Friday , September 19 2014
Home / Featured Content / Voices from the Cheap Seats: After Giving It Some Thought…
Voices from the Cheap Seats: After Giving It Some Thought…
(Credit: CIA)

Voices from the Cheap Seats: After Giving It Some Thought…

There have been a few issues arising recently in the world of NASCAR about which I have been loquaciously silent.

Loquacious is sort of like deafening silence, for those of you still wondering what it means (or maybe the opposite… look it up!). However, as anyone who knows me personally will tell you, I don’t usually practice the “silent” part for too long and get right on to the loquacious side of things.

So with the Sprint Cup Series silent this past week, now is my time.

First off:  Morgan Shepherd vs. Joey Logano, the great age vs. kid debate. The bottom line here is NASCAR’s rules. I don’t care if a driver is 102; if he meets the qualifications set forth by the sanctioning body, and is maintaining the minimum speed set forth by said sanctioning body, let the man race.

Slower cars are part of the game. Let’s forget the fact that Shepherd was driving the car. Who among any of the current drivers out there, be it Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon or even Logano hasn’t had one of those days when they were driving around out there with early damage or, for whatever reason, just riding as a general moving chicane?

Sometimes, bad handling cars just happen, leading to mistakes from just about anyone. It could have just as easily been John Wes Townley or another young gun in the car and Logano would have been just as likely to have been wrecked, ending with the same result but without the convenient age factor to blame it on.

Joey Logano and Morgan Shepherd spin at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. (Credit: CIA)

Joey Logano and Morgan Shepherd spin at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. (Credit: CIA)

So, Logano et al need to shut up and suck it up, buttercup! Slower cars will always be in the way as long as there is racing. At least, at age 70-plus, Shepherd has the balls to be out there driving 150-plus mph. Let’s wait and see how fast Logano is going at that age.

The next topic of deep thought has been this Race Team Alliance, or RTA as the hipper crowd is calling it.

My first reaction to the whole concept was simple: so what? On the one hand, you have the RTA and a handful of drivers adamantly claiming that it will be good for the sport as a whole. On the other hand, you have suits in the Ivory Daytona Tower saying that it’s all OK, alliances are fine and that they harbor no ill will against anyone who joins it.

To be brutally honest, I don’t see what the RTA hopes to accomplish. So you teams are more organized now? Big deal. To a layman’s eyes, all you have done is give some people a fancy title and a self-righteous reason to get up in the morning — oh, and let’s not forget giving a bunch of already rich people another paycheck.

Does the RTA really, honestly believe that the France family is going to run their little show any differently than exactly how they want to just because you are organized? Sounds to me like someone has been making and drinking their own brand of Kool-Aid.

There has been one recent development, however that has swayed my thinking into the “oh, crap, this ain’t gonna end good for anybody” camp, no matter what the big shots at RTA are claiming. That development was the simple statement released on July 17, for which the title read: “Race Team Alliance will talk to NASCAR through attorneys.”

So, here we are, just starting out in this relationship and the parties involved will only talk to each other through their respective lawyers. Yeah, this “partnership” is gonna end really well. I gotta hand it to NASCAR President Mike Helton, though for his statement that reveals exactly how seriously NASCAR and ISC are taking the RTA.

“I wanted to dispel the perception of animosity to start with and then back that up with saying we’re going to do business as usual,” Helton said earlier this month. “I think everybody in the garage area knows how we do our business, the role they play in it, and so we’ll continue to do it that way.”

In a very, very, very — no, let’s go with extremely — rare instance, I side with NASCAR on this one. The RTA is not going to do one damn good thing for the sport as we know it now. Nothing can come out of this collaboration but misery and heartache, both sides assuring that by getting the attorneys involved before even talking to one another about anything. What a bunch of idiots.

