Why Can't NASCAR Do More Night Races During Football Season?

Sam HeganCorrespondent INovember 1, 2009

TALLADEGA, AL - NOVEMBER 01: David Reutimann, driver of the #00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota, and Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 SUBWAY Ford, lead the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on November 1, 2009 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

I have come to the following conclusion: NASCAR should run all of their chase races on Saturday night. I know many viewers will say, “no way.” I contend that trying to compete with Pro Football at the end of the season is a losing proposition and in a battle for television viewers NASCAR is sadly losing.

I consider myself the average NASCAR viewer. I own a few pieces of NASCAR merchandise, yet I don’t do everything in a NASCAR motif. I likewise own a few pieces of NFL merchandise yet I don’t consider myself a super NFL nut.

I am writing this piece while trying to balance watching the “Amp Energy 500,” from Talladega and watching football on three other channels. When NASCAR runs a Saturday night race, this is not an issue. I can watch them both and that makes me a happy sports camper.

NASCAR has constantly lost viewership over the past few seasons. Some of the complaints I hear from other fans about the TV coverage is the abnormal amount of commercials that take a fan away from the on-track coverage, the lack of make and model recognition of the COT, and NASCAR’s seemingly unresponsiveness to viewer complaints and concerns.

I am one of those that complain about the over commercialization of the races. We are constantly reminded of how commercial professional racing has become. Every car on the track is festooned with sponsor decals and in my mind, each is a commercial. Why does the coverage need more away from the track commercials? NASCAR blames it on the networks, but NASCAR has control over all coverage. Could it be that NASCAR is getting a windfall from these revenues?

One of my pet peeves is how unlike in appearance any true factory stock car is to the COT. NASCAR’s insistence that all the cars be identical aerodynamically has had mixed reviews from the fans. I personally would rather see a car that looks closer to the factory offering regardless of aerodynamics. During a time in America that the U.S. automakers are on the financial ropes, NASCAR has decided to distance their racing series from Detroit instead of trying to promote the manufacturers. Could it be NASCAR is being encouraged by certain Japanese manufacturers to jump the American ship? An all Toyota NASCAR would only benefit Toyota and maybe a few well paid NASCAR officials.

Television viewers have complained to no end about the commercials and many, including myself about the COT. NASCAR seems to ignore it all. They had the famous meeting with the owners and drivers earlier this season. Their answer to all the complaints, double filed restarts. It is true they are more exciting to watch, but they do not address the main issues.

So why doesn’t NASCAR have a meeting with the fans? My suggestion, do a random pick of fans from NASCAR.com fan base and fly these fans in to speak with the NASCAR board? Of course, that will never happen, as NASCAR doesn’t want fan input. Without that input, they can step up to the microphone and say they are listening to the fans without really doing so.

This is just another case of the management under King Bryan France that makes me ask just why is the France family the only people allowed to run NASCAR. Didn’t a group of drivers and owners form NASCAR and not just the France family? Why do we not have some the progeny of those original members become the head of the sport? Why aren’t the CEO and management elected by the fans or at least the car owners?

This question really hit home when the France family were given two of the Hall of Fame positions. I could see Bill France, Sr. being in because he help start it all. Bill France, Jr. was given his place for what reason? NASCAR is operated as if only the France family owns NASCAR and was never voted on or formed by any other entity. This is so very wrong and has led to accusations of race fixing and underhanded policies of silencing opponents to their dictatorship.

So why doesn’t NASCAR make themselves more accessible to the television viewers by doing night races during the Chase? It might eliminate a few tracks that can’t be illuminated from the Chase, but it would add others and they might be more exciting. Another Bristol race during the Chase would be fun to watch, and how about a road course night race. I also couldn’t see where track attendance would suffer. It is true the night races might have to compete with the NCAA football schedules, but wouldn’t that be more desirable than competing with a strong NFL television schedule?

So what do I watch on Sunday afternoon? I can watch racing until the next commercial comes on. That only means I’ll miss about four or five plays of my football games. Nevertheless, it is hard to swap back to the races when there is so much happening at the football games.

If NASCAR wants to keep my loyalty, they had best be looking at some changes to keep me interested. At one time in my life, I was a rabid fan of NASCAR. I never missed a race on TV or if I could make it at the track. I was also an avid football fan that tried to make a few games each year in New Orleans to see my beloved Saints. Today with the fantastic coverage of the NFL, I rarely miss a game on Sunday. This is largely curtailing my watching any NASCAR coverage.

How do I balance watching NASCAR and the NFL? Luckily, I have a picture in picture system on my TV. Yet I mostly watch two NFL games and then flip over to view the final few laps of the race. It seems I miss those few laps many a Sunday and have to look to the written coverage to see who won. This season with another Jimmy Johnson dominance, I sometimes just don’t care.

I might be labeled as a wannabe NASCAR fan by many and that kind of hurts a little as I have been such an avid fans for so many years. My main complaint is against how NASCAR is being run and the direction it is going. If anybody wants to know about how I feel, then simply read my earlier articles. I make no bones about my dissatisfaction with NASCAR and I would only pray someone at NASCAR reads them.