We have all had the conversation with a friend about what we would do if we won the Mega-Powerball-Super-Mega-Obscene-Amount-of-Money lottery. Y’all know the one I’m talking about.
Short of moving somewhere in the middle of nowhere with no people who speak English, I put a new twist on this line of thought. Last week I wrote about the possibility of NASCAR being sold and how it could be a good thing for the sport.
To the two people who read it, thank you.
So this lottery line of thinking turned into a if-I-bought-NASCAR line of thinking. The two things could be related. So I said there could be good things with new ownerships. Well, it’s time to pony up.
If I were in the position to make NASCAR into my vision for a racing series/national sport, here is what I would do:
GET RID OF THE XFINITY SERIES
Yep, I said it. The Busch/Nationwide/Xfinity Series has been around for about 35 years and it has vacillated between having its own identity and being a whipping boy for Kyle Busch. NASCAR just bought ARCA; one series has to go. The money just isn’t there and there are solidly 12 good teams that can win and a whole bunch of field fillers. Kind of like ARCA. I would combine the two and make it competitive and give more than a handful of teams a chance to win.
NASCAR has spent the last 40 years leaving the Southeast with its national touring series. It goes beyond Rockingham, Darlington and North Wilkesboro. I get there was something of a strategy to grow the footprint of NASCAR and gain new fans. Well, it worked for a while and now it’s gone to hell. So reel it back in and come back home; try to make amends with those fans you alienated at places like South Boston or Myrtle Beach — even if it’s just with the non-Cup touring series.
THIN THE SCHEDULE
There are too many races: 36 points races plus two exhibition events is too much. No other sport has that long of a season. Look, as a race fan, I want more racing, but more than more racing I want better racing. So what should that number be? My NASCAR Cup racing season would be between 28 and 32 races.
VARY THE SCHEDULE
So, cutting four to eight races a year is going to mean there are some places currently with two races that ain’t going to have two races every year. I get the fact that scale and predictability have a lot to do with a successful business model for a racetrack, but how about this: each track gets three races over two years.
This honestly is my favorite idea ever other than the Battle of Santa Poco hot dogs. Sure there are some tracks that may warrant keeping their two race dates a year, but it would allow some flexibility to experiment and the ability to hit more tracks with fewer races without killing the economies of scale tracks rely on.
This idea operates under the assumption that the same people no longer control both NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation.
SHARE THE WEALTH
Teams and tracks carry a ton of financial risk in this game. NASCAR has some sure, but proportionally it doesn’t match up. NASCAR is a private company, so we don’t know how much money they are making, but it’s not a little bit, even in the current climate. NASCAR has a history of competing with teams for sponsors.
I’d operate NASCAR under the premise that without healthy, competitive teams, there is no racing and what makes teams healthy and competitive? Money. With the charter system in place, you have a better avenue to roll down some of the revenue from the TV deals and the assorted sponsorships. Teams and tracks should get a cut of that. I’d make it so.
LOOSEN UP THE RULES
This year has been exceptionally harsh for teams running afoul of the rulebook. It makes fans think everyone is cheating, especially the Fords who are killing the Chevys and Toyotas. Some of the big teams have been hit with big penalties.
I’m not saying throw the rulebook out; I’m just saying take a few pages out of it. Increase the tolerances and let the teams bring some creativity back as long as it doesn’t impact safety. In other words, have at it, boys.
This list is by no way exhaustive, and some of them may not be feasible, but I think they are a good start. I know I will never have the coin to buy NASCAR, but if you do, I’ll gladly run it for you.
Andy Cagle, a former spokesman for Rockingham Speedway and motorsports public relations consultant, writes about NASCAR in a weekly column.