In other bits and pieces, the following is from an article from The Hill on taxes and tax breaks, written by Bernie Becker:

Racetrack owners are revving up their efforts to protect the “NASCAR tax break” from critics who portray it as pure corporate pork. The provision, which allows motorsports tracks to use a shorter depreciation schedule, is among the more than 50 tax preferences that expired at the end of 2013 after Congress failed to pass a so-called “extenders” bill. Fiscal watchdogs say the motorsports tax break, enacted in 2004, is the kind of narrow giveaway that gives the U.S. tax code a bad name, and lump it in with other extenders provisions that support the Puerto Rican rum industry and thoroughbred horses. With that in mind, motorsports officials have accelerated their own lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill to battle back against a shorthand – “NASCAR tax break” – they say is misleading. John Saunders, the president of the International Speedway Corporation (ISC), acknowledged that motorsports advocates have a tough fight against “a sexy sound bite.” “It’s an asterisk in the extenders, yet it gets all this attention, mischaracterized,” said Saunders, whose company owns the Daytona International Speedway in Florida, the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama and about a dozen other NASCAR tracks. Congress is expected to restore at least some of the expired tax provisions by the end of the year, and motorsports companies are employing high-priced K Street talent to help them land in the winner’s circle. There are roughly 1,200 auto racetracks in the U.S., according to industry advocates, the vast majority of which are small, local operations that aren’t affiliated with the big leagues of NASCAR. Allowing those tracks to write off costs over a seven-year span lets them pour money back into their businesses, racetrack advocates say, spurring economic growth in individual communities around the country.

OK, I read that and my first thought was the first name of the lauded BSNews! If you read through it, the majority of the article is about rich track owners upset about losing a lucrative tax break. The last two sentences contain the solution to this problem.

Only the small, local operations should get the tax break. To hell with ISC or SMI. They are the big kids with all the money anyway. They do not need (nor deserve) a tax break. But this approach, or line of thinking if you will, requires common sense, which means of course it will never happen. Hearing large corporations spew their BS and tears about not getting a tax break would really get my goat if I had a goat to be gotten. We need to help the little guy, in this sport these days if you are so keen to help at all.

On a lighter, not so goat-getting note, I saw a blurb where Kevin Harvick has been the most-mentioned NASCAR driver for the first half of the season. This “changing of the guard” has to piss off Jimmie Johnson, who is usually in that spot, and he is probably just as incredulous about it all as I was. Kevin Harvick? Really? Harvick is the guy who usually is not seen or heard of until the end of the race. The “Closer” closing the deal as NASCAR’s most well-known name? I never would have thunk it.

What good does it do to be the supposed most-mentioned, anyway if no one listening or watching realizes it? I’m sure there is some overpaid stooge out there that is more than willing to explain it all to me.

Stay off the wall (and off the phone with the RTA!),

Jeff Meyer

About Jeff Meyer

Jeff Meyer
Jeff is the longest-tenured staffer at Frontstretch, starting his second decade as the resident humorist and pain-in-the-butt that keeps NASCAR (and his fellow co-workers) honest. Writing Voices From The Cheap Seats, every Tuesday, his BSNews! Segments along with alter ego “Stu Padasso” have developed a large following. Jeff makes his home in Tennessee and is a Bristol groupie, camping out for the August night race every year since he can remember.

19 comments

  1. John Q, Knock KNock right back at you. The PC police cannot admit the obvious in today’s world. I am speaking from a common sense point of view. One which seems to be offend many at the mention of one’s age. Sorry 60 years old to me isn’t old and it isn’t young. 72 years is a big difference. But the fact is despite the sentiment involved, one has to question if he is actually capable of Nascars top show, showing up now and then..and expect to be treated as a “equal”, not being there every week coupled by a the huge factor of his age, is comical to defend. Nope, I don’t believe in the PC world, especially when the obvious is staring you right in the face and they have a agenda to the contrary. It does not negate MS’s past, but his future certainly does not belong in Cup, despite what the rules allow. people are too sensitive about the obvious. Jeez.

  2. Morgan Shepard is an old coot and his initials sound like what Joey’s Twitter friend Trevor has (MS). I’m a Joey fan, so I got mad at the old coot. Joey will probably have something like cataracts or arthritis at that old coot’s age.

