:: This is part two in a series of four posts (to see all of the posts on one page, click here) ::
Me: You talked about Jeff Gordon and his entrance into NASCAR and how that kind of signaled the entrance of, ya know, guys who grew up racing and learned about the whole corporate aspect of it and knew how to answer questions and all of those kinds of things. I’ve always thought of Jeff Gordon as the face of NASCAR, at least to the outside world, or to people who never NASCAR ever or haven’t in their lives. He usually the most recognizable person, I mean, obviously Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty are big too but Jeff Gordon kind of like in the 90’s was like, the guy. Do you think that’s changing as far as, ya know, other people coming through? Like Dale Earnhardt Jr. is so popular and Carl Edwards is like, camera ready.
Liz: Yeah, he is, isn’t he?
Me: And he’s so good at it. It seems like its part of his personality actually.
Liz: Yeah, and it seems very natural and authentic. Not like he went to some school to learn how to talk. I guess there are a few more characters that people associate with NASCAR. And I think, I totally agree with you regarding Jeff being the face of NASCAR in the 90’s. Ya know, it really helped too because his car was so special. Ya know most of those cars then were one solid color. Ya know they were a color and then a number. And he had the rainbow. I mean, it’s different now but I mean kids loved that. It was like the rainbow car with all the colors and it just looked so sparkly. And he was so sparkly.
I live in D.C. which is hardly a hotbed of NASCAR but this Halloween I had two little Tony Stewarts and one Lightning McQueen come to my door. They were in the like little miniature Home Depot suits and it was really adorable. Now, Joe Gibbs of course owns that car so a lot of Washingtonians follow Joe Gibbs, but I do think Tony in that orange car that’s kind of become iconic.
I’m really not at all a fan of Dale Jr. having this two car sponsorship and two car look. Not because I’m opposed to either sponsor or either look. But I just think in NASCAR it’s such an extension of the driver’s personality is his car. And when you keep switching it, it just muddles the message. I don’t think it does either sponsor a service. Who was it? It was Kyle Busch at California he was back to Interstate; he wasn’t the M&M’s car. It was annoying to me and I love Interstate, don’t get me wrong, but for little kids or new fans part of the way you come to know a driver is the black number 3, the rainbow colored 24 or the orange number 20. I mean I understand the business reasons for it, it’s too expensive, you need multiple companies to pay the freight, but I really think people are missing how serious this is to keep switching the uniform of the guy. It’s basically his uniform.
Me: Yea, I know what you mean. ‘Cause it’s the same thing with Clint Bowyer, he’s doing DirecTV and Jack Daniels. And then he has that switch happening at some point. Greg Biffle has a switch happening. It’s hard to remember which car they’re in, “Oh, wait, that’s so and so.”
Liz: And by extension it’s hard to care. I mean, it sounds silly but it’s just hard to care because that’s not my guy. You’re just more conscious of oh, he’s selling this product this week. You sort of don’t believe, like, “does he really like that product?” It’s not like you get that detailed in your thinking but the guy should look the same. You cheer for the car because you know who’s inside. I love that M&M’s car. I don’t like Kyle Busch, I’ll tell you that, but I love the M&M’s car. It should be in the race all the time.
Me: That’s one point where we totally agree. I don’t like Kyle Busch either. Well two points actually, I totally agree on both of those points.
That’s another thing that’s getting hard. Sometimes at the beginning of every season I have to go through the roster and say “Ok, this guy is with this team now and he’s driving this car, and he’s in these colors now so look for that if you’re looking for him.”
Liz: It’s hard enough as it is, with the regular changes.
Me: It’s one thing if the guy changes sponsors but then he’s changing his entire team, changing his number. I’m like “Oh wait, that’s not David Gilliland anymore, that’s Kyle Busch, so yea, don’t cheer anymore. If you see the M&M’s car just walk on by.”