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NASCAR Needs a Fan Convention

Posted by chadmusselman on January 17, 2010

Kyle Busch AutographWouldn’t it be cool to be able to see all of the drivers and owners in one place, get their autographs, ask questions, etc? I know what you’re thinking. They’re all at the track every Sunday and very accessible to the fans, and you can get their autographs and ask them questions then. That’s true, but it’s not exactly what I’m talking about.

This past weekend I was at the 25th annual Cubs Fan Convention in Chicago. I had a chance to see most of the current players, and some of the fan favorites of years past. There is an organized system for getting autographs for all of the players, games/events that are Cubs related, and many other opportunities to interact with the players and management.

I don’t know of anything like this in NASCAR. Sure they have the year-end awards ceremony, but I don’t think that was really made for the fans to attend, and it’s only one night. NASCAR needs a weekend long event to celebrate the fans. After all, NASCAR is always saying that we fans are the most dedicated, most loyal fans in all of sports. As one of the past commercials stated, it’s not a sport, it’s a lifestyle.

So, what’s my proposal? Here’s an outline of what a NASCAR Fan Convention weekend could look like. (Yes, I copied a lot of ideas from the Cubs convention, but hey, a good time is had by all.)

Friday:

  • Exhibit floor/Souvenir stands open from afternoon to close of convention for the night. We all know that there is a ton of cool NASCAR stuff out there to buy. Let vendors rent some space for their booths to sell their cool stuff.
  • 5pm –Driver introductions. Introduce one-by-one our favorite drivers from the past and present.
  • 6pm – NASCAR themed game (Bingo is a possibility) with cool NASCAR prizes for the winners. Maybe give away autographed die-casts, photos, and flags. Could also give away old gear from the teams, maybe a sign-board used along pit road. The possibilities are endless.

Saturday and Sunday:

  • Exhibit floor/Souvenir stands open from morning to close of convention
  • 8 or 9am – Begin autographs. There could be 6 or 7 booths/stages set up to get autographs from the various drivers. NASCAR or the individual teams could set times that each driver will sign, and at what booth/stage. Fans could then know ahead of time who’s going to be where an plan their day based on that.
  • Throughout the day there could be other events to allow the fans to interact with the drivers, owners, and top brass of NASCAR
    • Meet the owners: Give the fans a chance to meet the NASCAR team owners. Have them tell their story of getting to the big time, and open it up for questions afterwards.
    • Meet NASCAR’s management: Allow the fans to meet the Helton’s and France’s. Give us a chance to ask the questions we’ve always wanted to.
    • NASCAR Driver/Team Trivia: Fans play a game to answer trivia questions about drivers and teams, and the actual drivers are on hand to let the players know if they’re right or not, and can tell stories to elaborate on the trivia.
    • Kids only events/press conference: Kids always ask the best questions. Let them loose on the drivers, NASCAR management, and the team owners. That would probably be worth seeing.
    • Future of NASCAR: Get the people that NASCAR has working on future rule changes/improvements in the sport and give us fans an update on this first hand.
    • Silent Auction: NASCAR isn’t short of stuff that could be auctioned off for a good cause. Fans would love the opportunity to purchase authentic race used stuff.
  • Also throughout the day you would need other interactive activities.
    • The obvious is a driving simulator, or video game to have the fans compete. The winner of the fan competition could go up against the real drivers.
    • Pit-crew challenges for the fans would be cool
    • And the list could go on forever.
  • Sunday would have to wind down around noon to allow everyone to travel back home, but it would be a fun weekend!

So, you may be saying, that sounds cool, but when could it be held? I have two ideas.

  1. The same weekend as the NASCAR awards ceremony. That is now in Vegas, and what better city to host a convention than Vegas? They could tape the awards ceremony on Thursday so Friday is free for the convention. All of the drivers, owners, and NASCAR personnel are there already.
  2. The weekend before everyone reports to Daytona for the 500. This could be held around Charlotte or in Daytona. I’m sure the drivers and owners wouldn’t mind reporting a few days early to celebrate NASCAR with the fans.

There is one big difference between the Cubs and NASCAR you may have already thought of that would make this difficult. The Cubs own the contracts of its players and can force them to be there. NASCAR drivers and teams are independent contractors, and NASCAR couldn’t make them be at the convention, and probably couldn’t tell them when they were going to sign autographs. The drivers’ commitments to their sponsors would also make this more difficult logistically.

This is all true, but NASCAR claims to be the most “fan friendly” sport, so if they want to live up to that, then they’ll find a way to work that stuff out and make everyone accessible for the fans. NASCAR, give us a fan convention! All you fans out there, wouldn’t you love to see one?

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