Column: NASCAR needs to change the tone starting at the top
By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer
Monday, July 30
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The sky is not falling on NASCAR, its top executives insist, and a cheerier disposition could go a long way in lifting the black clouds surrounding the series.
That is a paraphrase of the message NASCAR chief operating officer Steve Phelps delivered at Pocono Raceway during a weekend sponsorship celebration. Phelps was presenting good news — that Camping World will continue as sponsor of the Truck Series through 2022 under Gander Outdoors branding — but his singular announcement couldn’t mask the larger issues facing NASCAR.
Phelps argued otherwise.
“I think this industry tends to focus on the negative,” Phelps said. “I’m not really sure why.”
Because television ratings continue to slide, and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson is seeking a new sponsor. Because the same three drivers have combined to win 16 of 21 Cup races this season, and the tracks and the schedule are stale. Because the France family is reportedly interested in selling NASCAR and Chairman Brian France has yet to address the report straight-on and has instead stated only that his family is committed to running the series.
Phelps’ position mirrored the message France delivered last week when he called SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and was asked what he would tell fans about “the state of their NASCAR right now.”
“Well, I think we are having a good year,” France said. “Things are changing a lot in sports, and that’s a given, with how things are being consumed. More digital, more this, more that, and we’re trying to meet their needs in terms of how they take in NASCAR and it is terrific. We’ve got unbelievable fans and we are very proud of that.”
Perhaps a message with a little more meat to it would have raised the spirits of an aging fanbase that no longer hangs on every left turn.
Phelps is right: The vocal majority of NASCAR find fault in most everything. But that doesn’t make fans fools capable of believing France’s proclamation that this is a “good year” for NASCAR.
For that, the blame is strictly on NASCAR and its own failure to fix the negative perceptions surrounding the series.
France could have addressed the sale rumors when Reuters first issued its report in May. But he didn’t, and nearly three months later still has not stated whether NASCAR is or is not for sale. He doesn’t publicly say much of anything anymore, which is his right. But someone needs to be leading the cheers and if the fans only focus on the negative it is because NASCAR isn’t doing a good enough job of promoting the positives.
There are some areas to crow about, too:
—Bubba Wallace was not injured Sunday in a violent collision at Pocono that cracked a section of the energy-absorbing SAFER barrier. Upgrades to safety have been an ongoing process since Dale Earnhardt’s 2001 fatal accident, and after Kyle Busch broke both his legs in a 2015 accident at Daytona, additional SAFER barriers have been built into almost every track on the circuit. Wrecks are one of the lures of NASCAR and because they are so frequent, it is easy to get desensitized to the danger. Wallace’s wreck was a reminder it is still a deadly sport, and NASCAR has worked diligently to lessen the risks.
—Three series champions are presently racing each other each week for the Cup title. Busch and Kevin Harvick have six wins each, while reigning NASCAR champion Martin Truex Jr. has four. Only four other drivers have been to victory lane this season, and the last three races have gone to Truex, Harvick and Busch, in that order. Some may argue the Big 3 winning each week is getting old, but it is a chess match between a Ford and two Toyota teams unlike anything that’s been seen since the so-called “good ‘ol days” of NASCAR.
—Although they aren’t racing for wins right now, younger drivers are in the playoff mix and seven drivers not considered veterans are currently in the top 16 in the standings. At Pocono, five “Young Guns” finished in the top seven, and that included Hendrick Motorsports’ baby-faced trio of Alex Bowman, William Byron and Chase Elliott.
—NASCAR’s experiment with “enhanced weekends” that cut the on-track portion of an event from three days to two has been a boon to teams and given the road warriors a breather from the grueling 38-race schedule. Pocono was a two-day event, which led to a lengthy post-qualifying inspection process in which many cars failed. The trade-off was worth it to those who put in double shifts at the track each weekend.
“Anything that keeps us home an extra day is good for me,” said Busch crew chief Adam Stevens. “I have a family, most of us do, and if we can spend some extra time with them, it takes a little stress off the year. I think it’s the right way to go.”
Maybe the sky isn’t falling, and maybe the focus too often takes a sinister slant. But that’s on NASCAR to clean up — and only NASCAR knows the size of the project.
Why a (now-deleted) op-ed about replacing libraries with Amazon blew up the internet
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces “Religious Liberty Task Force.”
Sessions says the task force will “help the Department fully implement our religious liberty guidance,” including “making sure our employees know their duties to accommodate people of faith.”
We must be very blunt about the creation of the Religious Liberty Task Force: It’s another huge step forward in the Trump Regime’s creation of a regressive Christian white ethnostate.
And if that sounds like hyperbole to you, you’re not paying attention.
