Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Hey, check out some of these business points: Looks like big cash may be on the way!

  Atlanta pres Ed Clark is hoping for another blue-sky NASCAR weekend (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   The headlines screamed out of Thursday's Wall Street Journal, with good news for stock car racing team owners and with pointed questions for NASCAR and Detroit's car makers:
   --- "With Fistfuls of Cash, Firms on Hunt," referring to billions of dollars in idle cash reserves that many of the nation's top-500 companies are now ready to spend....perhaps on marketing sponsorships for North Carolina's many stock car teams.
   -- "Why Nobody is Racing These Cars...Detroit's Showroom Muscle Used to Run at Top Tracks, but no more; a Marketing Blunder?"
  And tucked on the inside pages, a parallel story perhaps, about yet another shakeup at General Motors, and ace marketeer Bob Lutz' decision to resign.
   Yes, the issues out on the track are easier to read: Kevin Harvick and the Richard Childress bunch regrouped and on the charge...the amazing run of luck Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus are on....the curious stumbles over in the Joe Gibbs camp...and the moves upward by Greg Biffle and teammate Matt Kenseth. And of course there are the aerodynamic rear spoiler issues to debate, and more new tires to discuss, for the aficionados.
   But those stories in the WSJ look at a different side of the sport. Consider them: http://bit.ly/d7QCwz
   And while we're linking to outside-of-the-track topics of NASCAR interest, consider this one too: http://bit.ly/9CThE2
   The business of NASCAR racing can be an intriguing labyrinth of storylines.
   Just ask Jimmie Johnson.
   Yes, JJ is two-for-two coming into Sunday's Atlanta 500, and this track is typically a good one for him.
   But Johnson, with four straight NASCAR championships now, and running a marketing treadmill, says life as a NASCAR sports hero has become more than hectic. It's almost "crazy," he says.
   Hey, and it's only the first of March. This thing will run through Thanksgiving.
   Johnson is critical of some of the pre-race marketing he's been pushed into doing. And he says he's "not sure" that the weekly pre-race marketing game "is working as it needs to."
    "Some tracks are a pleasure to work with, and other tracks are not," Johnson says.
   Of course NASCAR promoters are under the gun to produce fans in the stands during their individual race weekends, and – long-term – eyeballs on the TV in their market throughout the 10-month season.
   For example, California's Gillian Zucker is charged not only with running her two Sprint Cup weekends, promoting and selling tickets, but marketing the sport itself to that region so that Los Angeles adds to the TV ratings numbers each week.
   "The goal," Johnson says of pre-event marketing, "is to sell tickets. And if somebody can show me how a paint-ball fight is going to sell tickets and fill the grandstands, I'll gladly be a part of that paint ball fight.
    "I don't believe that's the case though.
    "Do hot dogs really sell tickets?
     "There are a lot of questions out there that don't made sense in a lot of ways.
    "At the end of the day we need people in the grandstands, and we need to figure out how we do that.
    "There has been a lot of pressure put on the garage area (drivers in particular, and team owners and crews) to fill the grandstands.
    "And if you really look at what's gone on in the garage area -- the teams have had to step up and build new cars....all the money it took to build new cars and develop them...and Goodyear has built a new tire.
    "You look at the competition side of NASCAR, and the field is closer than it's ever been.
     "Drivers are being encouraged to speak their minds.
      "You look at everything that goes on in this fenced-off (garage) area, and we're tapped out in there.
    "We're doing everything we can to put on a great show. People may think we race for points, which is absolute crap. We're out there to win.
     "So everything in that garage area is tapped out.
      "What happens over here in filling those stands -- that responsibility needs to go back on the tracks and the promoters, and they need to understand what it takes to sell tickets and put people in the stands.
       "Needless to say, there is a lot of stuff (drivers and teams have to do) that doesn't drive grandstand sales.
     "There is a lot of stuff that improves the position with the track and the local market and the local media, and favors that seem to be taking place.
     "But I really find it hard to believe we actually are impacting the people who are going to be at the ticket counters buying the tickets. That's where the shift needs to take place."


      [Note: You can use Twitter as an easy headline service for mikemulhern.net stories, with our instant Tweets to your mobile as soon as our newest NASCAR story is filed. And mikemulhern.net is mobile-friendly for viewing. You can also use the orange RSS feed button as a quickie headline service on your laptop or home computer for mikemulhern.net stories, by creating a Live Bookmark RSS feed on your web browser's toolbar. Or you can create a Google Alert for mikemulhernnet.]



   Greg Biffle: Overdue for some good luck. But he'll have to match Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick again this weekend (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

I wonder...

could the spoilers going back on the Cup cars be the pathway for Detroit to badge the cars as Pony cars? Might make sense given that wings are pretty rice --- and no self respecting Pony wants to rice up their heritage with a wing.

It'll be interesting to see if the Pony wars move to Cup in the not so distant future. Not that GM or Ford need help with sales of their Camaro / Mustang. Dodge is truly fighting market malaise so it would likely help them the most if a Pony war broke out.


Heck, yeah, it would be nice

Heck, yeah, it would be nice to see a Pony Car war....but GM is still dragging its feet on the Camaro, for some reason I don't understand....Ford is all cranked up about it....need to figure out who's running GM I reckon....

Comments On WSJ Piece

Some comments on the WSJ piece mentioned and linked -

* There is a video link noting how the technologization of cars has made them more efficient but also more difficult to fix, and this has basically robbed average people of the ability to fix cars themselves. This is the salient argument why NASCAR has historically fought such technologization - technology has made ability to work on the cars ridiculously difficult.

This is why NASCAR needs to go the opposite direction - take technology out of the cars so an individual can fix it and prepare it without having to ally with another team.

* The WSJ piece short shrifts the downside of the fueling of innovation that used to come from racing - costs and needless performance levels led to technological items such as turbines, the Wankel engine, etc. being banned from racing, and the piece makes the same mistake so many other make about "templated machines" - it ignores the reality that form following function made the cars evolve to become alike instead of different - all NASCAR basically did was write this into the rulebook for the benefit of its inspectors.

Racing will never again see an era where the cars are different - because it can't. It can, though, take technology out of the cars so an individual can fix them without a computer.

you're right about the fix-it

you're right about the fix-it thing. i remember a '64 something i had, and i took the whole engine apart and put it all back together myself....wouldn't care to try that today.
how would you 'take technology out of the cars'? I'd love to see nascar back to where guys like Robby Gordon could use MacGyver skills in the garage....everything is just so regimented these days.....

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com