Chairman and CEO holds mid-season ‘State of the Sport’ press conference
Brian France, chairman and CEO of NASCAR, held court with the media at Daytona International Speedway prior to tonight’s Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Which, incidentally, is almost certain to be rain-delayed, given the current showers and the grim weather forecast.
France broke no news, and responded to questions in his typically general, non-specific fashion, but did say that he had just come from a lengthy presentation from Gene Stefanyshyn, the former General Motors executive whom France hired as NASCAR’s vice-president of innovation and racing development, “and it was remarkably different talking about the rules of the future and all of that stuff. It was all science, all what really costs what, what really can work and gives us the best outcomes in terms of giving more drivers an opportunity to race hard.” It was, France said, “very, very analytical, and that’s exactly why we brought him in.” A chief topic: Lowering costs for everyone involved.
France responded to questions on multiple topics:
On changes to “souvenir row,” given the revelation that trinket and teeshirt sales have plummeted: “We do think there’s probably some newer, better ways that we can merchandise to our fans.”
On changes in the TV contracts and advertising: “We’re on nice, steady ground, and sponsorship is coming back for us fortunately. That was obviously a hard hit with the recession.”
On whether continued participation in the Nationwide and Camping World truck series should be allowed by full-time Sprint Cup drivers: “It’s true that if a Cup driver dominates in a lower division, it’s understandable why people will shake their head.” But “we balance that against the fact that fans like to see the younger drivers with the veterans, and the younger drivers like to figure out where they are on the skill curve.” In essence, “We tend to let events unfold the way they unfold.”
On whether Homestead-Miami Speedway is really the best place for the season finale: He cited weather, the quality of the track and Ford sponsorship as reasons why “we’re going to be in Homestead for the foreseeable future.”
On why some markets, like Dover, have suffered declining attendance: “Some markets are just more challenged. Some are doing better than they did last year, so it’s a mixed bag. Balanced attendance is up.”