By David G. Firestone
Last weekend, our neighborhood had our block party. The weather was overcast and cool. Last weekend was also a bad weekend to be a racing fan. NASCAR got rained out at Indianapolis. The weather at Indy was a perfect metaphor for the outlook NASCAR. The news that Furniture Row Racing will cease operations after 2018 is proof that NASCAR has a serious problem on their hands. The writing has been on the wall for some time, but fans don’t want to read it. After this announcement, fans don’t have that choice. The finances behind the sport are such that a championship caliber team can’t get a regular sponsor, and will have to close due to lack of funds.
This news sent the clear message that there will have to be major changes to NASCAR if the sport is to remain competitive. As I enjoyed deviled eggs and the bratwurst at the block party, I began to think about what changes could be made to keep the sport competitive and keep smaller teams alive. I came to the conclusion that the following changes should be made.
1-A serious reduction in the schedule needs to be made. If you add up all of the Cup Series races, including the Clash, Duel Races, and All-Star events, it adds up to 41 different races. The auto racing boom is officially over. What I would do is take every mile and a half track, and have only one event there per year. This would reduce the costs for the smaller teams, and give teams more non-track time to work cars, and get sponsorship deals.
2-A team cost cap would need to be added. The larger teams can spend more, because they have more money. Adding a cap would close that gap, and give the smaller teams a fighting chance. This more level playing field will make the races more competitive.
3-The series sponsorship would include a rule that other companies from the same field could sponsor cars. In a sport where sponsorship is the lifeblood, scaring away sponsorship opportunities is just not a good plan.
4-More access to drivers, and more show car appearances. Why this stopped, I have no idea, but fans love show cars. They used to be everywhere during the lead up to races. Bring them back. Also, drivers should do more autograph appearances in the lead up to a race. Again, connecting with the fans is a good thing.
These are all doable, they would work, and they could help bring the sport back to a lot of the fans. I’m not saying they will work, but at this point, its worth a shot.