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Friday, January 25, 2008

Back to their Roots

‘Back to their roots’ is a phrase we have heard from Nascar fans for close to a decade, and this pre-season seems to be the catch phrase for the Nascar hierarchy and the media that follows the sport. While just about every article or quote I have seen supports this catch phrase, I am just not 100% sold on it.

Are we really sure that we want Nascar to return to the ‘bubba’ mentality or the renegade, barnstorming perception of the sport from the ‘good old days’? Some how in this day of instant access, I don’t think that would be a good thing.

The ‘good ole boy’ mentality of the sport’s roots no matter how one spins it is simply not the most positive thing for the sport. Yes, there are still many ‘good ole boys’ that spend their hard earned paychecks in order to attend races, but I am not sure if the mantra that these fans seem to wish for will keep the sport in a growth mode.

This mantra consists of moving races back to old, antiquated race venues like Rockingham, and even North Wilks and ignoring the ‘Westward’ expansion which has contributed to larger race winnings, more sponsorship opportunities and moving the sport from a ‘regional anomaly', but to a 'national spectacle'.

I once saw this banner being towed behind a small plane at Dega and really wondered what the point was. Nascar and many of their fans have done their best to get away from that ‘Confederate Battle Flag’ mentality and for a good reason. I have even asked a few Rving buddies who fly that flag on top of their flagpoles what the reason is for doing that, and of course I get the ‘it is our heritage’ response. While I don’t always agree with that, it is their right and I respect that. But also one should remember that right, if they ever stumble upon a group Rving at TMS with a Mexican flag proudly flying a top their flagpole. After all, in Texas, that flag represents much more ‘heritage’ than the Confederate Battle Flag. Both are just as equally controversial and are asking for questions and opinion.

On the other hand, the sport as a whole does need to recognize the ‘average Joe’ fan and the fact that this fan is truly being priced out in attending races live. Yes, like death and taxes, ticket prices can and will have to be raised every so often, that is just a fact. But what I am seeing as that race venues are seeing a growing group of fans (most the average Joe fan) that spend much more time at a venue than just the actual race.

Texas Motor Speedway is a good example of this: While TMS boasts that their ticket prices have not significantly increased over the past 4 or so years, other aspects of the race weekend experience have doubled and even tripled. Ten years ago, RVing/Camping at TMS outside the track, ranged from $40 to $100 per race weekend. This up coming season, the price has risen to $175 to $325 for those same camping areas. Yes, the demand for RV/Camping has risen each year, but TMS has also tripled the amount of spaces available over that time.

Other race venues do not allow even small coolers to be brought into the race venue and then charge $3 or more for a soft drink or a bottled water. Not being able to bring your own food and drink for an ALL DAY event may not be a bad thing if one is setting up in some corporate catered suite or sky box, but for the average Joe fan, this option simply isn't realistic, nor even wanted.

All in all, it is really not ‘Nascar’ that controls much of this getting back to their roots, it is the race venues themselves. Some might say that they are one in the same, but the hammer lies with people like Humpy Wheeler, Eddie Gossage and other race venue Presidents.

The average Joe race fan is ready to see if 'back to their roots', really has any teeth.


MArc said...

"All in all, it is really not ‘Nascar’ that controls much of this getting back to their roots, it is the race venues themselves."

Here are a couple related issues I haven't had time to write about but they both apply here.

NASCAR profits on and off the track.

5 dollars for a hot dog?

Anonymous said...

I have season tickets to Texas Motor Speedway and as much as I love seeing the races in person, it is not fun or enjoyable to spend several hours in a bleacher seat that allows me about twelve
(12) inches of space for my average sized rear end. It feels like being inside a sardine can.

When I get too uncomfortable, I just go buy a $9.00 fresh lemonade.

NASCAR may be in for a "rude awakening" when it starts to lose money and fewer t-shirts and diecast cars are sold this year.

Tough !

Tim said...

We never had a problem with coolers at ALT or Darlington. But the price for camping outside the tracks have gone up alot just over the 3 years.