Curtis Turner for 2016 HOF

Curtis Turner for 2016 HOF

Monday, March 12, 2012

Patterns, Fox Faux Pas, & Other Assorted Things

There seem to be some patterns developing which indicate all is not well in the Ivory Towers of Daytona. First is the continuing disappearance of team sponsors. Then there’s the reduction in the amount of money sponsors are willing to pay. Now a new pattern is developing with companies no longer wanting to use the naming rights to various tracks. First Charlotte now Sears Points. So what’s going on?
The easiest way to describe it is that businesses are no longer falling for the hype of first 75 million now 90 million fans and the poor Return On Investment (ROI) that companies have gotten for their sponsorship money. People weren’t beating down the doors of Lowe’s. Folks weren’t buying supplemental insurance from AFLAC in droves. Auto body shops weren’t doing all their repair jobs using DuPont products. So for the multi-millions of dollars spent on sponsorship, the companies sponsoring the race teams weren’t getting the return they had hoped for, we promised, or were misled to believe they’d get.
Now sponsors are being extremely cautious. They want to see results for their investment. They’re not just handing over a blank check. They’re checking their bottom lines to see if what they’re laying out is making them money. And things aren’t going to get any better. Not with investors and bean counters wanting a healthy ROI for what’s being laid out and an accounting on what they’re laying out versus what they’re getting in return. The days of luring sponsors in using PT Barnum’s principle isn’t going to work any more.
Another trend is with the response to the media. Going over numerous articles since Daytona, fans aren’t responding they way they have in the past. Comments and Number of Hits seem to be down. Blogs and articles seem to be down. I hate to use a Jimmy Carter term but there seems to be a “malaise” in the merry old world of NA$CAR. With the best the Ivory Towers could crank out during the Magical Media Tour and Speed Weeks being nothing more than a rehash of 2011, the numbers of stories are way off and as a result it would appear so is fan interest. Even the big announcement of running fuel injection seems to leave folks going “ho hum”. To me, it seems that the Ivory Tower Gang is resting on their laurels as a result of having one Chase for the Chumps finally have an exciting finish after years of manipulation. A fluke perhaps? We won’t know until later this season. But if this lag and dullness is any indication of what’s ahead, it’s going to be an extremely long, boring season for the folks who are following.
Focks Faux Pas

Seems old Jabber Jaws made a few on-air faux pas of late. (I know, nothing new) One had to do with the fuel injection system that’s being run. He stated that it’s the same system that’s being used by the Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes. The Cup cars are using a Throttle Body Injection System. The Daytona Prototypes run Direct Fuel Injection. There’s a big difference between the two not only in how they look but also parts and performance.
Then Jabber Jaws was beating on his chest at Phoenix about NA$CAR having the jet dryer crew wear helmets and firesuits. In making that announcement, he showed once again that NA$CAR had yet another knee jerk reaction to safety and was behind the power curve. You see, ALMS, F-1, IndyCar, and numerous other series have had their track safety and clean-up personnel wearing helmets and firesuits for years. So by him coming out and saying the NA$CAR had done this was once again showing that NA$CAR is not a leader in safety innovation and only makes safety changes when something forces them to.
Look at how long it took HANS devices, SAFER walls, fuel cells, and full face helmets to be incorporated by NA$CAR. Long after other series had been using them. So while trying to make NA$CAR look good, good old Jabbers jaws did the exact opposite.
Odd Behavior 

According to AP’s Jenna Fryer, this was a first:
Email blast from
#NASCAR chairman Brian France to media: Dear Media Member:

With the NASCAR season finally here, I want to take a moment and thank you for your dedication in covering our thrilling 2011 season and wish you all the very best in 2012.

You are an important part of our industry and, speaking on behalf of NASCAR, we are grateful to you for taking our sport’s collective stories to millions of loyal NASCAR fans. I recognize the passion and hard work that is put in to cover our sport and truly appreciate it.

Coming off a spectacular season and incredible championship battle that will go down as one of the best in our sport’s history, we are excited about what 2012 may bring and the many stories that will certainly unfold over the coming months. I wish you well this season and look forward to seeing you at the race track.

Best regards,

Brian France

Why the sudden change? After several years of browbeating, humiliating, and even threatening some members of the media, suddenly this. An olive branch? Or maybe a less threatening way of delivering the same old message that “you will write or report only what we approve”? And it wasn’t just the card carrying media that got these. It was also some non-card carriers.
Then there was this:
Dear NASCAR fans,
With the Daytona 500 now upon us, I hope you are as excited as I am to see the greatest drivers in the world competing at Daytona International Speedway later today. NASCAR is in a very good place right now and our entire industry is working very hard for you, the fans, as we continually seek to improve and grow our sport. Indeed, we are listening to you, as several enhancements that have been put in place in recent years were a direct result of your input.

