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Good Morning! And what's on your mind today....what's really on your mind?

By Mike Mulhern

    As we build mikemulhern.net over the coming months, adding this and adding that, polishing this and polishing that, we'll be adding a free-forum area, for y'all to get rowdy. And right now, as SpeedWeeks approaches, we're looking for input from readers on the various topics we want to raise:
   -- Is the action on the track as good as it could be? What should NASCAR do to help crew chiefs with the car-of-tomorrow? How can NASCAR break the sport's engine-building monopoly and really open car-ownership up to new blood?
   -- Is NASCAR providing all the leadership it could, to help teams and fans get through these rough times, and what else should the sanctioning body and the sport's tracks?
   -- Does Bruton Smith really have plans to leverage a buyout of NASCAR itself, perhaps through TimeWarner, perhaps through Sprint? What would that mean for NASCAR, good and bad? (Running the sport is a headache, of course, with rules and regs and more than a little in-your-face negotiations, while running the tour's tracks themselves is where the real money-making action is.)
   -- And what about Brian France, the face of NASCAR, the CEO, the polished, urbane spokesman and marketeer who has proven a remarkably adept big-picture guy and savvy wheeler-dealer? Just how well is he doing on the job right now? France has helped change the race of this sport dramatically in his six years at the helm. But he's made clear several times he doesn't plan a 30-year run as the sport's boss, as his father. Now Brian France just said again he has no immediate plans to leave the family business, but he points out he's 46, and he's hinted about wanting to do other things in life. If he were to hang it up, who might be best suited to take his place?
   -- However the most immediate issue we, at mikemulhern.net, would like to hear from you on is this – What races are you planning to attend this season? What races do you usually attend? Where do you live and how far are you willing to travel to see a race? What is your biggest worry or problem when you sit down with the wife and kids, or buddies, and ask 'Okay, what races are we going to see this season?' What can NASCAR and the tracks do to entice you to spend your hard-earned dollars on these spectacles?
   I'm making out my own budget and schedule for covering all the Sprint Cup tour events, again, and I've got all my old NASCAR travel budgets laid out on the table in front of me right now, looking for ways to make it all work this season. So I know just what you're up against.
   I've talked with several track men about this issue, and they all want your input too.
   Me, if I were running a track this season, would be giving away tickets in every promotional way I could – supermarkets, car dealers, shopping malls – and then trying to make up the difference in special souvenir sales and hotdogs and Coke and beer.
   Because one key aspect of this issue for NASCAR and its track owners is to ensure fans don't lose the enthusiasm for attending races.
   But that's me. What do you think?
   Punch the bottom just below and make your voice heard – in Daytona and Charlotte and at every NASCAR venue around the country.
   Mike Mulhern


I've had season tickets to

I've had season tickets to Bristol since 2002. The past 4 years I've sold my spring race tickets so I can go to the night race. I drive 12 hours from Michigan to go to Bristol...and no, I won't attend the parades the sell as 'races' at MIS. This year, I sold all my Bristol tickets. I could still afford to make the night race, but after the lackluster races there the past 3 or 4 years (hmmm...since the crapshoot?), I decided to sit out a year and decide if it's worth it to keep my season tickets. It used to be I could depend on Bristol to have lots of fireworks, no matter what. 43 cars trying to pass in 1 1/2 racing lanes made for lots of excitement. Last year, I left the track with over 80 laps to go. And no, I don't consider two laps of banging out of 500 to be exciting. I'll wait and see what happens this year.

Hi Mike: Great to have you

Hi Mike:

Great to have you back!!

We will be attending the same number of races as last year, plus we have added a new one, the spring race at Martinsville. We go to all the Daytona races (all series), since it is where I grew up and I have relatives that still live there. We also go to both Atlanta Cup races (where we live), both Talladega Cup races, Darlington, Charlotte All-Star race and this year Martinsville. what I like and think the tracks should do more of is the intewrest free payment plans. SMI has done a 50/50 for season ticket holders (of which all of my tickets are) for years and now ISC is doing this also. They should take it further. Use a 20% down, then spread the payment over 3 installments 3-4 months apart. That will help all of us budget for it. My advantage is that other than Martinsville, I am not paying for lodging or eating out. I know that others are not as lucky. If I was faced with that, it could be I would be cutting back this year.

Look forward to your web-site and blog in 2009!

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Welcome back, Mike. I'm

Welcome back, Mike.

I'm planning to go to both Pocono races and hopefully both New Hampshire weekends. New Hampshire is good because it's close to home (90 miles north of Boston, MA) and Bob Bahre was always a good promoter. Pocono, though, is the one I always love to go to because it's gorgeous country, it's a superspeedway, and it has a good racing history; and more recently parking has become so efficient I can drive straight from MA five-and-a-half hours straight to Pocono, park, see the race, and return home before midnight - how many tracks can make a claim like that?

