This may not be a popular view but in the world of a NASCAR fan and NASCAR racing is it possible to have too much of a good thing? With the next race on the schedule being the Coke 600, the longest race of the season, are there too many races that are just too long?
There are 36 races, 26 point races, 10 Chase race plus the All Star and Sprint Showdown as well as the Sprint Unlimited and duel races. With a week off for Easter in March and one more in July the racing is virtually non stop from February to the middle of November. No other racing series has this many races, Indycar has on average 2 races a month (the exception being June where there is a race every week) and F1 has a slightly shorter schedule still (albeit with more travel).
Two issues that I see with having so many races is fan apathy and too a lesser extent driver apathy. As someone who writes about NASCAR I love watching the races, but also have a sense of obligation to watch the racing so that I can write about it. During the racing season it gets increasingly harder to have to put off family events, days out or just doing jobs around the house as part of every weekend is given over to racing. Given how many races there currently are it would be very easy for a fan to say that they are not too bothered about missing a race one weekend as there will be another one along in seven days time. Take a look at twitter, Facebook etc on the two weeks where there is no race and the clamour and anticipation that there is for the racing to resume. That isn’t there when the schedule is in full swing week after week after week.
NASCAR want the highest TV audiences for their races, they want the highest possible attendances at the races themselves both of which could be possibly be done by creating a build of anticipation and need for racing that only comes with not having it every week. Fans saying to themselves “I can’t possibly miss this race as there wont be another one for a fortnight”. It’s the same with going to a race, would tracks sell out if there was only one race a year at them and there wasn’t one being held the next week only a hundred miles or so down the road? I know I would do everything I could to attend my local race if going to another one would involve lots of travelling and more expense. There are tracks that have two races a year that in my opinion maybe shouldn’t even have one. Take Texas for example it hosts two races and let’s be honest never provides the most exciting of races. How about scrapping both those two and just have one at say the new track at Austin? It’s not just Texas, fans are all too familiar with the complaints over too may ‘cookie cutter’ style track so lets scrap some of them and get the racing back to exciting tracks that fans actually want to enjoy watching on.
A reduction in the number of races could also increase the level of excitement on the track. With so many races and so many points available to the teams it could be quite easy for teams to say lets just ease off here take the points we’ve got and try again next week. If there weren’t so many points available teams would have to push harder to get what they could. I’m not suggesting that teams aren’t trying now but if instead of getting say 80 points over the course of a month a driver may only average 30 points, every point would suddenly become ever more vital and hard-fought over.
The length of races is also something that I think needs to be looked at, time and time again we see the 1.5 mile tracks develop almost a lull during the middle part of the race while drivers conserve their car for the final push. Fans get restless and dare I say some turn over and come back towards the end when the excitement often goes up a notch. Some fans don’t mind missing the start as long as they see the end as they know they’ve got around 3 hours before that happens. Is there really any need for a race to be 500 miles these days? Even knocking it down to 400 makes a massive difference as Pocono proved last season by reducing the length of the race suddenly made it much more entertaining and the lull in the middle wasn’t as noticeable.
I appreciate that what I’m, suggesting will be seen as madness by most fans after all who wants less of what they love and there will be people who say that I can’t be a real fan if I want less racing. In fact people say if you don’t watch every race you aren’t a real fan, which is hard when every weekend has a race. But there is no denying that less a person has the more they want it and the more they will go out of their way to get it and in turn could give NASCAR even higher ratings.
What’s your view on this, let me know either in the comments section here or on twitter @nascarfansuk.