2021 Season: How’s Your Steak?

On my way home from work the other day I had the chance to listen to Dave Moody’s show on SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90. The topic for that day was what would the tracks need to do to bring you back.

Interesting.

Dave had laid out very specific ground rules. Stay on topic. No discussion on the new car, Stages, Playoffs and a couple of other things. Focus on what the tracks can do.

So off the show went. Callers were eager to participate and contribute… and for a large part comply with Dave’s ground rules.

Ideas were all over as fans shared what would bring them back. It ranged from better deals on ticket prices, more concerts, more merch, return of the “midway”, return of hauler parades, increased driver interaction, amusement rides… you name it, it was brought up.

It was interesting to hear what people thought would help.

There were a few who got out of bounds but The Godfather quickly dispensed them for not following the rules.

Then around the 1:20 mark, Bob from California called in and shared his many thoughts. Dave let him talk for a while, longer than some. He led his remarks to this finish-

Bob from California: “…Excitement on the track.  When you have excitement on the track, people will come back.”

Although I agreed with Bob, no one previously had been brought this up on the show. Maybe callers thought it was off-limits since tracks can’t do anything about that. This was outside Moody’s “rules of engagement” that had kept others from raising it earlier.

Moody interrupted Bob from California and I thought “Oh boy, here it comes.” Poor Bob from California was going to get it for not following Dave’s rules but instead this was Moody’s response-

The Godfather: “Absolutely.  That, Bob, I thank you.  That is, I think is the ultimate no brainer isn’t it?  I mean, that, that’s the one true given, that there’s no debate about in this discussion.

We can debate about whether we need a Ferris wheel out front or or you know IRacing simulators or this, that or the other.

Photo credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images

The one thing we can’t debate is, that the racing has to be good. (his emphasis)

Because that is, that is the product.

That’s the steak.

The Ferris wheel and the IRacing and the souvenir trailers, that might be the baked potato… that might be the asparagus… that might even be the dessert.

But the steak is the racing.

And, and it’s got to be good. (His emphasis)

If you’re going to sell tickets, the racing has got to be good.

And if the racing is good, a lot of that other stuff takes care of itself.

866 PIT LANE…”

The transcript above is from the show’s replay posted later. Some of Moody’s original comments were left on the cutting room floor. Comments like-Folks go for the steak. You can serve a great baked potato, tasty asparagus, delicious dessert and serve it every day but it’s the steak they go for.

That is not an exact quote but it is close. It didn’t make it on the replay (for whatever reason) but I remember it because it further drove home the point that it’s not all this other stuff that brings folks to the track, but it’s the on-track product.

The Godfather’s Great Steak monologue was magnificent. It reminded me of then driver Clint Bowyer’s 2017 response to Kevin Harvick’s comment that Dale Earnhardt’s lack of on-track success was largely responsible for “stunting the growth” of NASCAR.

Clint Bowyer defended Earnhardt Jr., saying “There’s no one person. I believe in products. If you have a good product, they’ll come.”

I’m not as agreeable with Dave Moody as other listeners, but today I could find little to disagree with. His analogy pretty much sums it up doesn’t it? If you are in the Steak business, if you want to sell steaks, you’d better have a great steak. If you are in the racing business and want to sell tickets, you’d better have good racing.

As the show got off Steak and back on track, I shook my head. Calls continued to pour in for the remainder of the show as a steady flow of undaunted callers still wanted to discuss their baked potatoes, asparagus and desserts even after Dave had just told them all that what really matters is an off-limit topic-Steak, I mean the on-track product.

As I pondered the words Dave Moody had spoken, I contemplated what wasn’t said, the natural logical extension of the words spoken…

Spoken was “…But the steak is the racing. And, and it’s got to be good. If you’re going to sell tickets, the racing has got to be good.” But the unspoken is. “… And if you aren’t selling tickets, what’s that say about the racing?”

2022 is just around the corner and NASCAR is serving up steaks loaded with unknowns which can affect them. New car, new tires, new teams, new drivers, new tracks and new procedures are being added. Hopefully, it’ll make good steaks.

How good will those steaks be? We’ll know soon enough.

Till then, pass the Worcestershire. I’ve got some 2021 leftovers I’m still trying to chew through while I decide how I want this new one served up.

I think, I’ll take mine genuine. How about you?

Thunder On… and Stay Safe!

David.

