Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Wednesday, most countries released their hockey team rosters for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic games. Friday - New Year's Day - the National Hockey League will play their Winter Classic at famed Fenway Park in Boston.

So this seemed as good a time as any for me to make my pitch for the 2 sports I enjoy the most to get hitched. I grew up watching NASCAR. One of my uncles introduced me to it when I was 9 years old, and I've never looked back.

Other sports are fun to follow I guess. I follow many of them nominally just to stay informed. Baseball, the NBA, or even pro or college football - except to be an admitted fair-weather fan of local teams - has never knocked my socks off like racing. The only thing that now rivals my interest in racing is hockey.

As someone who has grown accustomed to trying to have my eyes follow action all over the track, hockey was appealing from the get-go. The speed of the game, the bone-crushing checks, the improv on both offense and defense, and odd-man rush toward the goal on one end of the ice while a scrum breaks out on the other end, etc. all mesh with my enjoyment of racing.

Over the last couple of years I've wondered about the possibilities of how NASCAR and the NHL can benefit one another. No question about it - both leagues want to expand their market share especially in non-traditional markets for both.

When George Gillett bought Evernham Motorsports and later Petty Enterprises, I was certain an NHL sponsorship package was nearby. Gillett owned the Montreal Canadiens, was a respected sports and business guy, and was now here in racing. But then, Gillett sold the Canadiens, and the partnership never materialized.

Its rare for one sport to use another sport to market/promote itself. In the early years of Joe Gibbs Racing, Dale Jarrett wore helmets with the logos of different NFL teams. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sponsored a few times by MLB for the World Series and All-Star Game including most famously when he won the summer 2001 Daytona race following his father's death earlier that year.

But I think both racing and hockey are in a unique situation where I think cross-league marketing will work. Both are still considered largely niche sports. Pools for Super Bowl picks or NCAA March Madness Final Four brackets are an annual occurrence. Yankees, anti-Yankees, Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Red Sox, etc. still generate a lot of chatter around my workplace. Those of us who debate the Daytona 500 winner or predicted Cup champ number less than a dozen. And virtually no one around our place is bowing up over who is better - Ovechkin v. Crosby v. Sedin or Brodeur v. Kiprusoff v. Nabokov. So both racing and hockey have the opportunity to rub off a bit on each other's fan base and grow the interest level and excitement for both.

Consider the common markets for NASCAR and the NHL. I believe the NHL has a great opportunity to develop new fans within the NASCAR stands by rotating different skins on a car from race to race. For example, consider where NHL teams could be promoted thoughout the 30+ race NASCAR Cup season:
  • Atlanta - Atlanta Thrashers
  • Charlotte - Carolina Hurricanes
  • Chicagoland - Chicago Blackhawks
  • Daytona - Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Dover - Philadelphia Flyers
  • Fontana - LA Kings / Anaheim Ducks
  • Phoenix - Phoenix Coyotes
  • Homestead - Florida Panthers
  • Kansas City - St. Louis Blues
  • Loudon - Boston Bruins / Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Michigan - Detroit Red Wings - even Brian Keselowski gets it. He ran a Wings scheme in the Nationwide race at Charlotte back in May.
  • Pocono - Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Richmond - Washington Capitals
  • Sonoma - San Jose Sharks
  • Talladega - Nashville Predators
  • Texas - Dallas Stars
  • Watkins Glen - Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils
  • Montreal (Nationwide race) - Montreal Canadiens
For NASCAR markets without a nearby team (Las Vegas, Bristol, Martinsville, Darlington, Indy), the NHL could run either a "league" car promoting hockey overall or perhaps rotate one of the hockey markets not otherwise covered (e.g. Vancouver, Calgary, Columbus).

At the grass roots level, Baker-Curb Racing's Nationwide program signed a cross-marketing promotional agreement with the Nashville Predators a couple of months ago. A show car promoting the Predators new 3rd jersey sits in the Nashville Arena.

From what I understand, a Predators car isn't going to hit the track, but there is always hope. And at least its a start.

With the number of competitive NASCAR teams needing sponsorship and the need for the NHL to expand its number of fans, TV ratings, and lines of revenue beyond gate receipts, I think this is a promotional relationship that's well past due.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

What lies ahead in 2010?

Holy cow, has it really been a year? The debut post for this blog was December 19, 2008. Its been real, its been fun, and yes its been real fun. As far as I'm concerned, we'll keep this thing a'going throughout 2010.

