Woody: What Time Will The 1 p.m Races Start?
By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
NASCAR Chairman Brian France scheduled a 3 p.m. press conference Wednesday to announce a shift to more consistent starting times.
I wasn’t sure if the 3 p.m. start was Central, Eastern or Mountain Time, or if 3 p.m. was when the “pre-press conference” began or if it was when the starting flag actually fell on the microphone. Would a booth-full of analysts come on ahead of France to tell us “what to look for?”
Only kidding – Brian got his press conference started at the announced time, and without the aid of expert analysts.
Now let’s see if he can do the same with his races.
NASCAR is concerned about a dip in TV ratings and one step it is taking to try to reverse the trend is to set more consistent starting times, starting next season.
This year’s starting times have ranged from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
But setting more consistent starting times won’t help if THE DARNED RACE DOESN’T START WHEN IT’S SUPPOSED TO START.
That’s my biggest gripe with the NASCAR telecasts. I’m tired of planning my schedule around the “start” of a race – or when the schedule says it starts – then have to sit through 30 minutes of blather from the booth.
I don’t have anything against the TV guys doing their pre-race gabbling; I just don’t care to listen to it.
If they’re going to yak for 30 minutes before the start of the race, then run features on Jeff Gordon’s motor home and the History of Lug Nuts, fine – simply let the schedule show that the pre-race fluff starts at 1 and the race starts at 1:30. How hard can that be?
What part of “start” don’t TV and NASCAR understand?
If the NFL can kick off a football game on time, NASCAR should be able to start a race on time.
In the old days I seem to recall that most daytime races started around noon and most nighttime races started around 6 p.m. (Of course in the REALLY old days TV starting times weren’t an issue because there were no TV races.)
The problem didn’t begin with more races being televised; it began when more races were televised outside the traditional Central and Eastern Time zones. They were timed for the benefit of fans on the West Coast at the expense of fans in the Southeast.
But let’s be honest: erratic starting times are aggravating and irritating, but they’re not what’s causing NASCAR’s low TV ratings. Die-hard race fans will set their alarm, get up and tune in at 3 a.m. if necessary – as long as they’re treated to a good race.
The reason why ratings are down is because the racing has been down. Even the three “playoff” races so far have been bland.
Today’s average three-hour NASCAR race consists of two hours and fifty minutes of riding and 10 minutes of racing – if we’re lucky.
Going to more consistent starting times is a step in the right direction but the real key to better ratings is better racing. If it’s exciting, fans will watch. If it’s boring they won’t.
You can’t fool race fans – any time of day or night.
– Larry Woody can be reached at email@example.com Comments