The Daytona 500: NASCAR’s Super Bowl washes out

The following was posted on my Facebook page at 5:56 PM EDT:

NASCAR is run by idiots. It was a beautiful day earlier in central Florida, until mid-afternoon when the rains came. If any of the race organizers had bothered to look at weather maps last night & this morning, or consult with a meteorologist, then they would have made the decision to move up the start time to this race, so they could get it in, since you can’t run an oval race when conditions are wet.

It’s nearly 6:00 PM local time and there is more rain coming through in an hour, according to the local weather radar, with all the cars still parked on the track. NASCAR will have to postpone the Daytona 500 until Monday, after it ran just 20 laps. When you begin the season with your Super Bowl, a rain-out is a bad omen for what’s to come. The sponsors & fans feel cheated, and this is what NASCAR consistently delivers.

Then a few minutes later: Pre-set NASCAR timetables, and corporate mandates for gimmicks such as stage racing, which lengthen these races, are to blame. There’s no leadership in NASCAR to make the tough calls correctly when needed.

Then at 6:54 PM EDT: Just announced on Fox: the Daytona 500 has been postponed until tomorrow.

Here are a few things that were more important to the figureheads who run NASCAR than running the Daytona 500 today.

1) The sponsors, who insist on routine commercial breaks during peak viewing hours. This race couldn’t be moved ahead as needed, because corporate networks won’t allow that. The egos of network executives & sponsors are more important than the race.

2) The US Air Force jet fly-over. That’s obviously tightly programmed, and couldn’t be moved up without threatening “national security.” Thus the jet flyover was more important than the Great American Race.

3) Donald Trump’s visit with his wife Melania. “Drivers, start you engines,” then a pace lap in the Presidential limousine. That certainly could not be rescheduled or moved up, making it much more important than the actual race, which lasted only 20 laps, after a long rain-delay before its start.

Then the rains returned and soaked the tracked repeatedly, and still are as of this writing after 7:00 PM local time. The sun is down, so there is no drying the track, even if the rain had halted, which they won’t until much later.

This was a futile charade put on by NASCAR, FOX, and all its sponsors here at Daytona, Florida. This race had no chance of being completed as scheduled, yet like ostriches with their heads in the sand, they refused to face reality and take responsible action when needed. If this race had been started at noon, with no stages, it would have been completed before the afternoon rains. With stages, an 11:00 AM start time was necessary. Rain was predicted for this afternoon & evening. It’s important to use science correctly.

Now NASCAR has sponsors that are already demanding their money back, because when fans tuned in, they saw the 2019 race being broadcast on FOX. The call to postpone the race on that network was made by NASCAR ~6:45 EDT. It’s like they were the last ones to accept it.

I don’t watch NASCAR much anymore because it’s great stars are mostly gone. Only Jimmie Johnson remains, be he isn’t enough to help this mess. NASCAR put itself up for sale a few years back, and didn’t like the offers it received. But everything they do seems to devalue their product, so what can they expect?

You can blame it on the rain, but really in 2020 we know when bad weather is coming, and should be ready with an alternate plan as needed. NASCAR should be accountable to its fans & drivers first, if it wants to regain its lost popularity, but it consistently does just the opposite. This is what happens when leadership fails to plan.

Only a fraction of their expected viewing audience will watch the Daytona 500 tomorrow, and that costs sponsors tens of millions of dollars in lost marketing revenue– at least. NASCAR burns up the money, wastes resources, and in many ways defines the most reactionary features of our fake economy.

UPDATE:  Monday 17 Feb 2020 10:10 AM EST

The Daytona 500 will pick-up again today on FOX at 4:00 PM EDT, and hopefully will finish itself up by his evening, as more rain is possible. The grandstands will be half-full at best, and the infield a muddy mess, as just about everyone wants to get this race over with now, so they can move on.

These teams, crews & drivers have to be in Las Vegas next weekend, and have already lost a day’s travel time. It used to be Atlanta after the Daytona 500, but now it’s Las Vegas, because the sponsors want it that way. These are the contingencies that NASCAR has to deal with, in a sport that is weather dependent. For the record, Donald Trump did not attend this race. He left before the start yesterday, and will not return today. His appearance was all about optics.

On October 15, 2012, NASCAR and the FOX announced a new $2.4 billion eight-year deal, a 30% increase from their previous deal. On July 23, 2013, NASCAR and the NBC announced a new $4.4 billion ten-year deal. Both these broadcast deals run through 2024. NASCAR signed it’s mega-deals with NBC & FOX when it’s biggest stars were still active: including Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart & Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Their biggest star (from 2013 through the Daytona 500 in 2018) was Danica Patrick, who gave NASCAR a platform to expand their demographics & bring in a whole generation of new fans. But instead of building the sport and adapting it to a new era, NASCAR consistently wrecked Danica Patrick and took the money for themselves. What’s left today is a dying sport, with an alienated hard-core base, and too few new fans. You may have noticed that Danica Patrick doesn’t do any NASCAR promotional events anymore. What kind of dim-bulb sport runs her out?

When NASCAR CEO Brian France was arrested (pic above) in August 2018 on a DUI & possession of Oxycontin, the institutional decay of this once-proud family organization could no longer be hidden. For the 2020 season, NASCAR no longer has a title sponsor, as Monster Energy bailed after just two years. Nextel, Sprint & Winston are long gone too, and all that is left are: Busch, Coca-Cola, Geico, and Xfinity as NASCAR’s “premier partners” in 2020. This makes NASCAR beholden to the networks & sponsors for everything, including yesterday’s fiasco.

In the end, everything comes down to leadership. If it isn’t there, then there can be no long-term success, even in the best of conditions. No leadership also means certain failure when things go bad, as they have in NASCAR. That is the sobering, Monday race-day reality of the 2020 Daytona 500.