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As irrelevant as horse racing?

10 May 2018

Selling NASCAR might be only way to save shrinking sport from becoming as irrelevant as horse racing – these are not my words but those of the Orlando Sentinel in Florida. Why am I repeating it here? Because if this is the sentiment of a publication that isn’t involved in motor racing in the slightest, then we are in trouble. It means that we are losing whatever interest we had as a sport when it comes to the general public.

The writer, Mike Bianchi, goes on to write “If NASCAR is, in fact, for sale then maybe our beloved-but – broken Great American Sport can be saved, after all.

“Let’s be honest, shall we? NASCAR is dying before our very eyes and the potential sale of it by the founding France family might be the only way to save it from going the way of horse racing.”

He attacks the France family but the real nub of the problem is the changing world in which we live, which not only affects NASCAR but pretty well all of motorsport. NASCAR’s specific problem, though, he argues, is that its season is too long as are the races themselves and our attention span is now pretty short. He goes on to say that most people aren’t willing to invest an entire day, and sometimes night, to attend a NASCAR race.

He writes “Ironically, a sport that is based on speed is becoming obsolete because it lasts too long. Almost every sport is trying to quicken the game-day experience, but this goal is difficult to attain for NASCAR.”

So is there any hope for the sport as we know let along NASCAR? The answer is probably yes but it’s going to be a very tricky road to follow. Liberty Media, the newish owners of Formula 1, are trying to find the answers in the branch of the sport it now owns, but in truth the jury is out although the signs are optimistic.

For NASCAR, whether under new ownership or not, it is a completely different matter. Modify it too much, such as replacing the V8 with something more in line with 21st century automotive thinking, and you will undoubtedly lose your traditional fan base, but keeping it doesn’t help attract a younger generation.

All in all, though, NASCAR is a phenomenal brand and in the right hands, which may well still be the France family, it doesn’t deserve to become as irrevelant as horse racing. Time will tell.

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