There is only ONE Oklahoma

Saturday, May 31, 2008

An Open Letter to OneLugnutShort

I received this email in my inbox this week and this should be shared.

Two Classes of Sadler Fans – Which Circle Do You Travel In?

Dear Mr. Lugnut,

I am a regular reader of OneLugnutShort and have been a proud member of the Sadler Fan Club for a few years now. Sometimes I have a bone to pick with you about the way you seem to go at Elliott Sadler, his family, or his business manager. Sometimes I think you might be onto something (not just ON something)!! As time goes on, I got to admit that I keep leanin’ to the thinkin’ you might have a case for wondering what in sam the Sadler Camp is really thinking.

I had been considering attending the race at Richmond this September, but since nothing had been “officially” announced regarding a Sadler Fan Club event, I held off making any solid plans. Now that it’s finally been announced, I don’t feel so bad about the idea that I might be “missing out”. I’m not missing out on much. I’m sure it will be a great event, and those that can afford to attend will have a great time. The Sadlers have a lovely place and are quite hospitable. However, I don’t know that I could justify spending an additional $250 for this VIP Barn Party ticket, even if there were still some available.

This past weekend I looked into airfares to Richmond and what it would actually cost me to go. I’d be looking at about $800 + Taxes, Airport Fees and Fuel Surcharges (which didn’t exist or were at least 20% less, less than two months ago). Add to this race tickets, hotel for at least 6 nights, and a car rental and I’m looking at a minimum of about $1800. And at that price, I haven’t even bought anything to eat, a souvenir of any kind, or gas for said rental car.

Add to that the SFC Membership fee ($20) and the “regular” Barn Party ticket of $50. Now do I want to fly 2000 miles to be a “second class” fan and NOT get that VIP ticket? On the other hand, after spending over $2-Grand, can I justify shelling out another $250 for that VIP ticket? That $250 could cover at least two nights in the hotel, or a good portion of the week’s car rental. Or even new stuff at the souvenir hauler. Since I still don’t really have any of the new sponsor gear yet, that might be a good place to spend it.

The cost of this VIP ticket might be more reasonable if you’re an east coaster, or live on the right side of the country. But I considered another acquaintance living in Virginia. This friend and her husband have two teens whom I know would love to go to the Barn Party. A family of four could attend for $200 (plus that family Fan Club Membership of $25). This same family of four would have to cough up $1000 for those sold-out VIP tickets! That could put a serious dent in any family’s vacation/entertainment budget! They live in Virginia but would still probably have to get a room for at least one night, even if they didn’t go to the Richmond race. There are additional costs and incidentals all over the place for that kind of “just overnight” trip. That $1025 really just covers tickets!

In 2004, a fan could take the Double Duty Tour with Robby Gordon and fly from Charlotte to Indianapolis (and back) and attend BOTH the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600 with Robby’s entourage for $1000. Granted it was four years ago (prior to these rising airfares and fuel surcharges), and there are the additional costs of getting to and staying in Charlotte, but that’s a pretty cool trip indeed! Ok, maybe not for a family of four… And maybe it is comparing apples to oranges… But I think the Double Duty deal even included a BBQ with Robby & the Team at the shop during the week prior to the 600 and “Double Duty” souvenirs. People can say what they want about Robby. Not many would dispute he loves to race, and that such a trip would likely be very interesting, a learning experience and one of those “once in a lifetime” deals for any race fan!

I had considered Charlotte for the 600 or the All Star Race and hitting Sadler’s Bowling Event (which seemed like fun at a fairly accessible price), but had too much going on this spring to make it happen. I guess it all comes down to a question of how bad do you want it? How much are you willing to pay to meet your driver and be part of the fun, the exclusivity? If people are willing to pay, this type of Pay-Per-Use Fan Club Charity Events Sadler throws will continue to be a success.

In any marketing endeavor, the first and most critical question to be asked and answered is “Who is your audience?”. If I had the chance to ask the Sadlers or Sadler’s business manager a question, it would be just that. Who is your target fan? Who do you want to appeal to? Who do you want to make yourself accessible to?

I’d ask just to see what they’d say. Because it seems rather clear to me the purpose for these Fan Club events benefiting charity is not to allow Sadler to connect with his average fan, but to raise money for the worthy causes near and dear to the heart of the Sadler family. It’s hard to fault them for that. They have contributed much to Autism Awareness, school children right in their hometown of Emporia, Victory Junction Gang Camp and other great causes, and have used their celebrity to do so. Commendable indeed. To that end of course, they want to appeal to the fan with the largest amount of disposable income.

