Remember December 2011? That was the time I went crazy and predicted Sebastian Vettel to win the next two World Drivers'Championships. I'm not one to toot my own horn, but - beep beep.
Speaking of prognostication, while sorting through some old magazines (I may be something of a hoarder) I stumbled across some interesting predictions Dick Berggren made about NASCAR's future. They may be found in the August 2004 issue of Speedway Illustrated. To reproduce the whole article would be plagiarism; however, I will invoke fair use to post selected highlights.
"Just when many thought NASCAR's growth had peaked, that it had reached the top, Brian France took control of the wheel, changed the direction of the company, and took it another lane up."
This may be the first and last time anyone has ever complimented Brian France. Do bear in mind that this was published in 2004. NASCAR's TV ratings peaked in 2005.
"Most important in the point system change is the near-leveling of points for the top-10 teams [-] The result will be the most compelling chase to a championship in NASCAR history, which will produce better ticket sales and higher TV ratings."
Everything here proved to be the exact opposite of truth. Even the "fans" who admit to watching for the crashes think the Chase is contrived! Ticket sales have only gone down. Furthermore, the Chase proved itself useless in 2008 when Jimmie Johnson beat Carl Edwards by 69 points in the official standings, but Edwards would have beaten Johnson by 16 points in the non-chase standings. Admittedly such reasoning fails to take the observer effect into account (i.e. teams change their behavior based on the structure of the points system).
"With Darlington's sole event now the night before Mother's Day, a date previously considered 'hands-off' in racing, garage-side pundits at Richmond expressed the belief that the track is set up for failure. If fans don't fill every seat at Darlington for that race, it is likely that Darlington will, like Rockingham, close for good. Although Brian France has repeatedly made clear that NASCAR respects its heritage and roots, that respect stops at the bottom line on the balance sheet. Tradition, we now know, is much less important than growing the sport and staging events at tracks that are geographically spread across the country which have a consistent record of filling all their seats."
Darlington did struggle to sell seats in 2004, but is thriving in 2013. Filling seats appears less important these days, unless that includes large sections of tarpaulin. NASCAR's desire to expand was understandable. Once a business feels a market has been saturated, the only options are to either poach customers from competitors, or move into a new market. It's not unlike Roger Goodell's efforts to get an NFL team in London; however, Goodell would never do so at the expense of the New York Jets (just at the expense of the Jacksonville Jaguars).
"There is no doubt that the sport is much better off now than 12 months ago as a result of these changes."
And now to skip an entire paragraph about what a great executive Brian France is.
"As the sport keeps growing, its management is clearly in good hands.'
That is where the article ends, and it's a fine work of unintentional comedy. Whatever traditionalists weren't alienated by the realignment, were driven off by either the Car of Tomorrow or the gradual decline in quality of racing. Everything since 2010 has just been damage control.
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