Welcome to the first edition of The Outsider. I am relative newcomer to NASCAR, but a long time motor racing fan ? and an Australian. I've been following the V8 Supercars, Formula 1 and various other forms of motorsport for quite some time now, but 5 years ago I had never even heard of NASCAR. A few weeks before the 2005 V8 Supercar championship began, reigning champion Marcos Ambrose announced that he was moving overseas to compete in the Craftsman Truck Series. I was (and still am) a massive fan of his and although disappointed at the thought of my favourite driver ending his V8 career, I looked forward to the new challenges presented and to a new experience for me.
In 2005, NASCAR coverage was extremely limited and you needed to be a pay-tv subscriber anyway. Now, the Nationwide series is shown live, with delayed coverage of Cup practice and qualifying sessions and a highlights package of the Cup race, all on free to air. The Cup series is still on pay-tv, but we get a live broadcast of the race as well as a replay later in the day, for when I'm just not up to a 3am start on a Monday.
Now what all of this says is that Australians are ready for NASCAR. Not just us, but the rest of the world too. Michael Waltrip commented on the massive interest he found in Dubai when competing in a 24-hour race there earlier in the year. Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson have likewise been inundated with questions at the Race of Champions event in Europe, by curious race fans who are open to the chance to witness a new (to them) world class competition.
The problem is that NASCAR really hasn't opened their doors to us. We're not like the casual American based fans that they seem to try so hard to win over, and while I understand the need to put bottoms in seats, do you really want to compromise your product to appeal to those that aren't willing to accept it for what it is? Denny Hamlin has supported ?debris? cautions ? cautions that I will openly claim to be unneeded and fake solely intended to create an ?exciting? finish, because he argues that if those cautions weren't thrown, everyone would be talking about a boring race. No we wouldn't. We would be accept that this a part of motor racing and move on. Instead we're talking about inconsistency, manufactured results and practices that amount to blatant insults to those of us that are fans of the actual racing ? not the plastic, mass produced ?show? that we seems to be getting groomed for.
Which is why NASCAR needs to welcome the overseas fans. We don't care if there aren't many lead changes. If someone dominates the race, well then good on him and his team for being the best on the day. We won't complain when the margin of victory is in the double digits and we don't have a problem with repeat champions. The first 12 races of this years V8 Supercar championship have seen only 3 different winners. 11 of those wins came from the front row of the grid. Am I complaining? No way. This years V8 competition is fantastic and I've enjoyed every minute of it. Look at the way Formula 1 goes. Moto GP too. NASCAR really isn't that bad when it comes to variety. But when you try to make it something that it's not, it really turns people like us away, because we never had a problem with what you are trying to fix, but end up feeling a little robbed in the end when it all feels forced.
So NASCAR, I know it's hard, but forget about Junior Nation, let Danicamania melt into the overhyped nonsense it really is and stop trying to please the 15-minute fans ? those who only tune into the last 30-odd laps, or even worse, just watch the highlights on the news and then complain because there wasn't a three-wide photo finish with cars flying through the air behind the,. Green-white-checkered finishes and massive wrecks look great to them, but what about the rest of us? You don't want your fanbase to consist of those who only tune in to see the next media darling running 29th when there are countless amounts of dedicated fans out there who just want to see racing how it should be done ? simple and naturally. We're knocking ? all you need to do is let us in.
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