Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Would NASCAR fans be in favor of timed races instead of just number of laps?

Or a time cap?

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you this question “would NASCAR fans be in favor of timed races instead of just number of laps or a time cap” after reading an ESPN press release from earlier today that said “ESPN will air 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup race telecasts in 2010, including nine of the 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. ABC will air three prime time Saturday night races. For the past three seasons, ESPN has aired six races, with 11 on ABC.”

Basically instead of ESPN airing live telecasts of 11 races on ABC including all 10 chase races, in 2010 they will only air three primetime races on ABC (which is Bristol in August, Richmond in September and Charlotte in October) which puts the rest of the races on ESPN.

The move is a surprise to me on a number of levels, one being that NASCAR has been trying to move all of its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races to regular network television like FOX, NBC and ABC so everybody can watch them. But now it looks like NASCAR is moving away from doing this in favor cable networks like TNT and ESPN.

Obviously this is going effect NASCAR fans in one way or another including one of the biggest advantages of having more races on ESPN is if the race runs long, there is a better chance they will air it on ESPN instead of making viewers move from ABC to another ESPN channel. For example we all remember ABC making viewers move to ESPN2 so they could air America’s Funniest Home Videos back in November 2008. (Read article here). Or just finishing the race and moving on to other programming without airing most of the interviews.

Of course one disadvantage would be with fans that don’t have cable or satellite television and depend upon regular network television like FOX, NBC and ABC to watch their races. Looking ahead, this will have a big impact on NASCAR particularly in the already down television ratings, but I personally will not see much of a difference and neither will most NASCAR viewers.

However this move does leave me to ask this question, “Would NASCAR fans be in favor of timed races instead of just by number of laps?” considering it almost looks like NASCAR maybe going in this direction for the television networks. Keep in mind that right now, NASCAR only has the history of the race to predict the time and so does the networks.

As to the answer of that question, I wouldn’t be surprised if NASCAR makes this move in the future considering NASCAR races tend to go into the night as they say. The move might be a good one, but the only way to find out is to introduce it in stages, one race at a time. Time races are nothing new in Motorsports, Grand-Am has them, the ALMS and in some ways, the IRL IndyCar Series does too, but in time allowed for the race.

As for a time cap, that would be something I would definitely think about considering I wouldn’t like to see NASCAR races stopped before the scheduled distance unless the race was taking way to long and NASCAR fans show up at the race track to see all of the laps of the race.

What do you think?