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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
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.