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DATE News (chronologically)
08/02/12
nassprint
NASCAR excuses for poor ratings and attendance are getting pretty thin
A massive crowd at Indy for another failing France family series- Grand-Am.  They raced but almost nobody came.
As the crowds in the grandstands and the number of viewers on television for NASCAR races seemingly get thinner and thinner, so do the excuses as to why such is the case. After the television ratings for the snooze fest known as the Brickyard 400 came in on Tuesday, the networks and the sanctioning body quickly embraced the idea that the Olympics were the cause of a 17% drop off from the same race last year.

Apparently, America’s appetite for Olympic rowing and beach volleyball simply overwhelmed ESPN’s coverage of the Sprint Cup race from the famed track. Luckily, the Olympics only come around once every four years or else NASCAR would probably revert back to a radio only sport as its television viewers would be unable to take their eyes off of weight lifting, judo and skeet shooting long enough to watch racing.

It also appeared as if the desire to watch water polo and table tennis was so great that it kept people from occupying the grandstands at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well. Even with the tight shots provided by television to hide the reality, vast emptiness in the seating areas was all too obvious on Sunday, not to mention for the inaugural and “historic” visit to the track by the Nationwide Series on Saturday.

Seriously! It is ridiculous to believe that true fans of this sport or any other would tune out their favorite past time to watch a hodge podge of oddities that are mostly playing on a tape delayed basis with the results already known to much of the world before the airing. Of course, the problem is that NASCAR drove away its true fans in search of a hipper, more market savvy demographic to drive up corporate revenues.

That core who would watch no matter what else was on…is gone. Instead, NASCAR now has(or had) what it craved so badly a few years ago - a hip, young audience who is open to the advances of the latest TV ad campaign. Unfortunately, that demographic tends to be rather flighty and not so well rooted. So, whenever the next “can’t miss” event comes along, they leave. (See related article - kids have fallen out of love with the automobile)

When NASCAR began the abandonment of its base several years ago, its chief water carriers in the media and elsewhere made the argument that “there were only 30,000 or so fans to attend races at tracks like Rockingham, North Wilkesboro and Darlington.” Venues such as Chicago, Miami, Kansas City and California offered bigger, more up-to-date facilities and the opportunity to reach new followers.

What NASCAR could not, or would not , see is that the 30,000 who came to Rockingham were hard core fans who would stick with the sport no matter what as long as the sport stuck with them. The crowds in California and Miami were sight seers who were willing to give NASCAR a passing glance.

Now, the sight seers are gone and many of that once loyal core felt as though they had been abandoned so they moved on as well. That’s why there are 17% drops from one year to the next.

NASCAR, you got what you wanted. Now you have to live with it.

Thankfully, the Olympics will still be going on this Sunday during the Pocono race so a new excuse won’t have to be made. However, the loss of all those A.J. Allmendinger fans is one that could also be thrown out there if need be. Racing with Rich

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