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200 MPH: NASCAR's Entrance into Sports Culture
Unformatted Document Text:  14 brought NASCAR to new viewers and potential fans. Perhaps mirroring the expansion NASCAR has shown in its fan base, TNN recently announced a name change precipitated by its own broadened fan base. The station recognized that its main audience consisted of men, in part because of its racing coverage, and executives have decided to change the name from TNN to SpikeTV. The SpikeTV channel is packaged as a station for men in answer to channels aimed at women, such as WE, Oxygen, and Lifetime. TNN’s appeal expanding from a regional audience to men in general is perhaps tied to, or at least similar to, the growth of NASCAR fans beyond people living in the South. The introduction of cable television provided an expansion of the sport space, bringing larger audiences to Winston Cup racing. Despite the growth in fans, however, NASCAR did not easily break into the hegemonic sports culture. It is evidence of the dominance of the Big Three and One-Half that other media outlets remained resistant to seeing or acknowledging stock car racing’s popularity and diffusion. Into the 1990s, USA Today filled its sports section with news of baseball, basketball, and football. When the paper finally decided to expand coverage to NASCAR racing, it was not because the editors, on their own, recognized the sport’s widespread audience. In 1995, NASCAR executives met with editors and presented them with research into the stock car racing audience. As Hagstrom reports, the editors and executives were shocked to see that their demographics matched exactly. After this realization, USA Today began running more stories on NASCAR and, in addition to regular coverage, now publishes a special motorsports edition the Thursday before a race (Hagstrom 95-96). Hagstrom quotes Steve Ballard, motorsports editor of USA Today, about the newspaper’s recognition of stock car racing, “ ‘As far as USA Today is concerned, the

Authors: Moe, Kirsten.
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14
brought NASCAR to new viewers and potential fans. Perhaps mirroring the expansion
NASCAR has shown in its fan base, TNN recently announced a name change
precipitated by its own broadened fan base. The station recognized that its main audience
consisted of men, in part because of its racing coverage, and executives have decided to
change the name from TNN to SpikeTV. The SpikeTV channel is packaged as a station
for men in answer to channels aimed at women, such as WE, Oxygen, and Lifetime.
TNN’s appeal expanding from a regional audience to men in general is perhaps tied to, or
at least similar to, the growth of NASCAR fans beyond people living in the South.
The introduction of cable television provided an expansion of the sport space,
bringing larger audiences to Winston Cup racing. Despite the growth in fans, however,
NASCAR did not easily break into the hegemonic sports culture. It is evidence of the
dominance of the Big Three and One-Half that other media outlets remained resistant to
seeing or acknowledging stock car racing’s popularity and diffusion. Into the 1990s,
USA Today filled its sports section with news of baseball, basketball, and football. When
the paper finally decided to expand coverage to NASCAR racing, it was not because the
editors, on their own, recognized the sport’s widespread audience. In 1995, NASCAR
executives met with editors and presented them with research into the stock car racing
audience. As Hagstrom reports, the editors and executives were shocked to see that their
demographics matched exactly. After this realization, USA Today began running more
stories on NASCAR and, in addition to regular coverage, now publishes a special
motorsports edition the Thursday before a race (Hagstrom 95-96).
Hagstrom quotes Steve Ballard, motorsports editor of USA Today, about the
newspaper’s recognition of stock car racing, “ ‘As far as USA Today is concerned, the


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