Should NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway Apologize?

Should NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway Apologize?

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Tuesday, 11 April 2017
Mike Harper - SOZ

Sadly a new chapter in NASCAR was opened this past weekend at Texas Motor Speedway and without the watchful eye of a fellow Texan, we may not have even heard about it. The sad reality is NASCAR and my home track Texas Motor Speedway lost a small group of fans who I’ve been told will now watch the Texas races on TV or will look for alternate vacation destinations as the sport continues to pave a new path in search of new fans.

This isn’t a new challenge for NASCAR as traditional fans have bolted from the sport due to the many changes NASCAR has implemented over the years. But now I expect NASCAR to lose additional fans due to the cultural change NASCAR is forcing on families and on current faith based fans.

If you listen to NASCAR radio or follow NASCAR’s social media community, it seems traditional and faith based fans are no longer wanted. And if you’re livelihood depends on NASCAR, you seem to be a defender of the current culture no matter if it is right or wrong. This is incredibly sad.

What is the current culture in NASCAR?

The answer is simple…it’s the Monster Energy culture. It’s young, fast, edgy and sexy – not a bad thing. It’s also unprofessional, risky, immature and dangerous. NASCAR and their sanctioned tracks must walk a fine line in balancing their business to business corporate model and this new hip disrespectful culture of Monster marketing.

Disrespectful culture? Yes it is – and I’m not referring to the Monster Energy girls. NASCAR insiders have spent too much time on placing traditional and faith based fans in a tiny box and branding them as haters of these girls. I’m sure there are fans who do not like the optics of the Monster Energy girls, but traditional and faith based fans have seen sexy girls and risky sponsors since the very beginning.

Disrespectful is when Monster Energy and NASCAR – along with their broadcast partners release a profanity laced video justifying the Monster Energy girls. Let’s be honest…this video wasn’t made for the current pro-Monster Energy fans because they are in line with everything that is happening in NASCAR. The video was done to either win over traditional and faith based fans or to stick a finger into the faces of the traditional and faith based fans telling them to get in line. Since most traditional and faith based fans tend to shy away from aggressive profanity using people, my guess is this was a tactic to force people in line.

Here is another example…disrespectful is when Monster Energy, NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway allegedly allowed non-family friendly clothing at the track. If true, allowing a person in Victory Lane with an obscene shirt, to participate in the winner’s photos is not only disrespectful but flat out embarrassing.  And while it may not be a huge deal to NASCAR insiders and those who don’t have issues with profanity, it is an example of the change in culture at NASCAR. This wouldn’t have been tolerated in the past.

If the above photo is accurate and true (altered to remove the full obscene word), Monster Energy, NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway gives the impression they do not care about ALL of their guests. Since the person was front and center for all to see during the photos, either management didn’t care how this would affect children, families, traditional fans, faith based fans or even corporate or team sponsors like Lowe’s or someone was able to get past series and track management without their approval.

My hope is NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway did not give approval for this unfortunate incident and will apologize. Again, I’m sure there are some who believe this is not a big deal because profanity is such a common occurrence especially within NASCAR circles. But I’m not the only one who wants to protect people from it.

Did you know every major professional sport and most arenas and stadiums have a Code of Conduct, which restricts such clothing? Basically the Code of Conduct is a set of rules written by an organization, giving guidance for handling difficult ethical situations based on a company’s core values.

Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL and the NHL have a Code of Conduct for fans and can be found on their web sites. They detail restrictions for employees and fans such as, “There will not be any obscene or indecent messages on signs or clothing.”

AT&T Stadium, which is approximately 30 miles from the Texas Motor Speedway, has a strict Code of Conduct and it states;

AT&T Stadium Management is committed to creating a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience for our guests. Our staff will proactively support an environment free from the following behaviors:

  • Abusive, foul or disruptive language and obscene gestures.
  • Intoxication or other signs of impairment related to alcohol consumption.
  • Fighting, taunting or threatening remarks or gestures.
  • Sitting in a location other than the guest’s ticketed seat.
  • Displays of affection not appropriate in a public setting.
  • Obscene or indecent clothing.
  • Any disruption to the progress of the event by the guest’s actions, i.e. prolonged standing (standing when other fans in the section are seated).

The American Airlines Arena, also in Dallas promotes a Code of Conduct that says, “Guest are not allowed to have signs or clothing with obscene or indecent messages, images or text.”

I’ve not located a Code of Conduct for NASCAR or Texas Motor Speedway and our email to the speedway has gone unanswered. We do know the NASCAR industry including track owners and promoters (Texas Motor Speedway participated) released a statement in 2015 regarding a conduct code. The statement said, “We are asking our fans and partners to join us in a renewed effort to create an all-inclusive, even more welcoming atmosphere for all who attend our events. This will include the request to refrain from displaying the Confederate Flag at our facilities and NASCAR events.”

Would an even more welcoming atmosphere include not allowing obscene clothing? I would think so but maybe under this new Monster Energy culture the code has changed.

