Ringing out the old year

2010 was definitely an interesting year in auto racing.  Jimmie Johnson comes from behind to win Nascar Sprint Cup title #5 in a row. Dario Franchitti not only wins the Indianapolis 500 but he comes from behind to claim the IndyCar title. Chip Ganassi won the Indianapolis 500 as a team owner with Franchitti plus the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 with Jamie McMurray.  Oh, Chip also took the Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype crown in dominating fashion with ageless Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.  Those were just the top of the list in outstanding racing moments of the year in the United States.

The lowest moment may have been the pothole problem during the Daytona 500.  When your biggest event of the year turns into a stretch of Michigan highway (I believe we are the pothole capital of the world) that is not a good thing.

All in all, it was an enjoyable year.

Personally, I’d like to thank Daytona International Speedway, Michigan International Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway for hiring me in 2010 to be part of the their “at-track” voice.  Doing the PA work at those facilities allows me to have the best seat in the house, right above the start finish line and to be able to see every bit of race track.  It doesn’t hurt I also get plenty to eat and drink and I have air conditioning on those hot and muggy days.

Most of all, I’d like to thank all the race fans.  Without you, those three race tracks wouldn’t need my services nor would they provide the great racing we see each and every year. Considering the economy, many of you made a sacrifice to make it to the race track and for that I tip my hat.

I hope all of you have a great 2011 and we’ll see you at Daytona in four weeks with the smell of burning rubber and the roar of racing engines!

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Time to end Driver of the Year in Nascar & IndyCar

Getty ImagesCongrats to five-time Nascar Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson for winning the “Driver of the Year” award for the fourth time in his career. However, he should never have gotten the award.

Here’s my thinking on this. Could Johnson have done anything he did on the race track without his team?

How many times during the year did we see his pit crew led by Crew Chief Chad Knaus make adjustments and repairs to his car that gave him either a chance for victory or a solid finish?

What about the engine builders, fabricators, engineers and a myriad of others back at the race shop that put in hours and hours of work to give Johnson a championship winning car?

The same can be said about those in the IndyCar series.  I’ve yet to see a driver win with a poorly handling machine in that series, especially on an oval.

I’m not saying that Jimmie Johnson in Nascar or Dario Franchitti the IndyCar Champion aren’t great drivers.  What I am saying is that they weren’t head and shoulders above everyone else.  What gave them their championship was the team.

Let’s change “Driver of the Year” to “Team of the Year.” As the saying goes “There is no I in team.”

Is Nascar suffering media overexposure?

Last time I asked if Nascar can be fixed.  Now I ask if part of Nascar’s problem is that it is overexposed.

Let me ask you this.  Is there anything that a fan DOESN’T know about Jimmy Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards or any other top Nascar driver?

Between all the media that is out there these days especially with the growth of social media, I think fans even know when their favorite driver has a bowel movement!  (Okay, that was a little more graphic than I probably needed to be.)

While some believe that to be great and want EVEN MORE information, I feel less might be the key.

There is no mystique left about today’s Nascar drivers.

Back in the day (okay, I admit I’m a fossil) we knew little about Richard Petty, Fireball Roberts, the Allisons, the Yarboroughs and many more away from the race track.

We knew just the basic details about their personal lives. However what we did know and that mattered most to us was that they could drive the hell out of a race car. It was that simple.

There was a mystique that surrounded them.  These men were tempting fate each time they got into a race car. We didn’t need to know they were going to the Caribbean to snorkel for a week of R&R!

If you need 24-hours a day of Nascar news and to know every little tidbit of information there is, then have at it. For me, I’ll just stay living in the Dark Ages.

Can Nascar be “fixed?”

A giant topic of discussion for the last several months has been the declining attendance and television audience for Nascar.

Attendance could be a direct correlation to the economy but the television ratings is the mystery.

Some point to the struggles of live television taking an event that has no time outs such as other sports do and trying to fit in those pesky but necessary commercials.  You will miss action on the track.

Others say it’s the pictures that television is putting on the screen.  That they focus too much on one car going round-and-round or maybe two cars thus not showing the real racing that is going on.

There is the lament that only a few drivers become the focus of the television broadcasts leaving over half the field with no mention what so ever unless they crash or retire from the race.

My Techie friends point to the lack of online video streaming, integration more of Twitter and Facebook during the race along with other technological enhancements.

Many have pointed to the Nascar Chase format in the Sprint Cup Series.

All play a role but I think the bigger problem is who really wants to watch a four hour race on TV?

Wait, you say a NFL game or a college football game runs at least three hours.  True but there is a new play every 30 seconds.  In Nascar, such as at Daytona and Talladega, they can play follow-the-leader for 30 laps or more.  Exciting stuff huh!

Danica Patrick brought some new fans to Nascar but how long are they going to stay as she continues to run at the back of the field?

Extreme motorsports star Travis Pastrana is about to make the jump to Nascar and even he admits that his fans probably won’t stay if he doesn’t do well.

Attention spans of the public are short. (140 characters on Twitter need I say more?) Nascar can be boring.  I many times watch the first 50 laps, go do something else, and catch the last 30. It is the nature of the beast.

So what is the answer on how to fix Nascar?  I don’t have a clue. Maybe, just maybe, the “newness” has worn off on the American sports fan and Nascar is reverting back to its original fan base and is that really a bad thing?