March 31, 2010
Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.
Whenever something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And you should also probably keep an eye on the calendar, too.
A day after news broke that Texas Motor Speedway was offering a Dallas DJ $100,000 to change his name to TexasMotorSpeedway.com, track president Eddie Gossage has revealed that it was all a big hoax.
"We meant no malice," Gossage told ESPN.com's Terry Blount on Wednesday. "This started when the radio station [KSCS 96.3-FM] asked us if we would play along. We thought it would only be a radio promotion and that would be it. But it kind of caught fire and grew into something we didn't expect."
Yes, that's exactly what happens when you have a stunt as outlandish as offering to pay somebody six figures for a relatively minor task. It was the perfect viral story, and on a day with little else happening, it caught on well beyond the world of NASCAR, including being presented as fact on Yahoo! and other media sites.
TMS has a history of wild promotions. As Blount notes, Gossage once offered Dale Earnhardt Jr. $100,000 to drive in an IndyCar event. But Gossage also perpetrated another hoax in 2008, when he sent out an official release that the track would be adding a $900 million retractable roof. In a tamer moment, Gossage used the recent Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski wreck to promote his upcoming April NASCAR race.
Reaction has been mixed, with some journalists upset about the deception and others shrugging it off as a harmless stunt. Regardless, it's a gentle lesson in the importance of skepticism in media. Yahoo! Sports' request for comment to Gossage has not yet been returned. Then again, even if it was, how would we know if it was really him?
Oh, and Happy April Fool's Day, everybody. Come back Thursday and there'll be candy. Promise.
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