TV Times – Fontana… Good News… Bad News…
Last Sunday saw Jimmie Johnson take his fifth win at Fontana, which is the good news.
The bad news is who will keep Jimmie from taking another championship and prevent him from making 2010 as another boring year for the NASCAR Cup Series?
Maybe Kevin Harvick can do it, if he and his team can just eek out a little more power and stay on track.
On the subject of Fontana, observers felt that there were too many empty seats there which is another problem. The Speed Report on Sunday night also dropped a hint that the Spring Atlanta race maybe moved to Sonoma! If Speedway Motorsports, Inc. decides to move that event why won’t it go Kentucky where the SMI Chairman wants to put a Cup race? If Fontana is having a problem selling out two Cup races in hard economic times in the Golden State, wouldn’t it make sense that Sonoma would also have challenges selling tickets?
While we’re at it, talk about possible bad moves of Cup races the ” smoke signals and drums” around NASCAR tell of ISC possibly moving one of the Martinsville races to KC when the KC Speedway Casino gets up and running. If another southeastern Cup race moves out of that locale, that will hiss off more of NASCAR’s core base which still hasn’t got over the closing of Rockingham and N. Wilkesboro and the move of one of the Southern 500 Labor Day weekend event at Darlington to Fontana to this day!
The economy is still in big trouble. Our sense is that all the Cup and NASCAR weekends at the various ISC, SMI, Dover and Pocono events should stay where they are. For now anyway until all of the dust settles. Because NASCAR contributed the dip in ticket sales and TV ratings by making a lot of changes to fast. All that was done by Brian France, who we feel is in the “hot seat”. Yes, the bad economy made things worse. The timing of all this created the “perfect storm”. The results of which has shocked NASCAR back to reality.
We also think that if things don’t turn around for NASCAR soon, Brian may be shown the door. Impossible? No, just take a look at what the Hulman family pulled off recently. They relieved family member Tony George of his heading up the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League due to overspending combined with the lack of attendance at IMS and IRL events. Tony was given a token seat on the IMS BOD but wasn’t happy with that and resigned.
On both the Speed and Fox broadcasts before, during and after SpeedWeeks in Daytona, we kept hearing from the anchors and color analysts that NASCAR is really paying attention to the fans and what they want in NASCAR racing. Well, these complaints were not recent. We can recollect that the same complaints, things that turned of the paying customers, were going on for many seasons. In fact we think it feel on deaf ears. So what made the suits in NASCAR’s front office finally make an effort to turn things around? Their business went into the tank and they finally saw the light. So the next time the fans speak let’s see if NASCAR listens?
Almost 30 million people saw at least some part of FOX Sports’ coverage of the dramatic 2010 DAYTONA 500 that Sunday, a race that lasted more than six hours and included 52 lead changes, a Daytona-record 21 different drivers taking the lead and a spectacular finish as Jamie McMurray held off Dale Earnhardt, JR’s charge in the final laps to claim his first Daytona 500 win. Some of the folks that we spoke to thought that the finish of this year’s Daytona 500 was the best in many years. Nielsen Media Research estimates that 29.8 million Americans watched at least some part of this year’s Daytona 500, a +14 percent gain over last year’s 26.2 million.
Two unprecedented delays to repair asphalt damage on the track totaled almost two and half hours and had a sizable impact on the rating. The race portion of the 2010 DAYTONA 500 broadcast earned a fast national rating of 7.7/16 (13.3 million viewers), compared to last year’s 9.2/19. The delays were excluded from the rating as Nielsen Media Research treats them as they would a rain delay during an MLB game. Not only did fans leave the track, from published reports, and head elsewhere. Many also changed the channel, surfed or just turned the boob tube off and did something else. Some tuned in later and caught the last few laps.
In the 31-year history of flag-to-flag television coverage of the Daytona 500, there have been two previous races that were delayed and re-started and both suffered sizable ratings decreases. The 1995 running was delayed over two hours by rain and the result was a -19 percent decline versus prior year (7.8 vs. 9.6). The 2003 race on FOX was also delayed by rain and not run to the full 500 miles. That race rated -10 percent lower than the 2002 running on NBC (9.8 vs. 10.9). This seems to be a somewhat sugar coated admission that the two delays impacted on the overall national TV ratings by the Fox Sports PR machine.
