TV Times – Auto Manufacturers To Cut/Trim Sprint Cup Team Support?
At a recent meeting of a group of motorsports types in New England, the subject of Detroit automakers involvement in motorsports, particularly NASCAR, was among various things discussed. It was the opinion, of those in the know, that NASCAR could feel the impact of the Big Three automakers who must reinventing themselves in order to survive. We’ve also seen some news reports regarding this. In all likelihood expect to see budgets slashed of the top NASCAR teams who have deals with Chevy, Ford and Dodge. Because sales of new vehicles are not expected to rebound until the price of oil settles down. With $5 per gallon of regular looming by Labor Day weekend, the buying public is very leery of making a major purchase of a new vehicle.
According to reports on ESPN, NASCAR teams are really feeling the pinch due to the high cost of fuel. Also, funding NASCAR teams have risen from $10-$15 million to over $20-$25 million due to increases especially driver salaries. “We could see six or so teams shut down if they are not funded. Nobody is going to run this out of their own pocket for too long, myself included, so it is a serious situation, ” said team principal Doug Yates, owner of Yates Racing.
NASCAR Sprint Cup on TNT posted a 3.7/8 (6.0 mill.) that Sunday for racing from Infineon Raceway, down -8 percent from last year’s 4.0/9. Sprint Cup Racing on TNT is averaging a 3.7/9 (5.8 mill) through three races. That’s a +9 percent increase over 2007 which includes the rain delayed race at Pocono. This came from TNT PR and the Jayski.com webpage. That might be just a little blip but the news on that front has been positive for the past six months because the networks have been seriously promoting the events. Also, with fans staying home because they can’t afford the gas or the ticket money, they are catching the races on the tube. That makes a lot of sense considering the uneasiness in the economy.
Last Sunday morning Speedway Motorsports top exec Bruton Smith gave his first ever press conference with the assembled media from the northeast, New England and eastern Canada at NHMS. He tried to answer all the questions.
Here’s what our take is on it. Neither Cup races will move. No drag strip will be built. NHMS must have lights in case there’s a weather problem so that the event can possibly be completed on race day. Monday races are out unless the weather forces a reschedule. Smith also wants to add an Indy Car event with support events from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, USAC Silver Crown and Midgets. SMI may or may not make major modifications to the track but leaves the options open to possibly rebuild the track on an adjacent parcel of land that NHMS owns.
“I saw a lot of close racing here and I’m impressed. Also, the New England fans that are really into the sport and that really impresses me. Plus, we have a lot of Canadians coming down for the events. Also from other parts of the northeast. They are great and they like coming here, ” he said. Smith also likened NHMS to his Bristol Motor Speedway in Tenn. where he expanded to 150,000 seats after his public company purchased the venue.
Bruton would also like to expand current NHMS seating by another 25,000. In concert with that the SMI President would like to expand parking for RV’s and services such as restrooms. However, published reports in the Union Leader in Manchester, NH cite a 1989 agreement between former owner Bob Bahre and a group against expansion of the speedway as a possible obstacle to Smith’s future plans. Bruton Smith, though, has had discussions with the Granite State Governor and other state, county and town officials about his future plans for NHMS.
According to Auto Racing Daily the unification of Indy Car racing has resulted in some positive results. More teams are in the fold. The recent Indy Car event at the new Iowa Speedway was a sellout. Also, the TV broadcast of the event pulled a 1.0 rating according to the Nielsen survey system. On another TV item, we’ve seen reports that the IRL may be out shopping for its TV broadcasts. Currently, that sanction does a time-buy deal with ABC/ESPN/ESPN2. Other reports tell of Speedway Motorsports also doing some shopping of their own to bring in IRL Indy Car events to a number of their tracks including New Hampshire Motor Speedway, SMI’s latest track in its portfolio.
