For all the hand wringing over the weekend, no brand could have had a better start to its season than the resurgent folks at NASCAR. The rain that pushed the Daytona 500 into a unique Monday night start, coupled with crashes, rivalries relaunched, new territory in social media and the continued birth of new faces, could not have come at a better overall time for the brand as it heads into week two in Arizona.
We all love a spectacle, and the spectacle, although little was envisioned during race week, that NASCAR delivered was one to capture casual fans and hopefully reinvigorate its massive following. Even their most visible new face the previous week, Danica Patrick, flamed out in spectacular fashion with not one but three crashes over the course of the weekend, all while keeping the G0 Daddy brand front and center.
While at the time some closely involved with the sport may have seen disaster, many of those following on the edges saw excitement and such a unique chain of events that Daytona dominated the news coverage and the social space well into the middle of the week, whereas on a “normal” race weekend much of the buzz may have gotten lost between Oscar coverage and the NBA All-Star Game. Maybe Mother Nature did NASCAR a little bit of a favor, and found a niche under the lights in late February to potentially build upon.
Also to be noted in a mix of unexpected was the brand that going in may not have been top of mind, but got almost as much critical attention as anything on the side of a car or shown during the race…Tide. The detergent was front and center during the track cleanup following Juan Pablo Montoya’s fireball of a crash, and helped contribute even more to what was a wild side of racing that the casual fan had been missing out on during recent years.
While some may say that Daytona was a good example of any publicity being good publicity, in reality the good that came out of it…the interaction of the drivers during the delays, the tweeting from the cars, the fans who stayed the extra day to pack the course, the fact that the race finished with a race to the end, the way NASCAR explained the goings on during the issues on the track…all were positives, and were platforms to build on in the coming weeks.
Yes the short week creates issues for teams getting to Phoenix this week, and the travel issues encountered still trying to get out of Daytona Tuesday morning were problematic, but at the end of the day NASCAR needed a unique push forward, and through the chaos of a Monday night, one with lots of spectacular but without spectacular injury, the circuit may have found a great booster shot that can lead to a great 2012.