Despite the delays, there were substantial ratings gains in key NASCAR markets including Atlanta (+11 percent; 11.0 vs. 9.9), Charlotte (+8 percent, 16.8 vs. 15.6), Norfolk (+7 percent, 12.2 vs. 11.4) and Ft. Myers (+12 percent, 10.0 vs. 8.9). Greensboro (NC) led all local markets with a 16.9/28. Charlotte 16.8/30; Greenville (SC), 16.6/27; Indianapolis, 16.0/28; Orlando, 15.4/29; Louisville, 13.3/22; Nashville, 13.1/21; Knoxville, 13.0, 19; Jacksonville, 12.8/22 and Dayton, 12.7/23 round out the top 10 metered markets. We wonder how the TV ratings fared in the major markets like NYC, Philly, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, St. Louis, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, OR,, Phoenix, Dallas and Houston, TX?
With an average of more than 4.2 million people watching, ESPN2’s live telecast of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season-opening race from Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 13 has set a record as the most-viewed Nationwide Series race ever on cable.
The race telecast, which featured the NASCAR debut of open wheel racing star Danica Patrick, earned a fast national household coverage rating of 3.2, averaging 4,271,365 viewers in 3,170,109 households. The viewership numbers eclipse the previous Nationwide Series cable records of 3,954,798 viewers and 2,946,951 households set by TNT for its telecast of the 2006 Daytona race.
Data shows that viewers stayed with the telecast even after Patrick was eliminated in a multi-car crash just past the halfway point of the race. ESPN2 peaked with a 3.5 household coverage rating for the last 20 minutes of the race as Tony Stewart held off a pack of drivers to take victory.
“While Danica certainly helped bring people to the telecast, she wasn’t the only factor,” said Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president, programming and acquisitions. “Great Daytona Nationwide racing action kept viewers through to the checkered flag.”
ESPN2’s 3.2 rating for Daytona was up 33 percent from the 2.4 rating for last year’s Daytona race and 28 percent higher than the 2.5 rating for the 2008 race, previously the network’s highest rating ever for a NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
ESPN2 is the home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season, with select races airing on ESPN and ABC. The next race is at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Saturday, Feb. 20, with the ESPN2 telecast beginning at 5 p.m. ET.
Retail broker FxPro has signed as a sponsor of the World Rally Championship, becoming the Official Forex Trading Partner of the series in a three-year agreement running to the end of 2012. The deal was brokered by WRC promoter North One Sport. FxPro will have branding and marketing rights at selected WRC events, and will be represented at event by promotional team the FxPro Girls.
“FxPro and WRC share great brand values of quality, dynamism, and speed of delivery,” said Denis Sukhotin, Chairman of FxPro. “As a result, all of us at FxPro are delighted to partner with WRC’s prestigious global sporting events. We look forward to building on our profile in WRC’s territories and globally online in our key international markets, through strong brand exposure and marketing calls to action.” Simon Long, chief executive of of North One Sport said: “FxPro’s commitment to delivering excellence via the very latest digital innovations mirror our own aspirations to retain our position at the very forefront of advanced technologies. We are delighted to welcome them to our family of sponsors.” FxPro also sponsors the Virgin Racing Formula One team. This item came from SportsBusinessInternational.
The Robin Hood Rally, www.robinhoodrally.com, has seated almost all Participants! We have just a few seats left so if you want to do the Rally then complete your application ASAP.
Frank Markus, Technical Director at Motor Trend Magazine, has joined the Robin Hood Rally as a Host! Frank has a deep understanding of cars and automotive technology, and the ability to translate sometimes arcane topics for the lay audience. Frank’s abilities have earned him numerous International Wheel Awards and International Automotive Media Awards for excellence in automotive journalism. Frank will serve as the Technical Director for the timing and scoring, and is developing the index formula for equalizing contestant vehicles of widely varying power and weight.
Upcoming Rally Events:
Chowder Club – March 9th, Robin Hood Rally is the featured speaker, 11:30 AM Sardi’s in NYC
Dyno Day – April 10th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Hudson Historic’s in Ossining, NY
Track Day – April 23rd, Pocono Raceway, spectator and pit pass ticket details to follow
1st Race Event – May 21st and 22nd in NH, spectator and pit pass ticket details to follow soon
American Formula One team USF1 is beset by financial problems and will struggle to make its planned debut in the 2010 season. Sponsor money has not come in, and the team has been struggling to pay suppliers and staff, the New York Times has reported. USF1 has also still not built a race car.The team founders admit that some sponsors have pulled out, but say they will be on the track for the first race in Bahrain in x, The New York Times reports.
