You may ask why I am calling the Coke Zero 400 event the Firecracker 400. Long ago, the race was called that. Named for the close proximity to the July 4th holiday, this name sticks with with most residents in the town. The simpler name suits the race.
Over the years, the racing industry has grown by leaps and bounds. Sponsorship has gone from car advertisements to fuel the driver’s career, to basically removing the personal element of the race itself. Everyone had their driver. Now, everything is labeled by companies. I can tell you the brand that goes with the number before the driver.
Every year, big business places their ever reaching hand into all forms of the public arena. Don’t get me wrong, it is what they do in order to ensure profitability. My thoughts are with the drivers. Godaddy.com used to equate to Danica Patrick, Home Depot used to be Tony Stewart. I find car sponsorships to be great, but the big brands have gone one step further. They now have to label everything. Daytona Speedway had a facelift. Now every entrance to the venue has some big name on the facade. The race names are being changed to “Sponsor” “#”. Where will it end?
The point here is that in the early years, it was simply a testament to the drivers’ abilities. Today, ticket prices are obscene, parking rates even more so, and in order to attend a race you need a second mortgage. People query as to my absence from the various wonderful races held here at the racetrack. Intimacy. The closeness and old school cool is lost under a weighted fight for product placement. All is not lost though. Later today I will step outside my house and see the Goodyear blimp, the military aircraft, and hear the engines roar and will have my moment with the drivers….my way!