How to enjoy your favorite sport when it feels like no one else is

I’ve been feeling a little down about NASCAR today.

The crowds at Richmond International Raceway last weekend were, quite frankly, terrible. There probably weren’t more than 5,000 people in attendance for the Xfinity race, and the local newspaper estimated the Cup crowd at 30,000 — tops.

Then come the TV ratings, which were down once again. They’re always down, it seems.

And what’s scary for everyone is NASCAR hasn’t even hit the bottom yet. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s impending retirement is certainly going to make the numbers look even worse in 2018.

So if you love NASCAR — and especially if you’ve loved it since before everything seemed to be trending downward — it’s all really depressing at times. And that’s not supposed to happen with something you voluntarily follow for enjoyment.

The question is: As a fan, what do you do?

The closest I can come to answering this question is to use one of the things I’m most passionate about: Electronic dance music, or EDM.

In Oct. 2015, there was an article from Forbes titled: “The $6.9 Billion Bubble? Inside The Uncertain Future Of EDM.”

The story had some of the same themes we hear about in NASCAR. “Once a fast-growing industry, EDM’s build up has slowed considerably as the market matures,” the story said.

I remember that was the first I’d heard of any potential downturn in dance music, and it honestly pissed me off. I thought, Screw you! I still like it! And I don’t care if other people don’t like it!

The truth is, I’m still going to enjoy the music no matter how many other people like it. And my sense is most of you feel the same about NASCAR.

When you hear about the TV ratings and the attendance and people leaving the sport, you sort of shrug: Oh well, their loss. Unlike your favorite TV show that loses viewers, NASCAR isn’t in danger of being canceled. The fact IndyCar still exists (it pulled in a 0.27 rating this weekend!!!) shows NASCAR can go on in some form indefinitely.

At the same time, NASCAR can’t sustain itself as a major sport if things keep heading this direction. The concern from people in the industry — drivers, NASCAR executives, sponsors, teams and media — is palpable, and I can assure you it’s the subject of many private conversations.

Those conversations end up becoming part of the public dialogue, because people who work in NASCAR generally love racing and want to improve it. Everyone wants to figure out what will stop the bleeding. They want to ask you, the fans, what you want.

The irony is a lot of you just want to stop talking about it. You want to get back to enjoying racing again, not spending time being frustrated about every little thing that happens.

Sure, you have opinions on what would make the sport better, but you watch NASCAR because it’s entertainment. It’s an escape from the many problems of the real world, and it’s no fun to have your remaining spirit drained by the very thing you love.

People in the NASCAR world are scrambling and scratching their heads, trying to figure out where to go from here. I want to make it better, too, and I’m not going to stop writing about possible solutions.

But that doesn’t mean you as a fan have to get sucked into the negative energy. You follow NASCAR because you love it, not because you have the answers to save it. If you don’t want to participate in all the hand-wringing, then don’t let it ruin a good thing for you.

My advice? Put your scanner headphones on, block out the noise and smile. It’s only five days until race day.

95 Replies to “How to enjoy your favorite sport when it feels like no one else is”

  1. I love NASCAR, what keeps us away from most tracks is the lack of fan amenities. Particularly the stairs, escalators at Daytona were a fabulous addition . I have been to 7 different tracks and only have gone back to Phoenix because if you sit in Allison grandstand you only have to climb the stairs once to the mezzanine level!

    1. LVMS has elevators to upper Petty and Earnhardt stands and only slight incline from parking to stands. Plus nice restrooms in those stands and awesome Neon Garage. But we quit going to Vegas after 2015 due to greed of hotels (fees for everything like airlines). So if you can drive to Vegas and stay off strip and ignore it then I highly recommend it.

    2. It’s difficult to justify the cash outlay for a race when the crazy fun Midway is gone and the pedestrian food is pricey. Why would we go to a track on a hot sticky Sunday afternoon when we have to work on Monday, versus watching it in the air conditioned comfort of home on a huge HDTV? Easy access to the restrooms, a stocked kitchen…and with the company of dogs?

      And the rules, rules, rules. Speeding penalties on pit road. Uncontrolled tires. Commitment cone violations. Too many crew, too many driven through stalls, not enough lug nuts…it’s like the teams are in reform school. I fully expect a ruler across a crew chief’s knuckles soon.

      Plus, could we have the same Championship system? I don’t want to look up online if 5th in points is really 5th or actually 10th because of bonus/stage points.

      And tell the broadcasters there are more than two drivers out there…go through the field often, tell us what’s what with all the cars, not just the top five.

      For starters.

      1. Dude… this is what he’s talking about. You just described the problem with fans in general last night. You’re overthinking it. I get the money thing, but stop complaining about the rules…. if you’re trying to measure who’s winning a championship by an antiquated system then you will never enjoy the product that they are putting on their track today. That product is thoroughly enjoyable and is easy to understand if you spend 15 minutes reading and thinking about the rules. The old style championship points hasn’t been around for 15 years. Let’s stop talking about it like it was yesterday.

        1. Brenden that is the problem . Some of us like to know whats going on whithout having to spend half an hour with a calculator out . And the rules are a problem . Every rule takes out a little more excitement . Im not sure how old you are . But the lack of rules in the 90’s when I started watching NASCAR ( 92 to be exact ) was what made the racing so exciting . No commitment line had guys trying to fake each other out right up to the entrance to pit road every single time . Lapped cars starting along side the leaders made the lapped guys have to race for their lap back , and it made for some of the best racing mid race you would ever see . Double file restarts with lapped cars in the back didn’t make it any more exciting . There is just so much they have done that has taken tons of the fun out of the sport . Unless some of its put back in it will just continue to fall .

    3. If you want NASCAR to come back to its glory quit making it Like IROC racing give them rules and if it benefits a team because they use it to there advantage and win a lot change the rules next year you just try to take all the fun out of it anymore trying to keep it to even NASCAR was awesome through the 70’s 80’s and even the 90’s you need to go back to that type of competition not this IROC style of racing and take the resrictor plates off and mandate a lower gear so they can race not who ever gets lucky in the draft

  2. Couple of things would help I think. #1 the cars have to race better…either raise them off the ground and make them looser or something so guys can manhandle the cars and make passes…skill will come out. #2 NASCAR has to quit making the title so expect to see a guy who leads the points all year be a player for the title…these days they are not and could be out of it in 3 races which is hard to swallow. Make wins a huge points difference over 2nd, and the title goes to who has the most points at the end….like it should be.

    1. I really wish they never changed the point system i want to know who was the best all season not just on last ten races

  3. The answers are clear:

    1) Brian France must be removed from office and his power to influence the sport ended.

    2) NASCAR needs to remember who they are and who their fans are.

    Since neither of those things are going to happen any time soon, it’s hard for those of us who have given up on a sport we love to invest too much emotional capital on the near future.

    1. ITA – but I’m going to expand specifically – the biggest problem is driver access. In fact, despite going to races for over a decade as an adult, I can easily meet more NFL, NHL and MLB players as a “regular” fan now than I can NASCAR. That was NEVER the case before. In fact, NHL has expanded access, with multiple fan days. My Lightning team has opened up the entire arena for fan walkthroughs and player meet and greets. They also sponsor a “Dad’s day” where fathers can bring their sons and daughters to spend time with players.

