Did Earnhardt Call NASCAR Boring?

Did Earnhardt Call NASCAR Boring?

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Wednesday, 05 April 2017
Mike Harper - SOZ

No sport or industry focused on entertainment wants to be called boring. For NASCAR and track promoters, the biggest challenge is keeping fans entertained before and during the race. And sadly, when the race itself is struggling to entertain fans people begin to do desperate things.

The announcement or rumor, depending on how it’s being reported… is Monster Energy will bring MMA fighting to NASCAR races. As Monster tries to become NASCAR’s ratings savior, this will, without a doubt spark controversy within NASCAR’s fan base.  No matter where you stand on this subject it does provide a good example of the desperate measures Monster is taking to bring more entertainment to a sport in need of a quick entertainment fix.

For as long as I can remember track promoters have done all they can to provide excitement too – including blowing things up, huge concerts and celebrity visitors just to name a few, all in the effort to entertain fans…and of course to retain or increase ticket sales. I’d like to applaud the track promoters – they’ve been NASCAR’s best warriors during this slide in popularity. They have no control over rule packages or day to day operations at NASCAR. They must deal with the cards given to them each and every race season.  They are NASCAR’s heroes.

Let’s finally ask the hard question – is NASCAR boring?

The racing from Martinsville Speedway this past weekend was in my opinion, the best of the season.  While the television ratings remain on the decline and the Martinsville stands weren’t full, it’s obvious to me that racing at short tracks could be one ingredient to winning fans back. The problem is NASCAR doesn’t race at Martinsville but only two times in a season – making it difficult to benefit from the Martinsville wave of excitement.

For someone who likes aggressive racing, I was pleased to see it back in full force. But the challenge, even after the race was over, is fans didn’t see a rebirth of rivalries. Sure we had drivers mad at each other – but once again, no bad guys, all good guys.

In my research of what made NASCAR so popular back in the day, two red flags stand out to me. First, I believe the racing – the actual product on the track, was much better back then. Call it aero or whatever, it just seems like the cars raced differently. But for me, more importantly than aero or anything associated with the makeup of the race car is the fact we no longer have heated rivalries.

The sport has turned into a bunch of friends or co-workers racing cars. Drivers are happy to finish 5th – drivers eat and party together – drivers’ wives and kids are all friends – they each crossover and help with each other’s charities – it’s an industry of friends racing friends. And honestly, it’s boring as heck.

Here’s a lesson for NASCAR from someone who helped make the sport popular, “The fans need a bad guy to yell at. You don’t want every guy to be a good guy, do you? That would be pretty boring, if you ask me,” said Dale Earnhardt.

Today’s NASCAR is truly a bunch of good guys – “pretty boring” as Earnhardt said.

IndyCar’s Paul Tracy agrees. In an interview at the beginning of the 2017 season Tracy said, “There are no Dale Earnhardt Srs, no Paul Tracys, no Michael Schumachers – guys who will do anything to win and they’re the villain. This sport right now is lacking a little bit of that. Tony Stewart, he’s a bit of a villain, now he’s retired, in IndyCar and NASCAR everybody’s kind of this nice guy. There seems to be a lack of rivalries and something that people want to tune into because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

I agree.

This is my opinion – NASCAR and track promoters should kill the drivers motorhome lot – separate these drivers by teams and scatter them throughout the track. NASCAR should do everything possible to promote aggressive driving – end giving points away at the end of stages…give it only to the winner. Chase or playoff drivers should only be race winners. The rest shouldn’t be allowed to win a championship.

NASCAR should back-off punishing drivers who retaliate. Every driver weighs the same in a race car – let them beat and bang under caution like the old days. And reduce the money. Life is good when you are making millions. When you finish 5th and you are happy something is wrong.

Also – for the drivers, stop waving at drivers who let you pass them.  This is simply horrible.  Fans do not want to see you waving at a competitor…its soft – so stop it!

If NASCAR truly wants to make their sport popular again they will do something to promote rivalries.  If not, the only action we’ll continue to see are side shows at the tracks and hard selling that “everything is great” as Kyle Busch would say.  All happening while making money off hard working fans – a fan base, who has figured out exactly what Earnhardt told us 30 years ago – a sport of good guys is “boring.”

