Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Comfort level should be a secondary consideration

A couple of things, only tangentially related.

Can we all just agree to stop listening to car owners who tell us they’re “close” to signing a new sponsor for their NASCAR teams?

Look around you, folks. The companies that might be candidates to come into the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck series and bringing millions of dollars with them are far more likely these days to be looking to the government for “sponsorship” to keep them from going belly-up.

These are harrowing times, economically speaking. Unless the criminals in the oil industry decide to come up off some of the billions they’re socking away, it’s hard to imagine anybody writing a $20 million check if that company has not already been of a mind to.

What does that mean for racing?

Teams that want to add cars to their fleets might have to spend more time trying to shore up the deals they’ve already got. Tracks may have to slow down ambitious improvement hopes. It might even mean that a team can’t buy the latest and greatest testing or research and development gizmo just because the team down the street has one.

The truth, though, is that there’s room in the sport for more financially responsible business practices. Maybe teams won’t go somewhere every week to test a car and maybe they’ll discover that they never really had to. Maybe rather than lay people off or cut back on what’s spent to make a car actually go fast, some teams might ask a crew chief or – God forbid – a driver make do in a hotel room and not a $750,000 motor home.

The scary thing for the sport, as a whole, is how all of this is going to impact the people who really pay the bills. Fans have already started having to make tough decisions that are showing up in the form of empty seats in the grandstands. That puts even more pressure than there already was on NASCAR to get the racing right and make its sport something that’s hard for fans not to come see.

That’s sort of where my second point for the day comes in.

There’s been a lot of talk in the past few weeks stemming from what drivers and crew chiefs and car owners have said over their radios. Clips of spirited conversations are played over and over again and talked about on television and radio shows until the topic gets completely worn out.

You can say that race teams should know that people are listening to everything they say. That’s true, but if the driver and crew chief have to start “editing” themselves because they’re worried about what somebody might think of them and their relationship doesn’t that change they way they do their jobs?

It’s gotten to the point that, all things being equal, if I owned a race team I would be thinking about scrambling my team’s communications so people can’t listen in. The problem with that, though, is that NASCAR has packaged the access to those communications as part of the fan experience. The sport can’t afford, literally and figuratively, to allow that to be taken away from the fans.

Imagine how much controversy there would be after a Duke-North Carolina basketball game if fans had access to everything being said in the respective teams’ huddles. If you heard an NFL defensive coach talking to his players when they were down 21-0 in the second quarter, do you think what you hear would be suitable for mixed company?

But NASCAR fans hear all of that and would howl if you took it away. NASCAR and companies it does business with get significant revenue from that access – things like DirecTV’s Hot Pass and Sirius radio’s Driver 2 Crew channels as well as Sprint’s FanView and all of the scanners that are bought or rented at the track.

I think race teams are just going to have to learn to deal with the blowback that sometimes comes with having people listening in as they do their work, the same way that everyone is going to have to learn to do business in the new reality that exists in this economy. It might not be comfortable to do either, but it sure looks necessary.


Monkeesfan said...

"Criminals in the oil industry?" David, you're not that stupid to fall for the price-gouging myth, are you? We need to stop griping about "oil industry criminals" when it is gutless Democratic congresses and nonstop government meddling that are more responsible for economic troubles (such as the House's rejection of an offshore drilling bill) than "oil industry criminals."

As far as the sport's business practices go, it is long past time the sanctioning body stop with the "independent contractor" excuse and step in to limit how much money these teams spend. Hendrick et al should not be spending more than $30 million per year for the entirety of their racing program. NASCAR alredy shot down a proposed fifth DEI car at Watkins Glen; they need to be forcing the disbaning of existing cars by all the teams with more than three cars. It's the bottomless pit of spending (KMart's term in explaining why they quit the sport) that is driving up the sport's costs.

And yes, drivers and crew chiefs should trash the motorhomes and stay in hotels like everyone else.

Kathy said...

I listen to the team communications because it is the only way I can get information about my favorite driver who does not usually run in the top 10 and receives no coverage from the booth. I am occasionally shocked by the language and the venom that I hear, but I balance that with the knowledge that these guys are intense while they are on the track and their crews understand that and give them a pass on things that are said out of frustration. They are not sponsored by churches and anyone who is offended can switch to another radio channel or turn it off!

Anonymous said...

monkeesfan, you just love to put a target on your back saying stupid stuff. Your first two paragraphs were off the chart and your tgird is none of your business. Typical Bush lover.