      People always whine “if you don’t like it, don’t watch”. Okay, but if enough do that, good luck watching weekly races on TV. Fox and NBC know they got hosed. They will NOT pay the money they did before, not even half.

      NASCAR has been kowtowing to sponsors and dollars, blocking fans out of what truly used to be a great track experience – now the sponsors are wondering why the hell no one is coming to a race, when they’ve taken all the time, space and seats… No place for drivers to sit and sign things, make appearances to sell gear. No more driver access at all. NASCAR has forgotten (well, Brian France mostly), that part of the great appeal for NASCAR was that they were “just like us”. Now, NASCAR makes them “celebrities”, people you need to pay an arm and a leg for to even get CLOSE to. Last year, Jeff Gordon, my darling and my partial-enemy stated two things that irked me so bad. One, that he hated he’d signed so many autographs because now they were “devalued” when he wanted to sell them (because half a billion in net worth is apparently not enough) and two: That to get into the gaggle with a HOPE of meeting him was $624 per person. That was just access with 100 others in a tent, for a “Q&A”.

      Losing the haulers meant losing limited edition and special merchandise. NASCAR just NEEDED it’s hands in that pot. Try going there and finding any not top 5 drivers. Look for nothingness. Ask for help with merch at the tent? Good luck. I asked at a Kyle Busch hauler, the last year they had it, about a certain shirt for my kid. They mentioned the current styles, what would come out and pointed me to places I could get it. There was staff that traveled with it and knew their merch.

      This time, it was barren by mid-Saturday and never was restocked. Now you have U shaped tent, one side entirely Jr. and while he’s popular, it was never THAT full. Merch was always still packed in by race time on Sunday. Compared to the singular stalls, Stewart-Haas drivers were in one slot by themselves.

      Most of the time, you could access just about anywhere on the track – like Richmond tried to do. But that access usually came WITH drivers, not behind 9 foot tall gates, where they don’t even acknowledge you. I paid good money for the Championship weekend, total package to Homestead when Jeff retired. It still didn’t get me very far. “Corporate donors” got all the good passes.

      And it was insanely frustrating that we paid that money, went where we were told, but forbidden to enter the champ area until 10 minutes AFTER the race… and about a minute AFTER they opened the frontstretch wall gates to let regular fans on. I had to run, to be 10 deep… on the right side that is. The media zone was the whole frontstretch (and was half empty as it was), so we were behind barriers 20 feet from the edge of the stage, and we were barred from the left side reserved for sponsors and the Fox stage. Drivers intentionally avoided us by using the far side of the stage to congratulate Kyle, Jeff Gordon didn’t even wave, he marched behind the stage and congrats’ed him and marched behind it and stayed along the pit wall.

      The only one to come on the fan side? Denny Hamlin, who smiled and waved at fans before coming up to the stage on our side. My opinion of him as a person shot up that day. He also was the only one to go to the pits in the golf cart on the fan side and, again, waved at us.

      My kids did meet Kyle Busch, because he was in the Toyota Troop tent doing a Q&A for vets, but NASCAR banned the tent from the track. So, while that was a cool perk for us – as we got to see Richard Petty and David Spade, and meet the incredibly awesome, humble Brian Scott… that, too, is no more.

      That frontstretch is so barren of people and things to do, it’s just sad.

      1. Just one correction – the $624 is for the VIP meet with Jeff which is limited to around 20 people or less. That being said, I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to charge so much, but people do it every week regardless. I love Jeff, but I haven’t been thrilled with the direction his PR/business people have taken with what they charge beginning with fan club fees and higher merchandise fees.

      2. If you want to see how NASCAR should provide access to drivers go to an Indycar race or PGA tour event (non-major)

    2. apparently that has already happened . I have heard that Lisa France has pretty much been running the show for about 2 years . Brian is basically just a spokes person .

  4. For me, it is the fact that a specific race can’t be enjoyed for just being a “race” anymore. It is about “win and you are in” or “bonus championship. points”. We got away from the joy of racing and placed all the emphases on championship. Now we get mad if our driver does not win or a driver we dont like wins because that driver will have more seeded points than our driver. I actually dispise have the drivers now because they are faring better than my driver this season. What is the fun in that? It adds stress to my life.

    1. I think this is a pretty informative comment. I always enjoyed having a Champion in concept, but I agree, each race is far more exciting and interesting to me than the meta season race and I also get exhausted at times listening to the constant drone of playoff implications.

      This causes me to be on the fence about stages and playoff points. I like the fact that they bring the championship closer to those who run consistently well even if Salt it isn’t always #Team20 🙂 , I dislike that they remind us so much of the season meta-race in the middle of… An actual race 🙂

  5. My concerns about the fate of NASCAR have now taken a distant backseat to my concerns about your love of EDM. We a #SloppyYellow intervention in November. Seriously. I’m here for you, man. Reach out.

  6. Less races with more on short tracks. Cut the number of laps. More night races. If I have a beautiful Sunday afternoon I am not sitting in the house to watch a full race.

    No more chase.!

    1. Make Mark the president of nascar. I bet 90% of the fans will agree with you

  7. 2 constants in my life: A State of Trance each Thursday and NASCAR on Sunday.

  8. Two constants in my life: A State of Trance on Thursdays and NASCAR on Sundays.

  9. There is no quick fix in my opinion. I think NASCAR just needs to let the rules be the same for a few years before trying to keep changing things. The racing is fine. The Richmond race was a blast to watch. Denny, Brian and Kevin were putting on a show for most of it. The races are just too long in today’s age. I’ll watch no matter what, but a lot of people are turned off by that. F1 didn’t have a single over take last week, but they do a lot of things right like capping the event at 2 hours.

    1. I don’t see how you can say that when golf will pull well over 10 million views over a 4 day period . Most races barely last over 3 hours . Less then Soccer , NFL , Baseball , and half of the other sports in the world .

  10. Great article Jeff! As a fan of NASCAR for the better part of 20 years I have definitely as we all have seen some changes. Although I choose to believe that Nascar is heading in the right direction, there are times that I feel NASCAR should do more to reach out to their fans! (For instance I remember a few years ago I could walk right up to the cars on pit road in Kentucky speedway. I was so excited my wife & I had a blast! I couldn’t wait until the following year. I got the same exact ticket package & took my twin brother we even bought the Dale jr. Hospitality along with the tickets. I bragged how awesome this was going to be! We got to the race track that day! Went to the hospitality with Dale jr. But once we got to tour put road. The cars were roped off, we couldn’t get pit road access this time! It was a total letdown! So my point is for NASCAR to allow better ( more access) we the fans pay good money for our tickets, we travel great distance, pay expensive hotel fees! Take time off of work! To attend these races & when all you get to do is walk around for 6 hours & look at a race car from 6 feet away well I can do that at my local convention center or a local grocery store a few times a year and sit in the comfort of my own living room and watch the race & not spend a dime!

