NASCAR in trouble?

I hate NASCAR. To me, driving a car is not a “sport”, whether it be NASCAR or Formula 1. Sure, many consider it an “entertaining pastime”… but a “sport”? No, not hardly.

But the fact is, I live in Charlotte, North Carolina, the birthplace of NASCAR and home to hundreds of companies that support the sport. Oh, and the future NASCAR Hall of Fame, too. NASCAR is huge here. In fact, the sports reporting on our local TV news usually goes Carolina Panthers > NASCAR > NCAA basketball > NCAA football > Charlotte Bobcats > Charlotte Checkers (and, if there’s time left in the broadcast) > Carolina Hurricanes. So whether I like it or not, I hear a lot about NASCAR. And what I’m hearing lately isn’t good.

You probably know that the Big Three automakers are in a world of trouble. You might not have followed through on that thought: the Big Three are huge supporters of NASCAR, to the tune of millions of dollars a year. As much as the automakers would like to keep their NASCAR sponsorships, they are at the point where it simply might not be feasible to keep pouring millions into the sport. And any government bailout of the industry might actually make things worse for NASCAR, since the government might question why they should give taxpayer money to NASCAR by way of the Big Three. After all, several Big Three  executives recently appeared before Congress, and were given tounge lashings for using private jets to get there. What do you think Congress’ reaction would be to find out that the automakers gave $20 million of that supposed bailout money to NASCAR?

Just last night there was a bit on the local news about how Petty Enterprises cannot find a sponsor and thus might go under or be forced to merge with another team. Again, I’m not a NASCAR fan, but I know who Richard Petty is, and if he can’t get a deal, you have to wonder about the stability of the sport in general. And then there’s this bit where NASCAR president Mike Helton literally begs fans to support the “sport’s” sponsors.

What happened to NASCAR? My grandfather was big into NASCAR starting in the late 80s, so I heard about it all the time from him. It seemed for a while in the mid 90s that NASCAR would eclipse the NHL or MLB as one of the “Big Three” sports. And now the wheels are falling off (punny!). What the hell happened?

One Reply to “NASCAR in trouble?”

  1. Let’s not forget that Honda has bailed on Formula 1 as well. Looks like we’re only left with the real sports. I wonder what effect the economy will have on the Salary cap?

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