The redesigned, revamped, revitalized and altogether reimaged NASCAR.com launched this morning. Now that the site is under NASCAR and not Turner Media’s control, it’s only natural the governing body would wish to put its stamp on things ASAP. Judging by the site, they used a very large stamp.
Whoever designed the site went for boldness. Graphics are gargantuan. Sections are sizable. Headers are humongous. If you use a mouse wheel to scroll up and down web pages, by the time you reach the front page’s end your index finger will need an ice pack. Pull this site up on a large monitor and it may buckle under the sheer weight of it all. It’s as subtle as MMA.
But is it any good?
Granted, it’s the off season and there’s little on which to report. This duly noted, it’d be nice to have more substance as opposed to being overly substantive. There are always stories to be told, be they old or new, that a fan base hungry for the sound of engines roaring to life will surely devour. And there are stories on the site. However, the graphics feel so much like you’re being shouted at that by the time you do get to some text your eyes are screaming for mercy. It would have been nice to have a less pounding visual attack and more meat. Instead, what you get is a full throttle assault that never lifts, leaving little time or taste for normal conversation.
I don’t hate the new NASCAR.com, but I’m not in love with it either. It’s okay to be as bold as brass, but it’s also possible to polish it to too bright of a shine.
NASCAR driver Blake Koch, who drives the #41 Rick Ware Racing entry in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, has found himself in a unique situation when it comes to the promotion of his car’s primary sponsor. While car sponsorship and advertising go hand in hand for most drivers, teams, and broadcasters, with drivers routinely appearing in commercials for their sponsors which are then aired during the race by whichever network is broadcasting the event, Koch’s ad for his primary sponsor, the voter registration group Rise Up and Register, is not following suit following ESPN’s refusal to air the ad during its broadcasts of NASCAR Nationwide Series events. ESPN’s stated reason for rejecting the ad was “political and religious overtones.”
Koch, who finished second in the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year competition to RWR teammate Timmy Hill, was informed of ESPN’s decision in a voice message, left for his father, by ESPN Senior Vice President Rosa Gatti. Ms. Gatti said (text courtesy Race Talk Radio), “It was declined for political and religious overtones, which we avoid by all of our standards. We looked at the website, you know, as well as Blake’s website, and do see the religious aspects of this. So those are the reasons.”
It was originally reported that Rise Up and Register had, as a result of ESPN’s refusal to air the ad, pulled its sponsorship from Koch’s car. A spokesperson for the organization has stated to Dennis Michelsen of Race Talk Radio that this is not the case, noting the organization has not changed its plans to serve as the car’s primary sponsor for twenty races in 2012 (the NASCAR Nationwide Series season contains thirty-three races) and will return as the primary sponsor for the next race on the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule, the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 to be held at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, April 13th.
The mission of Rise Up And Register, based in Alexandria, Virginia, as stated on its Facebook page is to “register over one million new voters this year to help become part of the solution to saving our great nation.” The organization does not promote any specific party or candidate, nor does it promote any religious beliefs in and of itself. The organization’s website has a link for those interested in having Koch speak at their church, but does not promote this as a ministerial outreach; rather, it is designated as an effort toward voter registration.
Koch is open about his faith. As noted on his website, “The 2012-2013 NASCAR Season is all about reaching out to NASCAR fans with the message of the Gospel. Blake will be speaking and sharing his testimony in churches all across America. Blake is strong encouragement to young and old and he shares the challenges of Christian life as a top NASCAR driver, and the ultimate victory in Christ.”
FOX, which televises the first thirteen NASCAR Sprint Cup races of the season, has run the ad during its broadcasts.
ESPN’s decision is curious in light of both the open embrace of faith NASCAR permits at every race, with chapel events for the drivers on race morning and an opening prayer prior to the National Anthem before the race gets underway, and ESPN’s own spotty record when it comes to its broadcasters making their political views known. In August of last year, golf analyst Paul Azinger was publicly scolded for criticizing President Obama on Twitter, yet a tweet two months earlier by SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne stating “almost rammed car with palin bumper sticker. with intent.. held up..coulda been kids in car” passed without comment from the network.
