Friday, May 8, 2009

Wall Street Journal Takes On NASCAR

Or should I say Nascar... non-sports newspapers and their funny way of not recognizing NASCAR is an acronym and not a type of car.  I like the etching of The King though.

But on to the blogging!

The WSJ takes on the duel problems of Chrysler's bankruptcy and NASCAR's sagging popularity.  My thoughts will be in bold.

There was talk that Nascar might supplant football as the most popular professional TV sport in the U.S... Not anymore. Nascar television viewership fell to an average of 6.83 million viewers last year, off 18% from its peak in 2005 of 8.35 million, according to the Nielsen Co. Nascar ticket sales are down by as much as 20% at some races, with gaping blocks of empty seats at tracks in Atlanta, Fontana, and even the hard-core racing town of Talladega, Ala. The Texas Motor Speedway has taken out 21,000 seats, 13% of its 159,000 seat capacity, to make room for recreational-vehicle parking. Nascar teams and tracks have laid off more than 800 employees in the past year.

After such impressive growth, a correction has to be necessary to bring the numbers in line.  The market for racing needed to contract a bit and at least NASCAR responded by moving California out of the valuable Labor Day spot because no matter how much they tried, the racing sucked and didn't belong.  If you're going to try and make a primetime event at a prestigious track, make sure the track doesn't suck, K thx.  I'd also be willing to bet the campgrounds will be better than ever and build longer loyalty to tracks that do it right.  Plus, for the city the race is in, having more people there for longer periods of time will be an added stimulus to the local businesses.  Gotta run to the grocery store, gotta get gas, etc.

But one thing is certain: The sport has slowed down. Many longtime fans say that's because Nascar has wandered too far from its roots, when the races were run by stock cars -- vehicles assembled from the American-made muscle cars in dealers' showrooms, with add-ons available from any auto-parts store.

Very true and very valid, but growth did get out of control and things haven't been helped by the idiotic leadership of Brian France.  He could really put this sport in the ground and should probably go ahead and buy that NFL team in Los Angeles so he can turn this sport over to someone that actually gives a sh*t.  I'm not opposed to growing the sport, as I think some of the die-hards are, but things haven't gotten past the point of no return.

Some red-meat Nascar fans were mortified in 2007 when Toyta Motor Co. (pronounced Tie-yoda by Mr. Petty and many other Nascar aficionados) entered the sport and quickly emerged as a dominant brand -- winning 10 races last year compared with four for Dodge.

"It was hard seeing Toyota get into it," said Steve Gormley, a 47-year-old telecommunications engineer from Mechanicsville, northeast of Richmond. "Well, good for them, bad for us."

Boy, I really hate seeing this dead horse brought back from the graveyard.  Come on WSJ, you're better than that.  But shame on these fans that still resent a company that employs workers across the country and don't belong to a corrupt union like UAW.  

Mr. Busch was driving a Toyota Camry -- or at least that's what it was called. Nascar, which is a privately controlled enterprise owned by the same family for three generations, irritated legions of fans with new rules last season that standardized the body types of all race cars. Since then, all vehicles in a Nascar race have the same boxy body style, with a futuristic back wing and a road-hugging shelf-like splitter in the front. Mr. Busch's car looked just like the other 42 except for colors, his number and a few details like fake headlamps similar to a real Camry's.

The uniformity was meant to focus competition on the skills of the driver. An unintended result has been cars so similar in speed that fans gripe that they bunch up like taxis circling the airport -- no passing, no thrills. Nascar counters that the competition is even keener now that cars are alike, with narrower margins of victory and about the same number of lead changes as there were 10 years ago.

Well... can't really complain here, but I'm glad to see they're skeptical of NASCAR's lies about keener competition and narrower margins of victory and same number of lead changes.  That's not real racing and most fans see through it.  There should be greater variance between cars but it won't happen with this one and it would turn my stomach to see another new car.  Maybe the new car can be modified in some way with the grill to bring some sense of stock back to the cars.  It's hard to market yourself as 'stock' when your cars are no different than Indy cars of F1 cars. Sometimes an outsider opinion is needed before people start to get the message.

FYI, the article also has a nifty interactive chart to check out.


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