Monkeesfan said...

anonymous, the first paragraph was in response to the absurd statement by David Poole about "criminals in the oil industry." That you deride it as "typical Bush lover" indicates how ignorant you are about how the market works, else yourself nor David would use the term "criminals in the oil industry."

The second paragraph you offer no rebuttal to, an indication you have no argument in opposition to a mandatory spending cap on raceteams. To call it off the chart is ignorance on your part.

"The third is none of your business." Like hell it isn't. These teams have to be made to cut their spending, period. They don't deserve those motorhomes; there's no reason for them not to stay in hotels like everyone else.

So don't give me this "none of your business" BS because that's all it is. BS.

Anonymous said...

Um, let's see.........the oil industry CANNOT come in and sponsor these cars...ask Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress.

That said, as for the drivers and crew chiefs and their motorhomes...I'm not sure who buys them (my impression was that some is the driver/cc themselves and some is that it is part of their contract with the team). However, they could be made comfortable in a less expensive motorhome AND still save money from the running back and forth and paying for another hotel. There are reasons they have these......and one of them is their families. I do not begrudge them this 'luxury'...

As for the talk on the radio...most of us had no idea what Junior said on his radio last week..until a certain someone from Sirius posted it...that said; any parent who allows their child to listen to the scanner of ANY driver should expect that some of what they may hear may not be 'acceptable'.

JMO of course


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Anonymous said...

It was interesting on today's (Wed) "The Morning Drive" show how one insane caller who purported to be a HAM Radio operator and therefore knew every possible FCC law, regulation, interpretation, etc. brought out about 2 dozen subsequent callers who must have been FCC attorneys. Everybody's a freakin' expert...

I do know that when Penske Racing and Andretti-Green Racing attempted to scramble their frequencies in the IRL a few years back that they were prohibited from doing so in the races (practice was scrambled) and some FCC regulation was cited.

Plus, take the ability for fans to scan their drivers away and you lose 50%+ of the bodies in the stands...guaranteed.

Unknown said...

Please spare me that business about the spike in gas prices having anything to do with anything other than abject greed. Gutless Democratic Congresses? Why does it make the slightest bit of sense to give the oil industry MORE rights to drill for MORE oil they can over charge us for? The price of a barrel of oil is DOWN but the price goes up? They can't get the refineries back on line? Hey, here's an idea. Use some of those billions in PROFITS they've reported since a Texas oil man has been in the White House to pay some overtime to get them running again. Off-shore drilling my ass. What a lame argument that is. The fact is the oil companies have rights to drill in thousands of places right now they're not drilling on. But they're using this sham of a price they've got now to lobby to get the rights to get to even more oil they can jack the price up on. I'll pass on that, thanks. And don't hand me "market forces." If the market is nimble enough to raise prices as fast as they did on the threat of Ike coming on shore, how come it's not nimble enough to go back down as quickly? Then there's this "government meddling" business. Funny, but when AIG was about to fail the government's $85 billion worth of "meddling" looked pretty good, didn't it? Your boys want there to be no regulations against trying to make money but a bailout when the funny money doesn't add up at the end. Let me ask you this. How much milk and baby food and other sustenance for poor families could be bought with $85 billion, plus the billions it'll cost to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, plus the billions your boys have spent fighting a war that's far more about keeping their thumb on the spigot the oil comes out of and far less about the things it ought to be about. You know why we haven't found Osama Bin Laden as well as I do. If we find him, the excuse to line Haliburton's pockets goes away.

Anonymous said...

David Poole for President!!

Monkeesfan said...

David, you're as ignorant of economics as Barack Obama and the Democrats are. Gas prices have been dropping; you can't get them to go down faster because that's never how the market works - you apparantly missed that they plummeted pretty far (below $1.90 a gallon) when they spiked past $3 a gallon two to thee summers ago. Dictating to the oil companies to do this or do that ignores that they are already on of the most regulated industries in the country and all the regulation they have to put up with does no good and never has.

The fact is offshore drilling is effectively banned by Congress. The fact is our energy policy is nothing but energy socialism, and it doesn't work. The fact is, David, you have no clue what you're talking about with regard to oil companies. It's not the oil industry, it's the Democrats.

When you mention AIG you ignore that government meddling in markets set the stage for their collape and this recent surge of bailouts. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have been government programs for generations and have all the inefficiencies inherent in government meddling.

"How much food and clothing can be bought with that $85 billion? It's irrelevent, because no one is losing food etc. - that's how the market works.

