Things tend to get hot on Saturday nights, and Daytona's Bud Shootout -- here the 2010 version -- is no exception. Maybe that's one reason Fox boss David Hill suggests NASCAR run more Saturday night races (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)
By Mike Mulhern
talking NASCAR, and trying to figure out which way the sport is heading – back up, further down, or just slippin' sideways.
Part of mikemulhern.net's fan council….before heading south for Daytona's SpeedWeeks melee.
And we talk about the 'new' media, and the 'old' media, and how to market things in general, whether it's jonlowder.com or mikemulhern.net or NASCAR or Winston-Salem or whatever.
What does matter in today's world? Big stuff, little stuff?
How to get the word out….synergies.
And I'm listening as hard as I can.
Jon Lowder: Transplanted from Washington D. C. to North Carolina eight or so years ago, he's got friends and relatives involved in NASCAR, from several angles, and he follows the sport from the edges.
He's been to several races. He knows Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Richmond International Raceway, and Dover International Speedway, and Daytona and Talladega and North Wilkesboro and Martinsville.
Jon Lowder is precisely the type of casual sports fan that Brian France wants to see more interested in NASCAR, more involved, more eager to see races in person and on TV.
But right now he's still on the sidelines.
What would it take to turn soccer dad Jon Lowder (white jersey, left) into a NASCAR dad? It's a key question for NASCAR executives as the stock car racing season opens (Photo: Cafe Roche/Jon Lowder)
What would it take to get Jon Lowder, and others like him – heck, we're talking the heart of stock car racing country here, because Winston-Salem/Greensboro/HighPoint has the biggest percentage of NASCAR TV viewers in the country, bigger than even Charlotte – to put some skin into this game?
But what makes NASCAR racing fun? What's the attraction? How to keep the interest up…over the 10-month season.
"I love Bowman Gray Stadium, love that TV series 'Madhouse.'"
That was an amazing marketing program, almost by accident. The History Channel was so successful that three busloads of fans even hauled all the way from Phoenix AZ to Winston-Salem to see just what the hoopla was all about.
Yes, grassroots NASCAR! And maybe a lot of that has been lost over the past few years since R. J. Reynolds was forced to pull out.
That was one of R. J. Reynolds' key marketing game plans: pump up enthusiasm for the big Sunday NASCAR shows by plastering every key short track in the country with Winston Racing banners, Friday night and Saturday night grassroots marketing, cheap at twice the price.
Why Sprint hasn't picked up on that has been a long-running question, because Sprint, which has been series sponsor since 2004, has hundreds of outlet stores around the country, which could be an easy base for grassroots NASCAR marketing. (But then Sprint has seemed at times during its sponsorship too disconnected with the sport itself…perhaps because the men who did the original deal with NASCAR have long since been pushed out.)
Point two: where on TV are these races anyway, Lowder asks?
The NFL has made a simple science of it: Sundays at 1 pm, and Sundays at 4 pm.
NASCAR has, well, at the bottom of this story we have the starting times for this season's Cup events, and you decide….
Point three: what the heck has happened to the print media and its once-vaunted coverage of NASCAR? The newspaper industry's retreat from the front lines of the world to cheaper, local coverage may be a major issue in the decline of NASCAR's general popularity the past two years or so. The two have come side-by-side, and probably not ironic.
Point four: Maybe the NASCAR season is just too darned long. Thanksgiving? Once it ended in October…..
Point five: Does the playoff chase really work, or is it simply a gimmick? Does it add anything to the sport? And why can't NASCAR change up some of those final 10 tracks, and offer some variety? Will the new point system make any difference? Does anyone really care, until the fall? (And how does 48-42-41…..make it all more simple than 190-175-170 anyway?)
And there's more…a lot more to mull over on the run to Daytona.
And maybe more to listen to over on jonlowder.com….
Maybe Brian Vickers' comeback this season will help spark NASCAR. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR).