Friday, April 13, 2007

One election you shouldn't be allowed to vote in

Just a few musings on a cloudy Friday at Texas Motor Speedway:

I am philosophically opposed to the idea of allowing the fans to vote a driver into the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge. If everybody else wins his way in, I don’t know why somebody should get voted in just because the fans like him.

A couple of years ago the fans voted in Kerry Earnhardt. Nice guy, but on any kind of scale of deserving recipients of such a “pass” he would have been way, way down. Last year Kyle Petty used a campaign aimed at raising money for his Victory Junction Gang Camp to get into the all-star event. Could be worse, but again it goes against the idea of a “winner’s only” race to put him in.

This year, Carl Edwards, Ricky Rudd and Juan Pablo Montoya are among those who might be voted in. I wish I could trust the fans to choose someone of that caliber, but this is me not holding my breath.

The idea is to give the fans a voice in a race that’s designed to entertain them. Fans vote for all-stars in other sports, but the all-star events in those sports aren’t as all-out competitive at the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge is.

I am just not a fan of the idea of having a participant voted in. I once nicknamed this the “pity pass,” and I can’t imagine fans who hate the idea of the “lucky dog” to give a drive a lap back being able to tolerate doling out a slot in a high-profile race just on what amounts to charity.

It’s hard to say anything about the whole Don Imus mess without opening up a can of worms. What I wonder, though, is how anybody can believe that anything has been significantly improved in any real way by what’s happened in the past 10 days? Is the world any better off? Is America any closer to having any kind of real discussion about race and class issues that really matter? If Imus has a job or doesn’t have one, does that matter in terms of the true causes that create the deep divisions in our culture? I’m going to say no, to all of the above.

Somebody sent around an email the other day offering up six photos of the Toyota SUV that Michael Waltrip wrecked in “to the highest bidder.” As long as people like that exist, I’ll know that somebody has less of a life than I do.

I don’t think I would be a very popular person on the racing message boards if I ran a race track. That’s because I would have an absolute ban on outside food and drink in my track.

Coolers? Have fun with them in the parking lot, but when you come in the gates if you want food or drink you have to buy it from me.

I have no problem with people who’re camping cooking or with fans tailgating. Yes, beer and hot dogs and sodas and everything are overpriced at the race track. But how much does a drink and box of popcorn cost at the movies? You can’t carry your own food in to the multiplex, can you?


Anonymous said...

"But how much does a drink and box of popcorn cost at the movies? You can’t carry your own food in to the multiplex, can you?"

You can if you have a BIG purse!

Anonymous said...

David, remind us all again how much a movie ticket costs... and then compare that to the cost of a ticket to a NASCAR race.

If I'm paying $100 to see a race, you bet I'll be bringing my own (normally priced) food and drink in. Drop the price to attend a race to movie theatre prices, and I'll gladly buy concessions inside the racetrack.

Anonymous said...

On the Imus situation. It has not started a national discussion regarding race and prejudice. It did increase sensational journalism - instead of creating a discourse. And on the articles I took the time to read - why do any media outlets continue to quote the words used by Imus in all the stories -doesn't this just continue the racism and the idea shock journalism? Is this a unwritten rule in journalism to revisit the words of racism and ignorance?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I agree with David. Here in Paradise, let's say before the Pro Bowl game, you can even find pigs roasting in the parking lot. But you can't bring a morsel or even a purse into the game. You have to have some incentive ($$$) for people to build these huge arenas for our pleasure. Beer, wine, cocktails, etc. are all available inside. If the ticket is too much, stay home.

Anonymous said...

"You have to have some incentive ($$$) for people to build these huge arenas for our pleasure."

Wasn't the Aloha Bowl paid for with tax money?

I don't know about other race tracks, but here in Charlotte the Lowe's Motor Speedway seems to cover their costs just fine and even make a profit without getting into the concessions business. If they were to stop people from bringing in their frosty beverage of choice, it would hurt a lot of the goodwill they've built up over time.

Anonymous said...

Imus is a shock jock. HELLO???? What else would you expect him to say? Many, Many Rap artists call themselves "nappy hos" and worse and it's played on regular radio. I think it's just really bad taste - Imus has lost everything but will probably have a new gig by the end of the month, which says everything about our society today. Sadly.

Anonymous said...

P.S.: Forgot to mention... at movie theatres, the movie studio (Fox, Disney, Paramount, etc.) takes 90% (on average) of the price of a movie ticket during the first couple of weeks of a movie's release... that percentage drops a bit over time, but the reality is that the theatre makes very little money from tickets, and they have to make this up by selling overpriced popcorn and soda.

Racetracks, OTOH, have a much lower overhead by comparison... so they don't need to gouge their customers at the concession stand.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Aloha Stadium was built with tax dollars - twice, actually, and it's still falling apart....but I digress. The State's attitude is that if there is a profit to be made they owe it to the people to earn it and that profit should go back to, in our case, the general fund. You'd be arrested if you tried to smuggle beers. I had no idea you could take your own goodies into a NASCAR race - just amazing. Enjoy it while you can, because it'll be a thing of the past soon!

