France Wants Improved Racing Next Year, Says NASCAR Will Add New Manufacturer In Future
NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France on Tuesday "reiterated the sanctioning body’s desire to improve the racing next season at the 1.5-mile tracks, and he believes the sport will add a new manufacturer in the future," according to Dustin Long of MRN.com. He "did not give a timetable for when a new manufacturer would enter the sport." A "more immediate task for France ... is enhancing the racing at 1.5-mile tracks." France, appearing on SirusXM NASCAR Radio's "Sirius Speedway," said, "I’m really excited about what our competition group is working on. ... You’re going to see already good racing get elevated a notch or two if some of the things that we think are doable can happen. ... We’re evolving our approach to things. I use the words more science than art, more fact-based things as we go into testing." He also said that NASCAR's recent announcement that drivers in its national series will be required to have baseline concussion testing done before next season is "an example of the sport’s proactive stance toward safety." He added, "The safety of our drivers, that supersedes everything. ... We’ve had a pretty good track record of trying to achieve that" (MRN.com, 10/29).
DRIVING TOWARD DIVERSITY: In Orlando, George Diaz noted NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr.'s victory at Martinsville Speedway this past weekend set off a "celebratory wave of 'attaboys' and hope" that the next victory in NASCAR by an African-American will not be 50 years in waiting, as it was after Wendell Scott won in '63. Wallace's victory "won't be a game changer," as NASCAR "is still struggling to become a more inclusive workplace when it comes to the signature stars of the sport." Wallace is "only the fourth full-time black driver in the history of NASCAR's top three national series." But France and other NASCAR execs are "pushing hard to change the demographics of the sport." Wallace is a "graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, which targets rising minorities for different opportunities in the sport." Fox NASCAR analyst Kyle Petty said, "Regardless of whether you're red, yellow, black, white or purple, if you can't get the job done behind the wheel, you're not going to have a job. But Wallace will have a job for a long time to come, and it has nothing to do with his skin color but everything to do with his talent" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/30).
HITTING THE BREAKS? Commentator Frank Deford said, "As the NASCAR season climaxes, America's prime motorsport continues to see its popularity in decline. For several years now revenues and sponsorship have plummeted, leaving an audience that increasingly resembles the stereotype that NASCAR so desperately thought it could grow beyond: Older, white, Dixie, working-class." Appearing on NPR’s “Morning Edition” yesterday, Deford said ESPN and Turner "took a look at the down graphs and the downscaled demographics and didn't even bother to bid on the new TV contract." Deford noted "economics are part of the problem" as gas prices have limited fans' travel, but there "may be a couple more fundamental problems that NASCAR must face up to." The "evidence shows that our fascination with cars, and by extension" race cars, has "diminished" as many younger Americans feel a "car is just another appliance." Deford: "For a generation that's grown up with video games, merely watching automobiles drive fast simply may not be thrilling enough. … Do we really want to watch cars anymore? Cars are for taking you somewhere, like to a game?" ("Morning Edition," NPR, 10/30).