Title: Winston/NEXTEL Cup: the triumph of the spectacle

Authors: William G. McTeer, Philip G. White

Addresses: Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON, N2L 3C5, Canada. ' Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, L8S 4L8, Canada

Abstract: This paper develops theoretical arguments accounting for the broad spectator appeal of the Winston NEXTEL Cup automobile racing series and its dramatic growth in popularity and subsequent expansion in North America. We suggest that this spectacular spectatorship phenomenon is a reflection of economic and cultural forces that have shaped it and which are symptomatic of a more generally intensified corporate infiltration into the sporting realm. Our arguments take extant sociological explanations for the generalised popularity of contemporary spectator sport as their point of departure. Demographic shifts in the socio-economic and gender backgrounds of the developing fan base are then juxtaposed with features of stock car racing which make it attractive to both live audiences and those viewing the event on television. NASCAR, the organiser/owner of the Winston/Nextel Cup racing series, it is suggested, is symptomatic of broader trends within the sport-media nexus within which the financial logic of consumer capitalism supersedes the cultural roots of the sport as it was originally constructed. We conclude that the socially constructed structure of the race events themselves cannot be extricated from the economic logic of the media production values which drive the spectacularisation of the sport|s development as a major sport brand.

Keywords: NASCAR; automobile racing; spectatorship; media; consumer capitalism; socio-economic status; gender; spectacle; motorsports; motor racing; motor sport; spectator appeal; Winston NEXTEL Cup; stock car racing; sport branding; sport marketing.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2010.033951

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2010 Vol.8 No.1/2, pp.93 - 105

Published online: 05 Jul 2010 *

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