In a cost-cutting move, NASCAR has decided to take a hatchet to those big ol' checks that everybody gets at the end of the race. Purses will be cut by 10 percent in all three national series -- Sprint, Nationwide and Camping World Truck.
"Last year we launched an industry-wide effort to help the sport manage budgets in this economy," said NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston. "NASCAR did the right thing to work with the tracks to reduce their costs in order to manage the economic realities. In return, the tracks have done a great job reducing ticket prices and enhancing the fan experience. Likewise, we worked with the teams to contain costs, such as elimination of testing and other steps. This is consistent with how virtually every sport and business has adjusted to the economy over the past year."
In all seriousness, this is a reasonable and relatively pain-free way for NASCAR to save a few bucks. The money at a NASCAR race gets distributed and passed around like beers at a tailgate -- the tracks get television money, then feed a portion of the television money back to the winners' purse, and NASCAR gets a share of the TV coin, and reroutes some of that to the purse as well. It's all kind of byzantine, and it's probably best not to think too much about how many fingers are in that pie. (Yours and mine most definitely aren't.)
While attendance revenues are projected to drop by about 5 percent this year, TV money is expected to increase by at least 2.5 percent. Indeed, Fox is expecting that Daytona will have a 100 percent ad sellout this year, a reflection of an improving ad economy.
There's plenty of the typical doom-and-gloom surrounding NASCAR, and much of it will be perpetuated by know-nothing flyover media reports in the next couple weeks. (Gold star to the person who counts the most hack "NASCAR in trouble!" articles in the Daytona runup.) But the sport is at least giving the appearance of taking this financial crisis seriously, and NASCAR -- at least in theory -- could be well positioned to take advantage of the eventual economic recovery.