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Saving the Truckers? Mike Wallace says the answer is simple, and obvious

NASCAR's Truckers put on some of the best racing in America....but the tour needs stronger promotion (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   How to fix the NASCAR Truck series?
   Or is it how to save the NASCAR Truck series?
   That's been a big debate this season, all the more so in the wake of the disappointing shape of the Truck field at Texas two weeks ago, followed by defending champion Johnny Benson losing his ride for lack of sponsorship last week.
   And NASCAR's two biggest promoters, Bruton Smith and the France family, appear now to finally be facing the issue head-on.
   The basic problems are obvious: fielding a Truck team has become increasingly expensive; sponsorship is becoming scarcer and scarcer; teams are folding.
   The solution, though, maybe equally obvious: better marketing.
   The Truck series needs an R. J. Reynolds to step to the plate and take it over and market and promote it.
   And NASCAR executives could help the situation if they'd look at the outside quarterpanel of their rolling 18-wheel office – at the long list of 'Official' sponsors, who pay NASCAR considerable money for that marketing right. If NASCAR gets, say $2 million a year, from the 'official' whatsit of NASCAR, then the France family could share half of that with some of its Truck teams as sponsorship…to help keep the Truck series afloat.
   To try to save the Truck series through rules changes, however cost-cutting effective, may not be the best way.
   Try better marketing.
   That's what racer Mike Wallace says.
   "For some reason the Truck series isn't generating sponsorship dollars," Wallace says.
   "But when you have a title sponsor, you need the appropriate one for the series, one that can promote. And I'm not sure that's what they've got now. In fact I understand that sponsor is going away.
   "It's great racing, and I hope the series itself doesn't disappear.
    "It's not just the rules package for the cars, you have to market the series and market the events – so you can pay a bigger purse. The Truck teams race for minimal money.
   "Look at the purses – the Sunday (Sprint Cup) purse is always five times the Saturday (Nationwide) purse, which is always double what the Friday (Truck) purse is.

This is NASCAR's 2009 Truck tour schedule. How many of these events will be on the 2010 calendar?

   "They have to do better at marketing the Trucks so they can raise the purse value and put more people in the grandstands so they can pay more to the competitors," Wallace says.
   "If you're asking for NASCAR to fix it (with rules changes, for example), I don't think they have the answer.
   "What NASCAR needs to do is provide a marketing company for the whole Truck tour, and say 'Hey, we're going to try to help every team find a sponsor.'
   "When you look at Johnny Benson and Mike Skinner not having sponsors…it doesn't look very good for champions like that not to have sponsors.
   "Greg Biffle is about the only guy to come out of that series….
   "Now Ron Hornaday has stayed the deal….but look at Todd Bodine, look at Jack Sprague, look at Skinner, look at Benson….none of them have what you'd call major sponsorship. Todd's deal is just hanging on….
   "And it's not a rules fix. Everybody wants to keep blaming 'rules.' But it's a problem that needs a marketing fix.
   "I've been a car owner, and I've won Daytona with Fred Biagi as car owner, so I understand what I'm talking about. I'm not just some fluky driver.
   "The only way these Cup owners can make it is they generate enough sponsorship…plus the purses pay them a lot of money.
   "So if someone asked me 'How would you make the Truck series better?' I would say 'You have to market the series.'
   "The series is facing a big negative with all the manufacturers bailing out. And I'm hearing of teams losing parts and pieces (supplied by Detroit), which is also hurting them immensely.
   "And then at the same time NASCAR is talking about making teams build a new COT for the Nationwide series….which is crazy.
   "NASCAR has to help market the series, to help bring more revenue in.
   "It's nothing that's hard to figure out…though it may be hard to do. NASCAR needs to get more revenue brought into the series."
   And the keys might be in all those official sponsorship decals on the side of the NASCAR hauler.

