The Truth Part II

Yesterday I touched upon the lack of significant “news” that comes out of a NASCAR press conference. Often times, writers search for something of interest to the fan. This can be a difficult task. Because one must first ask “Who is the NASCAR fan?”

White, male, over 45 and Republican is a pretty good answer. I’d love the answer to be “Broad spectrum, multi-racial, primarily male with significant female engagement and (most importantly) 18-44 and yes, we know they love President Obama, but we’d take them anyway.”

The first is reality. The second is a good target, but for the moment, more fantasy than reality. The reality is, the second fan base, you know, the multi-racial one, is more apt to watch Red Bull’s Global Rallycross than NASCAR. The races are short – designed for short attention spans. They feature a variety of automobile manufacturers: Ford, Hyundai, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen (you must check out the new Beetle – its ridiculous!), Chevrolet and there’s even a Citroen (a French make). The car models are the cars those 18-44 year olds buy and drive on a daily basis, minus the bodywork, the suspension set ups and of course, the 600-plus horsepower engines. And more importantly, the drivers are likable, engaging with the fans and do what they do even though they’re not being made millionaires doing it. That’s not to say that NASCAR drivers aren’t doing what they do because they love to race, but the big paycheck that comes with a NASCAR Cup driving gig is pretty nice, too.

It is tough to pin down exactly who the NASCAR fan is these days, despite all the data and reams of research. When asked, people don’t always answer with the truth.

There’s a lot to keep the older, white male interested in NASCAR – at least until Dale Earnhardt Jr. retires. And there’s plenty to attract females of all ages – many of the drivers have matinee idol good looks (yes, they do). There’s also some fascinating new digital stuff going on if you check out the Raceview function on But, I’m wondering how many of those 45 year-old plus dads sitting in the living room, having an adult beverage or three with their buddies on Sunday know that adding Raceview to their television viewing, either via an laptop or tablet, would add a remarkable new dimension to their viewing experience? I would expect very few of them.

Yet, the generational shift this sport requires continues at too slow a pace.

So, who really is today’s NASCAR fan? Is it you? And how much do you care about what goes on behind the scene that makes the racing good or bad? Or are you more interested in the soap opera and who got the new puppy or moved into a new home or if so-and-so has signed a contract with Joe Gibbs Racing? Maybe both. But, that’s for the next blog.

Thanks for stopping by.

3 thoughts on “The Truth Part II

  1. well, I’m a female NASCAR fan so I guess I miss at least part of your current expected demographic. I also pay for raceview – mainly because the TV broadcasts are so worthless that if I want to actually follow the race, I have to use my computer. I’ve used raceview for about 5 years now and having access not only to the drivers scanners but also to whatever radio network is broadcasting the race is worth the price because certainly the cartoon cars shown on raceview are silly at best. Most video games are more well done than the visuals on raceview, but at least I can follow most of the action w/o having to listen to the idiots in the booth say the same inane things over and over – yes, Fox, I’m talking to you. TNT is better, other than their PXP guy is useless. ESPN? Well, all they care about is “the chase”, not what race they are showing.

    I also use twitter to follow quite a bit of NASCAR information for whatever it is worth, at least it is somewhat entertaining and once in a while you actually get a glimpse of the real people behind the corporate facade.

    The racing – at least early in the season – when Goodyear was bringing a tire that wore out and the drivers had to MANAGE the tires for a race (gasp) instead of being able to just go from fuel run to fuel run, was reasonably interesting. I happen to like road courses so that’s good but the middle part of the season when they mostly run on the dull D’s on rock hard tires is far less interesting to watch.

    I agree with you that for the most part, the current NASCAR media, is all about soft questions and making sure they don’t upset anyone “important”. When I was going to a lot of races, part of the fun was talking about the drivers AND the brand they drove. Since the advent of the kit car/COT, that has conversation has mostly gone away.

    Plus IMO, the “chase” may make Brian France happy but there is a pretty strong segment of the fans who don’t care as much about any of it. France wanted to bring in the casual fans, I don’t think he has succeeded in that, but he has done a fine job of driving away many of the fans the sport once had.

  2. 45 year old white male with 3 kids under 10 here. NASCAR fan since 1985 but grew up with Camel GT/IMSA stuff first then CART. (lost interest after the split). Can no longer justify the $$ required to attend Cup races, don’t care about the soap opera stuff. I don’t care about the Chase and am bored with the stale schedule. The COT was a huge disappointment for me and 1.5 mile tracks don’t provide good racing. I seem to only watch the last 30 or so laps of any Cup race anymore.

    My main racing interest now is Off Road trucks (Lucas Oil, TORC and SST). My kids love it too, cool jumps, shorter races and better/closer access to drivers and cars.

  3. Just read your MSN article titled “Sponsors giving NASCAR the Business” I wont be one of those people that cut and paste a response that I already typed over there but holy hell please do some research before you write your next NASCAR article. Maybe that puff piece was due to it being on a FOX website, and they cover NASCAR I dont know. But you said the “product is best its ever been.”.. Are you kidding? Best compared to what? And to quote a loon at Best Buy that says empty seats are good because that means they are home watching it on a big screen tv that they got at Best Buy. That sounds like something that you would hear at a Brian France or Bruton Smith press conference. Come on, do a real article next time.. please :)

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