Everyone is ranting and raving this week about how much NASCAR sucks. Turns out, in the two weeks before the train wreck
at Talladega, NASCAR held town-hall meetings with drivers and teams to talk about ways to improve the sport. How’s that for a feedback loop?
According to Scene Daily, two meetings took place. One dealt with economic and racing issues. Another addressed manufacturers. Each team had representation at both forums. Per Scene Daily:
“We learned about NASCAR’s research and some of their initiatives,” said Hendrick Motorsports general manager Marshall Carlson. “We talked about building some more efficiencies in the sport, analyzing the schedules, looking at what rules changes have helped, what rules changes have created maybe unintended circumstances."
Fans venting about how all of the cars look the same might have reason to smile. Manufacturers told NASCAR they want “brand identity,” a fancy marketing term meaning a Ford on the track should look like a Ford off the track. Here’s Bernie Marcus, a Ford engineer, who was quoted in the story:
“It was an open discussion of where everybody wants to go from the manufacturer’s point of view and NASCAR’s point of view,” Marcus said. “There’s going to be some ongoing discussions. The Cup car is now in its third year, and we all know there’s some room for improvement in brand identity and looks."
NASCAR also has a Fan Council with 12,000 members. It is credited for coming up with ideas like uniform start times and double-file restarts. Michigan International Speedway and Bristol also have advisory boards to make race weekends more entertaining.
The NASCAR mafia said all the things you’re supposed to say at a vent session. But when asked about how quickly things would change, check out Robin Pemberton’s thoughts.
“There are some things that we’re working on short term and long term. (We’re) trying to get a feel and get synced up when it would be the right time to strike with new stuff as it relates to the manufacturers’ vehicles they’re rolling out.”
That’s short for “hold your horses.”
What do the fans have to say? Well, the fans have been doing their speaking with empty seats, lower TV ratings and frenzied rage on social media platforms.
I’m all for upward and downward communication. But there is a distinction between hearing the words and listening to the thoughts expressed in those words. I hope NASCAR is listening. I fear it's not. Don't believe me? Just ask Ryan Newman.
Wide range of issues addressed at NASCAR's recent town-hall meetings (Scene Daily)