The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On Vacation

By David G. Firestone

Starting next week, I am taking my yearly summer sabbatical. Every year, I take the entire month of July off, because I want a chance to enjoy Chicago in the summer. There will be videos, Throwback Thursdays, and Friday Features, but I won’t update the Tracker, the Grades, or My Thoughts On. I have been waiting for this for the entire year, an entire month, where I’m not spending my days at my real job, and then working on the website.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy The Driver Suit Blog, but I need a real break. I do take a sabbatical in December, but that’s for several reasons. The first reason is that since there aren’t that many paint schemes being revealed, it isn’t worth the time to update the Tracker or the Grades. Second, this lack of paint schemes frees me up to work on other aspects of the site, including Throwback Thursday, and research. So while I’m not updating the site, I am working hard on it.

I have a number of projects lined up for my time off. I’m also going to try a few new ideas out, which might be used on the site in the near future. I promise that I will come back in August, until then, have a great summer!


The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On Series Sponsorship…Yet Again!

By David G. Firestone

I hate to rehash an old topic on My Thoughts On, but given some recent news, I have no choice. I’m going to talk series sponsorships again. Monster Energy has decided to pull out of NASCAR’s Cup Series after 2019. There was an article today concerning the situation. According to Sports Business Insider, of the potential candidates, The Coca Cola Company is the top candidate for the Cup Series sponsorship, but which of their brands would sponsor the series remains to be seen.

While NASCAR has prospects for their Cup Series title, IndyCar is not as lucky. I’ve been talking about this for months, and we are no closer to finding a series sponsor now than they were then. Their $25 million price tag, coupled with low television ratings, and low attendance has made it clear that finding a series sponsorship will be impossible. IndyCar needs to figure out that they aren’t a box office draw, nor are they a television draw. $15 Million would have been a much more realistic figure, given how bad TV ratings really are.

I was thinking about this, and I had a question: Let’s say that Formula One decided for some reason, it needed a series sponsorship. How much would the series sponsorship cost for the sponsor in questions? F1’s tire supplier Pirelli is rumored to have spent as much as $110,000,000 in both technical and sponsorship costs. I imagine given how popular F1 is worldwide, that the cost could be around that much, given that television broadcasts can generate as many as 50,000,000 people worldwide.

Series sponsorships aren’t a minor issue, because the revenue generated by these sponsorships, the sanctioning bodies get not only financial help, but exposure and promotion as well. Since two of the most well-known racing series don’t have a deal locked up, it’s clear that the racing boom really is dead, and now racing sanctioning bodies need a more realistic budget.

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen

By David G. Firestone

I was feeling under the weather last week, so I never got around to an MTO for the week. This week, I feel better physically, but not emotionally. I woke up this morning to the news that Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen died yesterday. Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen was one of the most colorful characters in the history of the NHRA, and was one of the most respected drivers of his era.

His rivalry with Don “The Snake” Prudhomme was one of the most visible rivalries in the NHRA, and his friendship with The Snake was one of a very few to survive that kind of rivalry. Watching Snake and Mongoose today was hard to do, but there wasn’t anything else that was appropriate to do today.

Losing a racing legend, especially someone who had the pleasure of meeting is always hard. The Mongoose was a real legend, and he will be missed in the NHRA, and the drag racing world at home. Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen.

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On My Favorite Weekend Of The Year

By David G. Firestone

This is my favorite week of the year! Not because of the Memorial Day racing, but because I’m gonna get my kicks at Route 66 Raceway this weekend! I’m the kind of guy who loves the roar of an 11,000 horsepower engine, and the scent of burnt rubber, burnt nitromethane, and clutch dust! This is what being a racing fan is all about

I also love that the NHRA allows their fans to meet the drivers for no extra cost. NASCAR is too money oriented, and Formula 1 is so expensive that it isn’t even worth the effort. IndyCar does charge extra, but the prices are actually pretty reasonable. This access to drivers is a big draw, and I’m going to make a somewhat bold prediction. The Route 66 Nationals are going to out draw the Overton’s 400 in terms of ticket sales.

This isn’t that bold because ticket prices are somewhat more reasonable, and the above-mentioned access to drivers. The NHRA has shown in recent years that it is a box office draw, as opposed to NASCAR which has seen shrinking attendance for the last ten years. If NASCAR wants to increase fan attendance, one of the changes they should make is better access to drivers. Fans have been saying this for years, but now, I think NASCAR should listen.

It should be noted that the NHRA will never score higher television ratings than NASCAR. That is just a fact of life. FOX has done an amazing job with the NHRA, but it’s not a television draw as much as it is a box office draw. We have to accept the fact that the racing boom is over, and racing isn’t the draw it once was. I’m also sure that there will never be another racing boom on the level of the 1990’s again. It’s sad but true.

There are still a lot of racing fans out there, and the various sanctioning bodies need to understand that the fans should be part of what drives the sport. Fan attendance and television ratings should be one of the top priorities. I hope for the sake of the sport they start to be. I’ll talk about my experience at Route 66 next Friday.

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On Commercials and The Royal Wedding

By David G. Firestone

Advertising is a really weird thing in 2018. Commercials can be so good you want to buy the product, or so awful that you never want to use that product again. Coca Cola has started the names on the label nonsense that they’ve done over the past few summers. I personally don’t get the names thing, but that’s just me. But for some reason, Coca Cola feels the need to promote the names gimmick with overly annoying commercials.

