WFO Radio Show Archives

Monday, June 22, 2009

The King!

Congratulations to Richard Petty for making it back to victory lane! There is only one “King” and his team is winning again in NASCAR’s Cup Series.

The win is the first for Petty since 1999 with John Andretti (Martinsville, spring). These stories only happen, well, once a decade. I would have liked to hear the broadcast team make Petty more of the story. His name was mentioned a few times but not in a way that explained Petty’s struggles over the past decade. Richard Petty is NASCAR’s icon. He is our greatest driver and greatest representative and now he is winning again. This should have been the number one story for the final ten laps. Even a comparison of NASCAR, old and new, as NASCAR’s newest team owner, Tony Stewart tried to win himself. The double file restarts were great, but the human element is always the best story.

NASCAR is working to make changes in the sport to generate interest. But, missed opportunities like the Petty’s first win of the Century will continue to hold the sport back.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rock and Roll

I’ve been saying that Kyle Busch was a Rock Star for a while now. This week he proved it, or at least tried to. Kyle has had an awkward transition to stardom, with several bumps along the way. He has yet to define himself completely and is still forming his persona. Is he the anti-hero, black hat, bad guy “Rowdy” or the kid “Wild Thing”, who’s smarter than he should be? Neither, in this case. Frankly, I really don’t care which persona Kyle chooses for himself as long as he picks one and sticks with it.

Last weekend, Kyle decided he was going to go all “Rock and Roll” on us and smash a guitar in victory lane at Nashville. Too bad it was a one a kind “work of art” created by renowned NASCAR artist Sam Bass. Bass had literally hundreds of hours of work into the guitar only to have Kyle Van Busch destroy it. Weakly, by the way; it took several giant swings to dent the once beautiful, Gibson Les Paul. What was the reason given for the destruction? Kyle promised his guys that he would destroy it. Repeat. Kyle promised his crew that because they had done well, he would win the “one of a kind” trophy, smash it and give them all a piece. Does anybody see anything weird about that?

Kyle is on to something, though. He is tapping into some core human desires. First, everybody wants to be “Rock and Roll” and so we understand his desire to try (and fail) to be a rock star by smashing the guitar. And second, people love watching things get smashed. They like it so much, that smashing things makes you “Rock and Roll” and thus super cool. Guitars, amps, hotel rooms. Smashing stuff equals “Rock and Roll”. Kyle should just take things a little further.

If he’s truly “Rock and Roll” it can’t be a one race thing. Kyle’s got to go all out. Otherwise, he is just a phony, what some would call, a “pozer”. Busch is already a showman, bowing when he wins, but this new gimmick blows that one away. Carl Edwards has a back flip and now Kyle’s got…smashing the trophies.

The Dover monster, the Martinsville clock, those boots they give out in Texas, even possibly, The Sprint Cup, all smashed by Kyle Busch after huge wins. The public would be separated, for and against, establishment vs. anti-establishment. Kyle Busch would become the world’s most “well known” athlete if he was so “Rock and Roll” that he smashed every trophy he won. Busch victories would become the lead on Sports Center. NASCAR would grow and ratings would go up. Hippies would certainly view his actions as a symbol to the Earth that Kyle was about more than just trophies.

Behind The Music

Even the best, most extreme gimmicks are just that, gimmicks. Eventually, the smashing of the trophies would get old. Bands that seemed “Rock and Roll” in their prime look more like spandex and hairspray now, but if he wants, Kyle “Rock and Roll” Busch can still make it work for him as he gets older. He will just have to adapt his act. Think “Gallagher of NASCAR” with his SLEDGE-O-MATIC.

Hopefully, “Rock and Roll” would not make the same decision if he could go back to the moment where he decided to smash the trophy guitar, even if it was last year.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Penske Saturn?!

Today’s news that Roger Penske has entered into an agreement with General Motors to purchase the Saturn brand has got me thinking about the possibilities. Saturn is a brand that makes very good cars, quality wise. What they lack is an image that people can recognize. To describe the Saturn brand is actually difficult. Is it quality? Is it safety? Who knows?

What we do know, is that “The Captain” believes in racing as a marketing tool. Perhaps the two could be merged to give a soulless quality automobile like Saturn the passionate backing of racing fans in NASCAR or Indy Car? Indy Car might be pure fantasy due to the research and development necessary to compete on the engine side of things, especially with a new engine spec coming soon. I’m not sure even Roger’s pockets are that deep. But in NASCAR, there is something to think about.

The excitement generated by a new American manufacturer that is owned by a racing legend would be a great story by itself. A Saturn win in NASCAR could be the first American triumph in this new, leaner, meaner, post recession world. Patriotic NASCAR fans would see the entry as an investment in the future of our country, NASCAR and auto racing in general.

There are some complications. The economy is still on the rocks and most people don’t have jobs, cash or available credit to buy cars, yet. (Otherwise I’d be buying a Pontiac G-8 or a Chevy Camaro) Also, the engine could be an issue. Since Saturn is a former GM product, but no longer, a deal would have to be worked out to allow the Penske Saturn’s to run the GM Corporate engine. This might require some twisting of the rules, something NASCAR has proven willing to do in the past if it will ultimately help the sport. Since we’re just considering the possibilities, I’d love to see Kurt Busch driving the Penske Saturn at Daytona in 2011. An entry in NASCAR could help the manufacturer, NASCAR and our country. That sounds like everybody wins to me. Of course, it’s not that easy. Maybe, Penske wants to market Saturn to a different demographic or move in a different direction all together. Until we know for sure, I can’t help but think about the positive stories attached to this optimistic move. If there has been a sign that the future is bright, Penske’s investment in this car company is it.