When people brag about NASCAR one of the first things they mention is how you can easily meet all of the competitors. This aspect of fan relations, they’ve done a great job with. However, these drivers are not NASCAR, and NASCAR has a problem, not the drivers.
This Saturday NASCAR was supposed to run the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona, but instead we were met with rain. Hey it happens, and in this case NASCAR only took about an hour and a half from the scheduled start time to call the race for the night. At this point many fans were soaked, angry, and ready to go back home.
Thirty minutes before this point, I was on twitter, watching the news, and talking to my friend and my dad. We saw, as many other people did a clear shot to get the entire race in. When? 9:00 A.M. Sunday. The radar showed for rain to start around 11:30 and 2.5 hours would be just enough to hope for the rain to hold out. Drivers were hoping for a time in that range, as were spotters, and fans. Not NASCAR. Going with our only source of track update from the Daytona International Speedway official twitter feed, we were left with 140 characters that gave no explanation as to why it would start so late (11 A.M.). We were just left knowing that the first major rain storm would end our race the next day.
Now, many people might be saying, “big deal.” Well, here’s why it’s a big deal, this is nothing new for Daytona. Two of the last four Daytona 500s were pushed back, or moved due to rain. Much like this past Saturday, fans were stuck in the rain, waiting for official word. Much like this past Saturday, people were forced to go home without seeing the race due to work. Much like this past Saturday, fans had no way to get money back, unless they buy an insurance policy on tickets. Finally, much like this past Saturday, people who wanted to come back drove all the way back home, in high volume traffic. Most people had a minimum drive of 1.5 hours, including 45 minutes to get down International Speedway Blvd.
NASCAR has shown they have trouble getting younger fans. If you go to any NASCAR race you can see that the fan base is getting older. NASCAR wants young fans, but they won’t give the instant satisfaction many young people crave, they are seemingly 100% against social media, they will not make changes to try to bring in new fans, but they will placate the old guys. They will suck every dime out of these people before they die.
Why? It’s simple NASCAR is old, the people that run it don’t seem to think that anything is wrong, but new people aren’t coming out in droves to see these races. Is anyone paying attention to the way ESPN is cramming the World Cup down our throats? It’s amazing, I could go all day without a TV and have live second to second updates on scores, fouls, and injuries. I could have live updates on who moves on, and what their chances to win it all are. I could look at my phone at any time during any game and be informed. By multiple sources too, Google, FIFA, ESPN, TSN, Official Team accounts. NASCAR has one app, which is a paid app for the good features and alienates fans that decided Sprint was officially too horrible of a service to handle.
NASCAR needs to realize that a new approach to an old game isn’t a bad thing. They also need to realize that the people spending money at the event are doing so because they want to have fun. Sporting events are meant to be fun, exciting, and leave you wanting to come back for more. Now, if the action on the track just isn’t up to par for the day, that’s to be expected every once in a while. People will sit in the rain for football, or soccer games because there is a game going on. They’re not upset because they’re getting their promised money’s worth. They’re not upset because when there is rain it just isn’t cancelled due to rain. The NFL doesn’t let fans wait around for hours before they say, “Come back tomorrow.” They don’t play one second of the second half and go, “Yeah, no way anything else could change.” It’s disgusting how NASCAR fans get treated because they’re loyal.
NASCAR needs younger fans, or soon their fans will all be dead. They need to do this through smarter planning, social media and maybe even changes in race structure (but that’s for another day). NASCAR needs to help us help them, answer the tweets asking about weather updates don’t wait 45 minutes, or longer between updates. We are asking for simple communication, you know that thing NASCAR always says their athletes have with fans? Yeah that, but this time from NASCAR. Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Dale Jr. shouldn’t have to be telling fans about what they “think” the race status is because the social media is lacking.
Build a relationship with fans, or go away. As a life long fan, and fan of other sports I’m sick of the treatment. The NHL, NFL, NBA, and NCAA have never treated us like we should stick around and wait for them. They’ve never tried to play parts at a time all day long to say they did it. They rely on putting on the show they claim to put on. No more of this on the day of stuff, if it won’t happen. No more of well we tried, when you knew 50% was the best outcome for the time you chose. No more ridiculous waiting period for updates.
Transparency is the key, try it sometime.