Cheating and NASCAR Who's at the Wheel Case Study

Excerpt from Case Study :

Cheating at Nascar: Who's at the wheel?"

"If you don't cheat you look like an idiot," says it all; this comment was made by one of the icons of NASCAR, Darry Waltrip, after he was caught cheating (Ramsey, 2010). NASCAR is a gigantic organization where cheating is not only rampant, it is expected. Perhaps it is because NASCAR was born in an environment of illegal activity where outsmarting the law was the only way to succeed. Today, however, there are many motivational factors that promote cheating in the organization. These factors are varied but they all eventually lead to the almighty dollar. Money is not the only reason that cheating is so pervasive in NASCAR. In fact, the culture within NASCAR is comprised of many aspects which contribute to unethical behavior. Cheating is so omnipresent throughout the organization that it will be extremely difficult to eradicate it, but not impossible. It will take harsh measures to eliminate cheating within NASCAR and ultimately these measures must attack where it hurts the most, the wallet.

Cheating is accomplished at every level and in every corner of NASCAR. Drivers, crew chiefs, car chiefs, and NASCAR itself all considered cheaters by the fans who follow NASCAR. Obviously, there are different motivations depending upon the position of the cheater. Drivers, crew chiefs, and car chiefs have in mind the ultimate goal of winning when they succumb to the temptation to cheat. NASCAR, however, has as its aim, retaining a large fan base, attracting sponsors, and enhancing media coverage (Baucus, Norton, Davis-Sramek & Meek, 2008). Looking at the bottom line, however, it all relates to money. The race teams cannot continue to race if they do not win races. They simply could not afford to do so and they would lose sponsors if they lost all the time. Stock car racing is an extremely competitive and expensive sport. It can also be a lucrative sport. Cheating to make the field more attractive to fans is NASCAR's motivation. If the fans fill the stands and tune in to the races to see their favorite racers, NASCAR makes money. It is for this reason, some believe, that very questionable decisions are made that sometimes allow racers into a field where they clearly did not belong. It behooves NASCAR to ensure that the most popular drivers are competing in the big races whether they earned that right or not.

The culture of NASCAR is complex and has many aspects which contribute to unethical behavior. These aspects include the fact that the "cat and mouse game has become part of the culture," many of the big names in racing are from a long line of racers and have grown up in the cheating environment, and its very establishment was a direct result of the illegal activity of running illegal liquor (Baucus, et al., 2008). Based on many comments by various drivers, crew chiefs, and car chiefs, it is apparent that part of the game is attempting to get one over on NASCAR. This is a direct result of the necessity of innovation in the sport and the gray rules which define the sport. In fact, many do not consider trying new innovations cheating because the rules are so unclear. Most decisions on cheating fall under the "actions detrimental to the sport" rule because they were not considered illegal previously (Hunneycutt, 2009). In other words, the rules are made up as issues arise. Further, many racers are third and fourth generation drivers who have been raised in a culture where cheating is not considered cheating and is expected to try and gain every advantage possible. Finally, these race car families have been continuing a legacy of beating the law which was built upon the drivers of illicit alcohol during prohibition.

Though it has been said that "rules can't brake cheating" in NASCAR (Baucus, et al., 2008), they can certainly help to alleviate the problem combined with other measures. Though strides have been made to reduce cheating in recent years it is still extremely common. While Darby was Competition Director for NASCAR, he attempted to curb cheating by assessing heavier fines and instituting a point penalty system for cheating (Caldwell, 2010). He also implemented a penalty system whereby the crew chiefs…

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