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 NASCAR.com. 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.