A former driver, team owner, and current member of the media has opened up about his thoughts on issues with NASCAR. Darrel Waltrip has jotted down some of his thoughts about the state of affairs in NASCAR for teams, drivers, owners, and the sanctioning body.
With the best competition being offered up to fans in years it seems that NASCAR has finally solved several issues with cars and competition. One the other hand fans have not been filling up the seats.
What's the problem?
So why is NASCAR talking about changing the cars and power plants again? Why are they not looking at other issues with the sport instead of something that's actually worked pretty well? In an article he penned for Fox Sports the NASCAR Hall of Fame member makes it clear that its NASCAR’s game and if you want to play you have to play by their rules.
“Brian France took over the reins from his father, Bill Jr. He and his management team are the sanctioning body,” Waltrip wrote.
“They make the rules and they call the shots. Simplistically put, it's their sandbox and if you want to play in it, well by golly, you will play by their rules.”
Road Trips Gallore
I don’t always agree with Waltrip on his analysis of all things racing related although I do recognize his long tenure in the sport. Anyone that spends so many years in any industry would have a unique take on issues that arise. In this case I agree with Waltrip on several topics in his article including one that has bugged me for years. The schedule is crazy at the beginning of the year.
When the season opens after Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway the teams of NASCAR begin a long and crazy schedule. It’s one that takes them back and forth across the country so many times it makes your head spin. In addition the multiple coast to coast road trips costs the teams a ton of money. Right now, and over the last couple of years, funding is tight for every team involved in racing from NASCAR to ARCA and on to your local track. Here’s what Waltrip said.
“I don't know if you all realize this or not, but once we leave Daytona in February after the 500, our sport -- the teams, the transporters, etc., pass Texas Motor Speedway something like five times before we ever go there,” Waltrip penned.
“We go by on the way to Phoenix, on the way to Las Vegas, then clear back to Bristol only to turn right around and go once again clear back across country to Fontana. If that's not enough to make your head spin, we leave Fontana, go right back across the country to go to Martinsville before finally heading to Texas Motor Speedway.”
DW is right on the travel issue. But it points to a larger issue and that’s consumer spending. With gas prices the way they are it’s only getting more expensive for teams to take haulers, and everything else involved in racing, across the country several times in a row. This does not include the cost for the fans to attend a race. Tracks have done amazing things with ticket prices over the years as they have realized that race fans are watching their wallets.
What is completely out of NASCAR’s control, as well as the recently announced Race Team Alliance, is the cost to fans in time and money. Gas prices are up, hotels triple their prices for rooms, and souvenirs are more expensive. Many tracks let you bring in a cooler that will fit under your seat but eating on the road for a family of four can be pretty expensive. NASCAR is expensive for teams to take part in but it's also expensive for fans to come and see.