MONTE DUTTON - GO GET SOME FANS FACE TO FACE
There’s way too much politics on TV nowadays. It’s unavoidable. I’m starting to think NASCAR needs what political analysts call “a ground game.”
Democrats and Republicans try to get out the vote. They set up phone banks, registration drives, rallies, social media campaigns and canvassing drives.
NASCAR does some of that. Every time someone mentions that grandstands look empty, someone says, well, our electronic footprint has never been better. One reason is that it hasn’t been long since there wasn’t an electronic footprint at all. TV ratings down? Ah, but the number of people who “stream” the races has gone up 1,000 percent. Go back five years, and it’s gone up infinitely.
On Saturday, when the Xfinity race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was rain-delayed and moved from FoxSports1 to FoxSports2, my TV wouldn’t move with it because, a couple months ago, I dropped the latter channel in the interest of shaving my monthly bill, which I am nonetheless still having difficulty paying.
Someone on Twitter suggested that I “stream the rest of the race” on my phone. If I had FoxSports1, he said, I could stream the FoxSports2 continuation somehow, popups and all.
I didn’t go to the trouble of trying to figure out how. I wanted to watch a big race on a big screen, in high definition, and I had no interest in a tiny race on a tiny screen.
Did I mention that my wi-fi was out? It’s fixed now. A nice fellow came by the house this afternoon after his company promised he’d be here before noon. I’m good to go now.
From my boyhood, I remember Southern 500 placards stapled to every telephone pole in the state. I remember photos of Bob Colvin nailing those placards. That stuff isn’t allowed any more. That’s probably one reason this county doesn’t have a fair anymore.
In the 1990s, it didn’t matter where I was – going to San Antone, or Phoenix, Arizona – I could find the NASCAR race on the radio. Now it takes satellite radio, which I have in my pickup but not my car, and outside the shadow of a track, Trucks and Xfinity races are rare. The middle of Atlanta might as well be the Great Smoky Mountains.
Politicians rely on electronic media, too. Right now, we’ve got the biggest bunch of truth-stretching squabblers running for governor, and it’s made me hold it against every other ad on TV. I just don’t believe that fellow who says he can saw my rowboat in two and make it watertight and solid with some kind of rubbery paint.
If I worked at a race track where the stands were covered up with banners, damned if I wouldn’t figure out a way to knock on some doors. I’d drum up some volunteers, give them all a windbreaker, order out for pizza and beer, and put them in a room with a bunch of phones and a list of folks who are inclined to attend sporting events. I’d put up a booth at the town festivals for catfish, turtle stew, barbecue and people who believe they can sing. I’d give away tickets to lucky winners of drawings at football games, dirt tracks and the Rotary Club.
It’s a danger point. This sport needs to press the flesh. Wait another couple years, and there won’t be anyone left who’ll stick his arm out.
“Son, you ever seen a genuine, bona fide, certified, righteous NASCAR race?”
“Well, by God, we gotta get you down to Darlington. You watch them cats cut loose at the Southern 500, and you’ll never miss another’n.”
Commercials stink. Tweets are boring. These kids would rather ford a stream than stream a race. You know what’s unusual nowadays? Human contact.
It took about 15 years to run stock car racing into the yawning abyss. Most kids don’t even know it’s down there.