Social Media’s Impact on NASCAR Fans

In the past couple of years, Twitter has really taken off.  In NASCAR, it is not only accepted, but used by drivers, their significant others, spotters, public relations representatives, teams, and sponsors.  These same people conduct giveaways during the week and during races they’re found on twitter giving updates on team progress and pit stops. Twitter fans enjoy the insights provided throughout the week and during the races.
In an interview with Bob Pockrass on Friday morning at Phoenix International Raceway, Brad Keselowski said he started carrying his phone with him in the car after a wreck in California while driving the 88 car.  When that wreck happened, Keselowski was airlifted to a hospital in Los Angeles. He had none of his personal belongings and no way of contacting his family in Michigan to let them know where he was or that he was fine. 
Last fall, when Keselowski wrecked in testing, he was very thankful to have his phone with him, as he was able to quickly contact his family, personally reassuring them of his condition and where he was being taken.  He also took to twitter to let fans know that he was all right and showing photos of his badly injured ankle.  
@keselowski’s tweeted photo – Feb 27 Daytona 500
“Fire – My view”
During this year’s Daytona 500, fans of NASCAR twitter users were surprised with an inside perspective during the red flag, courtesy of @Keselowski – Brad Keselowski’s twitter handle – as he was the only driver to tweet during the two-hour delay.  The first tweet he sent shortly after the red flag flew, was of the cars in front of him on track and in front of them was the cause of the red flag, the jet dryer in flames.  Throughout the two-hour red flag, Brad tweeted thoughts and updates, answered questions, and shared more photos.  As he continued adding tweets, many witnessed his follower count jump as he gained over 135,000+ followers that evening. Subsequently, @keselowski’s followers continue to grow from his original count prior to the race of 65,000 followers to 225,000 and still growing. 
After the race ended fans started hearing rumblings of issues with Brad having his phone in the car.  There were rumors, Brad may be penalized due to safety concerns and because it could be considered a recording device, which apparently are prohibited in the cars. NASCAR issued the following statements the day after the race via two tweets:  

@NASCAR – “Nothing we’ve seen from Brad violates any current rules pertaining to the use of social media during races. As such, he won’t be penalized.” – Tweet one

@NASCAR – “We encourage our drivers to use social media to express themselves as long as they do so without risking their safety or that of others.”  Tweet two

The day after the Daytona 500, Brad Daugherty aired his opinion of the situation on NASCAR Now.  He blasted Keselowski for his use of Twitter during the red flag when questioned by host Allen Bestwick – their conversation follows:

Bestwick: “Do you fine or not fine Brad K (for having a recording device and using it during the race)? 

Daugherty: “You definitely fine Brad K, I have had it with the social media stuff. This is ridiculous. You are in the race car. You are a professional race car driver. I don’t know why you would have your cell phone with you in the first place other than to just take advantage of an opportunity to do something like this.” 

“There is no place for this in professional sports when you are the athlete. His focus is to be in that race car 100% focused on trying to win the race. This social media stuff, especially something like this, I just think it is inappropriate and there is no room for that.”

In my opinion, what Brad Keselowski did was just fine.  There was no possible harm or danger to himself or any of the other drivers as he tweeted when the cars were stopped on the track.  Personally, I enjoyed the insight he gave with each tweet.  He even imparted news before anything came from the TV coverage.
What do you think?  Did you enjoy reading Brad Keselowski’s tweets during the red flag?  
Or do you agree with Brad Daugherty and think it was inappropriate?

2 thoughts on “Social Media’s Impact on NASCAR Fans

  1. Interesting comments from Brad Daugherty when the remainder of the NASCAR industry appears to be embracing the social media experience. Had Brad Keselowski been tweeting from his car while racing at 200 mph, his reaction would be warranted. But, there was no racing, the cars were stopped on the track and many of Keselowski's tweets occurred outside of the car during a two-hour delay of the event. Seems to me Mr. Daugherty's reaction was a little extreme and relates more to his personal lack of experience within the Social Media realm and his background within the NBA. A huge difference between the NBA and NASCAR is that the stars of NASCAR have a much greater appreciation and direct connection with their fans both at the track and through Social Media outlets. The Social Media connection is giving NASCAR huge marketing power and it is somewhat amazing this point seems illusive to Mr. Daugherty's understanding of it's place with the stars and within this sport. Proof of this point…Mr. Daugherty's followers on Twitter 0 – @keselowski 229,640 and still rising

  2. I think what Brad did was just fine. Fans embrace that kind of interaction with drivers which is all the more incentive for fans to watch NASCAR.

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