THE NASCAR The Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway was talked about for all the wrong reasons on social media this past weekend.
While there was plenty of talk about on-track activity during the eighth race of the season, fans couldn’t help but notice another frequently discussed topic: attendance, or lack thereof .
What was once one of the hardest tickets to get in sports, fans would have had no problem obtaining. According to Bristol Herald MailThe facility, which has a capacity of more than 150,000, attracted 38,000 spectators for the Food City 500 on Sunday.
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The crowd was so small that speedway management didn’t even bother to open some sections of the track, with Kulwicki Terrace and most of Waltrip Terrace fenced off in an effort to “enhance the experience fans” by bringing in the fans who attended Sunday’s race. together in the straight sections on both sides of the track.
Sunday’s small crowd is even more shocking when you see the popular image that made the rounds on social media, comparing the 2019 crowd to a sellout crowd in 2009. In 10 years, the Bristol spring race has seen almost 75% of participants. decrease in attendance, and although the track’s nighttime running in August typically draws a larger crowd, there will still be plenty of tickets available for fans to purchase on race day, which was not the case previously.
While Bristol’s attendance issues are certainly the most visible, the track isn’t the only facility attracting smaller crowds than they once did. Without the season-opening Daytona 500, no Cup Series race has been sold out so far this season, with a lack of fans in the stands more noticeable at some tracks than others.
But just because fewer fans are attending races than before doesn’t mean that NASCAR will cease to exist in a few years. NASCAR will likely remain a major sanctioning body for years to come, despite some inevitable changes to meet current market demands.
Just as NASCAR’s television ratings have declined in recent years (even as the sport has seen a small increase over the 2018 season so far), NASCAR fans can no longer expect their favorite racing series to draw crowds of more than 100,000 spectators every race weekend. It’s not 2004 anymore.
Racing fans need to understand that the world has changed since NASCAR’s peak popularity 15 years ago. The Great Recession may be over, but it’s still etched in the minds of many, which means people aren’t ready to just pack their bags and spend a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to travel to across the country to attend. a stock car race.
With the combination of the rising costs of owning and maintaining a car as well as the increase in public transportation in major cities, millennials are not sharing the same price. same level of interest in automobiles as previous generations did. It’s not hard to understand why auto racing might not interest someone who didn’t grow up in “car culture.”
Fans can blame NASCAR’s decline on Brian France, the playoffs, the car of tomorrow, the losses at Rockingham Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch or anyone or anything else that they would like, and these examples may have contributed. to decline in one form or another.
But it would be naive to believe that the NASCAR “fashion” would last forever. People just find new interests, and no matter what NASCAR management tries to do, they won’t be able to bring everyone back.
But it is okay! Whether racing fans want to admit it or not, auto racing has always been and probably always will be a niche sport, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Many other big league racing series such as IndyCar attract smaller crowds and survive very well.
NASCAR may not be as popular as it once was, and it may even decline further in the years to come, but as long as there is even a small group of dedicated fans who passionately love this sport, he will live for many years. come.
The next race on Monster Energy 2019 NASCAR The Cup Series schedule is the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. The live broadcast of this race is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 13 on Fox.