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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February 18, 2009


NASCAR allows Fox to hold the Great American Race hostage - and blows it, big-time.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Imagine if we didn't get to see the last quarter of the Super Bowl two weeks ago because NBC wanted to showcase its new lineup of network programming at a certain time. That would really suck, wouldn't it? Well, something frighteningly similar happened at the Daytona 500 last Sunday night. Fox, the network that can do no wrong in its estimation (just ask 'em), insisted on starting the race at almost 3:30PM Eastern time (after a one-and-one-half hour long pre-race show), knowing full well that substantial rain was forecast and that it would have a definite impact on the end of the race.

Why did this happen? Because the guy who runs Fox sports, David Hill, thinks that the Daytona 500 makes a perfect lead-in to the network's Sunday night programming. Note that the notion of having the opportunity to present one of only two of the classic American races that matter to the general public and to the stick & ball-dominated sports media (the Indianapolis 500 being the other) isn't enough for Hill. No, the Daytona 500 must be "packaged" around Hill's idea of a lead-in to his network's Sunday night lineup. So because of that, the nation's racing fans were robbed of a Daytona 500 that ran the full distance last Sunday.

I get the fact that NASCAR, the most mercenary of all sports enterprises, is held hostage by the jaw-dropping, billion-dollar TV deal that was signed at its peak years ago - the one that will be altered severely downward in the next contract negotiations thanks to NASCAR's plummeting TV ratings - and it doesn't want to do anything to upset the TV network gods, but this decision smacks of a blatant disregard for the only positive dimension that NASCAR has at this point, and that is the fans who - even though they're dwindling in number - are still intensely loyal to the sport.

How does that make you feel, NASCAR fans? How does it feel to know that in this Brian France-led era several things are perfectly clear? And that is that NASCAR cares about its TV "partners" first, followed by its co-branding and sponsorship "deals" with corporate America next, followed by the quality of the actual racing itself - but only when they have to bow to public pressure first, heaven forbid they actually worry about the quality of the racing on their own account - followed by, oh, yeah, the fans.

Remember them?

While NASCAR was fumbling around with Keith Urban in its quest to manufacture a big-time feel for its "Super Bowl," the clock was ticking on the weather situation and thus NASCAR fans were robbed of the last 52 laps of the season's most important race because of what? Digger?

Am I appalled that NASCAR would allow its biggest event - the so-called "Great American Race" - to be held hostage by a TV network? No. It hasn't been about the actual racing down in Daytona beach for a long, long time now. But still, this is a bitter pill to swallow even by NASCAR's usual stumblebum standards.

Memo to the Boys and Girls in Daytona Beach: Start the race earlier, or come back the next day and finish the biggest race of the year properly.

And then remind David Hill that he signed a contract to broadcast the Daytona 500 - a car race - not a lead-in to Digger & Friends.


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

(Ford Racing Archives)
Long Beach, California, 1977. Mario Andretti (No. 5 John Player Special Lotus 78-Ford) laps the Long Beach Grand Prix street circuit in practice for the United States Grand Prix West. Mario would become the first American to win a F1 Grand Prix on his home soil when he passed Jody Scheckter (No. 20 Walter Wolf Racing Wolf-Ford) with three laps to go and then held off Niki Lauda (No. 11 Ferrari) for the win on the streets of Long Beach. Mario would go on to become only the second American (Phil Hill did it in 1961) to become World Champion at the end of the following season (1978).