 

Follow SOZ (nascarSOZ), get NO FOO FOO Opinions and WIN NASCAR STUFF at the new @TheThunderCrew

Want more SOZ? Check out his last column–> C’MON NASCAR: IS THE CAR REALLY A WEAPON?

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author (SOZ) and does not necessarily reflect RaceTalkRadio.com or our advertisers.   

9 Comments

  1. John Michael Wyatt says:

    I’m not a great writer, but NASCAR is beyond boring. There’s so much wrong to me as a former fan of almost 55 years, I don’t want to begin to write it all down. I don’t want the drivers or crews to work in grave danger, but aren’t they ultimately supposed to be there to entertain, or interest the fans, and compete like hell? I haven’t purchased any NASCAR gear for two years now, haven’t attended a race since 2006, and tried to watch two races on television this year, but stopped watching after about 15 minutes. Too boring.
    Finally, I think drivers had to earn the privilege of driving in Cup races by proving that right by driving in what was then the Busch Series, and prove their ability. I watched Dale,Jr. and Matt Kenseth driving in the 600 in Charlotte in May 2000. They were both better rookie Winston Cup drivers in 2000 than many Cup drivers in 2017. Most drivers begin their careers young, but I’m pretty sure both Matt and Dale were older and more experienced than the younger Cup drivers today. There’s always exceptions, but too many Cup drivers today haven’t earned the right to be Cup drivers. I think it’s too late for NASCAR to fix the decline, because too many once loyal fans are too old, and the younger people today aren’t interested. I enjoyed buying gear at the multiple driver/team merchandise trailers in Phoenix in 2004, but it’s hard to find those trailers now. Dale Jr. should have won the Cup Championship in 2004, but he was penalized for saying “don’t mean shit” after one Talladega win that year. I yelled at him from the stands in Phoenix in late 2004, after he won the Cup race,”don’t say shit Dale”, while the more cultured fans there that day looked at me like I had been released from a redneck zoo. Must have been my North Carolina accent. NASCAR’s in an “Alternative Reality” to me.
    Respectfully, Mike Wyatt

  2. Joe Jacalone says:

    NASCAR’S ship has sailed. The only thing that will begin to fix it is if all the big money goes away. Then, it will have a chance to return to it’s roots.

  3. Ken says:

    I blame both NASCAR and sponsors for neutering the drivers and making them look like good guys that everyone should like. Almost every successful entertainment venue has always had the bad against the good throughout history. Fairy tales had the wicked stepmother, the big bad wolf and even Uncle Remus had Brer Fox. Cartoons had Brutus, Wiley Coyote, etc. Westerns always had the mean banker, rustler, bank robber, etc. TV shows always has a mean boss, bad neighbor, molester, etc. It’s always good against evil as professional wrestling learned decades ago.

    Whether it’s racing, TV, movies, book or even the government (the evil Russians), you need to have good and evil competing against each other to keep the people’s interest.

  4. Russ says:

    one rivalry no longer mentioned is that between manufacturers. Back in the day the Ford vs Chevy or Dodge battle was the real key. Whoever drove for your brand was a hero, if they drove for a competitor they were a bum, or worse.
    But those days are gone now never to return. Regardless of the cause I believe stock car racings have as well.

  5. keith hadder says:

    In my case I am cutting back on expenses and paying $90.00 a month for cable, it had to be reduced to a cheaper package that doesn’t carry all the channels that carry nascar, I hated doing it at first but now I don’t miss it and I’m saving $45.00 a month on my cable bill

  6. Jonathan Fair says:

    I’m 31, and my parents were heavy into NASCAR. They even had NASCAR magazine! This was all during the Rainbow Warrior era. I remember Jeff Gordon on a riding lawnmower, and his wife at the time came out onto the lawn to give him a Fritos and Chili combo bowl thing. I ate those. A lot.

    Anyway… got out of it eventually… but we did attend the first race at Texas Motor Speedway… I went back to school so sunburned I got made fun of… but my teachers wanted to know what the track was like haha.

    I got heavy into it again later in my mid twenties, and started going to races with my girlfriend. I love the sounds. We even took a vacation and managed to get up to Bristol for a night race and it was amazing.