    1. The issue with access is too many bad apples spoiling the barrel for the rest of us.
      Every year, it’s getting harder and harder for me to even get to, let alone talk to, my friends on the crews. Why? Too many people forget (or don’t care) that it’s a work area and needs to be respected as such. That has led to costly (at least time-wise) extra work for the crews pre-race. And that, in turn, has resulted in more and more restricted access.
      Out of the three tracks I go to, it’s been most noticeable on pit road at LVMS. Every year for the last 4 or 5, security has gotten noticeably tighter and access has been reduced. It’s not good but, at this point, I’m thankful we still have any access at all… smh

  11. Need to go back to when stock cars were stock cars. The days they raced what you could go buy at the dealers. There’s no real connection to the consumer anymore with today’s engineered race cars. They even pretty much all look alike now. Also races are too expensive for the common family. By the time you figure the cost of parking, tickets, food, lodging etc it is just to much money for the common working family and those regular folks are the ones that made NASCAR. Want Nascar back? Lower the prices of the races and get back to the roots of racing.

    1. You got it exactly correct. Do some good old gutsy racing, fans will show up.

    2. IN the mid 90’s Those cars didn’t resemble stock cars , and that was the best NASCAR was ever . The whole problem is way too many gimmicks , rules , and cars that are crap to watch race . We need cars that are off the ground , loose always , and set up where a guy can get a nose under a guy and move him up the track . Those few things will fix it . It wont be back to where it was in its heyday very fast but it would steadily grow over time .

  12. Hi Jeff, thanks for the opportunity to respond…

    The elephant in the room is America has a huge marketing addiction. It’s not just NASCAR that is seeing this, but all major sports here. The length of the races, the amount of cautions, the amount of commercials and the unbearable drone of certain announcers make NASCAR unwatchable for me now. Thank God I can record and fast forward. I’ve been to approximately a dozen NASCAR races and another dozen IndyCar races (none in the past 9 years (except the Indy 500 a couple times) and have zero interest in attending another at this time.

    Let’s be specific on cautions. A piece of debris, a shop rag or a water bottle should not be a 8 lap under yellow affair. Scrap the “Lucky Dog” nonsense. Quit wasting my time arranging the field and giving cars the wave around. All strategy, performance and luck is reset at every caution so what’s the point? Watch the last 10 laps and that’s a wrap.

    My passion is now Formula 1, and I attend at least one race per year. I double dog dare you to attend Austin this year…amazing experience! This is where NASCAR could really learn and improve. The race in Austin will start at 1:00 pm and run rain or shine. It will last no longer than 2 hours. Most accidents will result in a caution in that specific corner and while there are shards of carbon fiber all over the place the tires handle it., and only in a very serious situation is a red flag deployed. While a lot of races may not be the most exciting, many are incredible. The standing start to turn 1 of a F1 race is the greatest experience in Motorsport.

    My reference to other sports…attend a major sporting event that is nationally televised. The breaks in the action are a complete joke. Baseball, football, basketball, golf are all trying to improve pace of play. Again, thank God for DVR’s.
    I actually find myself enjoying English Premiere League and National Rugby League mainly because there are no commercials! Never thought I would say that…

    Anyway, I do enjoy your work but NASCAR has a huge hill to climb. I wish you all the best.

    1. Problem with F1 is the race is over after the first turn on lap one. There’s no racing, just turning laps.

    2. If NASCAR had 2 hour races then it wouldn’t be worth most peoples money . I love long races . Even so , 75 percent of NASCAR’s races run around 3 hours . Golf has 7 times more viewers then NASCAR and they run 4 rounds over 4 days . Its not how long the race is . Its the product . It sucks , the cars are boring to watch . Of course to me so are F1 cars . No passing all race long makes for some pretty boring racing .

  13. Races seem too long, time and money commitment. Why would I give up a whole afternoon, we live in a society where everything is now, you want the answer now, how can anyone be expected to sit for 4.5+ hours to watch a race. The best part of the racing is the last 10 laps. That’s all I care about. As a Canadian, the exchange rate is a killer. The rules are adding a complexity that isn’t necessary. The first two segments bore me to tears. Make a 2 day show, one ticket all races. The fans are sending a message and Nascar is ignoring it.

    P.S. I would be a patreon however, exchange rate…… I believe in your entrepreneurial spirit, get those caps going!

    1. There hasn’t been a race that lasts 4.5 hours since pocono went to 400 miles 4 years ago . Even Richmond was barely over 3 hours long .

  14. Jeff you are to be commend for your coverage of this issue. The more coverage of this issue the better. Some of Denny Hamlins comments the other day very interesting. (race length and ground clearance) Would love to hear some more comments from those inside the sport. But Pherhaps they are afraid to speak out. I think Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burtons views might be very interesting. Is real change comprised by the current track ownership structure? Weak leadership in Nascar?

  15. I just don’t see NASCAR growing much or surviving at any level resembling what it has been in the past without a major culture shift. As someone who has been to every current and many former tracks, I have a hard time stomaching the open display of the Confederate flag. I have encouraged a number of family and friends to attend races with me, but almost none of them have returned for a second event after being surrounded by symbols more associated with Klan rallies than major sporting events. NASCAR has made surface attempts at promoting diversity, but they will never take hold until races are viewed as a safe space for all.

  16. Hi Jeff maybe Nascar needs to go look at how things were back in the heyday, what was working, why people loved being there, and look at all the changes they have made that have made people not want to watch or attend anymore, go back to their roots. It’s kind of like the Trump over Hilary win, she looked at one small group and forgot about the mainstream and look what we did! Nascar has done the same, tried so hard to get the young hip crowd who are so fickle, and forgot about the loyal mainstream fan, and look! We’ve spoken again!

  17. I actually watch more NASCAR Peak Antifreeze races than actual ones these days…

    More involved, more fun, and an actual chance I could be in it.

  18. 1. Improve the racing by stopping trying so hard for parity. Give the crew chiefs more liberty. Get rid of side-skirt and splitter. Bring back the spoiler.

    2. Adapt to societal wishes for instant gratification. Not sure how? Heat racing like Friday night dirt tracks? I wouldn’t like it (ugh!), but it expresses the idea.

    3. Digitize the sport in every possibly way imaginable. Scanners and Raceview are a good start, but much more is needed. This is a digital age.

    4. Finally (dawning the asbestos suit), if the racing improves, go to almost all Saturday night races. In our contemporary culture, Saturday night is the party night out to go to events, Sunday days are much lesser so.