Trio of Trails make Mansfield an ideal destination
Experiences not found anyplace else on earth are highlighted
MANSFIELD, Ohio – Three great trails make a perfect getaway for visitors to Mansfield Oho, located one hour north of Columbus and just an hour south of Cleveland. The Mansfield Wine & Ale Trail, The Shawshank Trail and Haunted Mansfield trail take visitors around Richland County, immersing them in some of the destination’s most iconic and memorable experiences. Complete visitor information on the trails, as well as on other attractions and area dining and lodging is found at DestinationMansfield.com.
The Wine and Ale Trail stops along the path are filled with vintage finds and antique treasures, including five wineries and two breweries — each with its own storied past. The wineries include Vault Wine Bar, 1285 Winery at the Blueberry Patch, Happy Grape Wine Bar and Bistro, Cyprus Hill Winery, and Wishmaker House, an inn, winery and wine bar. Breweries featured on the trail include Phoenix Brewing Company, located in a restored former funeral home and mortuary from the 1910s, and Laxton Hollow Brewing Works, which specializes in cask-aged beers, a rarity among American craft breweries.
The Shawshank Trail takes visitors not only throughout Mansfield but all over the country, visiting stops where the notable movie, The Shawshank Redemption, was shot. The majority of the movie was filmed at the Ohio State Reformatory, while other filming locations can be seen all around the region, including Mansfield’s Renaissance Theatre, Carrousel Antiques and in the city’s Central Park and nearly a dozen other sites that make up the trail.
The Haunted Mansfield Trail takes visitors on a ghostly tour of Ohio’s most haunted area, including the Ohio State Reformatory, the Renaissance Theater, Mansfield Fire Museum and Educational Center and Malabar Farm State Park. Along the trail, tours, night haunts, paranormal investigations and even overnight Ghost Hunts offer visitors frighteningly unforgettable experiences.
In addition to these three trails, travelers can find even more adventure that’s just right for their family on Mansfield’s Biking and Hiking Trail. The Richland B&O Trail is a paved 18.4 mile-route connecting Mansfield, Lexington, Bellville, and Butler. At the northern end of the trail, visitors will find the 5.7-mile Mansfield City Bike Loop. They can also hike from Malabar Farm State Park to the Mohican State Memorial Forest along the primitive hills of the Clear Fork Valley Scenic Trail, as well enjoying the scenic beauty of a trek through Gorman Nature Center or at Shelby Reservoir & Trails.
For horse owners, nearly 90 miles of gorgeous woodland bridle trails offer scenic rides from Malabar Farm State Park to Pleasant Hill Lake Park and Mohican State Forest. Trails are open year-round and suitable for riders with all levels of experience. Malabar Farm State Park and Pleasant Hill Lake Park also feature horse camps and facilities with nonelectric campsites large enough for trucks and trailers.
A destination unlike any other, Mansfield and Richland County, Ohio offers unusual travel adventures and experiences, such as spending the night in a haunted former state prison where Hollywood blockbuster movies are shot, world-class motorsports, skiing, hiking, biking, golf, and loads of other outdoor adventures attract families and visitors of all ages. Complete visitor information and free visitor guides are available at DestinationMansfield.com or by calling (800) 642-8282.
Peppa Pig Live! Extends North American Tour and Returns to Columbus November 21
Tickets Go on Sale Friday, August 3, at 10am
Peppa Pig Live! is now one of the most successful family theater tours in North American history with more than 500,000 tickets sold to date. Just in time for the holiday season, Peppa Pig Live! will continue its record-breaking run when Peppa Pig’s Surprise (www.peppapigliveus.com), the newest live stage show based on Entertainment One’s (eOne) top-rated series airing daily on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr., returns to play Columbus’ Palace Theatre.
CAPA presents Peppa Pig Live! Peppa Pig’s Surprise at the Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.) on Wednesday, November 21, at 5 pm. Tickets go on sale Friday, August 3, at 10 am, and are $35-$63 at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. VIP packages, which include meet-and-greets with the characters, are also available.
In Peppa Pig’s Surprise, it’s a lovely day, and Peppa is playing outside with her friends. Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig have a surprise for her and her younger brother George, but no matter how hard they try, Peppa and George cannot guess what it is.
Audiences will enjoy fun, interactive games, and of course, many surprises! The live show encompasses the charming, colorful nature of the incredibly popular preschool series and features brand-new songs and life-sized puppets that walk, talk, dance, and jump up and down to give audiences a unique, fully immersive theatrical experience from the moment the curtain opens. The show gives little ones and their families the opportunity to engage with their favorite characters like never before in an unforgettable, first live stage show experience.
For more information and tour dates, please visit www.peppapigliveus.com, Facebook, and Twitter.
Directed by Richard Lewis
Composer Mani Svavarsson
Matt Lewis is lyricist
Simon Scullion is designer
Andy Booth is music director
Produced by Red Light Management, Fiery Angel and eOne
CAPA presents PEPPA PIG LIVE! PEPPA PIG’S SURPRISE
Wednesday, November 21, 5 pm
Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.)
