Race Weekend Central

Voices from the Cheapseats: Finer Points to Bring Back Fans

As I promised in my last article, I will continue to expound upon some of the finer points that NASCAR could change that would help bring back some of the fans that have lost their zeal for the sport they once loved.

As fate would have it, the race at Phoenix proved to be a perfect example of some of the things that have gone wrong with the sport. Not only was the race a good example but some of the comments left by faithful readers have pretty much written this one for me.

Here are a few excerpts that I agree with.

From Russ: “…Also, as a person who has followed NASCAR more or less closely for over 40 years, they need to focus on attracting younger, not older fans. Its a fact that we get older, less active, intraspective, etc. At 62, how many years do I have left? But the 18 year old kid could be a fan for decades more.”

While Russ does make a valid point, I have always maintained that rarely does one just ‘suddenly become’ a NASCAR fan. Usually they are introduced to it by another, already ardent fan as this reader so eloquently points out…

From @KyCupFan: “If the older fans stop going to races, that means they stop bringing their children and or grandchildren. If you lose the old fans, what is going to get the young fans interested? Cars riding around in circles and not racing isn’t going to do it!

“Brian France and the powers that be have alienated a huge base of older fans who would have kept the cycle alive. Now they have broken that cycle. It will take many years if ever, to get the fan base back to where it was 10 years ago.

“I am a 46 year old male that went to my first race with my Dad in 1980. I have now been a fan for approximately 32 years. I have taken my son to a couple of races. While he enjoys going to the race, he doesn’t waste his Sundays watching boring races. He is barely a fan. If things continue they way they are going, do you think he will be bringing his kid(s) to a NASCAR race in the future? Highly unlikely. That is the NEW cycle.”

Well said KyCupFan!

Next year’s Fusion will look more like a street Fusion, but Jeff Meyer still wants to know what is a Fusion anyway?

Others have gone on about the car itself, proposing this and proposing that. When it comes to the car there are a million different ideas but I adhere to the ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’ (KISS) principle. Use STOCK production bodies like they used to! Yes, you want to keep all the modern safety innovations that are on the current car, but there is no reason they can’t be covered by a fabricated, stock looking body. Sure, you slap the spoiler on them etc., but let the manufacturer pick the model they want to race!

Don’t give me a spec body and slap Fusion or Charger stickers on it. Actually fabricate the thing to be as close to stock as possible. If Chevy gets beat bad one year, let them pick another model that may be more aerodynamic and race that. This change would also put some new teeth in the old adage they like to brag about…’Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday!’ An adage that has been absolutely worthless with the advent of the current spec car.

Have you looked at all the cars out there lately? Remember when there was no doubt if you were looking at a Dodge, Ford or Chevy? Heck, real car enthusiasts could even tell you the model of a car in the dark just by the headlight or taillight configuration! Try that now with 90 percent of the cars made today. You can’t tell a Nissan, from Ford or any other brand when looked at from the side anymore. Think about it, what are some of the hottest selling models out there today? They are remakes of OLD body styles that we loved so much from back in the day. A Camaro is recognizable as a Camaro. A Charger a Charger and a Mustang a Mustang! What the heck is a Fusion? Nothing special about that!

John had a top ten list of ideas, a few of which are spot on in my opinion…

1. Remove exactly half the races at 1.5 mile cookie cutter crapovals. Replace them with races at real tracks like Rockingham, Darlington, and Iowa.

6. Get rid of the top 35 BS. Everyone qualifies on time. It happens in every other sport, champions occasionally missing the field because of a bad qualifying run. DEAL WITH IT. Hell, James Beuscher missed the field in the Trucks last season and still finished second in points!

8. Racing hard, or accidentally turning another car by racing hard, should not be penalized. Blatantly wrecking someone for revenge should be. Harshly.

John was just one of many who suggested getting rid of the plethora of 1.5 milers. If these cookie cutter tracks were so good in the first place, why are they constantly ‘re-doing’ them or trying to make them better? There are many on the schedule that I couldn’t care less if I watch the race at all, Chicago being chief among them.

Oddly enough, no one mentioned restrictor plate tracks. I’ve always said, get rid of the plates altogether! Daytona and ‘Dega were built to push the man and machine to the limit. (Duh! That’s why they have high banks and are so big!) Just because you CAN go into the corner at 230 mph doesn’t mean it will work out well! Let the racers figure that out. Kind of the whole point of ‘racing’ if you ask me.

As for the top 35 rule, it is on the way out and that is a good thing, however, with the use of ‘provisionals’, no ‘big name’ will ever miss a race. I’m with John…everybody times in! Time in or go home.

Finally, let’s put some testosterone back into the sport!

If the boys wanna fight, you better let them! Heck, it was a three-way driver fist fight (and a well timed blizzard) that lit the boosters on this NASCAR rocket back in ’79, but here’s the thing…Let the DRIVERS settle it! Not the pit crew. If this were MY sanctioning body, yes there would be fines and probation for various infractions levied against drivers but any crew members that actively join the fray in an aggressive manner would be immediately suspended! Bowyer’s crew attempting to gang bang Jeff Gordon last Sunday was pure BS! Yes, Gordon had a whuppin’ coming, but it is Clint Bowyer’s whuppin’ to hand out!

Last but not least, the comment by Chad is dead on.

Chad writes: “This sport reached it’s peak on the life & death of Dale Earnhardt. 10 years later, there isn’t anything as compelling to sustain it. To expect that there would be, I think, is disrespectful of how significant (and therefore popular) those times were.”

Dale’s tragic death instantly created millions of what has become known as the ‘causal fan.’ When Brian France took the helm, he was looking solely to squeeze every bit of money he could out of this new breed of fan and he did. Unfortunately in the process, he had to ‘dumb down’ the sport to the level of the stupidest fan out there so he/she would understand it. As I like to point out, when you are watching an NFL game, they don’t explain what a ‘first down’ is every five minutes! If someone watching a race wants to know what a tire is and how it rolls, they will take the time to find out or ask the ARDENT fan who introduced them to NASCAR in the first place!

The problem is there may be no ARDENT fans left!

I could go on but obviously I can’t do it in one setting. I’m sure we’ll be revisiting each and every one of these topics next year! In the meantime…

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

“Contact Jeff Meyer”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14350/

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