  3. ANYBODY or ANY ORGANIZATION that can challenge let alone reign in the pathetic France Family Organization is worthy of serious consideration in my book. I’m guessing you are not a particular fan of labor unions Jeff? Do you think an individual team or driver (excluding the Hendricks – Childress- Penske dynasties) is given ANY consideration by ISC? Power to the People!!

    • Jeff Meyer - FS STaff
      Jeff Meyer - FS STaff

      Dear Joe,

      Yes! You are correct in your guess that I am not particularly fond of labor unions. I have been a member of many different ones at various places of employment over the years, but when I have the choice (and it SHOULD BE A CHOICE) I choose not to join.

      Unions had their place in our society at one time, and some may still be useful, but the majority of them have done nothing but drive up the cost of production and make it virtually impossible for a company to get rid of people that are nothing but lazy, system playing, pieces of crap! You know who they are….you have them at your place of employment and you know they are worthless, yet they are ‘protected’ by the union and short of them coming to work and starting a shooting spree, it is almost impossible to fire them.

      I stand on my own work ethic and my actions show it. A good employer recognizes that and pays people what they are worth.

      • I spent 30 years in law enforcement. When my agency refused to replace our expired ballistic vests because they “would probably still stop a bullet”. We joined the FOP because we thought the people actually being shot at should have some say in the state of their safety equipment. Without unions the people that never risk getting shot at make all the decisions.

  4. I am also sick of the Logano /Morgan debate. Nascar “cleared” him. Yup that is factual. But the bigger picture is one of common sense whether you like the driver or not. MS is not a series regular driver, and like it or not people he is 72 years of age. Logano never said a word about his age but I will. IT IS STUPID, to think a 72 year old man who runs around the track, at the top level of Nascar now and then is “competitive” in any way. I reject the notion that Logano was “whiner” because a a 72 year old man who races now and then had a hard time handling his car, clearly runs up on a second place competitor and takes him out of the race. What was Logano supposed to do, be happy? The same people who screamed about Brad K (who IS a true competitor) wrecking laps down are the ones defending this stupidity. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Oh the joy when “The Chase” happens. I might sponsor Morgan myself, just to see the hypocrites scream! What fun!

    • KB, Even though I am 60 and my reflexes are but a shadow of what they once were I felt compelled to turn you in to the PC Police for your obvious thought crime. Hear that knock, sorry.

  5. Nascar forced the COT POS on the teams, and now the current car and maybe an engine change next year which means new tools and equipment and R and D.

    Now go read Jayski”s piece on the cost of a team to make a race. If Nascar has a civil war and breaks apart I have NO sympathy. There are hundreds of tracks all over the country just sitting there wasting away in large part because France and company has all but destroyed it.

    The trucks used to run on those tracks and it was growing and exciting until nascar’s greed moved them to the bigger tracks. Today the trucks are all but dead.

    • Yes read the piece on the cost of running a team. Then try to separate the things you need to have from what is nice to have. You will see an increasing barrage of these articles. Each one trying to justify or validate the authors position.It’s all PRODUCTS and spin and should be taken as such.

  6. Nothing yet from the RTA, so everything is all speculation but the ominous sign is the “attorneys” portion of the communications. NASCAR is, and should be concerned. The RTA hold a LOT of cards, not the least of which is all the star racers – and make no mistake, NASCAR is now a personality cult. I believe the teams are simply tired of NASAR’s crap. When both Brian France and Bruton Smith come out against the RTA, you KNOW the powers are concerned. The $8.2B TV deal is just the icing. 65% of that deal goes to the “tracks”. ISC, owned by NASCAR, has over half the race dates. The incestuous nature of that relationship is bad for the teams – it clouds every discussion. Add in the fact that NASCAR often poaches car sponsorships and makes them “NASCAR Partners” and then signs them to “Market Segment Exclusive” deals, thereby locking teams from entire segments from which they can’t get sponsors from. Add in constant rule changes, where all the costs are borne by the teams. Add in constant changes to the “Chase” and how champions are crowned. This ain’t the 60′s and Brian ain’t Big Bill – this is going to be entertaining…

  7. I don’t know about everybody else, but I’m sick of reading about the Shepherd/Logano thing and the RTA everywhere I go (for racing articles anyway). We all know about the two camps: the folks who think it’s fine he’s out there, because he passed the physical, and the folks who say that because he’s old and doesn’t sell a lot of t-shirts, he should go away.
    And until the RTA actually does something, there’s really not much more to be said about it.

