NASCAR is facing tough financial times, television ratings are flat to down; teams are losing sponsors, and they have had to form alliances to make it through. The economy isn’t going to improve any time soon, so NASCAR needs to looks to how they got here, and how they’re going to climb out.
NASCAR, like all racing series are working towards becoming a spec series, they keep tightening the regulations, and everything is geared towards equality. The cars are exactly alike except for the decals and the engines manufacture. This seems wrong to me. People don’t go to races to watch drivers drive around in a line behind each other. Sports have always had dynasties, and the fans have flocked to see these dynasties play, watching and hoping to be part of history, when the mighty are vanquished. Remember the McLarens in Can Am, the Penske Javelins in Trans Am, the Petty juggernaut in NASCAR? Everyone knew these teams were favorites to win, but the crowds bought tickets to back their favorite, or in hopes of seeing them humbled. Let the teams control their own destiny through engineering and creativity.
We all remember the win on Sunday, sell on Monday philosophy. Remember the Plymouth Superbird, Dodge Daytona, Ford Gran Torino, and Mercury Marauder? These cars were distinctive, and the models that you could buy from a show room looked just like the racer. Those cars were the cars that built NASCAR. You can’t buy a car that looks anything like the racing model today. The car companies are in deep financial trouble, and they’re looking at their involvement. The automakers are backing the teams because of entertainment value, not to directly sell cars anymore. The automakers and NASCAR need to get together and build cars that they can race on Sunday, and sell on Monday, again.NASCAR needs to loosen up on the rules and let the teams experiment. There should be guidelines that need to be followed, but the cars should allow some creativity.
The battles between the Allison and Yarborough, Elliot and Earnhardt were the shows that everyone came to see. Who would win, what would happen after the race? The papers wrote about the rivalries, andthat sold the tickets. These drivers were passionate about the sport, passionate about the teams, and wore their feelings on their sleeves. Everyone loved it. Today, any passion is punished. The sponsors hire PR handlers to keep the drivers in hand, NASCAR warns the drivers beforehand not to show emotion, and hauls them in to the trailer afterwards if they do show emotion. Everyone needs to let the drivers be themselves, show their emotions and be competitive. People will react and enjoy the sport more if this happens.
It’s time to stop trying to level the field, it’s time to set up the guidelines and step back, and let the teams and drivers do their thing and entertain the public. I bet the sport grows to new heights under this system.