Sunday, February 01, 2015

OF STANDARDS AND STANDINGS (Forrest Lucas tops this week's Power Players list)

The only racing last weekend was that to get in front of the big-screen HD TV to watch the Super Bowl, so -- after some brief thoughts -- let's get right to the new Power Players list as NHRA's Mello Yello season begins at Pomona: 

Following the New England Patriots' portion of the absurdity that Super Bowl Media Day has become, ESPN host Steve Levy complimented his fellows who hold microphones or pads and pens because not every question was about deflated footballs. Really? That's praise-worthy? 

Levy's comment once again reinforced how dumbed-down the media has become, because if there were true journalism standards, any more than one or two questions on that subject would have been criticized as unprofessional and trivial. But, of course, all the national network news shows at one point or another last week LED with this very minor story. The world is going to hell but this was the top story for Brian Williams and the rest of news-as-showbiz crowd. Oh, how our major media organizations have declined. Sports Illustrated last week let go all of its remaining staff photographers. (Most of the top writers are gone, too; so will my 40-plus year paid subscription come the next renewal notice.) The over-the-top over-coverage of last week's snow storm in the Northeast -- yes, there is an East Coast Media Bias -- is another example . . . talk about trivial nonsense, CNN put a reporter on the road in what it called its "BlizzardMobile." Ridiculous.

Point the finger to the incredible rise of social media for a lot of this downfall. Does the new technology have its place? Of course. Should it be allowed to dominate traditional professional editorial decisions? Of course not. I say the NFL could do away with most of the pseudo-reporters credentialed to Media Day and it wouldn't hurt the Super Bowl TV ratings one damn bit. I realize all of this likely can't be reversed, but that doesn't mean standards should be flushed in the name of "What's Trending?".

POWER PLAYERS for the week of February 1: This week's 10 most influential people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight.

  1. Forrest Lucas -- The Lucas Oil founder is drag racing's most expansive and loyal sponsor -- series, teams, tracks, events -- and now backs John Force Racing. Where would NHRA be without him?

  2. Rick Hendrick -- Personal leadership, strong executive management -- and some good timing -- work again. Chase Elliott to take over the No. 24 from Jeff Gordon with NAPA $. Success starts at the top. The team's future is as secure as anything can be in auto racing.

  3. John Force -- His family business has survived, financially, to race another season. That's essential to NHRA because he remains drag racing's biggest star.

  4. Courtney Force -- She's the one drag racer with the ability and appeal to greatly grow NHRA's audience and media coverage, but it will take wins and a Funny Car championship to add to her "It" factor. And that needs to happen within the next 2-3 years. 

  5. Mike Dunn -- What racing's best TV analyst has to say on ESPN shapes opinions about NHRA drivers, teams, sponsors and tracks. Nobody does it better.

  6. Peter De Lorenzo -- Former ad man's 15-year-old is THE weekly word on the auto industry (especially now during Car Show Season) and how it all translates to the dollars-and-cents of motorsports. Politically-correct industry insiders claim not to read him. They do.

  7. Gordon Kirby -- America's most-read international motorsports journalist as U.S. editor for England's Motor Sport, plus Racemaker Press author, and weekly column offers sharp opinion and perspective on issues across the racing spectrum. His words impact what Europeans believe is true about American motorsports.

   8. Tony Stewart -- Buys and merges the midwest All Star Circuit of Champions and Renegade sprint cars series, creating longer-term strength and stability. Don't anyone think circumstances of the last two years have changed his love of short track and dirt track racing, especially sprint cars.

  9. Terry Chandler -- She personally sponsors the Funny Cars of Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jack Beckman to bring awareness and donations to Make-A-Wish and Infinite Hero Foundation, respectfully. Chandler pays the bill to go racing; no contributions are used to field those teams.

 10. Bobby Bennett -- Publisher/editor of, the foremost website for INDEPENDENT drag racing journalism. (Full disclosure: I'm a columnist.)

new list and more next week . . . ]