Author Topic: Open Letter to Brian France  (Read 3342 times)

Quack

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Open Letter to Brian France
« on: June 05, 2007, 02:23:33 PM »
June 5, 2007
Brian France - Chairman and CEO, NASCAR

RE: The Chase

Dear Mr. France,

First of all, I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to you and your family upon the passing of your father, Bill France, Jr.  He was a special man, an extraordinary visionary, friend, and marketer.  I can only guess, but I'd imagine that he was one heck of a dad as well.  He will be greatly missed by thousands, maybe even millions, but probably not as greatly as you will miss him.  Our prayers go out to you during this time of loss.

I would like the opportunity to discuss with you the topic of the "Chase for the Cup", a.k.a. "The Chase".  While I have never been a fan of it, I never really had a reason to write until today, mostly because I figured my words would fall on deaf ears.  However, today I have decided to stick my neck out and write this open letter to you.  Thank you in advance for taking the time to read it and consider its merit.

Your argument for creating The Chase in 2004 was that there needed to be more of an emphasis placed on winning races as opposed to "points racing" as Matt Kenseth did in 2003.  You further argued that the "Big Three" sports (NFL, NBA, MLB) had playoffs, so NASCAR should as well.  Each of these statements has intrinsic problems:

1. "Points racing" -is- racing.  Every series known to man, from the lowliest of local dirt tracks to the loftiest tracks of NASCAR and F1, require points racing to win a championship.  By instituting The Chase, not only have you *not* eliminated points racing, you've made it even more important than it ever was prior to The Chase, as drivers only have ten races in which to accumulate their points.

2. One of the most beautiful things about racing is the fact that it is so wonderfully unlike the "Big Three".  By attempting to turn NASCAR into one of them, you are, in effect, ruining the sport.  Have you gained fans by doing so?  Sure.  Are they going to be around for another 50 years?  Only time will tell, but as the ratings are proving, they're not even sticking around for five years, let alone 50.  Are you alienating the fans that have already been around for 50 years?  By droves.

You see Mr. France, while both of these points are very accurate and valid, today I realized that there is a *major* flaw in the system.  No, I'm not talking about some delusional argument along the lines of "the fastest 43 need to race", where the reality of the situation is not understood.  I'm talking about a legitimate flaw.  You can thank Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, and ultimately, Kurt Busch, for pointing it out to me.  It is entirely their fault.

"What is this alleged flaw?" you ask.

Well sir, in the world of sports, a Champion is one who has met each and every challenge that his or her competitors has met, and performed better than the competition while doing so.  In the world of the NBA, the Champion has played through a rigorous 82-game schedule, and then disposed of 4 additional rivals during a best-of-X game series.  In the NFL, the Champion has played through an often tumultuous 16-game schedule, and then has won a divisional, conference, and title game as well.  The MLB World Series Champion has had to fight through a grueling 162-game schedule, a divisional series, a league series, and then ultimately, the World Series.

Imagine for a moment if the Indianapolis Colts had decided to play only eleven games in 2006.  Would they be permitted to play for a title?  What about the St. Louis Cardinals?  If they had decided to play just 150 games, would they have been given an opportunity at a title?  Then there is the Miami Heat.  Would they have had a title shot had they only played 73 games?  The only answer to each of these is a resounding "NO!".

Why then would it be acceptable for NASCAR to give a title shot to a driver that hasn't even met all of the challenges that his competitors have met?

This year it is very likely that there will be one, and possibly two drivers that are eligible for the Cup Championship in spite of not racing the full schedule: Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon.  To date, Mark has already missed 3 races, yet remains qualified for The Chase by virtue of his position in 12th place of the standings.  Jeff is possibly (likely?) going to miss a race this summer so that he can be there for the birth of his daughter.

Please do not misunderstand me here.  I think it is perfectly fine and wonderful that Mark takes time off.  I also think it would be incredibly good and honorable for Jeff to take time off for the birth of his child.  Both men are making the decisions they are making because they are placing family first on the priority list.  That is precisely the position that family should occupy.  However, as a fan, I have a serious problem with a driver even having a chance at being called Champion without them competing in each and every event.