Thank you for your on-going support and enthusiasm, the way you whole-heartedly embrace NASCAR and how you share your passion for our sport with family, friends and others you encounter each and every day. We certainly were encouraged by the excitement generated by our 2011 season and look forward to enjoying this season together as one NASCAR Nation. On behalf of the France family, I want to personally express our appreciation for your support, and join you in anticipation of the thrilling ride ahead.

Best regards,
Brian France

Has Futureworld, the 1976 classic movie with Yul Brenner and Peter Fonda, become a reality? Has the Delos company become a reality and swapped out a nice robotic version of Faux King Brian for the one we’ve all come to know and loathe? The bumbling buffoon who has held race fans in contempt, kept them at a distance, and never bothered listening to them? Leopards don’t change their spots. And with acting like this, I’m beginning to think that NA$CAR really needs to follow their rulebooks and policies and do a drug test to make sure Faux King Brian isn’t on something because this isn’t his usual behavior and as such by the drug policy calls for mandatory testing.
Ratings Spin
Take a good look at the statements when they release the ratings for the race. “Although the ratings were off when compared to last year, they were the highest watched show of the day”. That’s spin folks. Plain and simple. What they don’t tell you is that the ratings are still way off from their all time highs going back to 2008 or even further in some cases.
And as one journalist who got his hard card jerked several years ago for questioning the Daytona ratings, I’ll ask the same question. If there are 90 million fans and only 36 million watched the race, what happened to the other 54 million?
The Appeal 

We’ll know soon enough what will happen with the appeal that Slick Rick has filed with the review board. But based on past history, I wouldn’t count on a reversal. Maybe the race suspension will be reduced but the fine increased? That’s happened before. Maybe the race suspension will be dropped but the number of points docked and the fine is increased? That’s happened before too. Maybe the penalties will remain the same? That’s happened before too. But then there has also been the case that the suspension has been increased as well as the number of points docked and the fine increased which has happened before too. Which one will happen? I honestly can’t say but as one of the guys who drove GM into the ground is in charge of the review board, somebody Slick Rick knows and has had dealings with in the past, not to mention his personal friendship with Faux King Brian, I’d say the deck is stacked in Slick Rick’s favor.
Big Tobacco Coming Back? 

This is from long time race fan, Bobby, who’s brought up some other interesting things in the past:

Found out British American Tobacco (BAT, half of Reynolds American, the successor firm to R. J. Reynolds Tobacco) through a merger of BAT's financial services arm with Zurich Financial, has a minority stake in Zurich Financial. Zurich is an administrator of Farmers Financial. Any coincidence Kasey Kahne's sponsor is partially owned by RAI/RJR? 
While there’s no chance RJR will come back as a major tobacco sponsor, there’s nothing to stop them from using any of their subsidiaries as a major sponsor as we see, they appear to have done so without anyone really noticing it.


  1. The emails are no more than basic marketing techniques. Straight out of any textbook. Also notice the sudden use of the term "stakeholders". The boys have been taking classes, it seems.

    As to safety, Nascar has historically been a follower rather than a leader. You still see guys pulling their gloves off, or in some few cases not that long ago not wearing them. Try that in any SCCA Club Race and you are guarenteed to get a black flag and a trip behind the wood shed.

    So the question is, has Twitter sucked the life out of the Jayski world?, Or is there a real lack of enthusiasm out there?

    As far as the great leap forward for EFI, thats definitely a ho hum. You now have millions of hybrids on the road, more every year, that are way more advanced than the thing they are called a great leap forward.

    1. There attempts at trying to "pick up a turd by the clean end" from the marketing folks are a day late and a dollar short. This should've been started back in 2003.

      I agree 100% on NASCAR and safety. They've never really been an innovator and 99.99% of their safety improvements have been knee jerk reactions after the fact.

      I'd say there is a real lack of enthusiam. During the off-season I heard from anumber of folks who have plain and simply lost interest because what use to be a sport has become boring not to mention the manipulation.

      "The Great Leap Forward"? I think that was a term used by Chairman Mao. Of course, rather fitting considering the leadership running/ruining NASCAR.

