TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Scott Jagow: The sports world has been hit by the financial crisis just like every other industry. But NASCAR may face the toughest challenge of all.
It’s highly dependant on sponsorship — and the American car makers. The racing season ends this Sunday, and on Monday, we’re hearing there could be a lot of layoffs.
Our business of sports commentator Diana Nyad is here. Diana, is this all about the loss of sponsorship?
Diana Nyad: There are definitely sponsors that are dropping out. Ford has dropped the Ford Craftsman Truck series. But what’s really going to happen, the pink slips are with the crew. You know, there are several teams already who have dropped 50, they’ve dropped 50 guys, just you know, in the last couple weeks. But the heads are gonna roll come Monday.
Jagow: You know, you hear a lot of people, when they talk about the auto makers, that they put themselves in this situation by mismanaging over the years. What about NASCAR? Has it put itself in this situation?
Nyad: Well, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. — you know, and he’s an insider, but he’s the first one to say they got greedy. When the popularity rose so high, and you know you have 120,000 people at some of the speedways, they decided to expand the season. So you know, according to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and a lot of the fans, they’re just exhausted at this point, it’s just, they’re saturated. It’s too much racing.
Jagow: Too much, so cut back on the schedule?
Nyad: But it would also, obviously, cut costs. I mean, you can imagine, you know, how much fuel is being spent, how many practice laps are being run. Don’t run so many parties, you know, for the week going into the races. I mean, you know, I heard through the grapevine that Joe Gibbs of Joe Gibbs racing has asked his people to analyze if they fly their private jet at a slower speed, how much fuel that will save. They’re counting the pennies now.
Jagow: And how about the fans? I mean, are they still going to the races in as many numbers? Are they still watching on TV?
Nyad: The fans are definitely depleted at the racetrack. Now, plenty of empty seats. And as far as television — last weekend was the penultimate race of the season, OK, so we’re building up to supposedly the drama of the end of the season. With 34 laps to go, ABC switches and puts on America’s Funniest Home Videos. And NASCAR felt that was the biggest slap in the face they’ve ever received.
Jagow: They switched it to ESPN or something?
Jagow: Wow. All right, Diana Nyad, our business of sports commentator. Thank you.
Nyad: Thanks, Scott.
As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.
Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.
Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.