Case in point: I have followed Jeff Gordon's career since long before he came to NASCAR.  He is unequivocally my favorite driver in NASCAR.  I am very pleased that he has battled through the adversity of the previous few seasons and is poised to win his 5th Cup in 2007.  However, if he skips out on a race, I don't think he should be given a shot at it.  Not because he doesn't deserve to be with his wife and baby, but because he's a professional racer, and his fans pay a significant portion of their entertainment budget for the opportunity to watch him perform.  I was considering spending several thousand dollars to fly half-way across the country to attend the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.  As soon as I found out that there's a good chance that Jeff won't even be racing that day, my decision of whether or not to hold onto that cash became a no-brainer.

"So how did Kurt Busch help you recognize this alleged flaw?"

During the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Visa at Dover International Speedway on Monday, June 4, 2007, Kurt Busch decided to express his displeasure with Tony Stewart by driving into the side of the #20 car while he was sitting on pit road being worked on.  This complete disregard for crew safety by Kurt was quite angering.  It caused a lot of negative reaction by fans on various sites and in countless water cooler conversations around the country.  Generally speaking, the gist of these conversations was to offer up opinions on what sort of disciplinary action should be taken by NASCAR.  In summary, they went like this:

Option A: "Fine him a ton of money!"

Option B: "Penalize him points!"

Option C: "Suspend him for a race!"

The problem is that none of these three options will provide Kurt with the lesson that he so desperately needs to learn.  Money is immaterial, especially when you consider that the fine money is doled out to the drivers at the end of the season.  Because of The Chase, neither points nor suspensions really matter to top level teams either, unless of course the penalty or suspension came during the final ten races of the season.  The fact of the matter is, you can take all three actions against Kurt Busch and he can still be named the Cup Champion at the end of the season.  What sort of punishment is that?

Since I realize that The Chase is more than likely here to stay, I would like to offer my suggestions as to how you can achieve the following objectives with The Chase:

1. Have power to actually curb behavior that is -truly- detrimental to the sport (e.g. total disregard for the safety of crew members).

2. Have a greater marketing opportunity, since as you and I both know, fans spend insane amounts of money to attend playoff events that their driver/team is involved in.

3. Significantly decrease the attractiveness of points racing, if not completely eliminating it.

4. See the fall races compete with the NFL in terms of ratings.

5. Reach a higher percentage of the all-important (to advertisers) 18-34 year old male demographic.

So, without further ado, here are my suggestions:

1. To be eligible for The Chase, you *must* run in each and every event.

2. Rescind the expansion to the Top 12 drivers for Chase eligibility.  I have a hard time even typing "Top 12".  This has done nothing other than to water down the sport even more.  It should be the Top 10 only.  Think about it, does ESPN have the "Top 12 plays of the week" or the "Top 12 web gems"?  Does David Letterman have the "Top 12 List"?  Does Money Magazine release the "Top 12 Jobs" list?  No.  It's always the Top 10.  Let's keep it that way.

3. During races 1-26, use the points scale that was used from 1975-2005 (175 points for 1st, 34 points for 43rd, 5 point bonus for leading a lap, 5 point bonus for leading the most laps).  The two differences would be as follows:

      a. Your first win of the season pays a 100-point bonus
      b. Each win thereafter pays a 20-point bonus

4. When the points are reset after Race #26, the bonus points for wins are retained.  While this may not completely eliminate points racing during the first 26 races, it should drastically reduce it.

5. During the 10 races that comprise The Chase, utilize two separate scoring systems.  Non-Chase drivers would continue to be scored by the standard points system, as explained in #3 above.  The Chase drivers would be scored as follows:

      1st Place:           50 points
      2nd Place:          20 points
      3rd Place:           10 points
      4th - 43rd Place:   0 points

Knowing that they won't get any points at all unless they have a podium finish should completely eliminate points racing during The Chase.

6. Let the guys police themselves as they did for decades.  Quit trying to step in and slap people on the wrist with fines and penalties just because you don't like what they said or because they pushed another driver.  If one guy feels he was wronged by another and wants to take him out back and give him a good old-fashioned beat down, let him.  Maybe we wouldn't have some of the stupidity going on that goes on today because these young guys know there are no real consequences.  Focus your disciplinary actions where they should be focused: on guys who blatantly disregard the safety of others and on guys that play with the fuel.  It worked for decades, there's no reason it couldn't and shouldn't work in 2007.

