This is the first time in its 54-year history that the Daytona 500 has ever been postponed.
NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing) is truly a main stream American sport. Stock car racing has its roots in prohibition times when bootleggers needed to outrun and evade the police as they distributed their product, much of which was made in the Appalachian area of the Carolinas and Georgia. After the repeal of Prohibition the cars were still used to evade tax collectors. Eventually, the actual beach at Daytona became the preferred locale for car owners to show and race these cars whose performance was constantly being improved.
It has been fascinating watching the Nationwide race on Saturday and then on Sunday being part of the build up to the Daytona 500. Lenny Kravitz is the pre-game entertainment, the band Train’s front man Pat Monahan sings a beautiful rendition of The National Anthem, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds do their very cool fly-over of the stadium, Jane Lynch from Glee is here as the Grand Marshall (“Lady and Gentlemen, start your engines…”). It is hard not to get totally caught up in the excitement.
You won't find President Obama at these NASCAR races but Rick Santorum sponsors a car for this race - it isn't actually in the race but it has his name prominently displayed and the car itself is perfectly positioned in one of the open garages for all to see. And not to be overshadowed, Mitt Romney is on site for the race and shaking hands with all the fans. But he ruins the moment when he says he isn't as ardent a supporter as some of the fans here but he has some great friends who are NASCAR team owners... Mitt, Mitt, Mitt, won't you ever learn!
What strikes me most about NASCAR is that these race drivers and their crews are incredibly responsive and beholden to their fans and spectators. And what a marketer’s dream! The main sponsor of each car is featured prominently on the car, the driver and crew’s clothing, on the team’s giant 18 (or some big number) wheelers that haul the cars and equipment from track to track, and on those cute little collectible matchbook cars. Go-Daddy, M&M’s, Oreos’, Budweiser (of course), 3-M, Target, US Army, and on and on. I think the M&M artwork on the car and it’s corresponding 18? wheeler is the absolute cutest!
|Danica and fans|
NASCAR has certainly come a long way from car buffs racing their newest revved up car on the beach in Daytona to this highly commercial marketers dream of a sport.
We hear the race is scheduled to go on tomorrow night as long as the rain holds off. Alas we must leave Daytona but will most certainly be watching the race on TV and are looking forward to it. Who would have thought?