It had nothing to do with me…

It had nothing to do with me…

Oh dear lord. F1 folk really don’t get it do they… although Kimi’s idea of disappearing without saying a word to his erstwhile hosts looks the more gracious!

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I need my drinking water. Hey! Give me my drinking water!

Meanwhile, here’s a little something from Kimi Raikkonen last year. Remember when he turned up, was awesome, made Carl Edwards’ eyes come out on stalks with his car control and then disappeared, leaving everyone wondering what was wrong with his drinks bottle?

Thought so. Here’s another gem.

Image“We’re so fucking shit, it’s unbelievable.”

SPEEDCAR Race, 2009

Here is one of the last SPEEDCAR races. Putting F1 drivers in any kind of closed-roof environment is usually an invitation to cause havoc. Reversing the grid only puts the seal on the deal.

In terms of spectacle, it’s a miracle that it didn’t take off. I mean, what else do you need?

SPEEDCAR Series in Bahrain, 2007

Pretty soon we’re going to be covering the attempts to export NASCAR around the world and how those attempts fared.

One of these was the SPEEDCAR Series: based in Dubai and aiming to ignite sporting passion from the Arabian Gulf to the Gulf of Tonkin.

It didn’t.

All of a Twitter

Now, very little should come as a surprise to NASCAR observers when it comes to the ways in which the sport presents itself itself to the public. But this move into social media is a real barnstormer.

Image

Across America NASCAR has placed itself on cereal packets, hotel receptions and consumer good promotions, via a range of its own products that runs from baseball caps to romance novels. The list of ways in which the sport has kept itself front-of-house is endless.

As of this week, NASCAR’s digital operation is catching up these traditional outlets fast; starting with the announcement that NASCAR has become the first professional sport to create an official partnership with Twitter.

The launch of twitter.com/#NASCAR effectively gives ownership of a large chunk of Tweets to NASCAR itself. Anyone wanting to discuss NASCAR on Twitter has to hashtag it, right? So by making your hashtag an official communications tool, you can talk directly to the people talking about you.

Up until now when Tweeters click on a hashtag, for instance #F1, they are shown a page littered with tweets which are random, disjointed and, in the case of this year’s #BahrainGP, plain bonkers.

By contrast, clicking on #NASCAR you immediately takes you to a smoothly-styled paged (pictured above) rather than a random stream of consciousness. Twitter feeds all #NASCAR tweets through an algorithm to NASCAR’s branded page, beautifully laid out and offering ways for Tweeters to engage with the sport through the site.

Clearly the time when most people are tweeting about a sports event is when it’s happening, so there are a number of incentives being laid out to encourage Tweeters to participate at this weekend’s Pocono event – renamed the Pocono 400 Presented by #NASCAR.

For the fans the trade-off is increased involvement. A great deal of extra ‘behind the scenes’ information from Pocono will only be available via Twitter – even to fans in attendance at the event. In addition there are plans for a “Tweet Your Seat” competition: effectively an online lottery draw in which the winning seat number will be crowned as honorary starter and wave the green flag to start the race.

Some may say ‘Big brother’ and suspect that, having offered ‘beads to the natives’, soon NASCAR is going to be censoring Tweets before long. Others may think that someone in NASCAR’s digital department has got a bit too addicted to reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But however you feel about it, the focus is increasingly on social media across all entertainment and that isn’t going to change in a hurry.

Hello world!

Well here’s a place in which, like Ted Danson’s bar in Cheers, everybody is likely to know everyone else’s name. Why? Because it’s a place where NASCAR’s overseas fanbase can come and keep in touch with the latest comings and goings of the biggest motor sport show in the USA. And, let’s face it, that puts us in the minority… even among our fellow motor sport fans.

On all points of the globe we are well served by a mix of world, regional and national championships across two wheels and four. From Scandinavia to Australasia we have a wealth of oval, drag and circuit racing competitions and the wonders of rally and raid – so why should anyone care about the curious world of NASCAR?

What is there of interest to the outside world in this strange, insular community where Jesus is a sponsor, the technology has been carbon dated to the mid-Cretaceous period and turning any way but left is a distinct oddity?

This is a series which can’t race in the rain, doesn’t look to the Far East for new revenue streams and would be something of a political hot potato south of the Mediterranean. It’s all-American and, based on the dismal failure of previous attempts to export it, likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future.

And yet it’s also spectacular. From the bare knuckle brawling around the half mile of Bristol to the 200mph race around a razor’s edge at Las Vegas and Talladega and of course the spectacle of the marquee races at Daytona, you’re guaranteed a show the like of which you’ll struggle to find anywhere else in motor sport. It’s a show that has vaulted the perimeter fence and taken NASCAR onto almost every supermarket aisle, high street store and movie theatre in North America.

Part of that show is a cast of characters the like of which all too few sports around the world can match: bringing life, colour, humour and controversy to flesh out the action on the track. In fact there are times when it can seem like Hollywood watered the whole thing down for Days of Thunder, Talladega Nights and even Stroker Ace.

And yet behind all the showbiz you can and do find the same depth of on-track strategy and heady boardroom politics for which the best international series are so well known. It’s just that, unlike Formula 1 for instance, there’s a refreshing amount of other stuff to talk about.

So welcome aboard… or rather: ‘Boogity! Boogity! Boogity! Let’s go racin’ boys!’