Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Death Knell for Two NASCAR Series?

For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

On the eve of the spring pilgrimage to Michigan International Speedway, a link is gleaned from the chaff of Twitter Tweets. Reports are surfacing that one of the car manufacturers investing heavily in NASCAR, General Motors, will be cutting back sponsorship, and both the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and Camping World Truck Series will feel the greatest pinch. From the article by Reid Spencer, it appears that it will impact the larger teams, such as Kevin Harvick, Inc., Rusty Wallace, Inc., and JR Motorsports. If true, GM will not be supporting any teams except at the Cup level.

Full details should be revealed on Friday, in an article written by Michael Smith, of Sports Business Journal. From Spencer's article "As Smith points out, support from manufacturers typically comes in the forms of engines, parts and cash. In most cases, factory support goes to larger, more substantial organizations, while smaller teams receive little assistance, if any?"

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.

There have been many complaints over the last few years that the NASCAR Cup drivers/teams are taking over the two lower series. While some will say that the upper tier drivers "raise the competition level" and 'bring bigger crowds,' it is true that the cars from Cup mega-teams have dominated both series. Swimming upstream are the teams that are independently owned, unaffiliated with the big teams, who don't have access to the biggest, best and latest gizmo that costs money and yet gives a competitive advantage.

The smaller teams have received very little in the way of resources. Left out of the mainstream of technology, the little guys have watched the purses erode and the competition get overwhelmingly hard. Working at a grass roots level, they are scrabbling to stay in a sport they live, eat, drink, and breath. They dreamed of getting as big as a Hendrick, Roush or Gibbs organization but cannot see their way to climb past the first hurdles, money and support.

The best of sponsorship deals in the lower series will not even cover the C-post on a Cup car. Bobby Hamilton, Jr, today on Sirius "The Morning Drive" lamented that if they get a chance at a sponsor, that sponsor wants a Cup driver in a Nationwide car. No problem? Sure. except the sponsor is not paying enough to compensate that Cup driver!

If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.

Consequently, regular watchers of the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series, over the years, have seen an erosion of the "little guy." The worst example came last weekend. The Truck race had 33 starters (not a full field) with 10 being start-and-park entries. The Nationwide race had 43 entries, with 11 out of the race by Lap 80. (There were some accidents in here, so all were not S&P cars.)

As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.

An immediate thought is that the races may become more competitive without the big teams, and that those grassroots teams may be able to make inroads into the standings. Yet, some of those big teams bring in fans of those big name drivers and with their loss ...who is left to watch?

If the big teams decide to abandon the two lower tier series, where does that leave the teams that run exclusively in the lower series? And where will it leave the Cup teams, especially those that are struggling against the tide of the big team wealth. Hopefully, not washed out to sea.

Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
John Donne

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

NASCAR Media all A-Twitter!

I am finding it increasingly more interesting to follow the NASCAR media in the last few weeks. As an 'older generation' fan, and most certainly an older generation 'blogger.' I find that I am not on the same side of many of the bloggers and even some of the media who write about NASCAR.

But what the heck! This is the new age, and I have just as much right to express an opinion as anyone. As an observer, I found the recent Kyle Busch 'Guitar Gate' event to be an astounding mass of misinformation!

I recently discovered Twitter, and Lo! The media is all a-twitter!!!! The media was Aghast at the Smash of the Axe! (So was I!) Immediately after the guitar smash, I sent a 'tweet' to the Gibbs media representative who reports during the race. (Yes, I sent my displeasure, and I am sure many other Tweeps did the same! ) Within minutes, there was a steady stream of "Sam Bass loved it" and "The Sponsors Loved It!" I could see the spin happening! In fact, the spin happened for several hours into the next day.

Monday morning, listening to Sirius Radio's The Morning Drive, I heard NASCAR writer Nate Ryan as a guest host, declare the party line: "Sam approved of this a year in advance." After Sam came on the air on the later broadcast, Sirius Speedway, we found the whole story, as Sam did not know about the future trophy destruction at any time before the event. When it happened, Sam was stunned, heartbroken, and disheartened. He declared that Kyle told him LATER that he did not mean disrespect, but Sam was still upset. Sam, for those of you who have yet to meet him, is a humble and private man. He will do anything to help anyone, but even he said that the smashed guitar was not replaceable, it was one of a kind.

At that point, the Twittering Media was responding with..."What?!! Sam was not happy!!!???" Until Sam appeared on a few select shows, no one had asked Sam Bass how he felt, and no one asked the venue operator, and no one asked Federated Auto Parts. RESEARCH is important!

I woke up this morning with Sirius in my ear, and heard Nate Ryan continue with his philosophy. He and Mike Bagley decided that anyone who disagreed with their opinion would be discounted. I have to wonder, how would David Poole react? Encountered with evidence that what they had espoused the previous day was not true, they continue blindly in the same incorrect direction, picking apart any argument that did not agree with them. Indeed, Bagley went through a mass deletion of detractors on his Facebook page.

To take it to the other side of journalistic integrity, I had an encounter with an individual who writes for the blog compiler "The Bleacher Report" who made some statements about what he thinks should happen in a particular NASCAR ride. He had several facts wrong, and after several dialogues back and forth, where I, and others, presented facts, he finally gave up and deleted his blog. For someone who claims they are planning on a career in "Mass Communications" perhaps they should be prepared to RESEARCH and RESPOND with FACTS! If one has the courage of convictions, one should not need to delete the blog when overwhelmed with facts.

Hubris is not permanently attached, it can be pulled from your psyche to reveal humility and the desire to find out the truth.