And your cheapshot about Iraq and implicit "blood for oil" is doubly laughable thanks to Chuck Schumer, Claire McKaskill, and Liveshot Krry. "You know why we haven't found Bin Laden." Yeah, because the two states that sactioned him (Iraq and Afghanistan) are gone, his organization is destroyed, and he isn't relevent to anything anymore - Halliburon isn't even a factor to nything.

Are you so stupid as to believe the most dishonest talking points of leftism instead of the truth, David? It's shuddersome that people vote because they buy that crap intead of wor to actually learn reality.

Monkeesfan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Monkeesfan said...

Darn it, the third link wasn't done right - it should be here. Read the real world and try to keep believing the BS you do, David.

Anonymous said...

David, you must be a MSNBC finatic cause you sure sound like a "lefty"

Monkeesfan said...

anonymous #13 - apparantly he is; if he had any brains he would not buy that crap.

As for the real issue at hand in this thread, the bottom line is it's time for a hard spending cap on raceteams - teams need to open their books to NASCAR and NASCAR needs to limit their spending, period, no more debate. That is how we address the isse of the sport's costs.

Anonymous said...

I'll be the second vote for David Poole for President.


I watch MSNBC, CNN, Fox News and read all types of web sites inlcuding Drudge. I try to get information from both sides. You must be drinking Hannity and Limbaugh's Kool-Aid if you think all is well in this country. People can't afford the necessities let alone go to a race.

You are telling a lie when you say no one is losing food. You need to leave your nice life and move to Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, etc. and try to live. There are thousands of people without food, medicines, etc. because the government you love has caused them to lose their jobs. These are hard-working people who have never asked for a handout.

I'm 63 years old and in my lifetime the money has never trickled down to the middle class, it always trickles up to the wealthy. Please take of your rose-colored glasses.

Unknown said...

Three votes for David for President!

Monkeesfan, are you in Dubya's cabinet?


Anonymous said...

the entire radio controversy is simply the fact that nascar drivers want the big league money but not the big league press. tony and june-yer want to cry but what about the nfl stars that are constantly followed. i believe the paparzzi should be able to camp out in the trailer park to see the flow of ladies enter these motor homes, or perhaps follow the drivers into the infield of talladega.

Monkeesfan said...

anonymous #15, if you're watching MSNBC and the Mainstream Media you are getting nothing but disinformation. The country is much better off than they portray it as being and "people can't afford necessities" is MSM tear-jerker crap.

You're the one telling the lie - no one is losing food; the real problem has been obesity. You cite Michigan etc. without mentioning the preposterously high tax rates and absurd level of government meddling that goes on in those places that indeed are struggling economically. "These are hard-working people...." and they are suffering because of too much government and not enough market.

"The money has never trickled down to the middle class." That makes you a liar, because it ALWAYS has. That is economic reality - either face it or shut your trap.

Monkeesfan said...

Carolyn, I'm just telling the truth - David lies.

Anonymous said...

You are the liar. Unless you live in Ohio and have lost your job, you have no right to say anything about the economy here. I know hunderds of people who have lost their jobs and cannot afford to buy food. If it wasn't for caring neighbors, these families would go hungry. I live here so I know the truth. Giving tax breaks to the big companies who send jobs overseas is stupid. I was a Republican and believed all the crap aired on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. I've always voted Republican but because of the Bush administration I will vote for Obama this year. Sarah Palin, give me a break.

Monkeesfan said...

phyllis, I tell the truth. Your sob-story is exaggeration because that kind of hardship you describe is never found in the real world.

Your stupidity shows with your repetition of the Democratic talking points about "giving tax breaks to the big companies to send jobs overseas." Study the market and how the real economy works before you utter such nonsense.

You were never a Republican, because if you were you'd know that Bush was much better than his critics ever want to admit and that the economy did better this decade than it did in the Clinton years. So saying "I'm voting for Obama" the economic illiterate responsible for impoverishing areas of South Chicago in his role as government-subsized "community activist" makes you a fool.

Paul Borden said...

