Skip to content

Humpy Wheeler: NASCAR needs more villains, less “pretty boys”

Jun 10, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski AP

It’s been established that former Charlotte Motor Speedway president and legendary racing promoter Humpy Wheeler is not afraid to state his opinions on the sport.

Last November, Wheeler prescibed what he believed were the cures for what’s been ailing IndyCar racing in North America. Then in January, he discussed the sometimes thorny subject of “pay drivers” in motorsports.

Now he’s sounded off again to Autoweek, this time on what NASCAR needs in order to build its fan base back up after it eroded somewhat over the last decade.

Wheeler says that the new Chase for the Sprint Cup format, which enables drivers to effectively make NASCAR’s post-season with a regular season win, was a good call.

However, he believes that NASCAR needs to take away some speed from the cars in order to really improve the on-track product.

“You can’t really race when you’re more than 200 mph on an intermediate track,” he said. “They should slow ’em by at least 10 mph. And they need to attack the dreaded “aero push” problem.

“They haven’t done it yet, but they’re starting to look at it. Downforce is creating aero push, so they have to figure that out.”

Wheeler is also critical of what he sees as a lack of compelling figures in the sport. To him, the sport desperately needs “a superhero, like Tiger Woods or Joe Namath, somebody like that.”

And what does every superhero need in order to be, well, a superhero? That’s right – a villain. But Wheeler doesn’t see those around, either.

“Walt Disney told his people to draw in a villain within the first 90 seconds,” he said. “We need something like that. We need villains, but, instead, we have too many pretty boys. There just aren’t any personalities.”

Still, Wheeler is optimistic about the sport as a whole is about to come into a relative boom period.

“Racing is at a plateau right now like so many other sports have been at plateaus,” he said. “It’s a normal thing because you just can’t have these 10- or 15-year periods of percentage growth like we did. I think it’s about to turn the corner.”

Latest Posts
  1. Hamilton delighted with first Bahrain pole, but fears Ferrari will be hard to beat

    Apr 18, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Hamilton 184e Getty Images

    The defending F1 world champion feels more at ease with this year’s car in Bahrain, allowing him to dominate qualifying on Saturday.

  2. Hamilton eases to fourth straight pole position in Bahrain

    Apr 18, 2015, 12:06 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-BHR-F1-QUALIFIER Getty Images

    British driver claims his fourth pole position of the season, but only his first in Bahrain.

  3. WATCH LIVE: Bahrain GP qualifying on CNBC and Live Extra from 11am ET

    Apr 18, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-BHR-F1 Getty Images

    Can Lewis Hamilton continue his streak of pole positions in Bahrain? Or will Nico Rosberg get back on top in qualifying?

  4. Manor planning to unveil 2015 car in August

    Apr 18, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Stevens 184 Getty Images

    John Booth says that the long-term future of the team is being planned and secured thanks to fresh investment.

  5. Hamilton closes out Bahrain GP practice on top

    Apr 18, 2015, 9:02 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Qualifying Getty Images

    The defending world champion edges out Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in FP3 ahead of qualifying later today.

  6. WATCH LIVE: FP3 for the Bahrain GP from 8am ET on Live Extra

    Apr 18, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-BHR-F1 Getty Images

    Mercedes and Ferrari continue to exchange blows in Bahrain, but who will get the upper hand ahead of qualifying?

  7. Ricky Taylor, Auberlen on pole for TUDOR at Long Beach

    Apr 17, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT

    Photo: IMSA Photo: IMSA

    Ricky Taylor, Bill Auberlen secure pole positions for Round 3 of TUDOR Championship season in Long Beach.

  8. Power, Pagenaud laugh off last year’s Long Beach contact in post-practice press conference

    Apr 17, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    A quick flashback to last year's Pagenaud, Power contact. A quick flashback to last year's Pagenaud, Power contact.

    Some good banter between Simon Pagenaud and Will Power occurs during post-practice press conference, as the two laugh off their contact here last year.

  9. GP2: Vandoorne continues pole position streak in Bahrain

    Apr 17, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Five in a row for the McLaren junior driver as he starts the 2015 season in style.

  10. Raikkonen and Vettel cautious about challenging Mercedes in Bahrain

    Apr 17, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    Mideast Bahrain F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Ferrari’s long run pace suggests that Mercedes may not have it all its own way on Sunday.

  11. INDYCAR confirms more aero kit updates coming to Long Beach

    Apr 17, 2015, 5:41 PM EDT

    KimballRahal AP

    More from INDYCAR has been released regarding aero kit updates.

  12. Button upbeat despite two practice stoppages in Bahrain

    Apr 17, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-BHR-F1 Getty Images

    He may have only completed 17 laps in total on Friday, but Jenson Button remains positive about McLaren’s progress.

  13. Red Bull GRC: Media day series notes

    Apr 17, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT

    GRClogo2

    Red Bull Global Rallycross rolls out a series of announcements for media day, Thursday in Long Beach.

  14. Dixon leads Ganassi 1-2 in Long Beach opening practice

    Apr 17, 2015, 4:24 PM EDT

    Scott Dixon Getty Images

    Scott Dixon on top in opening practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series at Long Beach.

  15. Brake problems hinder Toro Rosso in Bahrain practice

    Apr 17, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Carlos Sainz Jr. AP

    A mixed day for both Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen during practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

  16. Bottas pleased with practice showing, but thinks there is more time to find in Bahrain

    Apr 17, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Practice Getty Images

    Williams usually reserves its pace for Saturday, but Valtteri Bottas bucked the trend in Bahrain on Friday.

  17. Hamilton sure Mercedes will avoid Malaysia issues in Bahrain

    Apr 17, 2015, 2:36 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-BHR-F1 Getty Images

    Briton pleased with Mercedes work following practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday.

  18. Sato looks for a St. Pete encore and/or Long Beach repeat on Sunday

    Apr 17, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Getty Images

    He’s not the race defending champion, but as the most recent Long Beach winner still in the IndyCar field, Takuma Sato is indeed one to watch this weekend.

  19. Hamilton, Raikkonen, Vettel and Perez under investigation for incidents in Bahrain GP practice

    Apr 17, 2015, 1:22 PM EDT

    Mideast Bahrain F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    A busy night for the stewards in Bahrain due to two incidents at the end of FP2 on Friday.