NASCAR was a sport built on moonshiners and Southerners who believed that going against the grain of politically-correctness was the only way of life. Walking through Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage area felt like the total opposite of the aforementioned.
The access that the media had during all of the Lilly Diabetes 250 and Brickyard 400 events on Saturday was quite limited and only a hand-picked few had the opportunity to be on pit road during qualifying and practice sessions. This is a stark contrast from the Verizon Indycar series who has pit road filled with media for each and every event at IMS every May.
While understanding that IMS is Indycar’s hometrack and on-track operations are made to run smoother naturally, I found Saturday’s experience from a media perspective to be clunky and underwhelming.
Arriving at the track at roughly 8 a.m. and not leaving until 7 p.m. there was only 3 hours where all media was allowed on the track. Meanwhile during qualifying there were fans on pit road asking for autographs while crews are trying to prepare their cars.
With all of this in mind my question is: Has NASCAR gone too corporate for its own good? Garage and pit passes are prioritized to car sponsors and series supporters and the media receives what is left over. This logic isn’t one that is easily comprehended or good for the marketing of the sport.
Realizing the importance of the “Fan experience” and “Guest Relations” it is understood that fans should have as much access to the drivers as possible. There should though be a line drawn where the fans are prioritized over the people there to spread the word to the ones who buy the tickets.
Is Richard Petty “The King” without the media, would Dale Earnhardt Sr. have been “The intimidator” without someone calling him that on television, would Jeff Gordon be a living legend just off word of mouth? NASCAR is losing fans at the gate and nothing they’re doing is working, maybe getting back to basics would solve it.