Judging from the comments, I would say that Monkeesfan knows what he is talking about and David doesn't have a clue. One thing about all the "obscene profits" the oil companies are making that is ignored is the profit margin, a percentage of sales in relation to total revenue. It shouldn't come as a surprise that a billion dollar industry has billions of dollars in profits. For how the oil companies check out on that, look at, In essence, the average net profit margin is under 10 percent, which is good but not gouging. If you want to look at a gouger, look at David Poole's former boss, Knight-Ridder, which had a panic when the Miami Herald's net profit margin was going to dip below 20 percent a few years ago. (The company paid out bonuses if that goal was reached, which it was, then a month later it froze all raises and then started buying out people a month after that! But I digress.) One has to sympathize with people who do lose their jobs, but if the oil companies are going to be targeted, I expect a lot more people will lose their jobs and many investors, including those running pension funds, will lose money also. You should also do the math here. There are 42 gallons of oil in a barrel of oil. What do you think is going to have a bigger effect on the price of a gallon of gas, the cost of a barrel of oil (which figures out to be roughly $2.25 a gallon), the federal, state, and local taxes, or the cost the oil companies are figuring in? I do have empathy for those in Ohio who have lost their jobs because I have had that happen twice beyond my control. Neither Democrats nor Republicans nor Obama nor McCain is going to correct that. It is a changing economy and if you don't believe there are people out there taking advantage of it, you're not seeing all the new housing construction going up in the South Florida area. I don't think they're all in the oil business either. (Or drugs.) Bottom line: David, stick to what you know and leave out the political commentary. Nobody cares about it and it detracts from your major points.

Anonymous said...

monkeesfan and paulb,

I suggest you come to Ohio and live for 6 months with an out-of-work 45 year old who is without a job after working 23 years for the same employer. You have no idea how the average person lives. You have no concept of what it's like to live in the real world.

I would never be so uncivil as to tell you to shut up.

Paul Borden said...


Perhaps you missed the part where I said I was out of a job twice, once when I was 63. I don't know what your 45-year-old friend does, but I would offer encouragement in that he/she is certainly young enough there are opportunities out there if he/she is willing to leave Ohio. I doubt there are hundreds starving, btw, but am not there so won't argue with you on that. And I am pretty average, probably even below. But as for living in Ohio, no thanks.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your response. My friend still has 3 children at home so it would be hard for him to uproot the whole family. He's spending what savings he has to go to school to learn a different trade. The unemployed near me are not starving. Neighbors, family and churches are helping for now. Except for the unemployment rate, Ohio is really a nice place to live.

Anonymous said...

David, What does a driver staying in his Motor Home have to do with his team? Don't the drivers own their own motorhomes? And if the drivers don't, why the heck are the teams footing the bill for it? These drivers make enough money, if they want a motorhome, let them buy it themselves. Same goes for crew chiefs and the owners themseleves too.

Anonymous said...

Ok, it pains me to say this...

But Monkeesfan is 100% correct.

David is 100% wrong.

In fact, David, stick to racing, its what you do best.

As far as limiting spending in NASCAR? Havent we already had these discussions in the NBA, NFL, and NHL? Salary caps have worked to help stabilize the economy of these sports, and it is certainly time to have the discussion about it in NASCAR. Doesnt anyone find it odd that the 4 richest teams also have all 12 cars in the Chase? In fact, its not odd at all, it should be expected.

Anonymous said...

Hey Monkey Man,

I'm a McCain backer, but boy--you still sound like a "cool-aid" drinking Republican idiot.

Don't do us Independent Conservatives any favors please.

The "oil men" are greedy sobs.

I say drill--drill--drill--

I say that you STILL sound like a "cool-aid" drinking Republican idiot.

Anonymous said...

DAVID- You really do need to stick to racing. The gasoline cannot start flowing back out of Texas until they get the electricity back up so the refineries can start operating again.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, monkeesfan. Didi you ever listen to any Monkees songs? Sure doesn't sound like it...:-)

Monkeesfan said...

phyllis, I do have an idea how the average person lives because I work two jobs. I'm not going to blame fictional "Big Oil" for problems caused by government meddling. Start checking whether local government lets the market work before you start griping about conditions, because it is those states that don't let the market work that are struggling.

anonymous #30, yes I have - and your point is what?

Monkeesfan said...

nh nascarfan, that just four teams are in the Chase indeed is expected and that's what more than a decade of a sanctioning body not paying attention and taking the right action has wrought.

Monkeesfan said...

As for the subject at hand, comfort level should nver be a first considration - it is time for a NASCAR team spending cap.

Period. End of discussion. Force all the teams to open their booksto NASCAR and to impleent changs to their business mode where they do not exceed $30 million per season for a three-car team. If teams like Hendrick or Roush have to spend their weekends at hotels, good. If teams like them have to disband cars to save money, good. If it means freeing up personnel, shops, and equipment for smaller teams to build their own engine/fab shops, all the better.

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