  8. lo·qua·cious: tending to talk a great deal; talkative.
    So I looked it up because when I read the first paragraph of this column it didn’t make sense to me and still doesn’t since it by no means a deafening silence.

    At any rate, I try not to pay attention to anything that Logano says but it goes a lot to the theory that every driver may find themselves in the position of having a problem or being the cause of one.

    I have no idea if the RTA will be a good thing or a bad thing, but someone needs to get NASCAR’s attention since the powers that be in that organization will just keep twiddling away with no regard to anything as long as the $$ keeps coming their way. If the owners united can put up an argument with them, that’s fine with me.

    LOL about Harvick.

    • Jeff Meyer - FS STaff
      Jeff Meyer - FS STaff

      Dear Gina,
      I have, once again, been the victim of editing. My submitted article started as such:

      There have been a few issues arise recently in the world of NASCAR that I have been loquaciously silent about. That is sorta like ‘deafening silence’ for those of you still wondering loquacious means. However, as anyone who knows me personally will tell you, I don’t usually practice the ‘silent’ for too long and get right on to the loquacious part. With the Cup cars silent this past week, now is my time.”

      As you can see, had it been published as written, ‘loquaciously silent’ and ‘deafening silence’ are similar and that is what I intended.

      Fear not, I have voiced my displeasure with the boss of the editors and as of now…..I still have a job! LOL If I’m not writing next week, well I guess that means they did not take my criticisms well!

  9. Nascar has themselves to blame for the formation of the RTA. And they continue to show their ass by saying “talk to my lawyer.

  10. I’ve tried about three times to find a way to start this, but what the heck. You see that the boys in Daytona have started the campaign against the RTA. Now that they percieve a challenge they are trying to portray themselves as the good guys. There will be no good guys, or villains in this Nascar vs RTA match. Just two groups of extremely rich people, each with powerful allies, each with a self serving agenda. And you can be sure none of us figure into that agenda, Other than our money that is. So “boys have at it”. At the end of the day its their money and their business, I’ll keep my money in my pocket, sit on the sidelines and watch..
    As to the tax break, there is no way ISC or SMI deserve it. Did you ever wonder how they could pay to put in thousands of sits, then two years later tear them out, when letting them stay would cost them nothing? Curious huh? You may say that everybody does it, but is that right?
    Maybe one of Nascars problems is that it has become more difficult to hide the fact that its all about the money,

  11. You know, I don’t give a rat’s ass about Logano but I don’t think he said anything about age in his post crash interview. He did say something about “the slowest car on the track” which sounds like him having an issue with NASCAR’s minimum speed rule or enforcement of that rule.
    It was the media that made his comments revolve around the age issue.

    While the RTA may end up being useless, if there is a chance that they can reign in BF and his wacky vision of how this sport should be run, then I’m all for it. It can’t get much worse than it is now. I mean the championship is being decided on the outcome of one race, how eft-up is that?

    • Wow Brett, kiss much NASCAR ass? NASCAR is poorly managed. Whether or not the RTA has any effect at all it is nice to see someone challenge the moronic business decisions made by the France family. They scoffed when Curt Flood fought baseball’s reserve clause and look how that turned out. Maybe the RTA will be a bust but hope springs eternal. Maybe just maybe we will get a real rational sanctioning body that is more concerned with racing than the France family fortune.

      • Opps, meant Jeff, easy mistake to make though as most of the staff sings the same NASCAR MY NASCAR tune.