  19. I constantly read and hear fans complain about the sport and I think they complain so much that everyone start to believe it. You develop a preconceived notion befor anything is given a chance. The fact is passing is up. We have the facts to back that up. Caution are down, we have the facts to back that up. That is a problem because the wrecks are down. Good for drivers and teams. Bad for fans who associate wrecks with action and hard nosed racing. Despite the fact they consider the racing good, I do think sideforce is killing racing. It needs to be the next area NASCAR takes away from teams. That woodstove the cars down significantly and allow good year to build softer tires and truly put the sport back in the drivers hands. Off the track the manufactures Midway is non existent. I honestly understand why we don’t have trailers anymore. I get it was very expensive to drive 50 transports country every week so souvenirs. However TV removing at the track fan interaction. Sponsors no longer putting money into midways and vendors not coming to so souvenirs There is not much to do on race day is anymore. It gets harder and harder to justify traveling long-distance to a race and spending the same amount of money but I have spent since the early 2000’s on race weekend. There was a point in time between 2003 and 2007 where I often could not even see everything there was to do outside of a race track on race day. Now I can see it all in an hour. So IMO getting a new and improved midway is huge. have concerts on a stage. Bring the pre race tv back to the track. Maybe a traveling hall of fame with the sports past present and even future all on display. Lots of cars to look at. Bring out our sports past heros for story telling sessions. Race tracks should make it more like a concert festival. With a wide range of food options and vendors. Not just track sponcered food vendors. Bring back on the track autograph sessions. Bottom line is everything the industry is doing to save money is just causing fans to keep its money at home. Make race day a spectical again and make the drivers hang on fo there wheel a little more and the fans will come back.

    1. I agree with you there and especially on the midway outside the track.

      Race day has really changed for me since 2006 and 2007. Used to be, race day was an all day deal. You arrived early, maybe 8 am for a 1:30 pm Green Flag. The Midway was absolutely packed. Souvenir trailers, hospitality tents, corporate booths giving away free samples, autographs, and T-shirts to name just a few. Usually you needed both Saturday and Sunday to experience everything. And that was before the race itself.

      Now, the last race I attend was the 2015 Chase race in Chicago, and the atmosphere was massively different. The souvenir haulers were gone, replaced by the fanatics tent. There were few, if any corporate booths, no free samples. No lines of people waiting an hour for a 5 minute ride in a simulator. I think I might have spent 30 minutes on the midway that day, where I bought my scanner, browsed the fanatics tent (where I heard numerous people bemoan the loss of the haulers) and then entered the gate for the race.

      Now, the race is obviously why we are all there, but in terms of the overall experience, the Midway was an important part of the “fun factor”. With that missing, I think it is just one more thing making it difficult for fans traveling long distances to choose to come and enjoy the race weekend.

    2. That is a great point. I go to Darlington because of the Throwback paint schemes. And uniforms. And even throwback music for pre race concert. You get so much more than just a race. I buy the pit passes and take tons of pictures. And I live one hour from RIR and do NOT go to RIR because there is nothing extra.

  20. NASCAR fan 40 years. Still love it. Still watch most every lap. Should never left roots. ROckingham, wilksboro, local short tracks for xfinity series like hickory south Boston, ect. Stop with all the gimmicks. I hate the chase. Teams/driver should be rewarded from Daytona to homestead. Playoffs are stupid in racing. The PC culture has also tried to destroy NASCAR. NASCAR tried to go PC. Backfired lost their base.

  21. As a fan of NASCAR since the heyday years of 2000-2005, it really pains me to see the ever shrinking crowds, poor TV ratings, and general sense of doom that is currently hanging over the sport. I agree with you Jeff that it is real hard not to get down on everything, a feeling that almost makes me want to stop watching in itself. I hate seeing the sport in this state and worry about the future.

    I’m going to Kansas in two weeks time for the Cup race and i’m worried about the crowds. 10 years ago, that race sold out and it was awesome. Sure, sometimes the racing wasn’t the most exciting, but there was something thrilling about being one in a sold out crowd to watch a Cup race, regardless of venue. It was a spectacle to have the whole crowd stand to see the field dig into turn 1 on the first lap. Now in 2017, I’m really concerned about what I am going to find for a crowd on May 13th. How many people are going to be standing for the green flag this year?

    A lot of folks talk about changing the cars, making the racing more exciting. How do you do that? NASCAR has chopped off a ton of downforce the last 2 seasons, and it appears to have helped a great deal. I personally think the racing has been stellar for much of the season. Richmond had a good deal of passing, a solid number of lead changes and good drama overall.

    Personally, I think NASCAR needs to stop reinventing the wheel with points and procedural rules every year. Keep tweaking on the cars, that’s fine, but for the love of god can we come into a new season where there is not a new rule on how to win the championship?

    The Sprint Cup “Chase” was amended what? 4 times during it’s lifespan? Plus a new points system in 2011. Now we have the Monster Energy Playoff’s and it’s new take on the rules. I think this constant flux creates confusion among the fan-base, of which the less hardcore and invested one’s start to tune out. Give some stability to the overall sport as a whole by keeping things constant for a while, see what comes of it. Instead of continuously tinkering with the points, NASCAR could spend its resources and time on refining the on track product and keeping the series going the right direction from a competition standpoint.

    Thanks Jeff for your commentary on this. I think it’s something a lot of us fans have been wondering for some time now.

  22. The Brian France death spiral. What new gimmicks will he pile on top of the old (failed) gimmicks in the years to come? What a time to be a fan..

  23. No gimmicks. No stages.
    No in-car shots. Show the race, not the driver’s helmet.
    Follow more cars and drivers than the top 5. Pretend like the other 35 also have fans.

  24. When I first started watching Nascar, it was fun. The races were exciting, I got to find & root for the “good guys & bad guys”. My driver is Dale Jr. for a number of reasons. Then the Chase came. And all the tinkering with it. They had a good product & have pretty much ruined it imo. I am no longer a fan of Nascar racing, except at the short tracks. When Jr. retires, I won’t be picking a new driver. And I will be keeping track of what’s going on, but won’t be watching much. I was never a sports fan & didn’t watch any until Nascar. And BZF wrecked it for me. I’m a disappointed former fan of Nascar.

  25. I feel the big problem is consistency. Both on the track and off. What may not be a caution on lap ten is suddenly is a caution with ten to go. The same thing with the rules. Every year it’s a new gimmick. Now with the Fanatics tent even the experience before the race is different.
    The whole Tony Stewart lug nuts saga is a good example. Fine the guy and then enforce his point with a new rule?
    NASCAR is so concerned about what the fans want. They forgot about the most important thing.
    The race!

  26. Look at the action of a Lucas Off-road truck race. Short, lots of tight racing, inevitable banging and bumping,dirt and jumps

  27. The tracks and hotels need to work together. Screwing the fans has to stop.

  28. The impact we are seeing year to year now due to the decline in attendance and viewers is small compared to the impact we will see after the current TV contracts run out. The new contracts reduction in TV money and coverage will have a massive impact on the sport. There will be even less coverage on major networks and significant reductions in staffing and salaries across all parts NASCAR due the massive reduction in TV money. Will NASCAR survive…. ABSOLUTELY. But the ride down is going to be even more painful for us long term fans (this is my 49th year attending NASCAR races). Each year until the end of the current TV contracts, the percentage of total money coming into the sport from TV will increase. That will give TV a greater and greater voice in how the races formatted and us fans in the stands less input.
    The only way to get back to real race for every position in every race is to strip away all the gimmicky points and championship formats. Get back to having nearly 100% of the money coming into the sport that goes to the teams for the actual racing be allocated to each race and based on position finished. Make it worth enough $$$ to a driver in every position to pass the driver in front regardless of teammates. If you pass me you are taking money out of my pocket mentality. Make the Championship about pride and accomplishment and not money. The money should be in every race based on every position. And NO, this is not my idea. Bruton Smith said this more than 10 years ago at the start of the decline and start of gimmicks in NASCAR. If we still want stages….fine with me. Just make it about $$$ for that stage and not points.

