Monday, November 04, 2013

NASCAR rehabilitation strategy

I just finished reading this Time Magazine article about Nascar.

It's all about how NASCAR is failing.

How it never rebounded from the recession.  How its median fan is the aging 47 year old white male.  How it has made little progress in appealing to minorities and the younger generation.  How it's very cost prohibitive (from a fan perspective - cost of gas, hotels, taking off work).  How all the teams are scratching for major sponsors.  How attendance is waning in the Northern and Western markets.  How the networks aren't interested in long-term contracts anymore.

Back in the 1990-2000 time frame, NASCAR used to have the world by the balls.  It had the mainstream sports fan by the scrotum.  The world was its oyster... or fueling station if you will.  Nowadays, the Nascar world is precariously dangling from the entrails of its own vas deferens with a malignant case of testicular cancer.

On a semi related note >

Mr. Balls, aka 'Senhor Testiculo,' goes to bat for cancer research in Brazil

So what's the solution.  How do you reinvigorate this devastated sport?

I think I have the answer.

I'd devise a syndicated NASCAR cartoon that airs every time there's a race.  I'm thinking something along the lines of South Park --- meant for adult digestion, but easily enjoyed by kids.  You could utilize all the voices, caricatures and personalities of the NASCAR circuit.  Since NASCAR is a year-round sport, the cartoon itself, would evolve as the season goes on.  Feuds, driver eccentricities, friendships, spouses, owners... it would be a golden opportunity for NASCAR to showcase its greatest strength - its individual drivers.

You could also feed off the history of all these little towns, cities and their "rich culture" (music, food, traditions, etc.)  Remember, it would be patterned after South Park style humor (dark, ironic, sarcasm, shock) so it would appeal well beyond the "southern redneck stigma."  The drivers would be interacting with the world around them... not just reacting to getting bumped on the restart.  It would make their personalities seem larger than life.

The greatest strength of a cartoon like this is the "real-time" aspect.  It could literally feed off events in the real-world (presidential politics, corporate corruption, war and peace, evolving social and environmental issues), but from an unusual "hillbilly" perspective.  Well, not really hillbilly.  Just more provincial.  It's a totally untapped market that has been gaining steam (Duck Dynasty, Moonshiners, Honey Sticky Bun Boo Boo, etc.). 

All the drivers would do their own voices - this would make them even more marketable from a merchandising perspective.  It unleashes a whole new world for Nascar toys, action figures and all the related Christmasy clutter bullshit.  But most important... it appeals directly to the younger population.  But it would have to be "dark" - incorporating stigmas and stereotypes, but casting them in a truer light.

Plus, it's a great way to improve sagging ratings.  People who wouldn't normally be inclined to watch the cars go round and round (I call it the left-turn paradigm) might actually start tuning in to see how closely the cartoon dialogue mimics the outcome of the race.  And since the vast majority of races are on Sunday afternoon, the timing for such a cartoon couldn't be more perfect.

Your goal would be to air this shit on a major cable network (Cartoon, Fox Sports, WTBS, etc.).  But in this day age of low budget start-ups, maybe just stream it on the internet.  See if it gains any substantial traction and push for the grassroots approach.  Hell, it's worth a shot.  NASCAR is in desperate need of a reinvigorated, nationwide, unified strategy.  In this regard, it could learn a lot from UFC.  They were once a small outfit too.  That Dana White guy... you might not like him, but he definitely gets the big picture.

Plus, I think a cartoon would help bolster the "Fantasy Nascar" product, much in the same way the NFL has struck a bonanza with Fantasy Football.  It would encourage a subculture of yearlong gambling.  And although I wouldn't want to vicariously experience the thrill of NASCAR through some family's rec room in Darlington, SC... I do acknowledge that others might.  You know --- Uncle Bob, Aunt Betty, Little Jimmy, some cat named Muffin Diver, etc.  Theyz all a hootin' and hollerin' at the wide screen.

I'd also throw in relevant, special guest appearances (mayors, pseudo-townie celebs, etc.) based on where the circuit goes.  

It's bold.  It's fresh.  It's innovative.  Not only is it topical, it's a solution.  And as the son of a dermatologist, if there's one thing I know, it's a topical solution.  Check out my website.  Plenty of solutions there as well.

Ironically, I sent NASCAR President Mike Helton a letter last year.

It was all about fan safety.  Did he read it?  Probably not.  Did anyone read it?  Doubtful.  Will NASCAR act on or even acknowledge any of my suggestions?  Are you fucking kidding me?  That would make too much sense.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my one-liner NASCAR joke I came up with in 1999.  Back then, Jeff Gordon was winning all the races.  He was a pretty boy-villain.  Killer character, by the way.

Anyway, when some local yinzer would bitch about Jeff Gordon, I'd utter the following line with an exceptional degree of redneck twang and tonal inflection...

"Well, it's no wonder Jeff Gordon won the race.  He wasn't sittin' on the pole.  He was damn-near standin' on it!" - sonofsaf

To top it off, he won last week.  Let's bring this gem back!


sonofsaf said...

The real irony here - if you pull this shit off correctly, I think the cartoon's ratings would easily exceed NASCAR's actual ratings.

It's vastly superior from a cost-benefit transaction perspective. Way better than installing mandatory new Johnson rods (George Costanza). Hey, everyone needs one of those.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could have Mr. Ball be the villian. Nah, too edgy for the U.S. of A.
I don't think anyone would know what to do if they saw him running the streets.
Never got into NASCAR, don't plan on it in the near future.

To be honest, I would much rather discuss you know what than watch anything to do with NASCAR.

sonofsaf said...

Mr. Ball is a proud, seemingly triumphant, character. I would suggest adding some "pube-extensions" to the costume.

Gigi - considering your affinity for driving a stick, I thought you might have a little empathy for the Nascar community. Turns out... it's more like sympathy.

Anonymous said...

Maybe some blue "pube-extensions"...Everybody is doin' it! Right?
Eric, your observation is would think I would enjoy the NASCAR.
I have never given it a chance. I would rather rake leaves.

sonofsaf said...

I would rather you rake leaves in concentric circles... or ovals if you prefer.