Photo Credit;  Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images (Cover photo)

6 comments

  1. You hit the nail on the head with this one, my friend. I’ve used the “steak” argument against those who call for fewer races – if the racing was really good, you’d want more, not less. I’ll also reiterate my feeling that TV is a considerable contributor to bad racing at the track. TV forces all attention on battles for the lead, but in days past, fans at the track knew to look for favorite drivers battling back in the field, even when not on the lead lap. At the track, the sideshow stuff is fine, but when I started attending races, there was none of that; you were content to watch the “parade of visiting pace cars” before the start, followed by a high school band playing the National Anthem. I went, not for the sideshow, but for the racing, and that’s still missing. Good job of highlighting the problem.

  2. From the mid ’60s through the ’70s we had a weekly show on a half mile dirt track that NSSN said had the best attendance of any weekly show in the country. It was where Larry Phillips got his start & first, made his name. The A feature started 17 cars, & at least a dozen were fully capable of winning. Winning the B was as tough as the A was at most tracks. Then a new promoter talked the fair board into paving the track. Car counts nosedived, attendance soon followed. It limped along for a few years before dying, & the track being torn up. Don’t think it can’t happen, I’ve seen it first hand.

    1. Thanks for your comments John Dawg.

      Larry Phillips is a name I hadn’t heard in quite a while.

      I appreciate your story and feel your pain. Folks need to take notice of what you share. It is real.

      Been more than one change that turned out not to be an improvement and had bad results. Sorry you had to experience it.

      Kentucky Speedway was an easy 45 minutes from my front door. Instead of races it now houses Ford pickups awaiting chips so they can complete the truck. So I feel your pain somewhat.

      Chicagoland closed. Pocono lost a date. Dover took a date to Nashville and then sold, a Michigan went to Road America, a Texas went to COTA, a Bristol covered in dirt and still nowhere near full… and that was before COVID. These were tracks that had more seating capacity than they have now and would fill that twice a year.

      Lot riding on the NEXT GEN. Hope it makes for a better steak but I’m concerned when I hear all the spin that it’s gonna take a while to get the recipe right-I guess till then we need to enjoy the asparagus, baked potatoes and dessert.

      Thanks for reading and sharing and don’t be a stranger. Daytona’s just around the corner.

  3. Thanks Frank,

    Just playing off Mr. Moody’s comments. Just asking the next logical question. If you say the steaks have to be good but nobody shows, what’s that say about the steak?

    Likewise on viewership.

    I contend the racing isn’t good or isn’t good enough to keep coming back. Or at least what we’re being shown isn’t good.

    TSB has tried to hide the product with nice sides and desserts and by adding more sides and desserts but that can only cover for so long.

    Steak fans want a good steak. Race fans want a good race.

    Don’t get me wrong-I enjoyed all the souvenir trailers. I’ve stood in line to get autographs, done the sims and RC car racing. Concerts-I guess they are nice. Haven’t sat through one yet because I was too busy getting ready for the race.

    But that’s not why I spent my money and made a significant time commitment. If the racing’s good, I’ll be there without all that. I was one of the 25K who went to the first Indy tire test for goodness sakes and believe me that had none of the extra fixings.

    And that was just for a hint of steak.

    From what I see today, folks want steak, are changed for steak and are often times being fed a slab of bologney. Don’t get me wrong-I’ll take a bologney sandwich about any day of the week, but it’s not as appealing when I’ve paid Ruth Chris prices and told I’m getting a fine steak.

    Sadly, a lot of fans don’t know the difference between the two and are perfectly content with the bologney they are being fed.

    I’m just glad I had the chance to taste some steak. Hope with all the changes 2022 will include better cuts for the fans to enjoy and the stands will start filling up again.

    Thanks again Frank!

  4. Yessir, David. NASCAR definitely needs to return to the prime cuts it once served. This chipped beef on a shingle that passes for today’s Cup racing leaves much to be desired, as has been spelled out over & over & over. Once NASCAR gets the racing part right, I’ll have my potato loaded and my asparagus with Hollandaise. Another thought provoking piece, David. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Dave,

      Sounds good!

      Not sure how thought provoking it was, but the Great Steak monologue kind of left things hanging for asking the next question. Since no one seemed to be in a hurry…

      Hoping there are better cuts in the near future so you can top things off with that loaded potato and asparagus with Hollandaise.

      Thanks for sharing. Gotta go. I’m hungry!.

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