  29. I think there’s a whole slate of ideas NASCAR could do to attract new fans and help the young drivers gain attention. I’m living in Southern California and it seems like in a state of 45 million (estimate) im the only fan. I know that’s not true since I went to Fontana recently and it has a decent crowd, but that’s what it feels like. NASCAR and it’s fans seem like a lonely island. In California we have the car culture here, weather, and the population to help this sport in this state. Kids here love drifting and with Monster being a Premier sponsor in both forms of Motorsport they should do some cross marketing campaigns. Get Kyle Larson drifting a car at a Monster event throw it on YouTube and I’m positive you just added new fans to his base. This was just an example. I do think NASCAR itself is doing a lot and has been doing a lot to help but they do need to appeal a little more to this up and coming tech generation

  30. Ben a big fan for 40 years go to Martinsville Charlotte camping Richmond love racing cost me $1,200 to do all that they need to look at for the race fans I’m just a hard-working man

  31. O and Bristol for five years in a row cost me $1,200 every year racing camping that’s way too much you campers didn’t have to pay@ Rockingham we all know it’s all about the money now and the drivers hide from us and less we pay more money Fans need a break den den

  32. Seems obvious to me… it’s all been downhill since they put a damn wing on the car.

    1. Thats it . The COT Chassis is the main reason the racing is garage . New body with the Gen 6 , but same ol crap chassis .

  33. I don’t see what all the fuss is honestly. NASCAR is no different from any other sport in the fact that it is constantly evolving with the times. The NFL has made drastic rule changes and great names like Favre, Marino, etc have come and gone but they continue to pack the stands… Minus stadiums like Cleveland and Jacksonville (those reasons are self explanatory). NASCAR has lost driver’s but has an A+ list of new drivers replacing the old. The incorporation of stage racing has increased the competition and the restarts have been pretty spectacular this year. Some of the tracks yield heavily to long green flag runs with single file racing for 100 + laps and NASCAR has tried to break that. I think Texas had the longest green flag run so far this year on a newly repaved surface. Don’t quote me but I believe they are averaging somewhere in the ball park of 6 cautions a race. Some are for cut tires and debris and beside the kind of ridiculous competition yellows there have been a few hard wrecks but if you are watching NASCAR for the wrecks and not the strategy and competition then well that’s a different argument.

  34. #1 NASCAR and the broadcasters have to improve the way to watch the race at home. They fail to capture truly how fast the cars are going and how good the racing actually is by spotlighting a car all the way around the track. Get innovative, pull an XFL and redefine how we watch autosports, I don’t know if the answer is drones, but I really want to say drones. I’m also all for a PPV option to get rid of commercials, I think there have been more commercial cautions than viewed cautions this year, and that’s just annoying.

    I think the ability to interact more from home would help, an ESPN Streak for Cash type app offering prizes would be cool for during the race. The NASCAR Mobile App (with subscription) is a really cool idea in essence, but nothing is ever synched up; the in car radio, the dashboard, the TV, everything is always 30-60 seconds off of each other, expanding and improving on this would keep me more interested in the race. Making viewing more 21st century.

    Put Dale Jr. in the FOX booth, get rid of DW.
    -that’s how you don’t lose Jr. fans.

    #2 Fix the cars. These cars just stick to the ground, I think they need to be raised and the front splitter replaced with a valence. The race cars should stop trying to play 100+MPH lawnmowers and tearing up infields in route to sending them to the garage every spinout through the turf. I think there is also a perception that developing aero has become more important than actual driver skill, and maybe it shouldn’t be that way.

    #3 We have the stages and the playoffs now, DON’T CHANGE IT. I think some development of how things are handled with the stages is needed (i.e. cautions ending them, pit row closing, number of caution laps, if the cautions laps count, etc.), but overall I think the stages have added value to the racing. Sure some people don’t and won’t like them, but more people will hate inconsistency. Same goes for the Chase, I mean Playoffs, sure it’s probably not the most optimal or fair way to crown a champion, but just think a team that finished in the bottom half of the NHL regular season won the Stanley Cup in 2012, so not every sport’s playoffs always produce the best result.

  35. I married a NASCAR fan 17 years ago… I knew next to nothing about the sport but I’ve noticed as I’ve become more interested in the sport he’s become less interested. My observations for what they are worth:

    – everyone complains at declining TV numbers but the truth is you are on specialized sports stations not network television. As well, tv audiences in general are decreasing. I may not watch but what percentage of people still follow along on social media to see how the race is going? Do you need to change perspective on what it means to be successful with fans?
    – The pre-race shows that were on Speed allowed me to get to know more about the races and personalities / families who were there. That’s disappeared so there is less getting to see how much fun people are having at the track…
    – The personalities are so corporate and PC because if they say too much NASCAR will fine them so its harder for the personalities to come through. The rivalries are different. The oversight of the sport is also so inconsistent on fines and approach it seems a bit crazy… As I recently read they have to use clips from really old races to actually advertise their existing product.
    – Have all “The Chase” / “Playoffs” changes actually made any changes brought more fans in or had them pay attention?

    We attended my first race last year with our 12 year old daughter. The person above who mentioned it isn’t very exciting at the Track was right on the $. We don’t tailgate and I was shocked at how few good food choices were at the track. There are no real places to get out of the hot hot sun other than below the grandstands. Not really that much interesting to do unless you buy really expensive specialty tickets for pit road, etc. It makes it very expensive for one day when you can watch it on television for free. We hope to go back this year but I know we will be looking for other tracks to attend in the future.

    1. I don’t think NASCAR has lost its ability to reach out to fans via Television. The races are broadcasted on Fox which televises the super bowl, the world series and many other top named sporting events and has weekly analysis and breakdown with NASCAR race hub on FS1 and live televised feeds of practice and qualifying on FS1. If NASCAR were to fall to like NBCSN like the Verizon Indy car series maybe it would suffer even worse. NASCAR does have a wonderful app that has in car feeds, radio chat, in depth analysis and much more if you are looking for more.

  36. Very good article Jeff, well stated.

    I’m 60 years old, and have been a racing fan since I was 10. The unfortunate reality… in this day and age racing is widely perceived by consumers with entertainment dollars to spend as “cars going in circles for 3+ hours”.

    Those of us racing die-hards can debate the good old days, whether the Chase format is good or bad, the merits of stage racing, the list goes on and on. But the reality is that we’re fighting an uphill battle. There are just too many entertainment options in today’s world, many of them instant and at our fingertips. The “value proposition” of tying up a weekend, and spending hundreds of dollars to (at the end of the day) watch “cars go in circles” just does not resonate with many people anymore. And if they “do” have some level of interest, watching it in their living rooms seems like a much better investment of money and time for the entertainment they feel they’re receiving.

