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Random Lugnuts: Fox Sports 1 Disrespects NASCAR. Surprised? I'm not.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  NASCAR, Speed Channel
What is Random Lugnuts?  It's random bits of stock car racing commentary written on an irregular basis by an irregular racing fan.  The name is a reference to the lugnuts that go flying off a car during a pit stop:  you never know where they are going to go, what they're going to do when they get there, they can be annoying, they're often useless after a race, and every once in a while someone gets hit and they don't know exactly where it came from.
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Random Lugnuts: Fox Sports 1 Disrespects NASCAR. Surprised? I'm not.

Bill Crittenden
November 16, 2013

Welcome to the stick-and-ball world of sports broadcasting, where a sport that helped create the modern automobile is the red-headed stepchild to people that don't understand it, who usually read the NASCAR news with a "do we HAVE to cover this?" attitude.

NASCAR was much better off amongst the family of "car guys" on a mostly automotive network, because we, as automobile aficionados, may poke fun at one particular motorsport or another's way of doing things but deep down we always have the utmost respect for each other.

Baseball players can respect football players and vice versa, and drag racers can respect NASCAR guys and vice versa.  But as much as NASCAR desperately wanted to swim in the giant lake of cash that is professional sports in America, the two just aren't as compatible as the France family would like to believe.

Racing is fundamentally different from every other thing considered a "sport" by not only the people in the sports broadcasting business but the America at large.  It's been that way since the very beginning, when the exploits of Ralph de Palma and Barney Oldfield were splashed across the Automotive sections of newspapers while the Sports sections had everything from baseball trades to bowling scores.

Go to a sports card shop and ask if they have anything for NASCAR fans.  If they have anything, it's usually a few boxes of something out of date tucked in a back corner somewhere.

Sure, there's some crossover appeal, race car guys who watch football, Dale Earnhardt wearing the Atlanta Braves hat.  It's not like Israel and Palestine here!  But when NASCAR hangs out in a stick-and-ball sports locker room, it's not going to get the same respect it does when it hangs out at the hot rod garage.

That's not entirely a bad thing, though.  NASCAR built itself up tied to the automotive industry, funded by brands like STP and GM Goodwrench, tied in to and supported by the automotive industry, an industry that employs as many as 1.7 million in the U.S. and contributes 3-3.5% to our entire GDP (Center for Automotive Research).

To Fox Sports 1's star broadcasters, NASCAR may be that thing they have to waste time on, but to America, NASCAR is the tip of an economic iceberg a whole helluva lot bigger than professional "sports."  Maybe NASCAR should stop hanging out in the locker room and more time in the garage, where it started, where it's loved, and where it's really part of the family.

Speed Channel was a great idea that suffered from poor execution.  The bright spots were the crossover appeal of Mike Joy broadcasting the Barrett-Jackson auctions and late night rebroadcasts of racing from around the world (V8 Supercars & BTCC favorites of mine).  The downside was the attempts to get into "reality TV" with shows like Pinks.  But it's not like one failed channel is the end of an idea.  Velocity TV is picking up where Speed left off, broadcasting the less flashy but more serious Mecum auctions.  Anyone who follows Tina Stull online hears about every time ESPN keeps cutting off the end of NHRA broadcasts to go to some relatively meaningless college football game, and I'm sure they'd jump at the chance to find a spot on another highly watched network where they're not treated as "filler" between football games.

You know, this is just a theory here, but the National Hockey League is, among the top stick-and-ball (puck, in this case) sports, the least respected.  So they went out and started their own 24/7 broadcast network, which is very popular with hockey fans.  I think NASCAR, as big as they are and as much as they still see room to grow as a media company, is certainly big enough to start it's own damn Speed Channel and outrate Fox Sports 1.

Revenge as the best success, after all, has a deep history in racing and the automobile industry, as any fan of Ferrari will tell you.

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