Monday, January 5, 2015

It's the end of the world as we know it. The end of Press Pass.

The news, unfortunately, is true. Press Pass has gone out of business. Rumors have been swirling for several years, and the news was broken by ESPN on January 2nd. Today, January 5th, Press Pass itself confirmed that this time, the rumors are true.

It's a sad day for NASCAR fans.

I've been VERY critical of Press Pass over the years- especially the last few. They really didn't do much of anything right lately, and I was always willing to tell them that. But, as a NASCAR card collector, they were all we've had since 2001 and they weren't all THAT bad.

My complaints, I believe, were valid. They didn't generally include car photos, although they finally did put tiny pictures of them on the cards in 2015. They didn't bother to include career statistics. They didn't include crew chiefs, car owners, or even truly document the races. They just issued driver cards, for years. (And, on some occasions, cards of the drivers with their pets)

What hurt them the most is that in recent years they stopped issuing base sets and only issued super-high priced "high-end" card sets. This is what killed's what killed Fleer...and it is hurting the card companies that still exist. Here's why: Card collectors are completists. Some try to complete sets (which is what I do), some follow specific people or teams. When you only issue cards that one pack sells for $500, it kills the hope of us who wish to have each card if their specific collecting subject. When they lose hope, they stop collecting. When they stop collecting, the card companies fail. It's not rocket science, but none of the card companies get it.

I am sure going to miss them. Yeah, I complained about them, but I still looked forward to every set they did. I still tried to complete as many sets as I could.  My love of NASCAR always outshined my unhappiness with what Press Pass was doing.

I began collecting NASCAR stuff on 12/26/1992. 1993 was my first year collecting NASCAR cards, and while it's now lost to history what my first set was, there's a VERY strong chance that it was 1993 Wheels Rookie Thunder. This was the first real set issued by the company that would become Press Pass. It's the set I remember being in my collection earliest. I remember getting the 1993 Press Pass Preview set when it was new. I remember pulling my first autograph. (Steve Boley in 2001). I remember pulling my first card serially numbered 1 of anything- not just in NASCAR but in my entire collection (1999 Skidmarks parallel of Bill Elliott). I remember pulling my Dale Earnhardt Jr. autograph from a single retail pack at Target in Kingston, NY, in late 2003. I remember my mom treating me to multiple boxes, and opening them, one in each New England state on a vacation in 2004. I remember discovering 2009 Element at my local Target, which got me back into the hobby after being almost totally away from it in 2007 and 2008. (I later got a hobby box - the first box I had done since 2006). I remember joining NUTS and meeting many other card collectors, and trading with them, even knocking out 6 sets in my first week of being a member. (Granted, not all were from Press Pass).

I am depressed to know that going forward, I won't have any more memories of Press Pass...and the possibility that I won't have any NASCAR cards from any other companies to make new memories of is even more of downer.

I may have complained about what they did, but the thought of there not being any's a very unpleasant future.

Not only this, but I have been forced to retire from diecast collecting. For most of the 1990s, my main hobby was 1/64 NASCAR diecast. But health problems- and paying for the treatment of same- have forced me to give them up. As of today, for the first time since I was 8 years old, I have nothing new to collect for NASCAR. That thought is nearly incomprehensible to me.

It's a future I have to accept that I can't help, but I won't have to like it.

I will continue to try and complete as many NASCAR sets as possible. I just won't have any new to chase. Below is a collage of all the main Press Pass sets. I included both series of 2009, mostly to make it fit on the collage.
My favorite set, composition wise, is 2011. My favorite design wise is a tossup between 2004 and 1999. Design wise my least favorite is 1994, which is odd because I consider 1994 the best year ever for NASCAR cards.

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