No. 968
October 17, 2018

About The UjianNasional

Author, commentator, influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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October 14, 2009

NASCAR's "eureka!" moment? Not so much.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

(Posted 10/13, 9:00am) Detroit.
It was with great fanfare last week that NASCAR announced that it was switching to uniform start times for all of its races beginning next year. Meaning, 1 p.m. Eastern for races in the Eastern and Central time zones, 3 p.m. for West Coast races and 7:30 p.m. for all night races except for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, which will begin at 5:45 p.m. This was in response to the continued dramatic swoon in NASCAR's television ratings and a survey of NASCAR's "fan council" that suggested that the inconsistent start times of the races were bothersome to 50 percent of those surveyed.

This is NASCAR's grand response to their plummeting fortunes?

It's amazing to me that the powers that be in Daytona Beach continue to look at what's happening to their beloved money machine as an aberration, or just a momentary bad patch. This series has been on a TV ratings and in-person fan attendance decline for going on three years now. That's right, NASCAR's swoon began long before the Great Economic Collapse of a year ago. As a matter of fact, the storm clouds were building noticeably by the spring of 2007 if anyone bothered to notice. And Brian France & Co. either refused to acknowledge what was happening, or he and his posse truly believed that things would blow over and it would all be good again, apparently.

And how is that working out for them?

When you combine NASCAR's normal glacial pace of change with a reluctance to take action or do anything differently of consequence in response to rapidly changing market conditions, you end up with a recipe for disaster, which is right where NASCAR finds itself at the moment. Forget the "stories" of The Chase (Will Mark Martin make it? Will Jimmie make it four in a row? Will Juan Pablo break through? etc.), because at the end of the day NASCAR's brain trust continues to squander every opportunity to make meaningful, substantive changes to the way they go about their business, and it's killing every chance for them to gain positive momentum with their hard-core fan base and with the television networks, whose "suits" are now beginning to ask the tough questions, as in, "Why did we pay through the nose for these ratings again? And what are you going to do about it?"

And for Brian France and his minions to suggest to the world that uniform start times will be the "eureka!" moment for NASCAR is beyond silly and a real glimpse at the warped thinking processes that go on down in Daytona Beach.

Uh, it's not the start times, Brian.

But it just might have something to do with the cookie-cutter, soulless tracks. The cookie-cutter, soulless spec cars. The cookie-cutter, relentlessly boring races. The death march of a schedule that's based on "We've always done it this way" instead of "What can we do to make this thing better?" To name just a few things.

Ah well, Brian and his cronies think differently than the rest of us. It's that "third-generation of the family business" adage at work in real time, folks. The one that suggests that by the time the third-generation of any family enterprise gets their hands on things it all turns to hell in a hand basket in due time.

Visionary, big-picture thinking didn't used to be in short supply back in the good old days of NASCAR. But that was the era of broad shoulders and handshake deals, when things were on an upward trajectory and the future was bright and limitless. And smart, tough people not only went with their guts, they actually took action.

And now? Well, let's just say that with Brian France at the controls that old era of "vision" and "upward trajectory" has turned into an excruciatingly slow downward spiral into mediocrity.

But we'll be able to count on those consistent start times at least...there's that.


Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Daytona Beach, FL, 1956. Driver Chuck Daigh - in his Ford-sponsored, race-prepped Thunderbird - won the Standing Start Acceleration Run at the Daytona Beach Speed Trials with a speed of 88.779 mph. He also had a time of 40.5 sec. in the 0 to 150 mph Run. The car had a modified Thunderbird V8 engine with dual quads and 260 hp.


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