      Jules the Engine Guy and I have been discussing the EFI situation. Besides being antiquated, the teams are also getting hosed. There are much better systems commercially available which only cost $2,500. $2,500 is what NASCAR is charging the teams for the chip to run their system. A lot of car companies are moving to direct injection or combining turbos with fuel injection. I won't even get into hybrid technology because NASCAR will never use it. Audi just introduced a Prototype class car using hybrid technology for ALMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans which gives it basically all-wheel drive capability. Other manufacturers are exploring various hybrid options as well for their racing programs but not NASCAR. I see more folks who are technology oriented leaning to series other than NASCAR to get their "fix" of racing & technology.

    2. Mike
      Not only Audi, but Toyota, and one more whose name I forgot. These things are going to be running for 24 hours in the Prototype class! And if that's too hi-tech how about the GTE class, where they use the factory unibody and go from there?

      I disagree with Jules on the EFI. You can bet that the people really getting hosed are the sponsors. I can see it now " yes, and the reason we need another million dollars is we have this great 1982 EFI system. Its so advanced that its not even on any street cars!"

    3. I have no doubt the sponsors are getting hosed. But there seems to be a trend of sponsors tightening their purse strings. So teams are going to have to settle for "normal" rather than buying "gold bells and whistles". I think eventually the sponsorship prices will drop if the mega-teams expect to survive. It would also help if NASCAR actually saved the teams money instead of constantly gouged them at every turn.

  2. Great article. Just saw where the vegas ratings are down as well. When will the networks realize that people are not watching because of the poor coverage of the "action" and because of the idiots in the booth? You can't blame the economy on people not watching their TVs. This sport-a sport I used to live for-just flat out sucks at this point.

    Keep writing like you see it. You are the one article I anticipate reading.

    1. Thanks Jerome. In the case of Fox, I'm thinking they're intentionally trying to drive down the ratings so they can go cheap during contract negotiations. If the ratings are down, they have numbers to back them up for a cheap bid. Even if they are self-inflicted. For Fox, the racing is background noise to the endless jabbering, self-promotion, shilling, and cheerleading that goes on week after week.

      ESPN doesn't appear to care. They're doing the bare minimums to meet their contractual obligations. They promote what NASCAR says to promote. No independent thought going on with them to deliver a quality broadcast.

      The main problem with all of it can be pointed to in Daytona Beach. You have marketing weenies running the show with little to no actual knowledge or experience with racing. They have no concept what stock car racng is supposed to be. They have no idea about the sport's history. Or the sport's roots. Maybe if they brought in some folks with actual racing experience they could vastly improve things. But it won't happen as long as a France is in charge.

  3. Great column Mikie. Keep up with the good work
    portraying the real NA$CAR and Brain Farce.

  4. Oh, did I forget to mention that the quality of racing is horrible to boot? Add to that the hype surrounding undeserving drivers, other drivers who can't catch a deserved break and who, in fact, seem to be a NASCAR whipping boy, why would anyone watch? The sport in it's current state is not worth watching on TV.

    1. The hype is really hurting things. Why would I want to watch what is supposed to be 3 hours of racing when all I that's laid out there is hype and cheerleading? If I want to watch cheerleading I'll go to a college or high school football game. The hype itself needs to go. Promoting an event is one thing. When all you do is hype a couple of drivers, you turn the fans off.

  5. Thanks Mike for being one of the few to mention that the ratings are down this year. I was beginning to think that all Nascar writers came from the school of the blind.

    But on the plus side. Nascar's marketing people want to go for a younger audience and considering the ratings are heading down to NBA levels they are doing a good job.

    1. Thanks Sue. Being Diabetic, I can't drink the NASCAR Kool Aid. Maybe that also prevents the blindness?

      I hadn't thought about the NBA ratings levels and the younger audience. There's a definite connection there. If that's where they're heading then NASCAR had better be prepared to get a lot less money when the TV contracts are renewed.

  6. Why exactly do you continue to rant about this sport after years and years of essentially saying how much it sucks and how corrupt it supposedly is? You've been singing the same doom and gloom song for years and nothing has really changed. Why do you even continue to follow NASCAR if you truly believe it sucks as much as you say it does?

    1. Why do you continue to hide under Anonymous when you post? Looks like a hired troll to me.

    2. totally deflected my question. That's a sign of someone who doesn't know what to say. I just put my name on there. You happy now? You didn't answer my question. Why do you follow this sport if you just plan on trashing it?

      By the way "Mikie" your little rant about spin control in TV Ratings is way off base. Third party researchers and journalistic firms write those articles, not NASCAR. So no, NASCAR is not employing spin control on that stuff.