    It pains me greatly to say that, because I remain a fan. But times have changed, society has changed, entertainment options and how people want to consume their entertainment have changed. We are to a large degree “fighting gravity”, and I’m afraid the prospects for our sport ever returning to its glory days are dim.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  37. Jerry @4:47 wrote F1 is now his passion, which is wierd to me because I have loved NASCAR for years but in the last 3 or 4 have watched F1 religiously as well, I thought I was alone in that regard but I’m definitely not.
    NASCAR changes for me would include: Scrap the Chase, for a year and see what happens, the old qualifying system back, lower prices at ALL tracks, bring trackside live shows back, at home watching, I would feel as I was a part of the weekend, and last but not least, try new venues, there’s plenty around.

  38. The things that Nascar really needs will never happen and I’ve accepted that. Open face helmets, open cars that you can see the driver working in, bias ply tires. You know things that make it dirty and smoky. The fact is the racing right now is as good as ever and I’ve been watching for over 40 years but it’s way too clean. Also, too corporate. Yes, the championship is one big gimmick. But, so what? It’s the same for everyone and no worse than other sports. The one thing that can be done however, is the cost to attend. What they really need is a cheaper ticket. I really wanted to go to Bristol last month but I just cant spend $100 for a ticket. I applaud the effort to cut youth tickets but what about adults? The growth spurt of recent memory was built on women going. Mostly with husbands/boyfriends. How many working couples can afford the trip now? You’ve got a gabillion dollar tv deal so cut tickets drastically. 60k at $50 is better than 30k at $100. Think about it.

  39. I believe NASCAR is making some moves in the right direction. The stage racing has been far more exciting than I ever expected. Eliminating some of the practice sessions also makes for more interesting racing as the teams have less time to adjust their cars. The bigger issues for me include the lack of ADA access (especially given the increasing age of the average fan), poor cellular and internet reception, and overpriced hotel/food options near the tracks. I also struggle with the glut of 1-1/2 mile tracks that we return to at least twice yearly. While I understand Charlotte is the center of the NASCAR universe, is it really necessary to go there more than three times per year? I would love to see several of the tracks I described above be replaced by more short tracks AND road courses! My dream would be for NASCAR to build a short track or road course in the PacNW. Lots of lost soles here longing for some NASCAR love.

    As far as driver access is concerned, unless you have endless time to wait around to possibly get a closeup glimpse of your favorite driver, or a ton of $$, forget about it.

    I’ve become less enamored of theTV coverage because of the frequency and length of commercial breaks and the blatent favoritism noted from the current on-air commentators. I try very hard to listen to MRN or PRN and mute the tv channel so that I don’t have to listen to it.

  40. In my opinion, there are 3 main reasons for the decline of the sport:
    1. Get the damn cars off the ground! The COT and the introduction of splitters and side skirts have a direct correlation to the decline in quality of racing, as well as viewership. NASCAR needs to introduce a new ride height rule, and get rid of the splitters and side skirts. They make the cars too aero-dependent, and take a lot of the car out of the hands of the drivers. This brings me to my next point,
    2. Engineering. While engineering is cool and all, fans don’t come to the track to see which team prepared the fastest race car. They come to the track to see which driver can out-drive, and out-last the competition. The sport has become almost completely dependent on engineering, which is not a good thing in my opinion. It almost takes the drivers out of the equation and makes them less important. I’m not sure how this can be fixed, as we are probably already too far down that road to turn back, but something must be done to take some of the car back from the engineering side and return it to the drivers.
    3. NASCAR has lost touch with the core fan base. Ever hear the term “dance with the one that brought you?” Yeah, NASCAR needs to memorize this quote and realize how important it really is. The higher-ups in Charlotte and Daytona truly believe that their core fan makes around $70,000/yr, and is into golfing at the local country club and looking for the next great tech gadget (maybe not the last two, but you get the point). In what universe is this actually true? Your core fan is the blue collar worker, who likes to mow the lawn on the weekend and relax with some cold Budweiser or Coors Light. In recent years, the sport has seemingly done all it can do to distance itself from this image, and appeal to the “yuppy” crowd. NASCAR needs to do a serious study of local dirt tracks, becuse guess what? Local sprint car racing and the World of Outlaws is alive and just as popular as ever. My local dirt track is routinely standing room only (depending on the weather), and this is for a track that runs every week from March- October. One of the reasons why is because rather than shy away from it, they embrace the blue collar, party image. While the Outlaws tour may not have the big time sponsors or tv package it once did, they still manage to put butts in the seats. All is not lost for NASCAR, but it will take someone with some real guts to change the current path of the sport. I’m not sure that person currently exists within the executive team.

  41. Hi Jeff,
    You know me (even if you don’t admit it) you know how I feel about NASCAR. You know how are whole family feels about NASCAR. Well times they are a changing and not for the better.
    From your point of view, you and others in the media have great access to the teams and drivers. As fans, we do not. How many tracks for what ever reason don’t have a fan area in the infield? Like Bristol? Now the chance of getting an autograph or even seeing your favorite driver, is as close to zero as it can possibly get. Maybe, if your lucky, you’ll see a driver as he flies by in his golf cart, doing everything possible to not make eye contact or any kind of interaction. You want to rub elbows at these tracks, you better know somebody on the inside that can get you a hot pass.
    What about tracks with fan access to the infield, like say, Vegas. Better, but you’re still on the other side of those fences at the mercy of drivers who in most cases, not all, avoid those areas as best they can. Settling for an occasional wave but again, not making eye contact.
    We have three race renewals sitting on our kitchen counter, one of them still unopened. In the past these would have already been sent back but now they sit while the seven of us decide if we really want to spend the money.
    So what happened to bring this change in our feelings about NASCAR? Honestly it started with Carl’s I’m not going to race this year, seven weeks before the start of the season. That opened our eyes, in a search for a new driver to support, at how little most, not all, the drivers care about the fans. NASCAR drivers love to race, the cup guys are at the pinnacle of their sport. Their making the big bucks, driving the fast cars and people are buying their stuff. Do they have to interact with the fans too. If you have the chance to observe, watch as a driver makes his mad dash to and from the hauler to his car. Watch how if he does get trapped into signing an autograph, how quickly it’s done, with no words and no eye contact. And my favorite, the scripted thank you to the fans during the post race required interviews. There is one major exception to this, is there a reporter with a camera nearby? That driver just became every fans best friend. Camera is off….bye!!
    What about Xfinity drivers? Think about how many of them drive for major teams. They are being groomed to step in when the time is right. To reach that pinnacle of NASCAR when they can finally sit back in their motor coach until the last second before they have to jump in the car. To only be obligated to the sponsor meet and greets. They are being groomed by the ones they will eventually replace.
    Let’s talk tracks. One of our renewals is for a track that is getting a second race….great. But wait, in order to keep the seats for the race we’ve been going to since 2004, seats that took us years of upgrading to get, are now only guaranteed if we buy both races. Something we had no plans to do. So now we’ve been strong armed into two races, two airline flights two hotels and all the things that go with it. Renewal number two is for a track that is doing a major track upgrade. Again seats it took year of upgrading to get are now in jeopardy of being taken away once the renovations are completed.
    In both of these cases, the seven of us that attend these races, are in discussion if we plan on continuing to go.
    There is one glimmer of hope for our future involvement with NASCAR. During our search for a driver to support, we were fortunate to be introduced to Xfinity driver Blake Koch. Truth be told, Blake reached out to us, asking if he could be our driver. WHAT? A driver asking for fans? It’s true, and in the past few months we’ve had more interaction with Blake, and his crew chief Chris Rice then in all the years supporting Carl. I have absolutely no doubt that Blake, Chris and the entire Kaulig racing team cherish their fans and the do that by making themselves available. Weather that’s at the track, special events, like the 5K walk at Bristol or their weekly Facebook live chats on Monday nights.
    As their popularity grows my biggest fear is that they start to get swallowed up as the demand for their attention increases. I’ll keep my fingers crossed it doesn’t happen and enjoy this time with them. There may or may not be cup races in our future, but we will attend and support Xfinity races when ever possible in support of Blake, Chris and the Kaulig Racing Team. We’ll watch the cup race from home, fast forward through the commercials and the tv on mute.