We have experienced similar actions of disrespect towards fans prior to Monster Energy. After Bristol Motor Speedway enacted their current driver introduction ceremony (which is a fun experience), a handful of drivers have taken advantage of the situation and selected rap songs to use during their introduction. Unfortunately, these songs had lyrics about crime, degrading women, profanity, rape and racism.  A Mom brought this to my attention after her child went home from the track and listened to his favorite driver’s chosen song, which was full of hateful and degrading lyrics. Since that time, I’ve made an effort after each Bristol event to point it out. I call it the Rap Crap Report. Sadly, no one of major significance in the industry joined us (RTR team) in asking the drivers to be aware of their song choices and to stand with kids by keeping their ears and eyes clean of such bad lyrics. We’ve been ignored by the drivers. For a family friendly sport – some drivers don’t care for family friendly.

I’m not saying I’m against profanity in the sport or even rap music. Whatever you say or listen to is your own business. And for those fans complaining about listening to the radio communications of drivers and spotters and hear profanity – I say turn it off. You are making a choice to listen…you are not being forced. But when you buy a ticket for a race and a speedway doesn’t protect you from it…meaning it’s promoted and everyone in the speedway is subject to hearing it or seeing it then something is wrong.  Fans will react either by ignoring it or not coming back. And based on the number of people in the stands these days, for whatever reason, many fans are gone.

I’m a big fan of Eddie Gossage and I know firsthand he does the right thing. I also admire Marcus Smith – based on his tweets, he’s a man of faith. In 2012, when asked what fans want at his SMI tracks he said, “Fans wanted more access to drivers and more family-friendly experiences.” Based on this past weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, some fans didn’t feel the family-friendly experience. I truly hope this new culture that allegedly allowed a man in Victory Lane with the “F” word across his chest – standing next to the winner, who just happened to be the 7 time NASCAR champion will not become common practice.

What would’ve happened if Michael McDowell, a fan favorite of faith based fans had won the race? Would this obscene shirt been in Victory Lane?

O be careful little eyes what you see. O be careful little ears what you hear.  Should NASCAR and Texas Motor Speedway apologize? Yes and hopefully adopt a Code of Conduct like the other sports and stadiums because you cannot lose when you take a stand for families.

 

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

Want more SOZ? Check out his last column–> DID EARNHARDT CALL NASCAR BORING?

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

5 Comments

  1. keith says:

    It’s called liberalizing nascar, the trouble is Trump haters don’t go to nascar races. nascar has been shifting hard left ever since they got a big chunk of Obama bailout money in 2009.

  2. Bill B says:

    From what I’ve seen in our culture, all someone should have to do is start threatening a boycott on Twitter and you should see NASCAR react. I am surprised that this is the first I’ve heard about it. How come this hasn’t been on social media where every perceived injustice gets treated like it’s the crime of the century?

  3. Al Torney says:

    You can take it to the bank that a photo like that will never be tolerated again. I would think Lowes will be all over that. And I would think Jimmie Johnson is upset about it. The photographer is to blame for this foul up.

    I first started going to Cup races in 1968. I usually did 6 to ten races a year. Back then drunken fans were commonplace. While I don’t attend races anymore, the last races I did attend I didn’t see near the drinking i used to see. I’ve sen the police after races checking drivers leaving the Speedways for sobriety.

    As far as obscene t-shirts go there are people, men and women, who just don’t care what they wear. You see it everywhere. I’m far from being a prude. I remember every dirty joke I ever heard. And I am known for telling then. In addition my language will challenge any bodies ears at times. But even I wouldn’t wear a shirt that would bring embarrressment to my kids and spouse.

    It’s up to the Speedways to instruct the people at the gates to stop people from entering the grandstands in inappropriate apparel or in an inebriated condition. NASCAR should be controlling victory lane. Of course NASCAR should put pressure on the Speedways, hell they own half of them, to begin policing this stuff.

    I think your article is well written and will bring attention to those in command of the ship.

  4. Steve says:

    While I agree with most of this post Mike, you do make a lot of assumptions about Nascar, TMS, and the drivers. Just because they don’t respond to you doesn’t ultimately mean they don’t care. I highly doubt Nascar, TMS, or the drivers would be too impressed with this, given how sponsor conscious they are. You can bet this will be nipped in the bud, even if not made public. My guess is this guy somehow fell through the cracks with all the people that they allow on pit road. I’m willing to give everyone a pass on this. If it happens again, then your point has plenty of merit. But I think your outrage is a little overblown at this point without all the facts.

  5. PrimeTimeChuck says:

    I feel like the sport needs more grit and edge if it is to hold any hope of a comeback. I have been a person of faith since childhood. However, it is the church and parents job to teach a child right from wrong. And the old argument that a Christian isn’t able or allowed to be around it is a cop out.The sport is not responsible to raise children, or be a role model. If you want clean cut, pick a good guy. If you want rebel… pick a bad boy. That’s part of the allure of this sport.

    In addition to this, Jesus spent over 2/3’s of his life on earth dealing witnessing to sinners in the streets. This sport was started in moonshining. The self righteous shtick from certain points of the fanbase is sickening and hypocritical. It’s okay to let Danica pose in swimsuits, but heaven’s no, we can’t have none of them there cuss words being displayed around our kids! People need to draw their lines on things that actually harm us… like going to war, or letting people get married to young where homes are broken in divorces… Not over someone saying a word they don’t approve of.

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