Koch, who with his wife Shannon is expecting the birth of a son in the next few months, is currently twentieth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series points standings.
Danica Patrick talks with crew chief Greg Zipadelli before the Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
As has been noted before, the Danica Patrick debate makes any given dissent along party lines in Congress seem like a tea social among royalty. Yesterday and today have made it even hotter.
Yesterday, in the first Gatorade Duels race Danica put in a solid, cautious showing. Hugging the low line throughout, while she never made a mad dash to the front she never put herself in danger of being booted out of line and looked set for a solid top ten finish until the last lap, when a squirrely Jamie McMurray bumped into Aric Almirola who in turn bumped into Danica, sending her flying into the inside wall in a fearsome crash. Not her fault.
Today, she won the pole for tomorrow’s Nationwide race. Which means far more than having a fast car. It means hitting your marks, choosing the right line and simultaneously pushing it to the max while not overdriving or going over the edge.
You know… things that skilled drivers do?
Yet even with this, the Danica naysayers are thicker than flies on horse manure. She can’t drive. It’s all the equipment. She’s nothing but a product of media hype. Which is, of course, why Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart are putting her in their cars. Because, you know, not a lick of racing skill or common sense between the two of ‘em. Strictly for the show, those silly boys. (Yes, I am being sarcastic.)
Obviously it’s going to take Danica winning a race to at least partially quell the haters, which is a term often over-describing the situation but in Danica’s case is totally applicable. People don’t dislike her. They viscerally hate her. And for what? Using what God and her momma gave her to gain a foothold in a male-dominated sport? Like none of us use what we have at our disposal to get an advantage? Yeahsureright.
Even if she wins tomorrow, it’s guaranteed it’ll be tsk-tsked as “just” a restrictor plate track win. Right place at the right time. Right driver pushing her over the line, etc etc ad nauseum.
How about a little credit for Danica? She knows she has to get it done on the track or forever be written off as just a pretty face in over the head to which it’s attached. She’s accepted the pressure. Doesn’t this deserve some respect? Furthermore, doesn’t her NASCAR on-track performance which to date has been a whopping twenty-five starts, going against drivers with hundreds more stock car races and thousands more laps experience in same, deserve more respect than its getting? There’s no guarantee success in open wheel will transfer to stock cars (see Judd, Mr. Ashley). She’s making tremendous progress.
I’m not sure which is stronger among the “experts” who dismiss Danica: lack of actual racing knowledge or blatant sexism. The sniggerings over “she’s on the pole… heh heh heh” are hard to miss. Admit it, children: you’d kill to see her pole dancing or go out with you, neither of which will happen. Ever. By the way, isn’t it time you left high school?
Finally, a quote from something I wrote a couple of years ago:
As I was leaving the track yesterday, being a fan I went through the souvenir trailers to buy a few things — hat here, t-shirt there. At Danica’s trailer, which at times seemed to have a bigger crowd than all the other trailers combined, I noticed a man with his young daughter. Probably seven or eight. She marched Dad over to the side of the trailer, which features a photo of Danica with determined look and equally determined pose, hand on hip. The girl copied the pose exactly, right down to the look, with Dad snapping photos left and right. Like he had any choice in the matter.
It’s for her I write.
Hope I never forget that.
That’s still my hope.
Go get ‘em, Honey Badger.
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24, 2012: Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, signs the Coors Light Pole Award board after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24, 2012: Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
P.S. Speaking of yesterday and today (or Y&T if you prefer…) — and I was actually at this concert:
Thought I’d take a break from posting press releases to mention why I’m posting press releases.
It’s called Google, Yahoo, Bing and variations thereof.
Basically, the purpose behind posting the press releases, aside from how hardcore fans love reading them, is to boost this modest little way station off the information superhighway’s visibility to search engines. By doing that, hopefully I’ll get more readers for my assorted scribbles…
… assuming I ever get off my happy self and start writing more about racing.
Hopefully tomorrow with the Duels.
We now resume our regularly scheduled press release posting.
P.S. In case you don’t see your favorite driver’s press releases here, don’t blame me. It means their PR department at present doesn’t have me on their mailing list (*coughhendrickmotorsportscough*). I’m working on it.