Stating the obvious, Daytona Speedweeks is the biggest time of year for NASCAR. It’s every driver’s, crew member’s, media member’s, and die-hard fan’s birthday, Christmas, and July 4th all rolled into a couple of weeks of speed. It’s huge, it’s prestigious, man…it’s Daytona. What more needs to be said other than that it is a big deal?
Starting in 2016, NASCAR figured they’d do their part by trying to promote it across social media by calling it #DaytonaDay. Now, a noble, honest effort was undoubtedly put into this. We live in a social media-driven society, so naturally, the sport figured it would do its part by trying to reach beyond the current fan demographic and to try to put its image out into the mainstream. But one has to ask if #DaytonaDay, in its current form, is what NASCAR needs at the moment. Short answer? No. It doesn’t.
Long answer, there aren’t a bunch of goofy commercials celebrating #NBAFinalsDay, #SuperBowlDay, or #MLSPlayoffsDay. Scores of MTV rejects aren’t prancing around a pool in the shape of Tom Brady’s mug, astronauts aren’t waving flags with the FC Dallas logo on them, no unfunny jingles are being written for #WorldSeriesDay. So, what’s the end goal with #DaytonaDay?
It’s a promotion that does nothing but dumb down the sport to outsiders looking in. Oh, yeah, great; Justin Bieber once tweeted the hashtag in 2016; Bieber isn’t an influence that the sport needs. Scores of drivers, media, and fans have spoken out against the promotion, all agreeing that it does nothing to show what makes this sport great. It doesn’t showcase the drama, the adrenaline rush, or the characters that the sport continues to cultivate and grow. Outsiders don’t need song and dance, they need examples of what makes NASCAR such an awesome sport and what makes Daytona such a huge deal.
One such excellent television spot would have to be for the 2014 Daytona 500:
No song and dance, no gaudy pastel colors, no ridiculous hashtags floating about. This is a promotion that does just that – it promotes. It doesn’t try to convince viewers to party or break into a flash mob. Instead, it brings in viewers for the race. It captures the mystique of Daytona, the adrenaline of the competition, and the prestige of the event – three ingredients that make the Daytona 500 such a big deal in the world of motorsports.
Why change that? Why step away from something that was tried and true and hyped up not only the event but the sport itself? The #DaytonaDay promotion has repeatedly been slammed due to criticisms that it “dumbs down the sport.” That’s not a direction NASCAR needs to take. NASCAR fans are an intelligent, motivated lot and are undoubtedly some of the best fans in the professional sports world. Don’t change that. Don’t insult that.
It’s disheartening that this promotion is now in its third year despite fans and competitors virtually disowning it. If NASCAR wants to promote the Daytona 500 into the mainstream, #DaytonaDay isn’t the way to go. Twitter and Instagram users will only join in to be included on the hashtag swarm that gets involved on the day of the event (see above: Justin Bieber. Have yet to see him at Daytona).
Bring back the mystique. Bring back the nostalgia. Bring back the majesty of the Daytona 500. It’s a race, but it’s also more; it’s one of the biggest pillars of the American motorsports world. Make outsiders wonder why this is such a big day for NASCAR like they wonder why the Indy 500 is such a big day for IndyCar or Monaco is such a big day for Formula One. Don’t simplify it like what’s being done right now.