The fact that Indy Car sensation Danica Patrick has been named as one of the Presenters for the 16th Annual ESPYs which will be televised on Sunday, July 20 at 9 p.m ET on ESPN and ESPN HD bodes well for the recovery of Indy Car racing trying to regain a substantial audience both at the tracks on the airwaves. Patrick will be among many others that have star power.
In a meeting with A1GP ambassador and the Brazilian team’s seat holder, Emerson Fittipaldi, the Brazilian President pledged his support for A1 Team Brazil’s quest to secure a home race.
Following the meeting Fittipaldi commented: “We are working hard at A1 Team Brazil to raise the profile and awareness of the national team. It is invaluable to have the support of President Lula, Orlando Silva and the Government, and it is a goal of ours, in the not too distant future, to have a race in Brazil, so we will work with them on this important project.
Tony Teixeira, A1GP Chairman, added: “We have always wanted to take an A1GP race to South America and Brazil would be our chosen location given its heritage and amazing drivers like Emerson. We are proud to have him as an A1GP ambassador as he is one of the best-known and well-respected former motor racing drivers. The support the series gets from the Brazilian fans is fantastic but to now also have the support of the Brazilian government is a big step forward in bringing a race to the region.”
That meeting happened last week when Fittipaldi was racing in the Brazilian GT3 Championship with his brother, Wilson. The two influential Brazilians, along with the Brazilian Minister of Sport, Orlando Silva, discussed the team ahead of the new A1GP season, during which all the teams will use the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari cars. This report came from SportsBusiness.com.
For the past century, car enthusiasts have shown their passion for both high-performance and great-looking cars. To commemorate this craze, over 200 of the world’s most unique and pedigreed machines from the Coronado (California) Speed Festival will be featured on the Car Crazy TV show, specifically geared toward car hobbyists on the SPEED channel. The first episode, featuring Admiral John Nathman aired on June 23 and the next episode, featuring details on the unique event, will air in September, closer to the 2008 event.
The special Car Crazy episode will feature the Coronado Speed Festival’s collection of vintage cars of all shapes, sizes and models. On display will be some of the best modern racecars, including Hot Rod, Trans Am and many more. Not only will this episode pique the interest of local San Diego car enthusiasts, it will also allow car lovers nationwide to appreciate these distinctive cars.
Let’s check to see what’s happening on the tube this very busy July 4 weekend for the motorsports crowd. It all gets underway on Thursday, at 4 p.m. with Cup Practice from Daytona on Speed. ESPN2 offers Nationwide Series Final Practice from Daytona at 5:30 p.m. At 6:30 p.m. Speed comes back with Sprint Cup Final Practice from The Big D. At 8 p.m. it’s the Grand-Am go from Daytona also on the Speed Channel.
Friday starts off at 8 a.m. with F1 Practice from Silverstone, UK on Speed. ESPN2 and TSN offer Nationwide Series Qualifying from Daytona at 1 p.m. At 4 p.m. Speed and TSN kick in with Sprint Cup Qualifying from Daytona. At 8 p.m. it’s ESPN2/TSN offering the Nationwide Series from Daytona.
Saturday’s offerings include an 8 a.m. airing of F1 Qualifying on Speed from Silverstone, UK. Then it’s RaceDay on Speed from Daytona at 4:30 p.m. with TNT kicking in with NASCAR on TNT at 6:30 p.m. At 8 p.m. TNT and TSN air the Sprint Cup go from Daytona
Sunday’s action starts at 8 a.m. with Speed and TSN airing the F1 go from Silverstone. Fox offers that event at 1 p.m. SDD. ABC/TSN will both air the Indy Car event from Watkins Glen, NY at 3:30 p.m. with Speed comes back at 5:30 p.m. with the GP2 event from Silverstone at 5:30 p.m. SDD. (END)
NOTE: INFORMATION FOR THIS COLUMN CAME FROM VARIOUS REFERENCED SOURCES, PRESS RELEASES, NOTES AND OTHER SOURCES