  42. I’m golf guy who used to flip over to watch occasional on Sunday and started to really enjoy it. Started watching most every Sunday because of Jeff Gordon. Now that he’s not racing I watch less . There should be more Saturday night racing imo.

  43. As a newer fan to the sport (Father in law’s watched it for years and last year I finally decided to give it a shot), I think a couple people have nailed it on the head in terms of not promoting the drivers as a person, which is honestly why I love your “12 Questions” series so much.

    You have this whole generation of young, promising drivers from Chase Elliott to Daniel Suarez and Kyle Larson to Ryan Blaney. Why NASCAR isn’t building ad campaigns around these guys is beyond me, but reading about the incompetence of Brian France it doesn’t surprise me.

  44. The main thing that sucks about these ratings is eventually you’ll be watching NASCAR affiliated series via streaming for practice and qualifying if they continue to drop. I’m glad Indycar streams on race control but the production quality is horrible compared to LIVE tv.

  45. What do I want? At the minimum for Brian France to admit that he has made a lot of mistakes and that many of the changes he instituted have contributed to the current downturn of the sport. The ultimate would be for him to get removed and most of the rules changed back to when the sport was thriving (but that probably isn’t going to happen).

    I consider myself a disgruntled customer. I continue to watch the races even though I hate most of the changes put in since 2004. Or, put another way, I continue to go to the restaurant and eat food that I am not satisfied with. I am disappointed that I can’t walk away altogether but the best I’ve been able to do is divest from the sport. I refused to pick a new driver once Gordon retired because I refuse to buy t-shirts, hats, diecasts, etc. or attend any races. I won’t spend any money on NASCAR beyond the cost of cable to watch the races on tv (I would still pay for cable even if I hated NASCAR).

  46. Let the flag control the start of racing,not some silly start zone or the drivers.10 lap caution flags are rediculous for a simple spin out or a piece of debris on the track.the cars should look show room stock with an air dam on front and a small spoiler on the rear.last 50 laps or 50 miles which ever one is less,caution laps do not count.the race starts and ends at the checkered stripe,not some silly line on the back stretch.quit telling us how great the racing is,we know what we are seeing,its not my first race but if something doesn’t change soon, it might be my last.

  47. I agree with the comments on making the tracks more fun for the people who go. Make the tracks accountable.

    Here is another idea – Ask fans what they DO like about going to the races and expand on that. Do more of those things.

  48. I’ve been a huge fan for the past 15 years. I never miss watching a race on tv but going to the actually races have gotten tougher. I used to go to 5 races a year with Fontana, Las Vegas and Phoenix. With the west coast swing, it’s now too difficult for the working fan to visit all thee races. A few years back, Phoenix used to be a night race in April which was awesome because you didn’t have to sit in the sun and bake too. Then the cost of tickets is another reason why fans are not going to races. Just to sit in the Earnhardt Terrace at Las Vegas for the Cup race was $190 a seat then you add hotel rooms (which are over $150 per night) to the list. For three people to go to a race, it’s over $1000 for one weekend and not many people want to fork out that much money. The Las Vegas Neon Garage is another great addition that more tracks should try to implement to give fans access. People want to see what goes on behind the scenes and get a different experience that just sitting in the grandstands.

    Twitter has honestly improved my interest in NASCAR too. I can easily see stats and updates on my phone through the race weekend. When things happen on the track, I know there will be something funny to see on Twitter which helps keep my interest throughout the weekend. Also in the past, Directv also used to have driver channels called Hotpass which was awesome. I like knowing everything about my driver throughout the race. You got to hear and see in-car radio/tv of your favorite driver as well as the race broadcast. NASCAR should look into bringing things back like that to help fans stay involved throughout the race.

  49. Gluck….as much as I wish I could share your sentiment, I just cannot. NASCAR is sick and without the TV revenue subsidizing the sport, it will collapse in the next decade without a major undertaking.

    1. Cars. The current car needs major revisions. Start with aero. Remove the splitter, side skirts, straighten out the bodies (no offset like now), and remove the rear 1/4 panel extensions. Make the cars look like the street versions. No more common greenhouse templates. If a car is better, so be it. Suspensions need to be radically changed. First step is to institute a 1″ maximum sway bar. The 1″ max sway bar immediately requires a paradigm shift back to traditional spring setups that Humpy Wheeler has been preaching for years, and away from the coil binding set ups of today. Having a traditional spring/shock setup will get the nose of the car off the ground. Tires. Best way to create good racing is to have a tire that wears out. Ditch radial technology and go back to bias-ply tires. Soft bias-ply tires. Tires that wear out if abused, and allow for slipping and sliding.

    2. Tracks. The tracks have become complacent and have ignored the “fans” since the TV revenue and corporate sponsorships have taken over as the primary revenue provider. No longer do the tracks have to market their events, nearly 90% dependent on the crowd to pay for the event. Now the fans are essentially TV props. At track events have declined at the same rate as the attendance has. The manufacturer midway is essentially non-existent. FS1 and NBCSN no longer has the at-track stage like Speed did. The merchandise tent has take away the trailers and sanitized it. What used to take a day just to see everything, now can be walked through in 30 minutes. What are tracks doing to make their weekend a must attend? I don’t see it.

    3. NASCAR. A book can be written about the failure that is BZF and his legacy at NASCAR. The problems all start at the top. NASCAR will never change until BZF and the France family is forced to change. The whole culture needs to be changed. From the arrogance of NASCAR, to the sanitized events, to the drivers being no longer “one of us”, to the teams having “Charters” and guaranteed revenue, to TV money running the sport, to being completely out of touch with its fan base.

    NASCAR is in a death spiral, and with the societal change away from the car culture, to technology, to mismanagement, and losing an entire generation of fans, the outlook is bleak.