I truly believe that aside from eliminating The Chase, instituting a system such as I have described here is the best way to accomplish all of the goals outlined herein.  Thank you again for taking the time to read this letter.


Sincerely,

Quack




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Re: Open Letter to Brian France
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2007, 04:48:45 PM »
First of all, I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to you and your family upon the passing of your father, Bill France, Jr.  He was a special man, an extraordinary visionary, friend, and marketer.  I can only guess, but I'd imagine that he was one heck of a dad as well.  He will be greatly missed by thousands, maybe even millions, but probably not as greatly as you will miss him.  Our prayers go out to you during this time of loss.

This sport was truely enhanced because of his innovative thinking.
He will be missed.

5. Reach a higher percentage of the all-important (to advertisers) 18-34 year old male demographic.

I personally feel if Nascar wants to continue to grow and retain viewers, fans and sponsers, they will have to find a better way to include the women that may not be fans yet, but attend and watch races because of the men fans in their lives.
I realize the thinking that a Nascar event should be over the top Nascar related, and they are. As a fan, I feel the rush of Nascar overload when I walk through the souvenir trailers, but as an observer of the people around me I also see those not as interested in the sport looking around for something they can relate to. This may be as simple as a petting zoo for the little ones or a few amusement rides to help the preteenager cope with the weekend of events or a tent full of T.V.'s showing everything from funniest videos to surround sound movies.
I know when I go the Six Flags or the county fair, my interest, my wifes interest and my sons interest are not all the same. Their are many things we do together (like attend the big shows) but theres also the "I'll meet you back here at 3:00p" so they can do what truely interest them individually. I just think Nascar needs to open up the horizion of possibilities to attract and retain new and not as interested fans.
Thank God my wife is a fan. 8)

3. During races 1-26, use the points scale that was used from 1975-2005 (175 points for 1st, 34 points for 43rd, 5 point bonus for leading a lap, 5 point bonus for leading the most laps).  The two differences would be as follows:

      a. Your first win of the season pays a 100-point bonus
      b. Each win thereafter pays a 20-point bonus

4. When the points are reset after Race #26, the bonus points for wins are retained.  While this may not completely eliminate points racing during the first 26 races, it should drastically reduce it.

5. During the 10 races that comprise The Chase, utilize two separate scoring systems.  Non-Chase drivers would continue to be scored by the standard points system, as explained in #3 above.  The Chase drivers would be scored as follows:

      1st Place:           50 points
      2nd Place:          20 points
      3rd Place:           10 points
      4th - 43rd Place:   0 points

Knowing that they won't get any points at all unless they have a podium finish should completely eliminate points racing during The Chase.

This would make for better racing, IMO. ;)

6. Let the guys police themselves as they did for decades.  Quit trying to step in and slap people on the wrist with fines and penalties just because you don't like what they said or because they pushed another driver.  If one guy feels he was wronged by another and wants to take him out back and give him a good old-fashioned beat down, let him.  Maybe we wouldn't have some of the stupidity going on that goes on today because these young guys know there are no real consequences.  Focus your disciplinary actions where they should be focused: on guys who blatantly disregard the safety of others and on guys that play with the fuel.  It worked for decades, there's no reason it couldn't and shouldn't work in 2007.

A little "old school" etiquette would eliminate alot of the petty BS you have to deal with.
I agree with Quack on this one.
Heeeer's yur sign!!!

Quack

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Re: Open Letter to Brian France
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2007, 02:31:33 PM »
Looks like NASCAR.com writer Bill Kimm read my article.  I agree wholeheartedly with his article today.

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Re: Open Letter to Brian France
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2007, 06:50:05 PM »
Looks like NASCAR.com writer Bill Kimm read my article.  I agree wholeheartedly with his article today.
This is quite the article, and I have not thought of this.  But, it is totaly correct.  (I didn't turn the race off the other night to find Dale Jr. driving the #5 car either, which shocked me.)  If this were to happen you would have to get the drivers schedule way ahead of time to make sure your going to see the driver you favor or cheer, and what if like me I have several, It would no longer be a guarantee. Wow, something to think about.

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Re: Open Letter to Brian France
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2007, 12:20:37 PM »
NASCAR's greed of running every week with the tracks being at opposite ends of the country has already caused owners to look at having multiple crews so I wouldn't be a bit surprised for the drivers to say enough is enough get someone else to sit in for me.