Banktruck and I would like to wish all who are reading this a Merry Christmas.

With Christmas just a week away, here's a bit of racing wish list I've got for 2010:
  • I wish that tiresome Home Depot commercial with Joey Logano would go away.
  • I wish the sport would have more teams with fewer cars per team. It bothers me Yates Racing is no more now that its merged with Richard Petty Motorsports. I didn't like it when teams of Junior Johnson, Bud Moore, and Harry Melling disappeared either.
  • I wish Robby Gordon could get sponsorship to run all year.
  • I wish the number of start and parkers would decline. Instead, it sounds like the number of S&P's may increase with the return of the #49 BAM Racing team.
  • I wish more racing beat writers could be as honest, candid, and knowledgable as the late David Poole or the alive-and-kicking Monte Dutton.
  • I wish talent and potential were still relevant in getting rides rather than who can bring a sponsor with them. It bothers me Danica is bringing GoDaddy to JR Motorsports at the expense of lesser known, more talented, longer term drivers. Same goes with John Wesley Townes taking daddy's chicken money to Richard Childress Racing and Paul Menard latching on with Richard Petty Motorsports.
  • I wish I could go to about a half-dozen races in 2010; however, I'd probably be happy going to a couple of them.
  • I wish Dodge had what it took to support more than one competitive team. But it doesn't, Ford gets the Petty cars, and Dodge is left with just Penske Racing.
  • I wish Michael Waltrip's part-time #55 program included a few stints with Kyle Petty behind the wheel.
  • I wish newer fans (and drivers) could develop an appreciation for the history of the sport. Rick Houston does a great job at Stock Car History Online making it easy for you.
  • I wish Jack Daniels and Jim Beam could have stayed around. The schemes on those cars always looked classy and were certainly better than the neon green of
  • I wish Stewart-Haas Racing success in avoiding a sophomore slump with Smoke as the owner.
  • I wish Digger and Jerry Punch would just go away. Hey...wait...I got an early Christmas present!
  • I wish the NHL and its teams would sponsor a Cup team.
  • I wish I could get use to seeing Matt Kenseth's #17 without DeWalt colors.
  • I wish Schaefer beer wasn't so hard to find.
  • I wish Jamie McMurray all the luck in trying to convince us he's a Bass Pro Shops outdoor guy.
  • I wish someone would use a dipstick to whip the living snot out of Team Genius at Castrol who have subjected us to that nonsensical waste of commercial time.
  • I wish more drivers and fans would join us at Twitter. The racing contingent already has a pretty good presence, and we have a lot of fun on race weekends using it. But there is always room for more!
  • I wish I could be a fly on the wall at Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR if Dale Jr. and the 88 team don't get things turned around by early in the season.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A look back, and a bit forward

I'm starting to think about next year's prognostications, in light of the "excellent" job we did for 2009. Some time has gone by since those predictions, hundreds of miles run, and an adorable future racehockeyhuntingfootball fan added to the family. So I dont remember exactly why I picked Cuzzin Carl to win the Cup in 2009, other than he is talented, reunited (and it feels so good) with Bob Osborne, is part of the Roush machine, and I am convinced he will win the Cup during his career. Maybe I will just keep picking him until he does.

Apparently I did not anticipate the Roush machine taking some steps backwards this season. Apparently both of us did not anticipate RCR taking some major steps backwards this season. Did anyone see either of these coming? I doubt it.

Roush and RCR have been on a roller coaster for several seasons. Some years everyone in the Chase; some years none. Which makes predicting next year very dangerous, as both organizations seem to emerge like the Phoenix without warning. But pause for a moment in light of this, to consider the consistency of HMS. Dont get me wrong, I dont like that bunch one bit, but you absolutely have to respect what they have done, while other powerful, experienced, and well-funded teams ride the roller coaster.

Remember a few seasons ago when Toyota was first entering the series, there were sometimes 5 or 6 quality teams going home each weekend. Now we have 5 or 6 field fillers each weekend.

Finally while I am pondering predictions, let me go on record with this one: Kevin Harvick leaves RCR after the 2010 season, merges KHI with Stewart-Haas forming Stewart-Harvick Racing, drives a 3rd Cup car for them, and instantly brings SHR competitiveness in the lower 2 series. KHI is an impressive organization, and with his buddy Tony's success, you gotta think Kevin and Delana are ready to go Cup racing.