The Land of Oz: What NASCAR Could (and Should) Learn from Football

If I hadn’t grown up with a father, two grandfathers, a barrage of crazy uncles, and a cousin who were all from Alabama, and all insanely nuts about stock car racing, I’m not sure that I would be a NASCAR fan.   

But I am. Or at least, I used to be.  

I haven’t closely followed the sport for probably more than eight years, so my expertise on the subject is waning to say the least, although I do still tune in for four or five races a year. And while nobody asked for my opinion, well, that's what you get here. So, deal with it. 

This opinionated rant doesn't even scratch the surface of the fact that the cars aren’t really stock cars anymore. This hot take is more on the end of PR, marketing, and sparking interest with new fans – which could result in an increase in attendance (which NASCAR needs) and television ratings (which NASCAR needs more). They might even get some of their old diehard fans back. 

Here’s a few things, in my humble opinion, they might start with…

  1. Build Anticipation: Frankly, there is none. When you run an almost 10-month season, there won’t be, because there is nothing to anticipate. This year, the race season kicks off on February 17 and ends on November 17. That’s nine continuous months, even without the Clash and the Duels. The biggest reason people can’t get enough of football is because the season only lasts four months. NASCAR’s season is simply too long.
  1. Cut Back on the Dull Tracks: This one directly correlates with #1. To shorten the season, you’ve got to eliminate some races. There’s no need to delete any track in its entirety, but if your track has heavy lap traffic after only a quarter of the race is complete, then once a year at that track is enough. The only exception to this rule is Bristol.
  1. The First Game of the Year Does NOT Need to be the Super Bowl: Yes, I know it is a time-honored tradition. But it wouldn’t make sense in the NFL, and it doesn’t make sense in NASCAR. Run the 400-mile race at Daytona as normally scheduled in July. And then let the Daytona 500 be the grand finale of the season. Then, you get a Chase Champion and a Daytona 500 Champion at one time; and every driver, regardless of the point standings, has a stake in the race. So do the fans.

Start the season in February with Talladega. End it the last weekend of August right before football starts. Your expenses go down. Your revenues go up. Start your engines, and send my consulting fee to Druid City Living, c/o Derek Osborn. 

I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.            

Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and a writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and their daughters, Savannah and Anica.  

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