Sunday, February 24, 2013

Things Nascar doesn't want said out loud

Nascar got underway for real this weekend. Not coincidentally, it also released a new TV ad, created by the venerable Ogilvy ad agency in New York, which is a thinly-veiled attempt to convince new or casual viewers to think of it as more than a bunch of cars that circulate in a tight bunch between wrecks,  surrounded by grandstands full of drunken rednecks who pretend they're there for the racing part.

"For every good ole boy, there's a good ole girl?" I guess Ogilvy's copywriter failed math. There's one girl, and Nascar was probably glad Danica Patrick got the pole. Unlike Ogilvy's creative department, Nascar does have people who passed math on staff, and they know that roundy-round's audience of southern white males -- like the Republican voting base --  is shrinking with age. But will Danica actually bring a larger female audience?

It's way to early to say, "It's over for Nascar"but the sports juggernaut has certainly slowed. Billboards promoting the first race of the year here in Kansas City tout the facts that parking is free and coolers are welcome -- they're trying to reduce barriers to entry for less-than-hardcore fans.

All of which highlights the attention paid to Travis Pastrana in Nascar's Nationwide series. He got off to a decent start, and it's pretty obvious that Nascar has high hopes that he can attract a younger X-Games-style audience to stock car racing.

Honestly, I think the fact that Nascar cares about Travis Pastrana at all is evidence that it's running scared. Nascar's going after the X-Games crowd? Not so long ago, that would have been like the NFL encouraging some hapless team to hire an aging soccer player to kick field goals, in hopes of attracting more soccer fans.
Pastrana has pretty much openly admitted that he's taking heat from long-time fans who resent his left turn into the mainstream. Will his presence boost a future audience for Nascar's top series? Not measurably.
Now if you'll forgive a Machiavellian turn...

YouTube disabled the embed code for this fan video of Saturday's Nationwide race, last-lap clusterfuck. But for now, if you click the photo, you can watch the video
The story for this Nascar curtain-raiser is that, during Saturday's Nationwide race, a last-lap crash sent debris flying into the stands, injuring dozens, some seriously. The audio on this fan video clip betrays the delight in the crowd at the prospect of another crash. "Alright! Here we go..." one fan cries out delightedly, and surrounding fans shriek with glee as the crash develops down the track. And note, the Nationwide fans are the serious ones. I suppose that Nascar counts itself lucky the crash didn't happen on Sunday, when the stands would have been full and the casualties higher.

That said, if Nascar's seriously after Pastrana's old fan base, that crash was the best thing they could have hoped for. After all, the fans that are angry at Pastrana for selling out are selling out because they think of stock car racing as a pussy sport. Pastrana has had more orthopedic surgeries than the rest of the field put together. But now, maybe some of those disillusioned Pastrana fans will reconsider.

"Shit, are you kidding me? You can get killed just sitting in the stands? Maybe Nascar is an extreme sport after all."

UPDATE: I thought that was a last word on this, but then someone alerted my to the web site Jalopnik's link to this hilarious-at-one-level-deadly-serious-at-another animated editorial from Japan's Next Media Animation company...


1 comment:

  1. If it's the same video, I think Telly are still streaming it.

    Not good at all.