NASCAR Rides on the Storm


This brief post from SceneDaily.com is, for all intents and purposes, dead on – if some 2009 NASCAR races go off with fewer than the ‘traditional’ 43 cars, so be it. The sport will go on and, in some scenarios, it might even be improved.

 
And while the writer alludes to the far more vexing issue of unsponsored cars, I would politely suggest that his post fails to mention a few, arguably more important issues.
 
Perhaps the single most crucial component of what’s happening to NASCAR at present – massive job loss, teams folding and/or merging, sponsorship unrest – is the very real and scary possibility that the eye of the storm won’t hit until later this year or next. Think about it: Any team coming to the end of its sponsorship arrangement in 2009 has probably already taken steps to renew with its partner. How do you figure those negotiations are going right about now? I’d guess crappy puts too positive a spin on things.
 
The potential nightmare that awaits puts an even higher premium on a second topic that doesn’t seem to be discussed too deeply in the media: How does NASCAR, the governing body and the powers that be, respond when and if things go from bad to worse? What can, will, or should they do to soften the blows that could land?
 
I freely admit, I don’t possess some hidden knowledge that could, if I only shared it, save the day. Frankly, I’m not sure there are any right answers; my somewhat-educated guess is that each week will present a different and slightly more difficult challenge, meaning that the organization will need to be prepared to act on the fly, not its hallmark. As a fan, that worries me.
 
In a sense, ultimately NASCAR is to blame for having painted itself into this very tight corner. That is, for more than a decade, it enjoyed virtually unchallenged, seemingly unending growth. Whether one accepted the organization’s assertions of its lofty place in the American sports hierarchy, up there with the MLBs and NFLs of the world – and I know I will go to my grave wondering how America’s Fastest Growing Sport has held steady at 75 million fans for more than 10 years – the fact remains that NASCAR has made hay telling a credulous, even gullible public that it’s a modern-day juggernaut, with no end to its upward trajectory in site. Nonsense. Pure nonsense.

And so, when the other shoe drops, as it always does and so obviously has in NASCAR’s case, what might have been accepted as a simple correction comes to be viewed as a cataclysm.

My question is: What are you going to do about it, NASCAR?