Tweeting his mind for NASCAR
|NASCAR President Brent Dewar
When Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage last month posted a tweet that questioned whether NASCAR’s new two-day shows were better for fans, Dewar hit back by writing, “You know better,” implying that the tweet was misinformed. He then added the salvo, “You might want to focus on your event next weekend.”
The rare critical tweet in response to an industry stalwart was one of a handful that Dewar has sent out in recent months since he was promoted from chief operating officer to president, and it raised eyebrows inside and outside the garage. Dewar has also used social media to engage with fans and challenge radio talk show hosts’ opinions on the sport.
In an interview with SportsBusiness Journal at NASCAR’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Dewar said his increased Twitter presence is part of a new strategy in his elevated role. After almost exclusively only retweeting posts or sending private direct messages on the site, Dewar now is more engaging, and a strong public advocate for the sport.
First Look podcast, with NASCAR discussion beginning at the 11:23 mark:
“What you saw was a clear path when I became president to start to insert my voice,” said Dewar, who came aboard the sanctioning body in 2014. “I had focused on the amplification of the sport and I still am, but just trying to find that voice and I try to insert some comments strategically at certain points — largely to make sure that there is not a misunderstanding or [to give] clarity around a direction.”
Gossage found that out firsthand in the tweet questioning NASCAR’s decision to experiment with limiting Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on-track action to Saturdays and Sundays. In most cases, the series’ cars practice, qualify and race Friday through Sunday.
Gossage, whose track did not sample the shorter format, said it “just seemed wrong” for Monster Energy Series cars to not be on track Friday and that “if I like something I want more, not less.”
Dewar tweeted, “You know better. There is NOT less, just different days.”
Gossage said he was playing the role of a talk radio show host by sending out a message that would encourage a response from followers. He didn’t respond to Dewar’s tweet and said that he has since met with Dewar, “and we’re OK.”
Dewar said he encourages his staff to “find their voice” on social media. For example, he noted that Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, who has been active on Twitter for years, is “the voice of competition,” so Dewar leaves competition comments to him. Alongside NASCAR board member Lesa France Kennedy, Dewar is the highest ranking NASCAR executive on Twitter as Chairman and CEO Brian France is not on the social platform..
Dewar has a modest Twitter following of around 3,500. He said he dedicates time to look at social media, though “I don’t have time to engage every minute, every day — I’ve got some other stuff going on.”
Like many sports, NASCAR is one where business executives often prefer to handle disagreements behind closed doors. Yet while not all executives in the sport who spoke on background seem thrilled with Dewar’s increasingly public and vocal stances, because they prefer to keep such disagreements private, industry executives for years have privately pushed for top sanctioning body leaders to get more engaged on social media and other media platforms.
Dewar said he’s a staunch believer that not all topics are meant to be divulged or talked about publicly. He said it’s about finding the right topics to hit on, and he’s quick to pass along praise as well.
He added that he knows he needs to take the good with the bad when it comes to his increased presence on social media.
“It’s like anything — you can’t take all the positives and not accept the negatives; it’s a critique-based world ... and that’s the other challenge with social media — you can be easily judged,” Dewar said. “My lesson in that is as long as you are genuine in who you are and consistent, I learned that it’s the deeds, not the words. If you follow your deeds, then people get to know you.”