Weinberg: NASCAR Goes Woke and Could End Up Broke

Back on the other day in 2001 when much of America mourned—February 18—I got a lot of calls from friends and former colleagues in the legacy media asking why the middle of our country was so upset that Dale Earnhardt had been killed near the end of the Daytona 500.

Despite racings’ millions of fans, most of those media folks had never heard of Earnhardt.

I have been involved with broadcasting races sanctioned by the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing—otherwise known as NASCAR—for more years than I now care to count.

It is a quintessential American sport.

From Richard Petty, who was the second of four generations of racers to Kyle Busch we covered them all on our radio stations.

Why Did NASCAR Go Woke?

Today, I’m getting calls from my NASCAR friends asking why the new management of the sport is crapping on them by banning the flying of the Confederate Flag, allowing protests during the National Anthem and acting like it is all, “woke”.

My answer to them is one of two words.  Either money or stupidity.  Sometimes both.

Stock car racing is a sport which depends on sponsorship.  And many sponsor executives have—how shall I put this gracefully—testicles the actual size of those found on fruit flies.  So the intelligentsia in Daytona has decided that if they want billion dollar checks from television networks and sponsors, they must weigh in on the social issues of the day.

Here’s the problem:

NASCAR’s demographics weigh heavily in favor of Middle America.  These are the people who provide those sponsors with sales and those TV networks with eyeballs.  You know, the people who elected Donald Trump.

Why go out of your way to piss off your fan base in the name of being “woke”?

Bubba Watson Ain’t Dale Earnhardt

Now you are probably wondering why you have read this far and not yet read the name Bubba Wallace, a 26 year old kid who is NASCAR’s only black driver, the operative word being kid.  He has yet to get his first win. He is two years older than Jeff Gordon was when Gordon won his first Winston Cup season title.

In other words, so far, Bubba is a reliable 10th through 25th place player.  He’s NOT Dale Earnhardt or Jeff Gordon.

But, boy does he have a mouth on him.

He doesn’t think NASCAR fans should fly the stars and bars.  And, last week, he got his own story in the Washington Post where I’m guessing the editors had to look up the spelling of NASCAR.

The Post in its infinite wisdom said that “Wallace is uniquely suited to lead NASCAR into the future its executives say they want: one in which women and minorities feel welcome and fill the grandstands, pit crews and driver ranks in numbers that mirror the diversity of America”.


How is a middle of the pack driver “uniquely suited” to do that?

Where is Danica Patrick? 

So here’s the question.  What about NASCAR’s current fan base which numbers in the millions?

Where is Danica Patrick these days? (Answer: selling wine and clothes.)

The currency in NASCAR is simple.  Winning.  You win, fans don’t care if you’re purple with pink polka dots.  If Tim Richmond were still alive he could tell you but he died of AIDS in 1989.

You come into the sport with great hype and don’t win, your next act is selling underwear.

That’s not racist.  It’s the way things are.

It would do young Bubba well to remember that NASCAR is not a social movement; it’s a series of races.  And it’s also a question of race(ing).  He should go win a cup championship and find out for himself.

Fred Weinberg is CEO of USA Radio Networks and the publisher of the Penny Press, an online publication based in Reno, Nevada. He can be reached at pennypresslv@gmail.com.