    Lately though… I care less and less. I don’t follow closely enough to be up to date on rules before the season starts, so right off the bat this year at Daytona, my dad and I were like WTF is this $h1t?

    I’m ripping this line from another post, but since when did we start awarding sports teams for being ahead in the middle of the game? Jimmie Johnson said in as many words himself a few races ago, drivers are no longer rewarded for patience and the long game.

    So that right there… blows. Attrition is a vital part of this sport in both competition and deeper fan interest. And they’ve worked that out of the rules now in the interest of action.

    It should be of no surprise to anyone at NASCAR that the average attention span of people has been in rapid decline since the age of the internet. Immediate I want it now culture.

    That’s not what NASCAR is about. Throwing a yellow, and putting a stop to otherwise perfectly good racing just because a segment of the race is over is straight up horsh!t and feels like the sport is on training wheels.

    Adding this factor to all of the other built in gripes about safety, DW’s boogity, and seemingly random network coverage in a weird age of cord cutting and internet TV…

    NASCAR feels lost. I think new leadership is in order.

  7. KAREN says:

    I agree with the comments from the others above. NASCAR is boring. The segments suck and it is difficult to watch. Catering to the Corporate mentality has killed NASCAR. RIP.

  8. Ronatola says:

    Here mu list of why NASCAR is BORING. Even the ones I’ve list as EXCITING below are still only lukewarm but I had to mark them as exciting to compare to the rest of the porridge…

    A. J. Allmendinger Boring
    Aric Almirola Non Entity
    Trevor Bayne Boring
    Ryan Blaney Boring
    Clint Bowyer Exciting
    Chris Buescher Non Entity
    Kurt Busch Exciting
    Kyle Busch Exciting
    Landon Cassill Non Entity
    Matt DiBenedetto Non Entity
    Austin Dillon Boring
    Ty Dillon Boring
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. Exciting
    Jeffrey Earnhardt Non Entity
    Chase Elliott Boring
    Gray Gaulding Non Entity
    Denny Hamlin Exciting
    Kevin Harvick Boring
    Jimmie Johnson Exciting
    Erik Jones Non Entity
    Kasey Kahne Boring
    Matt Kenseth Boring
    Brad Keselowski Exciting
    Corey LaJoie Boring
    Kyle Larson Boring
    Joey Logano Exciting
    Michael McDowell Non Entity
    Jamie McMurray Boring
    Paul Menard Non Entity
    Ryan Newman Boring
    Danica Patrick Exciting
    David Ragan Boring
    Reed Sorenson Non Entity
    Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Non Entity
    Daniel Suárez Non Entity
    Martin Truex Jr. Exciting
    Cole Whitt Non Entity

    Also, the Teams have NO loyalty to manufacturers now. They switch engines, chassis, sponsors like they’re changing their shoes. It’s all $ driven, with no regard to fans. Fans in turn have no manufacturer loyalty either. What kind of hard core Detroiter is gonna route for a team that changed to Toyota.

    The last exciting moment I can recall was Tony throwing his helmet. Even after Logano hammered Hamlin into the wall causing back injury – there was NO retaliation by anyone against him.

    And I HATE seeing all the wive’s and kids in the pit areas now before the race. Putting kids in cars – getting adoring video of it. NASCAR is a dangerous MANLY sport and it’s being watered down.

    Oh well – I’m going back to watching the AllStar race now. They say it’s for the fans, but it’s more like a cash grab for the drivers. zzzzzzzzzzzz

  9. Billly Gee says:

    What’s wrong with NASCAR is simple it’s no longer nascar, Nascar was when you could buy a stock car from a dealer make some modifications and go win a race. Now there is nothing stock about stock car racing. Not one peice on today’s race car is stock hell they are all the same car just with different manfactures names on them. Back in the day drivers hauled their stock car to a race on a open trailer with a few extra tires and a couple of friends to help in the pit. Today big big money two cars in a million dollar car hauler all kind of extra parts and the driver in a five hundred thousand dollar motor home. REALLY what a over kill. Well I could go on and on but I don’t think nascar will ever make a come back and I don’t think to many people even care I know I don’t. Thanks to all thr millionaires who got fat pockets and killed the sport.

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