Things NASCAR needs to do

The drive for any company should be its product, so the fact NASCAR is working to better its image and product is the right thing to do. But better racing on 1.5-mile tracks is just one facet officials need to examine for the 2014 season.

Here are other areas officials should focus on within the next year:

Gaining Sponsors: The teams rely on sponsorship money in order to compete at a high level. Creating value for sponsors is a notable ingredient officials need to consider.

NASCAR must find ways to make sponsors want to be part of the sport. Sponsorship isn’t as important to the core of the sport as it is to the tracks and race teams, so anything NASCAR can do to invest in research that shows return on investment would be worthwhile. Officials must avoid engaging sponsors that are committed to teams and work with the tracks to avoid hurdles in implementation of funds by sponsors.

NASCAR also needs to look at new tracks, including street courses, that could generate a younger fan base that advertisers covet in today’s market.

Wireless Availability: Both International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc. have discussed increasing wireless connectivity at their venues.

Getting this done for the 2014 season would be a huge gain. Officials should consider giving tracks a sanction-fee discount if they reach a certain threshold of capability for fans.

Faithful fans can use tweeting and texting, and putting photos out in the digital world will help the entire industry. The more engaged the fans are, the more invested they are in the sport. If a sponsor is doing a promotion and fans can tweet or post photos about it, the more the sponsor will see the value.

SAFER Barriers: NASCAR and the tracks began installing SAFER Barriers 10 years ago. They put them in the most-needed spots – the turns – at all the tracks.

With the cost involved, it made sense to do a portion of every track, covering the highest percentage of accidents. But now is the time to ake sure all areas are protected.

Young driver development: Incentive programs for sponsors to work with young drivers in the lower tier series should be looked at as too many potential Cup drivers don’t get the funding to prove themselves.

NASCAR also needs to limit the influence of Cup drivers and Cup teams on the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series. A driver in Nationwide who does not post a win won’t get the funding necessary to continue up through the ranks.

NASCAR has a solid talent pool of drivers surfacing, but most aren’t winning enough to attract attention. Sponsorship appears to be at least $5 million for a full, solid Nationwide ride.

TV deals: NASCAR needs to make sure its faithful fans can access all the activitoes at the tracks. With most of the television programming being viewed on a network that is part of a special sports tier that costs more than basic cable, it runs the risk of alienating its core fan base.

Contact Eddie Thomas at