Which is exactly what Mark has done and good for him for showing Geoff and Jack exactly what they lost by not giving.

I truthfully can't blame them at all, NASCAR keeps wanting more and more tracks with no consideration as to the wear and tear on personell.

Their thinking I recon is the Circus animals can be replaced -sell tickets- the show must go on.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2007, 12:54:24 PM by moon »

Quack

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Re: Open Letter to Brian France
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2007, 01:21:32 PM »
moon, I agree with what you're saying.  Completely.  These are the rules that are currently in play, so by all means the drivers should take advantage of them.  My primary concerns are:

1. What possible deterrent is it to be suspended for a race when you know you'll still qualify to win a championship?

2. Why would I pay the high dollar price of a race weekend (tickets, hotel, fuel/flights, food, swag, etc) when I have no guarantee that my driver (or drivers) is even going to be racing that weekend?

As far as Mark showing Jack and Geoff, I couldn't be happier for him with what he's doing.  What brought this whole thought process about for me wasn't a way to keep Mark Martin or Jeff Gordon from winning a championship because they took time off, but rather the realization that a suspension won't hurt Kurt Busch at all.  The next thought was "am I willing to say that -my- driver(s) shouldn't be able to win a championship if they voluntarily sit out a race or two?"  I came to the conclusion that I was.

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Re: Open Letter to Brian France
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2007, 02:33:20 AM »
Imagine for a moment if the Indianapolis Colts had decided to play only eleven games in 2006.  Would they be permitted to play for a title?  What about the St. Louis Cardinals?  If they had decided to play just 150 games, would they have been given an opportunity at a title? ...

Yes, and yes, imo.

If the Colts only played 11 games, but had enough wins to qualify them for the playoffs, I believe they would be in.

In baseball, teams sometimes do play fewer games. Some rainouts are completely removed from the schedule, and only made up if they would make a difference.
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Re: Open Letter to Brian France
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2007, 09:30:10 AM »
Yes, and yes, imo.

If the Colts only played 11 games, but had enough wins to qualify them for the playoffs, I believe they would be in.

In baseball, teams sometimes do play fewer games. Some rainouts are completely removed from the schedule, and only made up if they would make a difference.
i personally do not think the colts should be let into the playoffs period. 

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Re: Open Letter to Brian France
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2007, 12:53:30 PM »
Ok Quack you wanted me to post my opinion so here it is. I think it perfectly ok for a driver to miss a race and still contend for a championship. I am not a Gordon fan but I do not think he should be PUNISHED for missing a race to be their for his wife and child. There are many fans of Gordons who would still attend a race knowing he would not be there. They would also be happy for him for being with his family in this once in a lifetime event. How selfish can you be for wanting him to race instead. If he is good enough to miss a race and still win a championship then it would be even more deserved in my opinion. I understand that you are thinking more in terms of penalizing drivers such as Kurt Busch. In that case Nascar should either take away 400 or more points to ensure that he does not make the chase or win the championship. There are so many reasons that a driver might miss a race that would not mean they should be punished. What if Busch had injured Stewart in fit of road rage and Stewart missed a race? Stewart should not have a championship ripped away from him because of Busch's stupidity. In Martin's case why not allow him to win a championship if he only races a partial schedule? He must be doing a damn good job if he can beat the other drivers who are driving a full schedule! I am not a fan of his either but I'll admit he is doing a fantastic job this season and if he gets his first championship this season I'll be the first to stand and applaud his performance and championship. I just don't think it is right to take away the championship contention outright to all drivers no matter the circumstances. And that is my opinion.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2007, 01:09:39 PM by Signspotter#19 »
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Re: Open Letter to Brian France
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2007, 12:59:27 PM »
If you can qualify for the "Playoffs", despite missing a race or two, why not contend for the Championship? Not many drivers are good enough to qualify without missing, let alone the DNF's. And it is a team sport now, substitutions should be allowed.
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Re: Open Letter to Brian France
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2007, 01:00:59 PM »
If you can qualify for the "Playoffs", despite missing a race or two, why not contend for the Championship? Not many drivers are good enough to qualify without missing, let alone the DNF's. And it is a team sport now, substitutions should be allowed.

I agree.

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Re: Open Letter to Brian France
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2007, 12:34:01 AM »
Down with the top 35 in points....Let em burn