I know it’s hard for anyone, especially a public figure, to please all the people all the time. It’s just not going to happen. The Sadlers are successful business people and live in an income bracket (or two or three or five) above most of us. So maybe they just don’t realize it. But even the items Sadler auctions off for charity (race helmets, etc.) are not cost accessible for an average or just-below-middle income person. How about a free draw once a year for all current fan club members? One lucky winner gets a helmet or other cool Sadler memorabilia – and no, I don’t want his used race shoes!

So who does Sadler want to make himself accessible to? I’m confident I know who it is NOT. It is NOT the typical, middle class American Nascar prides itself on appealing to. The fan and the families that Nascar sponsors pay big big bucks to keep their company names and products top-of-mind with. Sadler’s chosen audience doesn’t seem to include many of the average folk I have met in my race travellings that consider themselves Sadler fans. The focus of these fan club events is not to allow his “average” fans exclusive access or even to say “Thanks for your support”. It seems to be to get a hold of the fan’s money to further Sadler charity endeavors. Therefore any Sadler fan with hopes of attending such an event should have a good portion of disposable income or good credit available that will allow them to be included in the Sadler Fan Club’s fundraising activities.

Like it or not, this is how Sadler has chosen to make himself accessible to his fans. Maybe that’s why I didn’t join the Sadler Fan Club this year. I can say I am a fan without handing over $20, or trying to get an “exclusive” $250 VIP ticket to an event that’s going to cost me more than $2-Grand to get to. I still cheer for him on race day, listen to the 19 scanner on Trackpass, and I still give to charity - within my means, within my budget (yes, I support a few worthy causes too). But these are not the kind of Nascar circles I personally can afford to travel in, ‘nor the Joneses I want to try to keep up with. Maybe in a couple years when I save up enough to get back to Virginia, I’ll be ready to part with that $2-Grand. Of course, the way the cost of a barrel of crude is going, in a couple of years jet fuel might be equal to gold itself, and that $2-Grand could be mighty cheap in comparison! Oh well. C’est la vie.

I hope anyone going to this fall’s Barn Party has a magnificent time and make a mountain of great memories. I hope the Sadlers, Dale Jarrett and Kasey Khane raise a ton of money for their Foundations. I’ll be waiting hear just how much was given to charity too. If they should choose to tell those of us living in a lower income bracket.

Thanks for listening, Lugnut. Keep on truckin’!


A West Side Sadler Fan


Anonymous said...

Mr. Lugnut Short:

Thank you for sharing the above sincere and well written correspondence which so clearly expresses the frustrations shared by more than one Sadler fan or supporter.

The feelings of the gentleman, so poignantly set forth, bring to the forefront and hightlight the shortcomings of an enterprise that continuously ignores and refuses to acknowledge the plight of the average race fan.

Elliott Sadler and his organization
remain mired in shortsightedness and myopic thinking as the direction taken, with regard to fan events and recognition, is relegated to a position of distasteful insignificance.

So be it.

The ranks of those who cheer for Sadler, and even like him, have thinned and will continue to do so as long as his arrogance, conceit, lack of consideration and patent disregard permeate his irreparably damaged persona.

He has not been the same man since he bought into the damaged bill of goods Ray Evernham sold him, and may never recover from that move on the "dumb meter". All the niceness and money of George Gillette can not eradicate the stench of the Evernham blight.

Barn Party?

One has to wonder what kind of people would enjoy such low-life phoniness. Does anyone really think Elliott Sadler wants to entertain people or cares who comes from where?

Sadler cares about himself and money.

Faithful fans.....go forth and give all you have to him.

You'll deserve exactly what you'll receive in return.

Snafam said...

This is a poignant letter, one felt deeply in the hear of THIS former Sadler fan.

I remember similar issues. I am saddened for the writer of the letter, as he/she is so obviously a die hard fan. The disappointment is palpable.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous posts. There is something phony that comes out about Sadler whenever he speaks(I do not mean his accent but sometimes I wonder). Sadler's motives sound self-serving to me.When the Kool-Aid drinkers gather at Sadler's place in Virginia next week, he will no doubt have fleeced the unsuspecting faithful again, though the good news is that more people(including Yours Truly)are no longer falling for anything Sadler says or does.