Although it took a little over 5 hours to get AAA 500 underway, the rain gifted us an unexpected surprise of racing under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway. With non stop high speeds, sparks and bumps on the mile and a half, Texas Motor Speedway is one of the better mile and a halves on the NASCAR circuit in my opinion. Cars are able to run high and low lines to master incredible speeds in the turns along with creating a fun variable of competition between and entertainment for the fans. Ummm, hold on a second, where are the fans? I noticed a small crowd of decent size, but shouldn’t the grandstands be even just a little bit more filled?
In years past NASCAR wouldn't have a problem filling most or all seats at a track. The difference in advertising from the late 1990’s to now has not changed at all if not better along with expanded television exposure. Television isn't the holy grail in determining how great any sporting entity in entertainment is. It does have a lot of influence if it something stays on the air or not. NASCAR in this case thankfully does not have that problem.
Over the next ten years, now in it’s third broadcast year. FOX and NBC sports have secured its programming with NASCAR from what I’ve heard listening to Sirius XM NASCAR radio’s Dave Moody. So the question is, what’s the deal? Why are the grandstands not full, but TV is? Aside from Dave Moody, Kenny Wallace has offered similar insight on the matter. Ever since the 2007-2008 recession with the bank bailouts and home foreclosures, Kenny referred to the Boosters that were present before the recession.
Big sponsor companies would pass out a certain number of tickets people that would fill the seats we see a majority that are empty today. Ofcourse, not everyone has a Sirius XM subscription to hear what i'm hearing nor is Kenny Wallace or Dave Moody the popular of all people who’s opinion is respected in the sport, but i'm one who can trust them with my gut because well, they are a lot closer to the game than I am. So call it as you will. Several factors that are point out, so and so can say and I do put all variables into play when it comes to pricing that tickets to a NASCAR event are more than fair to get in and you have the option for a pit pass. Fans often say that hotel pricing is what makes them question travel.
It boils down to how business’ play a role in the average fans decision making on if they want to travel. Paying less than a hundred dollars or a little more is more than reasonable for quality seating at a race. The NFL is mathematically a lot more. Add lodging which hotels know that an event is nearby they will in fact take advantage of that which is what dictates their local economy. I myself look at it from my perspective.
I live about 3 hours away from the Kansas Speedway. Kansas is the only track I have ever been to and I was only 13 years old at the time. We were vacationing in Kansas City in July 2003 and had stopped at an indoor go karting track where we scored three tickets to a Craftsman Truck Series race. Me, my Dad and Brother attended for only 13 laps. We had left early not because the event was dull or boring.
We had left because it was mid July, and scorching temperatures and none of us had common sense to buy sunscreen at the time. Remembering the time I got there and the 13 laps we stayed for, I was young kid standing in pure bliss and awe seeing all the souvenir trailers with Dale Sr, Jr & many others. I purchased a hat from what was then a Michael Waltrip Hat from now defunct D.E.I. We then ventured underneath the grandstands seeing the underneath structure of the grandstands flooding with people in all sections back and forth. Out of nowhere Indy cars started qualifying.
The most notable, but not to judge was Danica Patrick’s qualifying speed of 207 mph and the leader being 225 mph. We had got to our seats a little later to avoid the high temps close to race start. Sitting and eagerly awaiting the green flag I soak in more of the fact i was inside the track from every view angle I could see from where I sat. This was it, this was the Epitome from what I had seen on television for a majority of my life. I took in everything from the on track broadcast, the jet dryers blowing out the corners and wall, the pre race ceremonies to the drop of the green flag, the roaring of the engines zipping by and as lap 13 the caution flag flew I got to see what the pit stops in real life were like.
I was there. It was everything to me. Being my only one I went to my overall rating of it from a fan perspective is nothing below outstanding. Then you ask, “Then why don't I go to another one”? Well, to shorten it to the point, my father is handicapped and it’s just not feasible to do so.
I have great respect for the man who got me to my first one. The factors on why the average fan able to make it boils down to freedom of choice and how much he or she loves the sport itself. We all work different jobs and get paid differently along with different work schedules. Plus, television has a factor here too. Like the NBA, NFL and MLB, they are not playing on a mile and half tri-oval.
NASCAR has its stands in one section with respect of technology sitting in the backstretch and radio choreographing the action out of viewing distance in the stands. NFL, NBA and MLB games wherever you maybe sitting you can see the whole event from any angle. Now I’m not saying this is the whole reason the stands are empty, but from my perspective watching on TV, they do show the whole event from different angles in which you can’t see at the track. Minus not being there in person and I cannot go into the infield, it’s still a 50/50 win.
Staying home I can save money on gas and food for my monthly expenses. Things are a lot different now than when I was 13. Now I have bills to pay and can’t jump from one thing to the next on a whim. Call that boring if you will, but when you’re adulting fun is takes on a whole new meaning. So all in all we can say it’s the economy, too lazy to go, not enough money because of bills or quality television is too blame.
I respect other sports, but choose not to go to them because I want to go to NASCAR. If you ask me what I would say to someone pondering if they should go to a race or not if they had a chance, I would flat out say “Hell yeah I would if I were you”. I ask myself why people in Texas who are fans of the sport and live local why they don't go it is right next you. It isn’t for me to decide. All I can say is, you have nothing to lose by going, but that’s up to you as a fan.
All photos used with permission by Nascar Media.