First, a question: Why would ESPN ever think it was a good idea to put Tony Stewart, the NASCAR points leader, on the cover of its magazine? Sure, NASCAR is one of the most popular sports in the country, but, really, do any of those fans actually read? I suppose they could look at the cool pictures of car wrecks, fireballs and rich people spraying champagne all over each other. I mean really, where else could they get that? Other than MTV, of course.
When you really analyze it, NASCAR is probably one of the most genius ideas ever. Clearly, by taking cars, covering them with as much advertising as possible and speeding those cars around a track at around 200 miles per hour, those sponsorship dollars are well spent. The only way to better advertise your product might be to put a billboard on a satellite in outer space.
Sure, every NASCAR fan can tell that Stewart’s car is the Home Depot car, but can they tell you what it says on the driver’s side front fender to the rear of the tire? How does 3M feel knowing that it will never be seen by any of the suckers who paid $300 for their seats in the grandstand?
Which reminds me, how much would you put down on a game of chance? Personally, $300 or more is a steep price to pay for the slight chance that some NASCAR driver will leave paint, flames or, if you’re really lucky, a body part on the section of track that you are watching. And how long do the fans have to save up to pay for those tickets?
If you’ve ever watched more than the two seconds normally spent watching NASCAR on TV, you wouldn’t know the actual experience of going to a race in person. But for the time being — until one of us makes it out to a race — let’s imagine what it must be like.
After saving up your extra cash for a while, you finally purchase some tickets to a NASCAR race. The day of the race, you put on your Dale Earnhardt Jr. shirt and pile the brewskies, NASCAR flag and the family into your pickup emblazoned with the Confederate flag.
Once you find your seats among the 100,000 other fans in attendance, the race begins.
Six hours in the sun, 11 crashes, 10 caution laps, 12 beers and five hot dogs later, you realize the race has ended and your favorite racer is, for some reason, climbing the fence along the grandstand to symbolize that he has won. The crowd applauds and watches as the rich racer, rich owner and crewmembers shower each other in the best champagne — or milk — your revenue dollars can buy.
And revenue is everything, in the end. An Internet search for Tony Stewart’s racing team, Roush Racing, delivers exactly what NASCAR is all about. To join the Roush Racing Fan Club — after answering the normal prerequisite questions — required questions include, “How likely are you to purchase products of your favorite Roush Racing driver’s sponsor?” and “On average, how much have you spent on NASCAR merchandise and collectibles in the past year?”
What happens if you are a NASCAR fan who answers these questions incorrectly? Are you not allowed into the fan club? If not, not only are you most likely a poor NASCAR fan, but you also don’t receive the T-shirt featuring the profile image of your favorite driver’s face to wear to the next race you save up for.
And after that, you might just realize what everyone else knows, NASCAR isn’t really a sport. What a bummer.
Daily Nexus sports editor Kelly Hayes celebrated finishing this column with a warm glass of milk.