I thought that the music used in the 2017 commercials was bad. They used three really bad songs from groups that I’ve never heard of. This year, they have a custom jingle sung by an unidentified group. It’s too sugary, too peppy, and it WILL aggravate you. What really sucks about this is the fact that when I watch NASCAR or the NHRA, they play this commercial ad nauseam. I am not unreasonable, but STOP WITH THE IRRITATING COMMERCIALS!

As much as I love soda, whenever Coca Cola starts the name gimmick, and they start the commercials, I stop drinking Coca Cola. First, does putting names on the label increase sales? Obviously it does, since they do it every summer, but this is nothing but a gimmick, and the overly annoying advertising isn’t needed. This isn’t just limited to Coca Cola. People HATE Progressive Insurance because of Flo, and people hate Geico because of the gecko.

When did advertising become so divisive? When did this start? I get that there are commercials that are in bad taste. I get that there are commercials that inadvertently offend people. What I don’t get is why there are a series of commercials that are so hated by lots of people, they stop using a product. I’m just saying that if you are alienating people with your commercials, maybe change them.

Also, I’m part of a large group who didn’t care in any capacity about the Royal Wedding. Talk about an overly-hyped event that annoyed me to no end. The Royal Family has NO impact on my life whatsoever, and the fact that one of them got hitched isn’t my concern. There was extra concern in Evanston, since his wife is a graduate from Northwestern, and lived in Evanston. To that I say that Laurie Dann, who would go on to shoot a number of students at Hubbard Woods Elementary School also lived in Evanston. I’m glad its over, and I hope I don’t have to tolerate this crap again for a long time. I’m really cranky today, for whatever reason, so I’m going to end this here.

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts On The Supreme Court Ruling

By David G. Firestone

Yesterday, the Supreme Court struck down the The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The PASPA effectively outlawed sports gambling with a few exceptions. This ruling is going to have major ramifications for sports. Leagues have already come out and said that they oppose this law because, as the NFL argued “The NFL’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of our game remains absolute, Congress has long-recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events. Given that history, we intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting. We also will work closely with our clubs to ensure that any state efforts that move forward in the meantime protect our fans and the integrity of our game.”

Amazing how self-serving the NFL really is. Many states need the money that casinos generate to help fund their budgets. Illinois is certainly one of them. Schools, roads, and various other infrastructures need funding, and these new rules will allow them. The NFL doesn’t like that because they aren’t getting their cut. It has nothing to do with integrity, the NFL has proven that they don’t have any in recent years. The NFL wants their cut, but they don’t realize that in the long run, they will. Fans are going to come back, and bets will be placed.

The NBA has said that they are willing to support state efforts, but want federal regulation. The NHL released a vague statement about the future. Major League Baseball is against it, but that is defensible, because of what happened in 1919. I genuinely think that sports leagues will benefit in the long run, but for them to try and make it seem like sports betting is the end of the world is short-sighted, and it makes the leagues look like they put profits above fans…which they do. If the leagues start to embrace this…they will make much more money. Then again, I listen to economists, not talking heads on news shows.

The Driver Suit Blog-My Thoughts on the ARCA Announcement

By David G. Firestone

In an article I did on a Frank Kimmel pit crew suit last year, I said this about ARCA: “Founded in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio the Midwest Association for Race Cars or MARC was created by John Marcum, who, at one point, was working with Bill France Sr. as an official in NASCAR. It operated from 1953 to 1964 as MARC, when it changed to the Auto Racing Club of America, or ARCA. Though an independent stock car organization, ARCA has had a long partnership with NASCAR.

While many racing fans see ARCA as a minor league racing organization, it has a dedicated fan base, and a dedicated series of drivers and teams. With a decent television contract, and good sponsorship, the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menard’s has solid backing and will be a part of American auto racing for years to come.”

That’s what I thought at the time. However, that has changed drastically. On Friday, it was announced that NASCAR has bought out ARCA. ARCA, especially The ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards will continue until 2019 in its current format, but will change in 2020, though no changes have yet been announced.

ARCA President Ron Drager said during the press conference: “Our position in the industry over all these years, 67 years, has been really intertwined with NASCAR. Before there was a NASCAR, before there was an ARCA, there was a relationship between the Marcum and France families. And over all these years and over all this period of time, we at ARCA have been fortunate to carve out a spot in the industry and to be able to be a constructive part of our sport. I think this is really just coming back full circle to where things started out. This provides ARCA with sustainability. We’re all looking toward the future and trying to figure out where we need to be and how best to stabilize and come together to make the sport stronger. I think a coming-together is a good way to do it.”

This is not a good thing at all. ARCA’s fans are upset, and justifiably so. The ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menard’s will go from independent promotion which provides an alternative for stock car drivers who can’t get a ride in NASCAR to just another NASCAR series. Everything that differentiated ARCA from NASCAR, and made ARCA unique will disappear, and ARCA will become nothing more than another set of NASCAR driver development series.

While NASCAR is celebrating, this is a bad day for stock car racing. NASCAR has pretty much monopolized the American stock car racing market. The only major national competitor to NASCAR has been bought out, and the rest of American stock car sanctioning bodies don’t have the strength to take NASCAR on. I’m wondering if this could lead to antitrust lawsuits. I can’t believe that this merger doesn’t constitute a monopoly. It may, I can’t understand how it wouldn’t.

If I am an ARCA driver, I’m really worried right now. If NASCAR is going to use ARCA as a developmental series, where is my place in ARCA? That isn’t a minor issue. There are drivers who have raced their entire careers in ARCA, and now they might not have a place in the new ARCA. This is not a minor issue. Drivers getting forced out by this merger have no place to go. This whole deal is awful, and I hope that all involved realize that.