Anonymous said...

Are you silly? You think someone wants to pay money to see a bunch of beer guzzling red necks at a race...that can't read their on tickets. YOu got to be kidding me.....LOL

Anonymous said...


Racetracks, OTOH, have a much lower overhead by comparison... so they don't need to gouge their customers at the concession stand.

What planet are the movie theaters you attend located on that makes them so "expensive" to operate?

Come on guy, just the cost of providing safety and emergency crews during a single year far out strips any cost a theater owner suffers.

Unless he pays his/her popcorn picker-uppers 50 times the minimum wage.

Anonymous said...

Marc, come on. We're talking about percentages here, not total amounts.

A movie theatre keeps about 10% of the cost of each ticket it sells. This is not nearly enough to cover the cost of operating the theatre and paying their employees, so they sell overpriced concessions to cover the rest of their costs and earn a profit. Ask any movie theatre manager and he'll confirm this.

By comparison, a much larger percentage of the price of a ticket to a NASCAR race is retained by the track. Sure, they have to kick some money to NASCAR and to the drivers, but this percentage is much lower than anything a theatre has to pay... and the track charges everyone else (who isn't racing in a big race) to race on the track. They do sell concessions at races, but they're not in a position where they DEPEND on that income to cover their operating costs.

Put another way: You think Humpy Wheeler is operating LMS at a loss? Answer: Heck, no. He doesn't gouge people on concessions because he doesn't have to... maybe he'd LIKE to, but that would tick off a lot of his customers (the people who attend races), so he doesn't.

Monkeesfan said...

* I second never allowing fan votes for the All-Star Race - the concept embarassed itself when fans voted Kerry Earnhardt into the race. And why should Carl Edwards or Juan Montoya (beginning to wear out his welcome with the way he's raced lately) get voted in? And Ricky Rudd? The guy quit the sport; he should't be allowed back in.

That they even have a fan vote only shows how useless the All-Star Race is - it is entirely one gimmick after another, and it never delivers good competition.

* The Don Imus incident is the thought-police of Political Correctness run amok again. It was "Reverands" Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who set this fire by shaking down corporations and thus so scaring them that they preemptively quit Imus' show. And how thin-skinned are the Rutgers women's basketball team to begin with to "be scarred" by this? As for "real discussion about race and class matters," that will only come when the Left ceases its war against whites and the successful and leaves things alone.

* Are foods and drinks at speedways really overpriced? To some extent, yes, but it cost me $20.00 at the local watering hole to get a big plate of chicken tenders and fries with Coke; I pay somewhat above that for cheeseburgers, fries, and Coke at AHL games as well as at Stafford Speedway.

Anonymous said...

Your KIDDING right?...I REALLY enjoy paying 3 dollars for a soda and 8 bucks for soggy 1.99 Subway sandwich and baf of stale potato chips...or 21.00 for a like warm 5.00 Dominos pizza...Yeah NASCAR's becoming just like other sports...pricing them out of reach of the "Cmmon Fans" #5

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why any race promoter would allow outside food and beverages inside. That leaves a significant source of income on the table and track promoters need all they can get these days.

The "overhead" at a movie theater and race track are incomparable. Movie theaters have 365 days of business to pay their taxes, full time employees, upkeep on their 100,000 sq ft indoor facility, etc. Whether you are talking NASCAR tracks or the local weekly bullring, most likely you have around 20 days of business (weather permitting) to pay the same bills, not to mention the extremely larger amount of upkeep and insurance.

A race promoter keeps less than 10% of each ticket sold by the time you pay the purse and empoyees necessary. I don't begrudge any promoter getting rich. (if it were that easy there would be more promoters) Market forces dicate ANY promoters bottom line and the good ones (like Humpy) are not merely keeping the fans happy but doing there best to attract new fans and increase the market.

Anonymous said...

The All-Star race is a good example of making new fans. Allowing the fans to vote in a driver helps the "entertainment" aspect of the event with interaction. Personally I would like to see about 25 points races and 4 or 5 "specials" like the All Star or Bud Shootout. Points racing is getting to be rather boring, those type of events provide more excitement.

Anonymous said...

A columnist for the Kansas City Star had this to say about the Imus situation and Sharpton and Jackson's involvement. I thought it appropriate.
"We keep deluding ourselves and getting caught up in distractions that have nothing at all to do with what is setting back, holding black people back and it's our own self-hatred. Don Imus is irrelevant to what is going on with black people. Don Imus is no threat to us. Don Imus will not shoot one of us in the street. He will not impregnate our daughter or our sister and abandon that kid and that woman."
"Two ministers, who have needed forgiveness in their own life, don't have the moral integrity to give this man the forgiveness he has asked for in a sincere fashion."
"They go around the country starting fires, dividing people and then start picking everyone's pocket. You never see them go back and apologize for the messes they make ... They're terrorists."
Jason Whitlock, Kansas City Star columnist

Anonymous said...

