Friday, December 17, 2010

What Do I Have To Do To Get You People Like Me?!

Meet Jimmie Johnson, the best NASCAR driver in the world for the past five years. Is he really that good behind the wheel? Oh yeah. Is he a nice guy? He is indeed one of the nicest and most genuine guys in the sport. But when he’s introduced before the race, do fans go crazy over him? No.

To many, it seems odd that Jimmie has not been as successful at capturing fans as he has been at capturing championships. Jimmie may have a lot to offer, but he’s missing something that keeps him from being a driver fans can really latch on to. Perhaps a trip to Oz is in order so that the wizard can give Jimmie what he’s missing: an imperfection.

Think back to the “good ol’ days” of NASCAR and you think about guys like the Intimidator, the Ironman, the Bandit, the Silver Fox, Jaws, and the King. Back then, drivers seemed more genuine and thus fans made connections with them. The drivers were regular people who had imperfections and weren’t afraid to show emotion on and off the track. Nowadays, drivers are “brand ambassadors” that are programmed to thank Chevy, smile, compliment their teammates, smile, and take a drink of Coca Cola (remember to turn the bottle so the logo is showing for those practicing at home). Fans aren’t ignorant, and they see through the charade, and I imagine that it only frustrates them as it does me. Stop talking like robots and tell us how you really feel before I change the channel back to Swamp People!

In the current crop of NASCAR drivers, only a handful of drivers break this mold. Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, and Kevin Harvick are three that come to mind, although Carl Edwards gets a nod for his creative sponsor plugs and occasional “choke hold”. You can hear signs of emotion from these drivers when they talk, and you see their tempers get the best of them on the track. Fans get this, and it is part of the reason Kyle’s fan base has grown so quickly. When someone cuts me off on the highway, I get mad and want to retaliate, although laws often prohibit this. When you see a driver do that in a race, it excites you because you understand his frustration.

Unfortunately for Jimmie he is just too perfect, and it’s hard for fans to relate. Jimmie is like that overachieving friend…the one who got his PhD and has a weekend house in the mountains before he turned 30. People that are “perfect” only make you feel bad about yourself, so we tend to avoid them. Think about your close friends. Are they ten times better than you at everything, or do you tend to surround yourself with people who have just as many faults as you? Being a fan works the same way. I like Carl because I get his sense of humor, I understand his rage, and he seems genuine.

In order for Jimmie to win over fans, I have decided to start a list of things he can do to prove he isn’t perfect:
  • Arm-wrestle Joey Logano’s dad
  • Start the tradition of doing a cartwheel after a victory
  • Do his victory burnout before the race
  • Thank Home Depot during post-race interview
  • Pay people to vote him as the Most Popular Driver (similar to Dale Jr’s method of winning eight titles in a row)
  • Divorce Chandra and propose to Danica
  • Kidnap Carl Edwards baby

We want to hear from you! Tell us what you think Jimmie should do to win over some fans. We may even pick the best idea and send you a prize…wink, wink!

Jesse Leadbetter

5 comments:

yankee mike said...

nascar athelites typically last for decades and it is simply gonna take time for him to become a legend.more toe to toe finishes and historical moments that will stick in peoples heads, the crashes that make people say " wow, he walked away from that?"
He is a legend already but time will dictate when the people will recognize this

Kevin said...

All he has to do is punch Kyle Busch in the face as soon as possible.

John said...

I'm a Sterling Marlin fan. What made him stand out was, when he was at a meet n greet. He took time to look up say hi and take a pic. Just not sign your stuff and next. In all the years at Las Vegas motor speedway, only once was Jimmy doing a meet n greet and they only gave out 100 tickets. Maybe he need to do more meet n greets. He can start with me in Vegas, since I've never have gotten his autograph..

Michael said...

He needs some type of attitude, mans man, spoiled brat, anything because right now he is simply too plain. Do you prefer a plain bagel or donut or would you prefer the loaded with flavor varieties? Most would choose a flavor. But s bowl of plain chips out and three seperate bowls of flavored chips and the plains will be left and stake. Give me done kind of attitude.

josh said...

Start winning less. Plain and simple, people didnt like Earnhardt or Gordon when they were in their prime. They slowed down and became fan favorites. The tides will turn and Jimmie will become one of the veterans of the sport as people realize he is a 5x Champ and how big of a legend he really is