Bruton Smith - I'd prefer him to just go away. I've never seen an idea of his that actually made the sport better. All he does is try to bully his way into the limelight, and yet he has to tear down grandstands at his tracks because they can't sell those seats anymore.

On-track action - the Dead Lane Era continues away from the plate tracks. Normally I oppose changing racetracks because the changes a lot of people want are usually gimmicky and they ignore the role of racecars with too much horsepower, too little tire, and too little drafting effect on the quality of the racing. But when Gillian Zucker said she wanted to make Fontana a plate track, that was the best idea any promoter has had. If they made plate tracks out of a lot of these other speedways that would work wonders.

NASCAR leadership - right now it is an oxymoron. That they're avoiding talk of a spending cap on raceteams shows they're clueless about what's really happening - the sport's problem begins with how much money teams are spending and the fact they keep spending no matter what "cost-saving" measures NASCAR comes up with. If they don't start attacking team spending and STOP teams from spending what they do, they're not going to solve anything.

Some of your ideas make sense, but the best idea would be to pay so much money in lap-leader bonuses that drivers realize they need to go for the lead to get that money. Then the racing will improve, and that's priority one right now.

Hi Mike, I've been to one Cup

Hi Mike,

I've been to one Cup race in my 34 1/2 years, the 1998 fall race at Richmond (Burton and Gordon duel for the last 10 laps). I doubt I ever attend another one. The cost and the traffic is outrageous. My tickets were free to that race, so that's why I went. I sat in the parking lot without moving from 11:15 - 2:15, and got home at 7am (Kernersville). I've been to 250+ other stock car races in my life, and the racing at the regional level is much better. The best ticket in racing right now is the USA Racing Series (formerly USAR ProCup), and the PASS Late Model series is not far behind. NASCAR decided that bigger markets for TV was more important than the racing. Now we have no North Wilkesboro, no Rockingham, and one less Darlington race. Now we get a second California race, a second Texas race, Las Vegas, Kansas, and Chicagoland. Yawnnnnn!! California, Michigan, Chicago, and Kansas are tracks that I call 20-20 races. Watch the first 20 laps, do something else until the last 20 laps. NASCAR needs to get back to its roots, and that means adding some short track races and doing away with several of the snoozer races. Bring a race back to Wilkesboro, dare I say a 3rd race at Bristol, add Memphis, and add the new Iowa Speedway. Take away one of the 2nd trips to the snoozer/parade tracks and get back to some short track racing, or at least some new venues. Nashville, Kentucky, and Gateway are all worthy to hold a Cup race. We don't need two races at Texas, Michigan, California, Loudon, Pocono, Atlanta, and Phoenix. One will suffice. That would open up 7 dates to get to some new venues and add some short track races.

One thing I would like to see you look into and do a story on, now that you are freelancing, is to investigate the cost of the COT parts and how much money NASCAR is making off of this venture. They tout that it's all for safety and to equalize competition, but talking to the folks I know that work for Cup teams, they say it's a racket. You have to buy all of these part directly from NASCAR now, with their stamp on them, to assemble the cars with. These teams could make them cheaper themselves or NASCAR could make sure that they came from an approved independent provider who would not charge as much money as NASCAR. Since they own the monopoly on the pieces that each team HAS to buy from them now, they can charge whatever they want. I'm just curious to know: a) what NASCAR is making off of the COT parts they are forcing the teams to buy from them and b) if the COT is indeed saving the teams money as it was created to do.

i have to agree that race

i have to agree that race traffic is one of the toughest aspects of NASCAR -- i got to Texas Motor Speedway at 2 a.m. for that very first race, because I knew traffic would be horrendous. (Don't think those helicopter shots didn't make the evening news ). But traffic the past two seasons has been generally quite good at most NASCAR tracks, surprisingly....just because of complaints like yours. I almost ran off into some hidden cowpond on a backroad outside Michigan International Speedway one night, trying to find a shortcut from that terrible traffic. Even Bristol traffic moves well (thanks to my old roommate, Jeff Byrd, who runs that track).
and I agree too many races ares snoozers -- i disagree with jeff burton that nascar can't make those better. I mean, going into the first turn at California Speedway, er Auto Club Speedway (come on, guys, give us a better, flashier name), at 208 mph is rediculous. Slow the speeds 15, even 20 mph, and the shows will be better. I even like Gillian Zucker's idea (she runs the Fontana track) of putting restrictor plates on these cars there. Why not? It couldn't make for any worse racing there. No wonder the stands are empty.
My idea -- put Nationwide engines (with the rollercams) in Cup cars....why have three different engine designs?
And the COT parts business -- Hey, I'm on the job for you. There may be something fishy there. If there is, I'll write about it for you.
Hey, if you're in Kernersville, get some tickets to the spring race at Bristol -- good seats, I hear. It's just those hotel rooms that drive me up the wall.
Thanks for listening. Keep up with the advice. Believe me, NASCAR is paying attention to what you say, when you say it right here....

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