Mike Wallace says the solution is better, stronger marketing (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)




NASCAR share? I don't think so

NASCAR is not sharing their take of the profits with anyone. They view the teams as independent contractors and always have. The purse money and points money is there to be won, but none of the TV money is going to be passed on to anyone. I don't see marketing as the issue. You could argue that being on Speed hurts the series, but I like the coverage there better than the TNT or ABC coverage of other NASCAR series. Not every household has Speed on their channel lineup, but I don't see the series getting a shot on network TV because those networks are only going to carry so much racing. Speed markets the truck races well, and even has a pre-race show. Cutting out the west coast trips and bringing back more short tracks is the easier way to cut costs.

Sorry, mon, i disagree.

Sorry, mon, i disagree. NASCAR is too darned greedy. Independent contractors? Give me a break -- this whole thing is a small circle of friends. If you're not one of the big four or big five, and if you can't contribute to the NASCAR coffers, they don't care. That's simply not right.
Marketing is the issue -- the big issue, and nascar knows it. They insist sponsors market, but apparently only certain sponsors -- why does it look like ATT is the series sponsor, with all the tv ads it buys? where are the sprint ads? Speed is fine, no problem with that (except the speed execs showed no guts by kowtowing to nascar in killing off pit bulls ) Speed has good worker-bees, but speed execs dont have a clue. (and dont get me started on the espn bunch, which has declared war on everyone else in NASCAR tv-land, or on NASCAR's ineptitude in dealing with the ESPN-vs-everyone war -- when Carl Edwards, on ESPN, is promoting Sunday's NHRA race instead of NASCAR's Sprint Cup event, it's time for Brian France to bring out the big stick and straighten things out. That's simply inexcusable -- do you agree?)
Why are NASCAR's TV ratings down? Because Fox and ABC are at war with each other. And why haven't Mike Helton and Brian France cracked down? Maybe because they're too busy breaking heavy on guys like Carl Long and Jeremy Mayfield and Robby Gordon.
NASCAR executives have lost their way, they've lost sight of the ball. Bruton Smith ought to buy NASCAR and make some big changes. I think it's time for Jim France (I think he's the only NASCAR guy that gets it) and Bruton Smith to sit down and straighten all this stuff out. Before it's too late.

Marketing is a part of the

Marketing is a part of the problem. The Truck Series is treated like the illegitimate red headed step-child and whatever marketing there is is at best, second rate and done as an after-thought. The Truck Series is also the best racing going on right now in NASCAR. And because it is, NASCAR won't boost the marketing of it because the Cup Series is their bread and butter. The NASCAR honchos lost sight of what NASCAR is supposed to be about and that's racing. Instead, and you read it in the PR stuff and on the ISC web site, it's considered to be a marketing tool. They don't mention that it's supposed to be about racing. They mention sponsorship opportunities, branding, corporate suites, hospitality centers,with racing being a very distant after-thought. If they'd quit making the Almighty Dollar their top priority and make racing the top priority, you'd see a big improvement in the racing and TV coverage. But as long as you have a marketing guy in charge of NASCAR, nothing is going to change.

the first thing nascar has to

the first thing nascar has to do is end this silly war between its TV partners....what is the problem with ESPN/ABC: this spring the war between espn and fox was so clear that even kyle petty was laughing about it. the saturday show people would all but ignore the fact a sunday race would be held too. and vv. Brian France and Mike Helton should have laid down the law to those tv guys. and now i'm curious about why it's been allowed to fester. so what does ABC/ESPN get when their half of the season starts -- a sport with sinking ratings. you would think logically that ABC/ESPN would do their best to pump up the product that they now have to start selling on sunday. or maybe ABC/ESPN is really at war with nascar.....What's going on here anyway?
and another thing: why is nobody writing about the 'team orders' the TV websites have about not critiquing each other? Fox can't write about ABC/ESPN, and VV. what kind of journalism is that? Good thing we have the Daly Planet.

Maybe it's time to just sit back and watch the train wreck

I think NASCAR has finally had some light bulbs click on---too bad the crash is already occurring as they "awake". At least they have a good view to witness the carnage. Now it's time to just sit back and see what's left of the wreckage and rebuild from there. If it costs the truck series,so be it (I dont have speed or I'd watch it myself over the crap Nationwide series). Anyhow,the comeuppance is on after years of ignorance. Get me a beer for this show and see you on the other side!!!!

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