Mar 15, 2014; Bristol, TN, USA; NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Kyle Busch celebrates with the checkered flag after winning the Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR Scheduling Continues To Amaze Me !

With fans around NASCAR tracks cleverly disguised as empty seats, it still amazes me how they determine scheduling. As I sit in Southwestern Virginia on a cold rainy day in March waiting for the start of the Food City 500 from nearby Bristol Motor Speedway, I can tell you that it probably won’t happen today. We had snow on Wednesday this week, and are expecting possible snow again tomorrow. What happened to having this race in April when the weather improves?

Hello….stock car racing is a summertime event. Fans carry enough stuff to a race track without needing to add coats, rain gear, and snow boots as well. I have had the feeling for years that although NASCAR complains about poor attendance, they continue to let Network TV dictate the schedule for the comfort of fans sitting in their Laz-Y-Boys instead of those making the trip to the track.

Case in point: As a resident of Central Florida for nearly two decades, $28 would get you a ticket for the Budweiser Shootout. We would caravan to Daytona on a Sunday afternoon, the Green Flag would drop around noon, and be over by 2PM. You could stay for the ARCA race, or make it home to prepare for work on Monday.

When the Networks got involved and moved it to Prime Time on Saturday evening, the caravans stopped, the $28 dollar tickets stopped, and it became must watch TV. They lost an older fan base that loves to take a cooler full of beer, take off their shirt, and watch a good afternoon stock car race.

If you’ve never been to Florida in February, you probably don’t know that with the high humidity and a little wind, it can get pretty cold. You will spend 3-4 hours between the ARCA race, and the now, Sprint Unlimited trying to stay warm until it’s over. I went twice, and never went back. It became easier to sit at home, or the local watering hole to see the race.

I attended this Bristol race last March, and I can testify that there was plenty of room in the stands to spread out. The attendance was spotty at best with empty seats all around the race track. This race, along with the Night time race at Bristol later in the year was always sold out, now you can pick up a ticket anywhere.

NASCAR, the sponsors, and the TV people have all forgotten what made this sport famous, and are slowly making it insignificant. You can lay the blame on the economy, but people  are paying for travel, and very expensive seats at sporting events all over the country. Just not at NASCAR races.

Although the lack of excitement on the track has hurt the sport, I think the scheduling isn’t helping. Maybe when NASCAR hits the bottom, the sponsors and TV will go away and we can all get back to what we love, and that is good racing at a time that is fun, and convenient for fans, and not TV ratings and revenue.

You can follow Les on Twitter @Spin_47



Tags: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

  • Ben

    I was at Talladega when the Gordon finished the race under caution and a rain of beer cans. It was not because Gordon won. It was because the pace car ran more laps than the race cars and the race finished under a needless caution. My last NASCAR ticket purchase was that race. That and things like follow the leader racing, needless cautions, fake Fords, Chevys, etc…, drivers turned into sissy boys by the political correctness of NASCAR, dumping fans in the Southeast in favor of one race fans in the Midwest and West all have made NASCAR racing BORING. Yes it is now BORING. When drivers say “we are going to ride around in back till 20 to go”, how is that racing? The economy has a small part to do with fans not buying tickets but the other things above have the most impact. Also seating tighter than economy class on Uganda Airlines doesn’t help in making fans want to come back. I used to never miss a race on TV or at a track if I could get off work. Now I will watch Daytona and Talladega until the follow the leader syndrome sets in. Then the remote flips to something more interesting like European rally racing or SCCA racing. Too bad NASCAR decided to be a revenue hog and destroy a good Southern tradition. So sad.

    • Les Bailey

      NASCAR had the winning formula in the late 90′s and couldn’t keep the momentum. They started catering to wanna be race fans instead of the people who actually love, and understand the sport. Now the sponsors, and TV Networks control the sport and I think Bill France Sr would roll over in his grave if he knew what has happened to the great sport he invented.

  • Marcus Duvall

    I live in the Bristol Tenn area and on race week gas prices go up, local corrupt cops, especially in Kingsport and Sullivan County start writing tickets like crazy.
    Hotels price gouge. And basically the area has a Boss Hogg mentality towards race fans.
    Tonights attendance wasn’t even 1/4 capacity. I think it was somewhere between 15-25k.
    And that’s how it should be. It is bad enough to live in this area and deal with local corrupt cops who literally get away with murder and lie about traffic violations to write tickets but why would anyone travel here to face it and get ripped off?
    It wasn’t good enough for the area to have nearly 200k in race fans visit. They had to mug them and rob them while they were here.
    I applaud those who had enough and stopped coming.

    • Les Bailey

      I live just up the road in Big Stone Gap Marcus, and went to my first Bristol race last year and drove down for the day. It was cold and rainy which it is every year at this time, but I did enjoy the race itself. The fan experience wasn’t as good as I have had at Daytona, or Homestead.