writing on the wall.
Much has been written about the age of the owners, so I won't plow that
ground again. But I will say this, the sport needs is new owners that will
carry on the traditions laid down by people like the Wood Bros.,
Richard Petty, Rick Hendrick, (regardless of your personal feelings about
him) Roger Penske, Richard Childress, Jack Roush, Joe Gibbs, & yes,
Robby Gordon. It was guys like Robby, that built the sport, & the fact that
he's the only one left, & hanging by a thread is part of the problem.
Instead, we've gotten Bobby Ginn, George Gillett, & Dietrich Mateschitz.
I'm sure that these guys came into the sport, with all the best of intentions.
But the money pit that NASCAR has become, caused them all to flame out
quickly leaving havoc in their wake.
It shouldn't take a business empire to fund a team. A well run team should
pay it's own way. That isn't the case currently. Some of the blame has to
rest with the owners themselves. But a big part of this is on NASCAR.
Two ways this could happen. One would be to franchise the teams, but given the
NASCAR mind set I doubt this will ever happen.
The other way would be for NASCAR to quit sucking up every dollar they can lay
hands on for their own bank account, & see that sponsorship money goes on
cars. Rather than going be the Official whatever, of NASCAR. In the Go Go
days when sponsorship was plentiful this didn't really hurt so much, now it
With the current leadership, (?) a quote from The Man From Snowy River,
comes to mind. "Not Bloody Likely."
The first two Frances, were into racing. Think back to how many times in the
TV era that we saw Bill France. When Cup raced, he was there.
Currently, Brian seems much more into marketing, & leaving the racing to
others. Second thought, that might not be such a bad thing.
I think that if I were called to the NASCAR trailer, by Mike Helton I'd be all
" yes sir, no sir, whatever you say sir". On the other hand, if I were called in by
Brian France, I'd probably have a really hard time not giggling. Helton, seems
like a guy that would have a blackjack in his back pocket. Brian, on the other hand, reminds me more of a guy with a condom in his wallet, & he's carried the same one
for like 5 years.
Bottom line, both Danica, & Dale Jr. have the star power to help NASCAR. But only NASCAR, can solve it's underlying problems.