“It’s always a struggle for new teams, any new business,” said Ken Anderson, co-founder along with Peter Windsor. Anderson is an engineer who has worked in both the US IndyCar Series and Formula One. “Yeah, a couple sponsors have let us down a little bit, but we’re on track. Others, including F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, are not so sure. “I don’t think we will see the Americans,” he said earlier this month in an interview with UK newspaper The Express. This all came from Sports Business International.
AMA Pro Racing and Daytona International Speedway announced the Daytona Short Track National will air in high-definition Sunday, March 7 on SPEED at 6 p.m. ET. Back-to-back Daytona Short Track Nationals will kick off the 2010 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship at the new DAYTONA Flat Track on March 3 and 4. After traditionally being staged at Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium, the events now have a new home on a quarter-mile lime rock dirt track located in the West Lot outside NASCAR Turns 1 and 2.
The one hour show will feature highlights from March 3 with coverage of the March 4 race. The Daytona Short Track Nationals have a tradition as two of the most difficult nationals of the year just to make the main events, as over 300 entries are expected over the two days. Speed will capture the excitement and thrills of handle bar to handle bar action on the ultra fast quarter-mile track.
Henry Wiles will make his first appearance of the year carrying the No. 1 plate on his Kawasaki 450 after winning the 2009 AMA Pro Grand National Expert Singles division. Defending Pro Singles National Champion Brad Baker will make his debut on a Honda 450 carrying the No. 1 in the Pro Singles National.
“We are thrilled that our season opener on the new DAYTONA Flat Track will be on SPEED,” AMA Pro Racing Director of Flat Track, Mike Kidd said. “This is a great opportunity for our fans, riders, teams and sponsors to showcase one of the most exciting forms of motorcycle racing in the country.”
The NASCAR Nationwide Series races for 300 miles this Saturday afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ESPN2 will have a live, flag-to-flag telecast of the third event of the 2010 season. ESPN2 is the home of the series all season, with select races airing on ESPN and ABC.
NASCAR Countdown presented by Hellman’s airs Saturday, Feb. 27, at 4 p.m. ET. The race telecast is presented by GoDaddy.com and starts at 4:30 p.m. with the green flag at 4:46 p.m. Marty Reid will be the lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN2’s race coverage, joined in the booth for analysis by 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett and two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Andy Petree. Pit reporters will be Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch and Vince Welch. Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN Craftsman Tech Garage.
Allen Bestwick will host NASCAR Countdown from the ESPN pit studio, with analysis by Jarrett and Brad Daugherty, a team owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
NASCAR on ESPN analysts Ray Evernham and Ricky Craven and ESPN the Magazine senior writer Ryan McGee will be panelists on NASCAR Now’s weekly roundtable discussion program on Monday, March 1, at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Allen Bestwick will host the edition of ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program.
Nicole Briscoe hosts half-hour episodes of NASCAR Now airing Tuesday through Thursday of this week at 5 p.m. and Friday at 6 p.m. Briscoe also hosts the one-hour weekend edition that airs Sunday, Feb. 28, at 9 a.m. with a preview of that day’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mike Massaro and Marty Smith will report from the speedway. .
NASCAR Now is hosted by Massaro, Bestwick and Manske and originates from ESPN’s high definition studios in Bristol, Conn. Contributors include reporters Marty Smith, Shannon Spake and Angelique Chengelis, analysts Ray Evernham, Tim Brewer, Brad Daugherty, Ricky Craven and Randy LaJoie, and ESPN.com reporters Ed Hinton, Terry Blount and David Newton. The NASCAR on ESPN team event coverage team of Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Marty Reid, Dr. Jerry Punch, Andy Petree, Dave Burns, Jamie Little, and Vince Welch also make frequent contributions to NASCAR Now.
Drag racing fans can watch an hour of action featuring the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series this Saturday, February. 27, at 10 a.m. on ESPN2. The program will include highlights of the Sportsman cars and drivers from the recent event at Auto Club of Southern California Raceway in Pomona, Calif.
Here’s what else is happening on TV this weekend for gearhead action. Besides the ESPNs, Speed, HD Theatre, TSN2 and Fox will cover the NASCAR and other events from Vegas, Atlanta, Abu Dhabi and Sweden. Check out RaceFanTV.com for all of the details. (END)
NOTE: INFORMATION FOR THIS COLUMN CAME FROM VARIOUS REFERENCED SOURCES, PRESS RELEASES, NOTES AND OTHER SOURCES