“The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading…” and I need to tell everyone to calm down with the freakout over “Daytona Day.”
From time to time, NASCAR nation gets embroiled in some ridiculous discussions like the Confederate flag and the restart zone. By far the most ridiculous discussion of all still belongs to the damn restart zone, but the uproar over Daytona Day is a close second.
For those of you who weren’t watching the NFC Championship Game this past Sunday, FOX ran a one-minute promo for the upcoming 58th running of the Daytona 500. If you didn’t get to see it, here it is.
As you can see, it’s basically a promo aimed at people my age who love to socialize and have fun while watching sporting events. It’s not meant for those of us who are diehard fans of NASCAR and already had the Daytona 500 circled on our calendars. While I think it’s a little cheesy, I know people to whom this would appeal nicely. It’s basically saying get your friends together for a Daytona 500 viewing party like you would for the Super Bowl.
Judging from the reaction of the fans already here, you would think FOX took a truck full of bibles, dumped them into a hole, doused them with gasoline and lit a match.
Fans were taking to Twitter to bitch and moan about a promo saying it doesn’t portray NASCAR fans the right way, it doesn’t depict the NASCAR experience and that it didn’t make any mention that Pope Pius XII died of heart failure on Oct. 9, 1958.
Some even said that this was the final straw and that they’ll never watch NASCAR again.
As I said in the lede, “get a grip!” This isn’t Augusta National where only the select few can enter. This is a sport with a fan base whose average age is 50 (Sports Business Journal).
Just like the human body, sports need new blood to keep the sport going. Our fan base isn’t getting any younger and we need people my age to get into the sport. Some of us weren’t born into families that already watched NASCAR religiously. Those people like myself had to find our love for racing on our own.
A lot of the old school fans have attacked the people in the ads as a bunch of yuppies who wouldn’t stay for the entire 36 race season. Even if that were the case, the Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the year for us. We should be getting as many freaking eyeballs as possible in front of the TV sets every February.
Let me put it to you another way. NASCAR races every season average around 4 million viewers. Let’s say you throw a viewing party for the Daytona 500 and invite 20 people to watch it. If even just four of them are converted and continue watching for the next 35 weeks, that’s 16-million new people introduced to the sport we all love.
I understand that the old guard doesn’t want to acknowledge their time has come and gone. I understand that they don’t want to feel like NASCAR isn’t catering to them anymore. I’ve been following this sport long enough to qualify as a “legacy fan” so I get it. I also feel there needs to be a balance between serving those fans that got NASCAR here and serving those who are just starting their journey as fans into NASCAR. But the fact is the legacy fans aren’t going to live forever and what worked back in the day doesn’t work for my generation.
In any sport, the last and probably most important responsibility of the old guard is to help facilitate and initiate the new guard to take over. It can’t work, however, if you’re not willing to welcome those new guns and new ideas into the mix. Last year when Kansas Speedway announced that it had partnered with Nickelodeon to call the Kansas spring race the SpongeBob SquarePants 400, so many people turned their nose up at it saying it makes it too much for kids. To which I say, that was the whole point. What is wrong with using companies like Nickelodeon to help us market to children? I loved it because I grew up watching shows like SpongeBob and to a degree still enjoy it as an adult. A lot of the current stuff is crap, but it still brings in the youth that this sport desperately needs.
I found my love of NASCAR through a show called NASCAR Racers. Yeah, remember that show from back in 1999? When I discovered that this show was based on a real sport, I started tuning in and that’s how I’m here.
The bottom line is it’s ridiculous to get so worked up about a promo aimed at getting new blood into the sport we all love because the fan base is one of the oldest in professional sports. I’m not saying you have to like every new idea or new marketing campaign, but don’t get so worked up over a promo for one of the biggest races in all of racing because it’s cheesy and doesn’t include the fight of Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison in 1979. If you just stand around with your finger in your nose and do nothing, expect to get left behind.
My plane is about to take off so I must wrap this up. Until next time, I’ll leave you with this fact. The most money ever paid for a cow in an auction was $1.3 million.
The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and may or may not represent the views of Speedway Media.