Sunday, June 29, 2008

God bless NASCAR

Here we sit in that uncomfortable purgatory between basketball and football seasons. I bet more than a few of you will turn your attention to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Tools 301 today and the Coke Zero(not regular) 400 next week in Daytona.

More than 75 million U.S. adults, or 1 in 3, are NASCAR fans. The sport has had steady growth since Bill France, Sr. held the first meeting of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing in December of 1947. The first sanctioned race was held on Daytona's beach on the second of February, 1948. NASCAR incorporated five days later. It's now viewed in more than 100 countries in at least 21 languages each weekend.

R. J. Reynolds changed the face of racing and indeed all of sports by providing corporate sponsorship via the Winston Cup Series in 1971. Cars and uniforms became plastered with logos. Winners made sure that the biggest patch(biggest sponsor) was visible to the camera during post race interviews, paving the way for the likes of World Cup skiers to hold both skis up to the camera right after going across the finish line.

NASCAR fans are considered the most coveted in the marketing world because they have fierce brand loyalty, with 85% saying the NASCAR endorsement adds value to products and 66% saying that they will pay more for a NASCAR endorsed product.

That's why I think NASCAR can save America. There are fifty drivers on the circuit with 40 races a year. They use 450-700 tires each weekend or six-teen to 28 thousand tires a year. That's a lot of  burnt rubber.

America burns an estimated 366 million gallons of gasoline everyday. NASCAR racers use average 4.5 miles to the gallon and burn about 200,000 gallons for the races. In the grand scheme of things, a couple hundred thousand gallons isn't even one strawful from the milkshake.

But NASCAR still uses leaded fuels in its races. Indy cars use biofuels exclusively. Wouldn't it be great if NASCAR stepped up to be the force of change in the energy race? Minimum mileage standards would improve technologies that would trickle down(apologies to Adam Smith whose economic theories have been bastardized. The folks always spouting about "trickle down" forget that Mr. Smith also said, "No honest man could make a million dollars.") to consumer models.

Imagine the folks in the doublewide saving up for a Prius instead of roll-bars and straight pipes.  Maybe Billy Ray Redneck would encourage his son go to MIT after winning the seventh-grade science fair instead of calling him queer. Perhaps someday infields will be powered by methane burning plants fueled by the Flatulence Forager 5000. Race fans can use the cheese-filled sausages in the fridge to run the generators after they run their course through the large instestine. 

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