Why NASCAR is Dead

02.19.2005 · Posted in Sports & Culture

21 February 2005
Seattle – With Jeff Gordon’s recent win at the Daytona 500, I began wondering about the future of the sport. Although there was nothing remarkable about this race, after much thought, I came to this conclusion: NASCAR is dead.

Maybe it’s because there was nothing remarkable about this race that I started thinking this way. Once started though, ideas began floating around about the sport as a whole, and it soon became obvious that, despite the TV ratings second only to the NFL and a geographical fan base spreading across the world, NASCAR has jumped the shark.
I didn’t always feel this way. My formal history as a fan goes back over 15 years, to when I had my first real job, and my own TV. In the early 90’s I would watch Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, and Dale Earnhardt battle it out on grainy television broadcasts, complete with clumsy graphics.
During this time I was a complete auto sports fan. I liked racing, no matter the genre. I subscribed to Racer Magazine, and ordered brochures from Skip Barber and Bob Bondurant, waiting for the day I could afford to attend. NASCAR was no better, no bigger, and only slightly different that the other styles of racing I enjoyed.
During the early to mid-1990’s I attended the CART race at Laguna Seca, the Atlanta 500 NASCAR race (before they reversed the track), CART and IROC races at Michigan International Speedway, and the inagural Houston CART road race. I also got covered in dust at the Battleground Speedway outside of Houston (Thunder-Bombers, anyone?), and watched the power lines over the start-finish line at historic Selingsrove Speedway whipped into a frenzy as the winged-sprint cars blew past (oftentimes with the front wheels off the ground).
I cashed in my jar of quarters and attended a one-day “get acquanted” session taught by the Team Texas Driving School and held at the old Texas World Speedway in College Station, TX. 150 mph on a 2 1/2 mile oval really gets your attention — but that’s a story for another day.
So, what’s wrong with the 2005 version of NASCAR?
Too Many Races
36 races (plus two “all star” races) a year is too many. You hear the drivers talk about it all the time. In a recent Sports Illustrated survey, 37% of current drivers responded that the one thing they would change if they were NASCAR czar for a day is to make the schedule shorter. Rusty Wallace cites it as one of the primary reasons for his retirement.
Let’s forget about the drivers for a second, though. Let’s talk about us fans. I recently signed up for a digital video recorder (DVR) from my cable company. And, although I’m a gadget freak, one of my primary reasons for getting the DVR is to record races. But even with the help of technology, there is no way that I have 114 hours of my life during the season (38 races, each about three hours long) to devote exclusively to NASCAR.
Technology is Ignored
Even the most basic of passenger cars today boasts technology unheard of even just a few years ago. Things like overhead cams, electronic fuel injection, active suspension, and active drivetrain components (including differential) can all be found in the dealer’s showroom, so you think they’d be standard in NASCAR. You would be wrong.
While manufacturers such as Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge all have the technology to do these things (and much more — telemetry anyone?), NASCAR does not allow them.
Rather, you get fuel mixed into the intake air via a four barrel carburetor, it’s volume constricted by a restrictor plate, sucked through an intake valve controled by pushrods.
Not only does this ignore what’s going on in the real word, in some cases it requires a manufacturer to build a product in order to compete in NASCAR that they would never dare try to market to the general public.
Too Few Track Owners
In short – Decisions Based on Profit & Business (not the races)
New tracks….markets.
Too few track owners…
The only thing appealing is if I have an opportunity to get behind the scenes and watch in a way that the normal fan does not. This means reading various blogs or watching the race via NASCAR-in Car…

Comments are closed