Thursday, December 07, 2006

New York: If you can't make it there ...

Sorry to be a little late about commenting on this, but with all of this “idle” time I have on my hands this “offseason” I sometimes let the hours just slip away.
(If you can’t detect the sarcasm, trust me, it’s there. There is no offseason any more.)
The announcement earlier this week that International Speedway Corporation has bailed on its plans to build a speedway on a site on Staten Island is certainly not great news for that company. ISC invested considerable time and money into getting those plans off the ground, and it’s a shame to see that come to nothing.
I know ISC and, by extension, NASCAR want to have a track in the New York City market. Goodness knows the folks who run stock-car racing desperately want New York to love them.
What I’ve never really understood about the idea of building a track there, though, is where’s the demand? Does anybody really get a sense that there are people living within, say, an hour of midtown Manhattan who are “underserved” by NASCAR?
Pocono and Watkins Glen are certainly within a reasonable drive of New York City. Race fans in other parts of the country routinely drive several hours to see a race. If there are fans who want to see racing living in the five boroughs, are they somehow deprived of that right?
ISC wanted to build a three-quarter mile track with about 80,000 seats on Staten Island and use ferries and helicopters and buses to supplement the bridges that might carry fans to and from events. One of these days, mass transit may play a major role in moving fans on race days. But I don’t see that happening any time soon.
Can you imagine a few thousand motorcoaches and RVs pouring onto Staten Island for a NASCAR weekend? Actually, I don’t see how it could negatively impact New York City traffic because it’s already worse than I thought possible. But still, the thought boggles the mind.
There are tracks in Nashville, Kentucky and near St. Louis that would love to have Cup race. Already built, already up and running. There’s a new track in Iowa that, by all accounts, is very nice, too. ISC doesn’t own any of them of course, so that means NASCAR doesn’t have much desire to go there. (Not that there’s any conflict of interest between NASCAR and ISC, which are two entirely separate companies that just happen to both be controlled by the same family, the Frances, and who just happen to share the same headquarters building in Daytona.)
You know, of course, that a track in New York isn’t about fans at all. NASCAR would give away every one of those 80,000 tickets at a track there in exchange for having a venue in that market. Every seat could be filled by a corporate partner’s fanny and stock-car racing’s governing bodies would be deliriously happy.
I am beginning to think that’s one of the major things wrong with the sport right now. The folks in Daytona and in their branch offices in New York and Charlotte and Los Angeles have done an outstanding job establishing and nurturing relationships with sponsors and other corporate partners. That part of the industry is more robust than it has ever been, and NASCAR should be lauded for that.
But that’s only part of the equation. If NASCAR doesn’t take care of its fans better – the fans who pay to come watch the races, not to come do business at them – the sponsors and corporate partners eventually won’t have any customers to service through the sport.
It’s like watering the leaves of a plant and letting the roots go dangerously dry. Ultimately, that’s bad business.

14 comments:

geoff said...

David,

You could not have described this situation any better. NASCAR is on the verge of losing touch with its real face fans .... and when that day happens, I'm going ot wonder what Mr. France thinks when the sponsors aren't there anymore because the fans aren't there. Wake up Daytona, go to the real NASCAR markets that are ready to go. And damn it, open up Rockingham. Use your shuttles, buses, helicopters, hovercrafts, and teleportation devices to get all the bigwig yahoos from New York into a real NASCAR race -- not one designed around them.

JC said...

Took you this long to figure out that NASCAR cares N-O-T-H-I-N-G about its fans? Well, only so much as to how deep their pockets are. Thought you were smarter than that...

Anonymous said...

It's the same delusion other sports have about big markets - they think that just being in a big market will attract fans. It never works that way. NASCAR has struggled to sell at Fontana and Chicagoland and the Vegas aura will wear out soon, if it isn't beginning to already.

NASCAR has to get into its head that the markets it needs are NOT urban ones or international ones - there is no racing audience worthy of the name in urban markets and there never will be, and international markets are a paltry percentage; Juan Montoya is not going to bring in a serious Hispanic audience to stock car racing anymore than Tony Gonzalez is bringing anything resembling a serious Hispanic audience to the NFL.

It is rural markets that are racing's real demographic, and NASCAR has to take care of those markets, not some mythical urban market.

Brain Z. France continues to show no ability to think or lead.

Anonymous said...

One more comment on NYC-type markets -

Can anyone name a sponsor over the last ten or so years that entered the sport that would not have had NASCAR not pulled out of North Wilkesboro or Rockingham and instead raced at Fontana and Chicago?

Anonymous said...

As always, your blogating is inspiring!

Who needs NY other than the royal family..."France"?

Tiredawg said...

Maybe Brian had too much Miracle Grow and forgot about HIS ROOTS.

Zarran said...

Quick question .. what became of the Evernham divorce. Is it over ? Did Mayfield have to appear ?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

zarran, I'm not sure on that one.

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