  50. Before I start my rant, let me say I’ve been faithfully following this sport since 1998, when a friend of mine gave me tickets to a Craftsman truck race at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville. I will continue to watch this sport no matter how bad things get, and I think some even more difficult times are ahead for NASCAR. Racing as a whole will continue in some form or fashion either in America or world-wide, but whether NASCAR is a part of that in a decade or so is sort of an uncertain thought right now.
    It hurts to see the sport I was so excited about in the early 2000’s fall so far. Reading articles and fans reactions and ideas have presented a wide range of reasons why the sport has fallen and also a myriad of ideas to increase attendance and ratings for said sport.
    Personally, I feel that a lot of fans that came on board in the late 90’s and early 2000’s were more “fringe” fans, looking for the next big or trendy thing. The core fans were there, but ISC and SMI tracks expanded explosively to accommodate these fringe fans. TV ratings reflected these trends as well. Now I feel we are basically back to the core fans, with many of these leaving the sport every year due to lack of interest, financial constraints, or, God forbid, passing away.
    This brings us to the current challenge….can NASCAR attract new core fans? Results so far do NOT look promising, this generation does not seem to have the love affair with cars that traditional core fans have, as well as having literally thousands of other distractions that traditional fans did not deal with. This leads me to believe that NASCAR will continue to contract. How far? I have no idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised if 10 years from now there are maybe 20 races on the schedule with about 30-35 drivers per race, if that much. I will continue to watch, but the decline of the sport just breaks my heart.

  51. One other thing…..I put the demise of NASCAR squarely on the shoulders of one Brian Z. France. His flawed business model of catering to the fringe fans that would leave within a few years has proven lethal to the sport. He has ruled over one bad decision after another, and I feel a competent person could have had the sport in a better place right now….not at peak levels, but much better than what we are seeing now. His legacy is going to be ugly….

  52. I don’t golf, fish, hunt for hobbies. I go racing. That’s what I want to see. I don’t go to the track for the fan walk, interactive displays, or chase university. The only racing now seems to be in the pits. Yellow flag freezes field on the track, but you can pass each other in the pits. Someone can lead all day, and a caution takes them out because of pit strategy. Seems to me after a caution you should be able to line back up in the position you had when the flag came out. Then, they could adjust their cars to make them better. No wave arounds, no Lucky Dogs! Earn it by racing your way back. Some of the best racing on the track was watching the leaders trying to get by cars on the tail end of the lead lap.

  53. Well first they have to stop the bleeding. They cannot continue to lose tv and at track fans. If they can just maintain this level for a period of 2-3 years that would be an improvement. My dad made a great observation Saturday as we watched the Xfinity race at his house …it’s now a made for tv product. They literally could be running in an empty stadium and the perception is nobody that runs the sport or tv partners would care.

    TV pays all the bills at these tracks right now. But as the ratings continue to decline, the golden goose that is the tv deal is going to dwindle in future negotiations.

    For too long changes have been made to the sport by Brian France and the powers that be with the tag line that “this is what the fans wanted”. most of these changes are NOT what we wanted or asked for. The introduction of the COT started a downward spiral where that connection with the cars on the track looking like the street model went away and it’s never coming back.

    Hey tracks…quit charging the same price for tickets now as you did 10 years ago at the height when you had double the demand for tickets (i’m looking at you Richmond $101 for majority of the best frontstretch seats). I bet you might have had a better chance selling more of them at $60 or $70 a pop.

    I could go on and on but the problem is for too long the power structure of this sport did not give a darn what the fans said/wanted and did whatever they wanted because no matter what they did, we kept showing up. Then we quit showing up and they go….wait what happened. Far too reactionary.

  54. Can only speak for myself. Drove 4 hours to Richmond and ran in the 5k (it was fun!) Got a free ticket to xfinity race, tried to give away (nobody wanted), left Richmond, drove 4 more hours to NHRA in Charlotte. Had a great time. Talked to, took pics with and got autographs of drivers. Four-wide was wonderful. All tickets are a pit pass, no extra charges, oh except now CMS charges $5 for parking which used to be free. John, Courtney, Brittany Force, Ron Capps. Great personalities, great fun, great racing. Loved, loved, loved it. Still follow NASCAR but I lost the passion awhile back. Everything said above by others is true. I enjoy your coverage but really don’t see a future for NASCAR as we know it. Evolution happens as does extinction.

  55. I think that some of the decline in popularity for NASCAR is a product of the separation of fans and drivers. Years ago you might see a driver/crew chief in your hotel or at a restaurant. The motor coach lot separated the fans from the drivers. Now the drivers scurry away from the fans. More fan interaction needs to happen. Not just corporate sponsor events. Get the drivers signing autographs and meeting fans without gouging them for additional (costly) meet and greets.
    When I first became a fan in the mid eighties we met drivers/teams and owners when we were out around the race tracks. You could relate to them. The current group of competitors thinks corporate jets and million dollar coaches is the standard. If the decline in spectators and viewers continues this will be the last group to realize the wealth.

  56. I love nascar!!!! But think out the box some. Give the team’s something like a mulligan. Maybe 10 mulligans for the season. If they get caught speeding they can use a mulligan. If they have a postbox penalty they can use a mulligan. Think outside the box. Heck I’ll still watch anyway.

  57. There are many forces working against NASCAR. Some, admittedly, outside of their control. But the majority are very much within their control. Take a look at this Phoenix race from 1989. Sterling Marlin’s car is ON FIRE (literally) on pit road and the caution does not come out. A car even has to drive around it and the safety vehicle to exit pit road back onto the track. They even show the flag stand guys looking over there. They see it.

    That is entertainment, Brian France!

    Granted this is a bit of an extreme example, but could you imagine such a thing happening in 2017? Today the race would be red-flagged for 30 minutes, drivers would be interviewed ad nauseum over the radio by ol’ DW as they sat. And sat. And sat. Then we’d have 15-20 minutes of parade laps and pit stops.

  58. I started watching in 92′ So 25 year fan I guess . I loved it up until the COT came out . I realized during that first race at Bristol it was going to be bad. Bumpers lining up made it so you rarely saw a guy get under a guy and move him out of the way , Side force made it where anyone could drive the car and if one got sideways it was extremely easy to save it . I could kinda stomach the chase and some of the stupid rules ( although I really wish they would put the lapped cars back up front and loose the lucky dog a wave around , that created some really great hard racing for many laps where now you only see the leaders racing hard for a couple laps if that . The commitment line rule needs to go as well , as well as the overtime line . Just run the race till its the last lap and if the caution flies then let the leader finish the lap . Change the car . Get back to a car that drives like the Gen4 and acts like the Gen4 ( the 97 98 model ) . It was the best race car NASCAR ever had and produced the most exciting racing Ive ever seen . Its that simple . Yeah it would cost the teams some money but incorporate it over the period of two years just like the COT . Money is another issue . It costs a sponsor 20 million per year to sponsor a car ! Why ? That is absolutely ridiculous . I so wish I could get a audience with some of NASCAR’s top brass to explain why I ,along with the 30 other people I know that used to go to races 5-7 times per year , loved the sport them and despise what it has become now .

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