Dale Jr. is leaving Dale Earnhardt Inc. (Theresa) and becoming a free agent at the end of this year. The marketing machine is poised to go over the wall. The colour chips are jockying for position. Numbers hope to be the chosen combination. Manufacturers are smoozing. Owners are dreaming and fans are waiting to be “brand loyal”. As for the objects of our affection affixed with the number 8, they will be safely packed away, adjacent our shrine to number 3.
I was NASCAR when NASCAR wasn’t cool and I’ve enjoyed watching clever marketing push a southern, red-neck sport to mainstream popularity. Both NASCAR and Nextel have done well to bring in new markets and use technology to deliver the excitement to fans across the continent, in a relevant way. Its paid off. NASCAR is the most watched spectator sport in North America.
I can tell you from experience, a live NASCAR race is like nothing else. The rush of adreneline starts on the approach to the track. With branded hats waving, fans will their driver to the front of the pack, and pray the race won’t end under caution. As a spectator, it’s powerful to have 100,000 people follow your lead as you jump to your feet with a barely audible “uh-oh”. While a scrape or two keeps things interesting, I don’t think crashes are favoured like a fight in hockey. NASCAR fans have seen too many bad outcomes and losing “your” driver is like a kick in the stomach, or lower. It takes a long while to regain your wind for the sport.
For most Senior fans, Junior filled the void left by his father. But Junior too is an intimidator, when he’s allowed to be. I can’t wait to see it happen, and get a new
Related Link: An amusing commentary on the Dale Jr. DEI split.