NASCAR is fortunate in that many drivers within the sport are sincere advocates and raise funds – to the tune of millions of dollars – to support a wide variety of charities and causes. It’s one of the reasons, the sport has so many fans. Fans are proud of their drivers’ involvement and not just with worthy charities and causes, but because of their patriotism and support of troops and veterans who have or are serving our beloved country, enabling the freedoms we enjoy every day. NASCAR truly is an American sport.
There’s not one driver that stands out from the others when it comes to giving back and supporting these causes, because every driver is giving back through their own ways and means. From a fan’s perspective, these drivers all give of their time and money sincerely and from their hearts. It’s why our drivers are so beloved by their fans – we admire their dedication to support others off the track as well as their talent on the track.
When a driver comes to NASCAR, they come because they love to race and they are competitive in wanting to win as many races as possible. Again, there’s not one driver who stands out from the others in their love of racing and intense desire to win. The higher a driver advances in the sport, the intensity and desire of all drivers advance as well. The highest level of any sport has the most intensity, providing fans the most competition among the best talent.
In order to race in NASCAR, every driver needs to present their talent and personality to a variety of owners within the sport. The owners choose the drivers they feel will attract sponsorship to their organization, because even owners require sponsorship to keep their employees working and their teams on the track to compete every week.
Sponsors cannot continue to support an organization or a specific team unless they get exposure for their brand leading to greater sales, than their investment. It’s a simple matter of marketing and elementary level arithmetic.
A sponsor cannot spend more than they are bringing in, any more than fans can with their personal home budgets. If we find that our jobs are not giving us the money we need to support our spending, we either have to cut back or we look for another job with more pay. That’s what sponsors do, when it comes to drivers. If they aren’t getting the exposure they need to increase their sales, they look for another driver or sport to carry their brand.
Fans hear our drivers promoting their sponsors every week. Sometimes it’s under great circumstances, with the best exposure when our driver is running up front and wins the race leading to victory lane. Everyone is happy.
But fans also know that every driver, at some point, is in front of a camera with their sponsor’s brand proudly displayed on their fire suit or team cap, under less than desirable circumstances. Sometimes, its not a comfortable time, it’s down right stressful because the driver is at the same time dealing with a variety of emotions based on what just happened on or even off the track.
But most of our favorite drivers take a deep breath and step in front of the camera because they know fans want to hear their perspective of what happened. They understand they have an obligation and responsibility to their sponsors to take advantage of every camera moment – whether it’s good or bad timing – to give them positive exposure for their brand. Most drivers, do a great job of demonstrating control of their mixed emotions and present themselves and their brand well, in spite of the difficult circumstances. As fans, we admire and respect those drivers for their integrity and ability to endure through a difficult time and that’s good for the sponsor’s brand.
But for any driver with difficulty in managing their emotions of anger and controlling their presentation of themselves and their sponsors when given an opportunity in front of a camera, a difficult moment can become a real dilemma. If emotions get the best of our favorite drivers, in most cases, we understand, it’s an exception and not a common practice. It’s an understandable weak moment that can be easily forgiven. But the dilemma gets worse for those with anger management issues that are repeated over and over again.
Sure, a driver can walk away and not say anything. And in some cases, this has been an ideal way for a driver to handle a difficult situation. But what happens, is the driver and their sponsor give up brand exposure and fans are left wondering what the driver is thinking about the situation. Although we may or may not hear from the driver at some point later, that moment in time is now lost as exposure for the sponsor.
If the driver continually handles their emotions of anger by walking away, they takes away their value to the sponsor. If media stops talking to the driver because they know the driver doesn’t handle pressure well, they take away the driver’s opportunity for sponsor exposure, also leading to less value of the driver to the sponsor.
Whether fans, or drivers like it or not, the sport of NASCAR is sponsor-driven. They provide the money the keeps our favorite drivers on the track competing for their best performance in a highly competitive environment every week. In order for them to have the money they need to be sponsors, depends on whether they are making money or losing money. Less exposure, means less money and less reason to continue their sponsorship, presenting a dilemma for those with on-going anger management issues.
Every time any driver continues to demonstrate their inability to manage their emotions in front of a camera, especially under difficult circumstances, they continue to weaken their personal brand and their value to sponsors, even if they possess tremendous talent behind the wheel and without regard to how much they give back to others off the track. If any driver continues this path, they will ultimately have so little value to a sponsor or team owner, there is no longer any path for their career in this sport.
Fortunately, everyone wants to see people overcome their problems. We cheer for them to recognize and confront their challenges so they get to a better place. This is a sport that gets behind those with problems and helps create an environment of support. Remember, this is one of the many reasons we love our drivers. Because this is what they do for others.
But as much as we may want those dealing with anger management to overcome their issues, there comes a point, where we want them to want it for themselves even more. Because, we understand that unless they want to recognize and confront their challenge, their problem will never be resolved. And if they don’t want it for themselves enough to make changes in their lives going forward, they give less reason for others to want it for them.
For those drivers choosing to hang on to their anger, without management and without control of their emotions, they and they alone control their ultimate consequence for their personal choice. Again, it doesn’t matter what a great person they are otherwise, how much talent they have, nor how much they give back to others. In reality, it’s their personal choices that create their dilemma and eventually their future.