Martin Truex Jr. won the 2017 NASCAR Championship. Martin Truex Jr. is at the top of the standings in points with just eight races left for the 2018 NASCAR Championship. However, Martin Truex Jr. doesn’t have a team to race for next year.
Furniture Row Racing has had Martin Truex Jr. on their roster for two years and It’s not uncommon for race teams to lose drivers in free agency or trade drivers, but Furniture Row Racing is closing up shop at the end of the year because their main sponsor 5 Hour Energy, is leaving NASCAR altogether. No money, no team. No team, no driver. Simple.
The easiest way to look at this is that Monster Energy is the main sponsor of NASCAR (Which is why it’s called “The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series”), and having 5 Hour Energy being the best team is a major conflict of interest, so off with 5 Hour Energy. No money, no team. No Team, no driver. Simple.
But wait, why doesn’t a new sponsor just step up and sign with Furniture Row Racing? They’re the favorite to win the Championship two years in a row, and have a partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing, they’re pretty well connected and are a solid investment. Sponsors should be flocking in to sponsor the #78 Car, but no calls came in, no deals were made, no sponsors were signed. No money, no team. No team, no driver. Simple.
Where are the sponsors? Simple: NASCAR is white, racist, suffering from a branding crisis, refuses to gut their religious ties, and doesn’t cater to Millennials.
1. NASCAR has a diversity problem and is Racist. Full Time Non-White Drivers, there are 3 (out of 32): Darrell Wallace Jr. Races the #43 car, is the only African-American Driver in NASCAR, and the first to race in the Daytona 500 since 1971. Daniel Suarez races the #19 car and is the only Mexican-American Driver in NASCAR. Kyle Larson drives the #42 car, and is the only Japanese-American Driver in NASCAR. Danica Patrick, the only female driver in NASCAR, is officially retired. But here’s the kicker: NASCAR doesn’t want the Confederate Flag to fly at races, but they have not outright banned Confederate Flags fans bring to the tracks, that’s Racist.
2. NASCAR has a branding problem. Sports rely on a team or an individual, but they all have a modifier: City, State, Region, and/or Country. NEW ENGLAND Patriots, LOS ANGELES Lakers, NEW YORK Yankees, CHICAGO Cubs. Where exactly is Joe Gibbs Racing? Explain how someone from Seattle is supposed to cheer for Richard Childress Racing. How am I supposed to continue my support for Martin Truex Jr if he doesn’t have a team or a sponsor? 80% of Americans live in an Urban Area, whether it be a city or it’s Suburbs. This doesn’t bode well for gaining traction
3. They have an invocation before every race. They’re the only sport that does this. Not everyone is Christian. Not everyone is Religious. Simple.
4. Millennials (myself included) slowly watch sports fade out to other forms of entertainment, there needs to be a way to cater to younger newer audiences. NASCAR has no plan to modify and is stuck in its old ways. Race Tracks are typically tucked away and not friendly to major cities. The point system and playoffs change EVERY year, which becomes confusing, Stage Racing did nothing except cut a race into 3 sections, Road Courses are few and far between, and if you don’t have someone to explain the intricacies of NASCAR to a new watcher, they’ll get bored and change the channel within a few minutes of watching cars drive in circles.
To casual or new fans: Going to a race sounds exciting and fun, but watching the race on TV? BORING, unless there’s a battle to win in the last 3 laps. But, why should I waste 4 hours in an afternoon watching a race if the only highlight I need is a 60 second clip of the crashes and the last lap? I don’t know how to convince my friends to like NASCAR, and more importantly, I really don’t want my friends to become interested in NASCAR if they’ll continue to shy away from Diversity and continue to cater to racists.
NASCAR has a thing called “NASCAR Diversity Internship Program,” which is a paid internship program founded in 2004 designed to bring in POC and Women into NASCAR. Today it’s 2018, this program has been in place for 14 years, but all of the main office employees in NASCAR are white men.
NASCAR in it’s current course might survive in a small bubble, but it’s losing traction faster than rain at Bristol.