The Porch Light copyright by Revka (2006-2010). All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

NASCAR mania

Or should I say, "Dale Jr. mania?" Whichever may be the correct designation, the mania has hit our home on two fronts at once.

In the first place, Junior has created what I think is NASCAR's biggest shakeup since Dale Earnhardt Sr. died. If you haven't heard (this is, after all, rather old news now), after failed contract negotiations, Junior is leaving DEI, the company his father founded, for Hendrick Motorsports, owned by Rick Hendrick, where his team mates will include the man who is, in the eyes of his fans, his biggest rival: the hated Jeff Gordon.

I told you that I think this whole situation is the biggest shakeup to have happened to NASCAR since Dale Sr.'s death, and here's my reasoning behind that statement:
  • Dale Jr. is leaving his father's company for the company that puts him on the same team as Jeff Gordon. Many Junior fans view this as rank betrayal, and it will be interesting to see how many fans remain loyal to Junior and how many turn from loving him to hating him.
  • He cannot take his long-time sponsor with him. This means that fans must purchase new merchandise to proclaim their support of their favorite driver. The current diecast vehicles will probably only gain in value, but other merchandise will probably decrease in value. I mean, what good is red office furniture decorated with the #8 when Dale Jr. no longer sports those colors? (I'm being facetious here - I don't think NASCAR merchandise is exactly appropriate for serious business venues, although you might be able to get away with having a #8 mouse pad or coffee mug at work.)
  • Retaining the number 8, which is most definitely "his" number, is not a given, either. During my research for this post, I have learned that, according to a NASCAR spokesperson, Hendrick Motorsports could purchase the #8 from DEI, but I haven't come across any rumors of deals in the works for that transaction, though fans are petitioning to "Free the Eight!"
More important to Mr. Incredible than the revelation of Jr.'s new NASCAR domicile is the news that Budweiser will not be following Jr. to his new home. In fact, most rumors (see article in previous link) have Pepsi Co. as the most likely new sponsor. Mr. Incredible is thrilled that he will no longer feel guilty for purchasing a car that promotes an alcoholic beverage. He also feels this is a great marketing move for Junior: no longer will Winner's Circle cars, found at retailers such as Wal-Mart, need to create a generic car in order to be child-appropriate. With a new sponsor, Junior's merchandise can be marketed to fans of all ages, which will certainly result in increased sales, translating into increased profits.

So then ... have I bored you to tears yet? Fallen asleep? Stay with me; I'm almost done - I promise!

Let me give you a little background regarding the second front of NASCAR's attack on our home. A couple of years before we moved here, the local NASCAR shop went out of business. End of story? Nope. A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Incredible came home from work and casually mentioned a little sign he had seen advertising a NASCAR sale. It was just a passing comment, and I forgot all about it ... until Saturday, July 7.

A friend had told him about Wal-Mart's latest Dale Jr. die cast inventory, which included the Winner's Circle version of the oh-so-cool-and-utterly-to-be-desired #8 camouflage car. While not the top-notch die cast that he (still) plans to buy, the Winner's Circle car would be a nice addition to his collection, so, funds in hand, he trotted, with great alacrity, to peruse the selection of 1:24, 1:64, and 1:87 scale cars.

Meanwhile, I was home with the girls, who delighted in testing my patience by acting as though they were participants in a timed mess-creating contest. I had finally found a moment to visit the "powder room" (to be prim and proper - HA!) when I heard Mr. Incredible burst into the house, frantically yelling for me. From the tone of his voice, I thought that the girls had created a more monstrous mess than usual, but when I went to find out what he wanted, he was just excited because he had stopped by the site of the NASCAR sale, and he was in die cast heaven. (That sounds a little sacrilegious, doesn't it?)

As it turns out, the "little" NASCAR sale was actually a sale of the remnants of the out-of-business NASCAR shop. Mr. Incredible was delighted to find single 1:24 scale car display cases (normally $10) for $1 and was overjoyed to find Dale Jr. die casts with prices ranging from $20 to $50. (In my limited experience, prices for die casts, not Wal-Mart versions, generally begin around $65.)

Popular driver; once-in-a-lifetime prices: now that's a winning combination. After examining our finances, we decided that Mr. Incredible could make the purchases he desired as long as any money withdrawn from our savings was returned in a timely fashion. So over the past week, he has purchased a 10-car (1:24 scale) mirrored-back display case, a 48 car (1:64 scale) mirrored back display case, and eight 1:24 Dale Jr. die casts, including the rare 1999 rookie car, which we saw valued at four times what he paid. I don't mind Mr. Incredible's spending money when it gets that kind of return on investment!