It’s a lovely day, and Peppa is playing outside with her friends. Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig have a surprise for her and her younger brother George, but no matter how hard they try, Peppa and George cannot guess what it is. Peppa Pig Live! encompasses the charming, colorful nature of the incredibly popular preschool series and features brand-new songs and life-sized puppets that walk, talk, dance, and jump up and down to give audiences a unique, fully immersive theatrical experience from the moment the curtain opens. Tickets are $35-$63 at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939 or (800) 745-3000. VIP packages, which include meet-and-greets with the characters, are also available. www.capa.com
The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this program with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, education excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. CAPA also appreciates the generous support of The National Endowment for the Arts, the Barbara B. Coons and Robert Bartels Funds of The Columbus Foundation, and the Greater Columbus Arts Council.
About Entertainment One
Entertainment One Ltd. (LSE:ETO) is a global independent studio that specialises in the development, acquisition, production, financing, distribution and sales of entertainment content. The Company’s diversified expertise spans across film, television and music production and sales; family programming, merchandising and licensing; digital content; and live entertainment. Through its global reach and expansive scale, powered by deep local market knowledge, the Company delivers the best content to the world.
Entertainment One’s robust network includes Makeready with Brad Weston; content creation venture Amblin Partners with Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, and Reliance Entertainment; unscripted television production companies Whizz Kid Entertainment and Renegade 83; live entertainment leaders Round Room Entertainment; world-class music labels Dualtone Music Group and Last Gang; and award-winning emerging content and technology studio Secret Location.
The Company’s rights library, valued at US$1.7 billion (as at 31 March 2017), is exploited across all media formats and includes more than 80,000 hours of film and television content and approximately 40,000 music tracks.
Owner/operator of downtown Columbus’ magnificent historic theatres (Ohio Theatre, Palace Theatre, Southern Theatre) and manager of the Riffe Center Theatre Complex, Lincoln Theatre, Drexel Theatre, Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts (New Albany, OH), and the Shubert Theater (New Haven, CT), CAPA is a non-profit, award-winning presenter of national and international performing arts and entertainment. For more information, visit www.capa.com.
More Travelers Protecting International Vacations with Travel Insurance
COLUMBUS, Ohio (July 31, 2018) – As international travel grows in popularity, a new AAA Travel survey reveals travelers are increasingly considering travel insurance to protect their investments.
“More than 30 million family travelers will visit an international destination this year, 9 percent more than just two years ago,” said Bill Sutherland, senior vice president of AAA Travel and Publishing. “There are just too many unknowns, like family emergencies and natural disasters, which can throw an unexpected wrench into a planned vacation.”
Nearly 4 in 10 (38 percent) of Americans say they’re likely to purchase travel insurance for future international trips, according to AAA’s survey. Nearly 9 in 10 (88 percent) of those likely to purchase insurance say getting their money back, if they cancel their trip, is their top priority.
Travelers say they base their decision to purchase travel insurance on:
The cost of their trip (70 percent)
Personal or family health concerns (69 percent)
How far in advance the trip is booked (61 percent)
Recommendations to purchase insurance by family or friends (57 percent)
Travel Insurance Trends:
AAA has noticed a 20 percent increase in travelers opting for travel insurance year-to-date, with 13 percent more members overall opting to purchase travel insurance last year compared to 2016. In 2017, AAA members insured trips that were approximately 18 percent more expensive than the previous year, according to AAA’s insurance partner Allianz Global Assistance.
“The relatively small upfront cost of travel insurance can pay back dividends in the event of sudden and unforeseen circumstances before or during a vacation,” said Sutherland.
What Does Travel Insurance Offer?
While all travel insurance policies differ, they generally cover the following:
Trip cancellation: Reimbursement for the cost of your trip if you have to cancel for a covered reason, such as you, an immediate family member or your traveling companion becomes ill or injured.
Flight delays and cancellations: Airlines may not cover all the costs associated with a delayed or cancelled flight. Travel insurance can help reimburse expenses, such as rebooking fees, meals and accommodations.
Lost or delayed bags: Airlines mishandled more than 22 million bags in 2017. Travel insurance can provide coverage to replace needed items if luggage is delayed, damaged or stolen.
Medical expenses: Most health insurance policies don’t cover international travel. Travel insurance can help cover medical expenses and costly medical evacuation back to the United States in emergencies. Policies also often help cover medical expenses while traveling in the United States.
AAA’s travel insurance research findings are the result of a telephone survey (landline and cell phone) consisting of 1,003 adults living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was conducted June 21-24, 2018. This study has an average statistical error of ±4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for all U.S. adults.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.
