Every passing season, it just continues to fade. There’s a hauler load full of reason for the decline of NASCAR, and no one fix takes care of it all. NASCAR will never be the NFL, but short of that, it is possible to enjoy a big piece of the sports viewing pie.
There is one major fix that can help stop the bleeding. It’s time to let racing people run NASCAR.
At NASCAR’s inception was Big Bill France and an eclectic mix of businessmen, mechanics, and people with some valuable knowledge of how to advance the growing sport of auto racing. Bill France knew the appeal of stock car racing and he seized upon it. By the time Bill France Jr. entered the picture, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was ripe for a giant leap forward. Sure enough, as Winston stepped in as a title sponsor, and other corporate types entered the fray, money poured into the sport, and a fortuitous series of events resulted in an explosion of growth.
Change is unavoidable. Changes in technology have changed NASCAR, and has also changed our media usage habits. The sport seemed to reach its zenith at the turn of the 21st century as names like Earnhardt and Gordon began to transcend auto racing. As Brian France took the reins from his father, he came in with wind in his sails. The difficulty is that he had nowhere to go but down.
Say what you will about his intelligence and his scruples, France is not a dummy. He’s a business man. There’s the issue: Brian France is not a racing man.
What has followed in the last decade plus is a litany of miscalculations. Fundamentally, it stems from an inability to understand cause and effect with respect to changes instituted in NASCAR. France failed to understand his brand’s uniqueness. Fans have never wanted to have NASCAR be like other sports. On it’s face, the idea of a playoff seems intriguing, but they should have known it wouldn’t work. In terms of the brand, racing appeals to a certain kind of demographic. Though it takes bucks to run in this sport, it doesn’t necessarily mean it becomes a sport of the affluent. Regardless, even the blue bloods find a certain appeal in a rough cut, Marlboro man type racer.
NASCAR has attempted course corrections. Some of was needed and paid off. But in the same way, a team needs to fire its coach, because their message has fallen on deaf ears, it’s time for Brian France to put his racing body in the hands of racing people.
Fortunately, there are a number of former drivers, and others involved with the sport who can fill that role. Put simply, NASCAR needs an extreme makeover. Whether he likes it or not, Brian France’s name is mud within the sport. He needs to put racing people at the forefront in a demonstration that he is committed to making the sport better, and is therefore willing to take his hands off the wheel.
To do anything is to try to put more band aids on a gaping wound.