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SBD/Issue 103/NASCAR Season Preview
Two Prominent Motorsports Writers Continue Talk On NASCAR
Published February 16, 2007
Q: What affect will the new tweaks have on the Chase this season?
Waid: Minimal. I don’t see a whole lot of change based on the conversations that I’ve had with drivers. In the first 26 races they don’t see themselves doing much of anything different. However, maybe some of them will have in the back of their heads that they need to win as many races as they can because of the seeding for the Chase. If nothing else it makes it a little more intriguing and drives more interest, but otherwise I just don’t see any major changes in strategy.
Q: All things considered -- fan interest, TV ratings, attendance, etc. -- has the Chase been a success?
Waid: I do believe fans had their interest piqued by the Chase. I think they try to keep up with it even though some absolutely hate it and want to go back to the old way. But I don’t believe you can call it an unqualified success when the (ratings) numbers aren’t what they should be and, in fact, have been falling. The idea behind the Chase was to increase NASCAR’s ratings in comparison to the NFL. That hasn’t happened and it’s gone the other direction. Based on those figures I don’t see how you can call it a success.
|Writer Says NASCAR Should
Promote Jimmie Johnson More
Q: On which drivers should NASCAR be putting more of a marketing emphasis?
Waid: Most of these promotional TV vehicles utilize drivers who are established stars, for the most part. You don’t see the younger generation getting out there as a promotional vehicle for NASCAR. ... One of the things NASCAR has been trying to do is appeal to a different demographic; they want a younger audience and they pretty much ignore guys like me that have been around forever. I’m no marketer, but wouldn’t it be somewhat reasonable to take one of these younger drivers and put him in some of these promotions that encourage younger people to take a look?
Q: What affect is
Waid: In the long run it’s going to have a positive affect. I know you hear fans saying it’s an American sport and should have American cars, but this is the No. 1 car in the country and that means a heck of a lot of Americans are driving it. That means they are very successful company and they came into the sport with every intent of winning and doing well and becoming an even more meaningful part of the American motorsports scene. By doing well they will cultivate their own group of fans and cause these other fans to forget about the fact that it’s a foreign car and accept it.
Q: What will ESPN’s return to NASCAR do for the sport?
Waid: The other effect this has had is the other sports entities are ratcheting up what they are doing in NASCAR to try to keep pace. You’re going to see a heck of a lot more promotion on Fox. ESPN has greatly increased the content of NASCAR on its Web site, forcing Fox and the Speed Channel to do the same. That cannot be bad for NASCAR and is also great for the fans. Just look at the outlets they have to get information and entertainment about NASCAR that really weren’t present a year ago. The affect that ESPN is going to have on NASCAR has already taken place to some degree by what it’s forced its rival networks to do.
Q: Are movies like “Talladega Nights” good or bad for NASCAR’s image?
Waid: It angered the fans as well for several different reasons. It played up the stereotypical redneck, which is a long dead slam at NASCAR fans. And, let’s face it, how do I phrase this, a gay Frenchman driving in NASCAR? That is about as improbable as it gets.
Q: Who is the most innovative executive in or around NASCAR?
|France Gets Credit For Innovative
Ideas In Growing NASCAR
Waid: He doesn’t always hit a homerun but he’s always up there swinging, and that’s Brian France. You’ve got to give him credit for trying. We sometimes call him crazy and nuts and things of that nature but if he doesn’t find ways to help propel NASCAR well into the 21st century -- and it stayed pretty much how it was before he got a firm hold on the reins -- there’s no question that it would not be in the situation it is today.
Q: Will Dale Earnhardt Jr. get his stake in DEI?
Waid: He’s got both guns, he has them fully loaded and he got them aimed at her head.
|FAD OR FUTURE|
|Open-wheel drivers going to NASCAR?|
|Later race start times?|
|Partnerships with musicians like Kelly Clarkson?|
|Better booth -- ESPN, Fox or TNT?|
|Waid: Haven’t seen ESPN so I have to go with Fox.|
|Most media friendly owner?|
|Waid: Felix Sabates.|
|Least media friendly owner?|
|Waid: Teresa Earnhardt.|