The average NASCAR race has more fans onsite than any Super Bowl (American Football) ever. Marketers dig that. That’s about all I have to say about that.
The Drivers And Teams
NASCAR is the only mainstream sport I know of where it’s pretty much the same competitors every week, and the thing that changes is the venue. There are anywhere from 35-45 drivers in a given race, and I’ll bet 30 of them are the same every week. That’s not a rule, it just works out that way. This makes for a real community amongst the competitors. In many ways it’s just like a family, and by that I don’t mean that everyone loves each other (they most certainly don’t). I mean that they all know each other, deal with each other, work with each other, fight with each other, and play with each other pretty much all year long (there’s only 2 months in the off season).
The TV Folk
Both FOX and NBC employ current or past drivers for their primary on-air staff. These guys know what they’re talking about, and they’re part of that driver/team family. The guys NOT in the booth, but in the pits or wherever, have a really fun time with the drivers. They KNOW them, and the rapport shows. A perfect example is a rained out race.
Unless it’s really pouring, they don’t show other stuff during a rain delay. They wander around the driver area and shoot the breeze with the guys, and play crazy games, and (used to) race golf carts (until they got caught and NASCAR threatened to penalize them in the actual race). Rain delays are a party, and just as entertaining as a race.
I hate sports sponsorship. Qualcomm is a DUMB name for a baseball stadium. It may be hypocritical, but I think sponsorship in NASCAR is not only needed, but quite cool. Wouldn’t it feel wrong to not have a million little stickers all over race cars? And many of the guys who do the actual painting are real artists. Some of those cars are amazing.
Beyond the cars, the way the drivers interact in different commercials is pretty cool. Coke sponsors a LOT of drivers (why doesn’t Pepsi? Does Coke really have it sewn up?), and they all do commercials together, not one at a time. I think Stacker2 is a bad product, but their NASCAR commercials are hilarious. They have to script that stuff to a certain extent, but you can also tell that a lot of it is extemporaneous. Darrell and Michael Waltrip do commercials together all the time. Dale Earnhardt’s mom has been in several recently, just kind of hanging out.
When I worked at Gospelcom, one day a new ministry came on board called Motor Racing Outreach. I wasn’t quite sure what they did, but several years later I noticed that before a race, all the children of drivers sang the National Anthem. Then Mrs. Earnhardt said how grateful she was to MRO for pulling that together every year, and what a great asset they were to NASCAR. They’re in big.
The entire stadium is lead in prayer before EVERY Nextel Cup race. Everything in the pits stops, everyone lines up, the stadium is silent, and a minister local to the track leads prayer. I know of no other pro sport where that happens.