AIA Applauds Ohio Governor and Legislature for Rejecting ALI Restatement
WASHINGTON, D.C. — July 31, 2018 — The American Insurance Association’s Stef Zielezienski, senior vice president and general counsel, released the following statement in response to Ohio Governor John Kasich’s signing of SB 239 yesterday:
“We applaud Governor Kasich and the Ohio legislature for decisively repudiating the ALI’s Restatement of the Law of Liability Insurance. Given that the ALI chose to rewrite the law, rather than restate it, we expect Ohio to be the first of many state legislatures to reject the project.”
Background: Among other provisions, SB 239 states that the ALI’s Restatement of the Law, Liability Insurance does not constitute the public policy of the state of Ohio.
ICYMI: DEWINE-HUSTED’S PLANS FOR OHIO’S FUTURE
Giving our children the proper development and skills to be successful when they are young will be a top priority in the DeWine-Husted Administration.
Recently, Mike DeWine and Jon Husted introduced a plan to give more opportunities to Ohio kids. Check out the columns published over the last few days by Cleveland.com and the Chillicothe Gazette below.
With these investments and improvements, we can start to solve this problem for the sake of our entire state and its future.
Brent Larkin, Columnist | July 26, 2018
“Both candidates are talking meaningfully about the challenges of at-risk kids,” said Jones. “The election of the next governor provides a real chance for Ohio’s youngest and most vulnerable children to get the priority they deserve.”
DeWine has a detailed plan for increasing investment in and eligibility for government-funded preschool. It also provides for parental counseling, and improvements in foster care programs.
Cordray has said he wants to provide universal preschool for poor children in part by diverting money that has been allocated for online charter schools.
However, the plan laid out by DeWine is easily the most substantive.
CHILD DEVELOPMENT HIGH ON MIKE DEWINE’S PRIORITY LIST
Bonnie Ward, Guest Contributor | July 27, 2018
Mike DeWine’s recent release of his children’s agenda was a lot more momentous than you might think. For years government and political leaders have been saddled with the costs of social disorders resulting from poverty and poor education affecting children in some parts of the state. Too many kids who reach adulthood in Ohio simply don’t have the knowledge and tools to succeed on the job.
As DeWine knows, social disorders are disruptive and costly. They include unemployment, crime, incarceration, and drug use, all of which are debilitating to the individual. But we all pay the cost. For example, the state of Ohio spends $2 billion a year to jail 50,000 people in our prison system – which is about $72.23 a day, per prisoner. And the opioid crisis alone imposes costs on our state at more than $1 billion a year.
Child experts have known for a long time that programs designed to fix these problems once they occur are doomed to a low success rate. The reason is that the mental development that leads on to success for most of us occurs in the first three years of life.
Key markers of eventual success in life lie in good prenatal care, healthy birth weight and early infant care, strong nutrition, freedom from neglect and abuse, mental stimulus like books in the home and early learning of letters, numbers, colors and basic vocabulary needed for school. Children who start well learn well. But children who don’t, go on to fail at very high rates.
Until DeWine spoke a few weeks ago, this has not idea been popular among political leaders. After all, there are hundreds of demands on state resources. And it’s a cynic’s reality that infants and toddlers don’t make political contributions and don’t vote.
But this view is short-sighted. The failure in youth and young adulthood for large numbers of Ohio children cripples our state. Services for them consume tens of millions of tax dollars, costs which put our state at a strong disadvantage in the world competition against nations that don’t have these problems.
Thank God for Mike DeWine, who speaks the truth and has the political will to do something about this impacted problem in our state. DeWine has shown the courage to make a kids agenda central to his campaign, and central to his plans as governor if he is elected. He’s going to need a lot of support to change the course of history for poorer and deprived children.
Taking care of children, especially neglected children, is clearly a moral issue. But it’s a stark economic issue as well, and also an opportunity.
If you live in a prosperous suburban enclave and don’t believe this problem affects you, you are wrong. The costs of today’s children failing will be borne by your sons and daughters when they reach adulthood. Not only will productive Ohioans bear the cost of services for those who don’t have the tools to hold jobs, but our state’s economic strength will be sapped, costing us jobs and a decline in our quality of life.
Grim as that picture may be, the opposite is just as bright. If we seize the lead among states in tackling and solving the problem of growing all of our children into productive, self-sufficient adults, we will stand as a beacon and as a magnet for businesses. If we succeed, we will be able to offer capable, trained, reliable workers on one hand, and lower government costs than other states on the other. Prosperity will follow.
As obvious as this may be, it has taken a leader of courage to tell it the way it is: the years from womb through preschool are the most important in the lives of all our children. Mike DeWine has used his bully pulpit to put in motion plans that can actually work, even if they don’t result in instant gratification.
Mike DeWine has said what needs to be said. Now he must be given the authority to put his plans in action.
Bonnie Ward is a former teacher for Waverly City Schools and a member of the Republican Central Committee in Pike County and the state GOP Central Committee.