By now we’ve heard all of the analysis and reaction to the Gen-6 Car that we can stand. We know it looks sharp; we know it’s fast; we know it sticks. We also know that it made for some boring green flag racing at Daytona last weekend. But there is a more important reason for why we need the Gen-6 to step up.
The most important reason NASCAR needs the Gen-6 Car to deliever at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend is to continue to expand interest in the sport. The constant quest for new fans is critical. That doesn’t mean we can stand to disappoint existing fans, but it’s been made clear that fans are the focus.
One of the things I promote when trying to bring new fans into the sport is the coverage of the race. There are cameras and microphones everywhere bringing fans all the sights and sounds from every conceivable angle. The new ‘gyro cam’ is a perfect example. The fan can get into the race with a level of intimacy that can’t be said for any other major sport. But the fact remains that what the camera angles and track microphones are putting on display needs to be compelling and captivating.
I asked one of my friends if he had watched Daytona and he told me he had, but not much of it – “there was a lot of other good stuff on TV at the time,” he said. He, too, explained that the race had been rather dull and he was waiting for the pit stops to see lead changes. Another buddy of mine, who is a racing fan, told me he “won’t be watching another race until they fix the car.” I asked him yesterday if he’d changed his mind and planned on seeing how the car performs on the 1-mile track at Phoenix. He has; he will be tuning in.
Tony Stewart said it all at final practice today telling Fox Sports,
“There’s not a lot to tell right now. We’ll know more after four or five races.”
Racing fans are going to watch regardless, because they understand how it works. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to capturing new fans.
The impetus for the redesign was to appeal to customers by making the car on the track look more like the car in the showroom – ‘putting the stock back in stockcar’ as it were. That is a great deal for the auto makers. Let’s hope it’s a good deal for NASCAR.