by: PattyKay Lilley
Good day gentle readers, and welcome to RacersReunion, a site we know for a fact is read by folks that matter. I extend that welcome also to whomever is reading this page at the new Fan and Media Espionage Center in Charlotte. You drew well today, as your assignment will actually make it to a desk in a larger office, probably in another city… and a very good morning to you Mr. France. As you are aware, the racing season is rapidly approaching; the fans are waking up from their winter of hibernation and they are beginning to grumble well before the first green flag flies.
The first thing I’d like to put up for discussion Sir, is the new nascar.com website. For years, I defended NASCAR when folks threw large rocks and sharp missiles at that site, because I knew that it was under the control of Turner Broadcasting, not NASCAR, courtesy of a deal struck between Ted Turner and your departed father. As you have so proudly and loudly announced, that is no longer the case. The “New” nascar.com is solely and totally controlled by whichever arm of your media program sees to such things.
Sir, I ask you… no, I beg you… please go to your new site and read the comments being left there for you and those that you employ. Your readers are not happy! Upon first visiting the new site, I was very kind to it, because it didn’t cause my cursor to go wild and quiver as though in terror, as did the old site filled with far too much Flash and Java. There were times when it was so bad that I literally could not scroll. Time to look elsewhere. That part is much better. The site is pretty, but extremely difficult to navigate. With any dramatic change, there will be complaints. Some will be warranted while others will simply reflect the inability of the user to adjust to change in a proficient manner. Knowing the difference is priceless!
Problems in navigation might be real, but many simply stem from someone not knowing to click here rather than there. Creatures of habit are difficult to reorient. However, a much larger problem exists, one that stems I am sure, from that old law of unintended consequences. Media members and fans alike are finding a roadblock has been set up in search engines. Any search citing nascar.com as a source page draws only a blank stare from a computer screen as it looks back at you and says, “Huh?”
Didn’t anyone consider that when that switch was thrown, you were also throwing away access to all that had gone before? Google seems to be getting the message, and your page references are disappearing from their engines at an alarming rate. It’s almost as though the site never existed. Case in point… the old site carried a chart of car history by the car number. It was semi-useless, since it only went back to 1975, while another site, http://racing-reference.info/, carries the complete chart back to 1949.
I used that as a test case, mostly because I knew exactly where to find it, and entered “car number history” into your on-site search engine. That is exactly as it was listed on the old site. I was taken to some articles and blogs that contained the words individually. I then ran a search for “NASCAR 101″, which was the page on which the car number history used to be found. That search led me to a couple of articles about the opening of your wonderful new site, and one on breast cancer awareness. What search engine are you using? I’d just like to be sure…
Trying another search altogether, I entered the word “Forum” into the search engine. It came up empty and asked me if I meant “Ford.” Sir, I have been writing for many years and am quite proficient with both keyboard and computer. No, I did not mean Ford; I clearly meant Forum. That was the way it was cited in a post I had read from a fan. Apparently, it should have read “comments”, which appear at the end of some of your articles. The old site had several Forums, covering different topics. The new site appears to have none.
I read a second complaint from a fan about the minute size of type used at the very bottom of your Home Page, where one finds the “Home Tracks” listed. I was about to make him happy by telling him that the Home Tracks are also linked at the very top of the page, though in that same 2-pt. or smaller type.(Mouse print) I was about to, until I clicked the links, both top and bottom, only to find that both are dead. That is quite discouraging to those of us that promote the small tracks near home. They are where the next generation of racers comes from Sir. They deserve better, don’t you think? Oh, and by the way, the Grand-Am link doesn’t work either, and they have already run their first race… at your track in Daytona Beach.
Gentle readers, it’s your turn on this topic. Have you had good, bad or indifferent experiences with the new site? Can you find things there easily? Can you find anything there that you were looking for? Please… be respectful. I won’t let this column become a scream-fest or a place to merely trash NASCAR for someone’s 15-seconds of fame. We are serious here… as serious as a heart attack… and our purpose is merely to discuss and make known the things that bother us or please us. It doesn’t hurt to share one’s good thoughts as well as the other kind. The sport is still racing, and we still purport to love it.
With that in mind, this old fan is truly looking forward to Daytona, which this year brings us not only a new season but a whole new car… no, that’s not quite right. This time, it’s three new cars, Gen-6 cars, each one different and distinct from the others. The days of one-car-fits-all are over, and not a minute too soon for most fans. Not only that, but the new cars are constructed in such a way as to pretty much discourage any sort of push-me-pull-you games on the big tracks. We saw that when our most popular driver tried to offer a bit of “help” to The Tasmanian Devil during Daytona testing, and wrecked most of the cars on the track. So we only have racing to look forward to, with no more dancing. Now, if those new cars can just race…
While we’re on the subject of looking forward, Mr. France Sir, it seems to this fan that we are looking forward about seven days too far. The NFL did not extend their season to 18 games last year, nor Sir, do I believe that was ever even seriously considered. You see, the NFL has what is called a Players’ Union, a concept unfamiliar to NASCAR, and its members objected in large numbers, citing the already excessive injury rates caused by the last extension of the season, from 14 to 16 games. The human body can only take so much, and the Players’ Union rightly convinced Roger Goodell that theirs were already stretched to the limit and beyond.
And no Sir, “Acceleration Weekend” is not going to convince anyone with an IQ greater than his age that it is the reason for the delay. That idea is getting so little play that I haven’t heard even a single fan mention it, let alone comment or complain about it. Fans, if you haven’t heard of the latest attempt to part you from the contents of your billfold, just click here and read all about it. Our racing season begins with the Daytona 500… The Great American Race in Daytona Beach FL. All those other shenanigans are going on in Charlotte NC. Not even close! I haven’t asked the fans, but I will now… and any drivers or team members that would like to comment are more than welcome to do so. Which makes more sense to you… using this weekend each year to party it up in Charlotte… on your dime, of course, or moving the Daytona 500 back to its long-held place in rotation, thereby clearing a week off for teams at a later date… maybe the weekend before the Chase?
So, what say you gentle readers? Your comments left on this page will be read. That is a promise. What I cannot promise is by whom. This is why I ask you to keep it respectful. I know from personal experience that anyone is more likely to listen to a well-thought out idea than to a rant that contains words such as “hate”, “detest”, “stinks” and my own personal turn-off, “sucks.” I don’t slow down to read much of that, and neither, I suspect, would Mr. France or anyone representing him.
Just as an aside before closing, I’d like to mention that the NFL has Bill Simpson working on helmets for them in an effort to reduce the number of concussions in that sport. I haven’t really had the time to delve into all that is entailed there, but I am watching it with great interest. Why? Because I care… about head trauma, and about Bill Simpson. One of the greatest sorrows of my life is to look back to 2001, at another Daytona 500, and wonder… what if he’d listened to Bill Simpson…
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!
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