    3. Au Contraire. It got you to use a name. Pretty obvious you haven't bothered reading any of the history I've written about. Or technology. Or info on other racing series. Or driver reunions. And judging from reactions by other folks, they share my opinion that something isn't right with NASCAR. And I did write several years back that when the last of my buddies who are on teams retire from the racing business, I just might hang up my hat. And if you know what I write, why continue to read it? There's plenty of other articles out there from folks who seem to agree with your bent that all is well in the NASCAR world.

      Having worked in marketing and advertising, it's easy to spot the spin that's being put on the ratings articles. Even if the companies aren't hired by NASCAR. Which is easier for folks to swallow? Something that states only numbers and facts or something that has a sugar coating on it?

      The way it's looking, the ratings seem to be settling in at the 2010 ratings levels. Compare the ratings levels to the 2008 levels. 2008 seems to have been the high point under the current regime.

  7. Had a question Mad Mikie:

    If the 10 car is not in the top 35 in owner points after the race at Fontana, and remains out of a locked in spot through Darlington, who will Tommy Baldwin get points from to ensure Danicant will be locked into the Darlington race?

  8. They may do a seat swap with Stewart or Newman to get her in. Both of them can qualify cars without a problem. The other option would be to find a low budget Chevy team that's in the Top 35 and buy the ride from them. I'd have to look at the points standings just before Darlington to see which Chevy team would be likely to sell their ride.

    Either way, I see it as a very expensive weekend for SHR as they're probably going to have to replace a number of wrecked race cars trying to get her into the race. She can handle cookie cutter ovals but that's about it.

  9. In my opinion the biggest reason why the racing is boring is that so few drivers try to win. Carl Edwards is the biggest fraud of them all. He could care less about winning in Sprint Cup. He raced harder in the Nationwide then he ever does in Cup. Why? Cause the points. Until NASCAR wakes up and makes winning important (Say 60 points to first, 40 to second, etc) people won't race to win, just for the "safe" finish. So I should waste, I mean watch 3-4 hours of racing to see Carl happy that he finished in the top 10? Please.

    1. The points racing deal can be tied into a societal thing. We've gotten away from teaching kids that winning is important. They're taught that it's OK not to give it your all. It's OK to be second best. I've seen this first hand when I worked in the local school system. it'sturned into something akin to the Special Olympics where "everyone's a winner". And I have nothing against the Special Olympics. I think it's a great program.

      Then add into the racing mix tracks which are too much alike. Where are the unqiue tracks like Rockingham, North Wilkesboro, Columbia, and others where it took skill, planning, and strategy to not just survive a race but to win it? The two toughest tracks on the circuit that are the hardest to win on are Martinsville and Darlington. Both tracks with unique designs which keep fans sitting on the edge of their seats.

      Then you have cars which outside of their decals are all the same. Even next year with the new body designs, you still have the same chassis and mandated parts which don't solve the handling issues. So brand identity and loyalty have been taken out of the factor. Plus we don't necessarily have the best drivers racing. We have drivers who are behind the steering wheel because they are good corporate spokesmen and not because they're good or great drivers. There are plenty of drivers who don't make it to the top because they're not eloquent spokesmen or don't look the part despite the fact that can drive the wheels off of anything put under them. Then add in the requirement of having to bring a sponsor to the table to be able to even meet with a team much less drive for one. So we as fans aren't really getting what we pay for.

  10. And in case there are Carl Edwards fans who are offended by what I just said let the following statistics back that up.
    Last three years (2009, 2010, and 2011). 108 Sprint Cup starts and THREE wins. 103 Nationwide starts and 17 wins. He's a points racer. Greg Biffle is the only Roush guy who wants to win every week.

  11. Just had too laugh after reading this today! Dean.

    NASCAR says Kenseth legally beat Keselowski to line on Bristol restart: Generally, there are two cardinal rules when it comes to NASCAR's double-file restarts: don't change lanes before you cross the start/finish line and if you're in second, don't beat the leader to the start/finish line. With 154 laps to go in Sunday's Food City 500, #17-Matt Kenseth restarted second. The leader, #2-Brad Keselowski, was next to him on the inside line. It was the first time the leader had taken the inside line all day. Kenseth clearly beat Keselowski to the start/finish line as you can see in the video above, and the two entered turn one side-by-side before Kenseth prevailed and cleared Keselowski a few laps later. Kenseth never conceded the position to Keselowski, nor was he black-flagged by NASCAR. Why? Because according to NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp, race officials deemed that Keselowski hadn't mashed the gas in the designated restart zone before the start/finish line, allowing the second-place driver -- Kenseth -- the right of way to accelerate on his own.(