For those of you who aren't too keen on the entertainment aspect of NASCAR, you might want to skip this particular post. It'll just make you sad.
We've all heard the oft-repeated mantra that NASCAR is the second-most-popular spectator sport in the United States after the NFL. Maybe it's true, maybe it's not, but either way, that's a whole lot of potential eyeballs that have advertisers salivating. And, on the flip side, there are a whole lot of potential eyeballs not watching NASCAR.
Accordingly, NASCAR has its own Los Angeles-based entertainment liaison, and according to Variety, that's why you'll be seeing NASCAR in more high-profile entertainment over the coming months. We've already discussed "Changing Lanes," a diversity-based reality series, and "Undercover Boss," featuring NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps. Next up: appearances in next summer's "Transformers 3" (above) and "Cars 2." (You'll recall that the first "Cars" featured a track based on Bristol and the voices of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Richard Petty.)
"We want to be in places where folks consider us not to be," Phelps said. "By being mainstream, we surprise people. We believe entertainment is a great way for us to reach a new fan or reinforce an existing fan's interest in the sport. The key for us is to live where these people live. Whether it's movies, music or television shows, we have to reach people where they are." (Obviously, that's why they're not trying to reach people at the track. Zing!)
So, good for NASCAR; anything that keeps the sport in the public eye, and not in the hacky "lookit dem crazy rednecks!" context, is fine with me. Now, what can we do to get NASCAR into the last "Harry Potter" flick?