A week ago some guy from the Detroit Free Press wrote a piece about NASCAR and their lack of an identity. Basically said Kyle Larson’s lack of personality is why NASCAR rating are suffering and why NASCAR lacks an identity in the post Dale Jr. world. It’s a garbage take but everyone is entitle to their own opinion.
The debate that raged on after that piece was posted had every up in arms. It had some of us thinking though. Does NASCAR really have a personality problem? No of course not. What NASCAR has is a media and fan base problem. NASCAR can’t grow when the media is so restrictive and the fan base refuses to be inclusive.
NASCAR’s two main media outlets consist of FOX and NBC. At least for TV viewership and one company does a far better job. The biggest problem is the media’s unwillingness to profile any driver outside of Dale Jr and Dale Jr. He’s a legend in the sport, he’s not the greatest in the sport. He’s not even Top 25 in the sport if we’re being honest, however the NASCAR media only pays attention to him.
Of course there are no new personalities being showcased. The media only wants to focus on Dale Jr, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski. There are a lot of really great personalities in NASCAR that don’t get showcased at all. If they do get showcased it’s on a younger media platforms. Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott have both done things with Barstool Sports and they were awesome. They actually got to show their personality, cuss, let loose and no one in NASCAR paid attention. Instead we get these corporate boring interviews that FOX calls a can’t miss and it’s generally boring dreck.
Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon, Landon Cassill, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace Jr. and countless other have great personalities. Unfortunately we only get to see those personalities maybe one time a season. It’s unfortunate because these guys are the future and they have great personalities. You’ll usually get a more honest answer from them than a Cup veteran giving you the standard answer.
NASCAR will only promote new personalities once the old ones are gone. That’s how it has always been or you have to be a Jeff Gordon/Jimmie Johnson type character and win so much they have to promote you.
What Needs To Change
Besides the obvious of FOX and NBC promoting the younger drivers more maybe focus on younger media. Send guys to Barstool more often, get guys on more morning shows, put them on popular podcasts. Have a driver vlog type of YouTube channel where drivers can make vlogs at the track or during the week. People love to see what athletes do outside of the playing field/car. Do literally anything other than what you’re currently doing.
It’s an uphill battle but interviewing Dale Jr. every weekend isn’t the way to grow the sport. Let’s interview guys the legitimately have a quality run and will really give a great interview. Promote the drivers social media accounts, help promote their brand as a driver and hopefully that gets people to watch the race.
The current model of interview the same 5-6 guys every weekend just isn’t working to grow the brand and set up the future. It’s stagnant and boring but nothing will change unfortunately. Everyone outside of the sport can see the problem, no one inside the sport can see it.
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