No. 964
September 19, 2018

About The Autoextremist


Author, commentator, influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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July 21, 2010

Brian's "pretty happy where we're at." Uh-oh.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

(Posted 7/19, 7:30PM) Detroit.
Doing his best impression of Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman and his famous "What, Me Worry?" mantra, Brian France - in assessing NASCAR's current position half-way through the season - has gone on record to Steven Cole Smith in the latest Autoweek saying that, "By and large, we're pretty happy where we're at."

Really? Is that possible?

This from a series that boasted that electronic fuel-injection would be adopted for the 2011 season - this after the Detroit manufacturers threatened to pull out of NASCAR altogether if they didn't take action - but is now suggesting that 2012 might be more feasible? This from a series that has had every possible suggestion thrown at them by what's left of the Detroit 3 in terms of making the cars look more production-like and boosting their technological relevance, and has basically done nothing but stonewall, obfuscate, deny, defer and ultimately change the subject at every opportunity? (And for the record, the next-generation Nationwide cars don't count as being "responsive to the spirit" of the manufacturers' request because throwing a front clip on a CoT that's kinda-sorta reminiscent of a production vehicle if you squint hard enough does not consititute getting with the program by any stretch of the imagination, from where I sit.)

That the NASCAR machine has gone into full "spin" mode and continues to dance around the reality of the serious issues facing them rather than make the substantive and dramatic changes to their product and to the way they do business shouldn't be a surprise. After all it's much easier to talk about the fact that, relatively speaking, the crowds aren't too bad and given what's going on in the rest of the corporate marketing universe that NASCAR's marketing partners are mostly pleased and "re-upping" for more than it is to discuss the continuing downward spiral of the television numbers.

And by the way, just how damaging has the mid-season commitment to TNT been for NASCAR? I would say devastating would be the most accurate term. The one good thing about these plummeting TV numbers? We're being spared from the hoary refrain about NASCAR being the second most popular sport in America after the NFL. Even NASCAR's marketing minions don't dare throw that old chestnut out there anymore, thank goodness.

It's clear that waiting for Brian France and the entire France clan to demonstrate that they get it is a fool's errand. The death march NASCAR schedule that should be consolidated, shortened, tweaked and made more realistic and responsive to the times we're leaving in? The NASCAR brain trust's answer isn't to cut back to a realistic number of races, let's say 25 total - as I've suggested many times - but to move around dates to grease the skids for their latest pet money-making projects. Example No. 1? Giving the Kansas Speedway a second Sprint Cup date in 2011 in order to get its Hollywood Casino (which is attached to the speedway) launched properly, a casino enterprise that's 50 percent owned by the International Speedway Corporation. And the CEO of the ISC in case you need to be reminded? Lesa France Kennedy. Cozy, no?

To say NASCAR isn't about the racing and hasn't been for a long, long time is like saying Lindsay Lohan has trouble dealing with reality.

Because if NASCAR was about the racing we'd be seeing Camaros, Challengers, Mustangs - and whatever qualifying products Toyota, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai et al could muster - beating and banging on each other for supremacy. Think a combination of the German Touring Car Championship and the Aussie V8 Supercar series pumped up to around 150 p.s.i. and you'll begin to understand what I'm talking about. And they'd be powered by direct-injected engines burning alternative fuel and running a 25-race schedule including five road races, with stock dimension and appearing bodywork, and tweaks like on-board jacking systems, the use of fuel hoses instead of gas cans, lighter racing weights, etc., etc., etc.

The sad reality is that as much as a lot of the powers that be in the racing world would like to think otherwise, NASCAR is about as much in the racing business as it is in the "vision" business, which equates to less than zero when you really bother to add it all up. As a matter of fact, "vision" is so hard to come by down in Daytona Beach that I wonder if the definition - if not the word itself - hasn't been officially purged from the lexicon of NASCAR-speak altogether.

But we shouldn't worry about it or bother offering our suggestions, says Brian France, even though the roar is growing louder that NASCAR must change and soon if it's going to survive with a modicum of health and prosperity.

Because after all, he's good with where they're at.


Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Riverside, California, 1965. Four of the great Dan Gurney's five victories in a stock car at Riverside International Raceway came at the wheel of a Wood Brothers-prepared Ford, including a dominating win in 1965. A.J. Foyt had led until lap 165 when his brakes failed, dropping him out of the race. From then on Gurney cruised to the win by over a minute in his No. 121 Augusta Motor Sales Wood Brothers Ford. One of Gurney's prizes? A new Hurst-equipped Pontiac GTO, which was the official pace car of the race.

Publisher's Note: Like these Ford racing photos? Check out Be forewarned, however, because you won't be able to go there and not order something. - PMD



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