A little off topic but about the big deal made about Jackie Robinson's anniversary. Who was the first black doctor? Who was the first black teacher? Who was the first black policeman? Who was the first black fireman? Don't these seem to be more important steps to a colorless society than a silly game? His ordeal was/is inspiring but many stories haven't been as known which seem more important.
Scott G

Anonymous said...

I agree on not voting anyone into the All-Star race. And, for that matter, I'd add this reform to the fans' decision on whether or not to invert the field:

Let the fans vote on how many cars to invert, but instead of the highest vote-getter being the inversion number, assign each choice a weight corresponding to its percentage of the vote, and then randomly select (spin a big wheel made into a pie chart or something). For example, if 60% of votes are to invert them all, then that choice would get 60 slots on a 100-slot wheel. If 20% want to invert five spots, then that choice would get 20 slots. This lets the fans have their input, but it doesn't guarantee the outcome (which is more or less a foregone conclusion the past few years).

And as for Imus, I don't know what the best response would have been, but NBC and CBS could've done the country a service by not giving Sharpton and Jackson another scalp for the wall.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR is entertainment first, sport second; so giving the fans a choice (or vote) in the All-Star race seems to be right in line with everthing the NASCAR family and "Governing Body" does.

Anonymous said...

I have often thought that the Busch brothers were a couple of spoiled, silver spoon fed drivers, especially young Kyle. Everything he says or does seems to be all about "him" and his actions at Texas on Sunday even strenghend my beliefs. TV viewers witnessed his temper tantrum when he exited his car and hung his team out to dry. The Hendrick organization is way too classy to allow this behavior, not to mention his sponsors. Lynn Dozier, Slidell, La

Anonymous said...

You'd enjoy Kentucky Speedway. No outside food or drinks, except one plastic bottle of water per person. If they had their way, there would be no tail gating also. But, they can't stop that.

Anonymous said...

Interresting, I have been thinking just the opposite. I was of the oppinion that the fans should get to vote ALL of the drivers in, just like the Baseball All-Star game. I kinda thought that "awarding" drivers slots somewhat takes away from the event. Didn't anyone else think it was sort of ridiculous that Michael Waltrip had won one, without ever having a points-paying race? If its meant to be entertainment (which I don't have a problem with...any non-points paying event is purely for entertainment), then why not simply have the fans vote all participants in?

Secondly, I think the idea of having the pit crew challenge the same weekend is a great idea, but let's take the idea one step further. Have the drivers participate in other events, just like they do for the NFL probowl. Personally, I'd like to see the likes of Jeff Gordon and Jr. compete in 50 meter dashes or football throwing competitions. And, let's add a few more categories: have a quiz to see what parts of a motor a driver can identify, or how about, "Are you smarter than a Crew Chief"?

okla21fan said...

$100 -- per ticket price for a Cup race

6+ -- hours inside a race venue

"no coolers" from someone who sits in the press box all day and eats free and catered food ----- PRICELESS!

you are better than that David

Anonymous said...

"But how much does a drink and box of popcorn cost at the movies? You can’t carry your own food in to the multiplex, can you?"

Um, no, you can not. Then again, the movies does not last 4 hours +/-; I do not sit in traffic for 3+/- hours to see the movie. It usually (sometimes though!) is not 80+ degrees while watching the movie.

I understand your logic, but what if the food provided at the track is horrible? My case in point; Richmond. They have, without a doubt, the worst food vendors at any track I have ever been to. Kind of hard to screw up a canned beer (but it can and had been done) but the food at Richmond is of such quality they should be paying US to buy and eat.

Keep up the great work David, enjoy all of your work.

Unknown said...

All I have to say is...Thank GOODNESS you don't own a track. After I break the bank paying for tickets I can barely afford normally priced food and drink to drag in there with me, much less paying the exhorbitant prices charged.

You know, I always respect you, even when my opinion differs, but on the standard for wrecking, etc, note - IS THIS STILL NASCAR?? Or is the ballet? I'm afraid the powers that be at NASCAR are following your train of thought in that they are forgetting to dance with the "ones who brung'em" and are catering to the Johnny-come-latelies that will be gone when the next big thing rolls around (I believe Hockey is the next sport d'jour). What is NASCAR going to do when they have alienated those who have supported them for years and their newbies (you know the ones, they don't wear their colors to the track, they don't put stickers on their car, you never know who they are rooting for because they are there to be SEEN more than to WATCH and enjoy). I fear for the future of our sport. Let'em fight. Let'em police themselves. Leave'em the hell alone.

Anonymous said...

Life is a dance