- It’s clear that NASCAR’s future look will continue to move away from images of the past.
- After a long period of general decline in attendance, TV ratings, and a relatively recent rise, the subwords are change and experimentation.
- Some observers say NASCAR is abandoning its longtime core fans in pursuit of potential new fans who may or may not become established followers of the sport.
Trying to figure out the face and shape of the tables of the future NASCAR Cup Series is a bit like playing with a Rubik’s Cube. with one hand. After a few adult drinks.
Street racing in Chicago or another city? Can. Back to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum? It seems more than possible. Two-track races – the high-speed track and the old fairgrounds – in Nashville? This is a work in progress.
More courses on the way? More short paths? dirtier?
Suits in executive offices know more about the direction of all this than people on the street, but it’s clear that NASCAR’s futuristic look will continue to steer clear of pictures of the past. After a long period of general decline in attendance, TV ratings, and a relatively recent rise, the subwords are change and experimentation.
This was followed by this year’s opening with Clash at the Coliseum, which saw competition in dirt in Bristol and will see races at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis, Circuit of the Americas in Texas, Nashville Superspeedway and America’s Road.
Reaction to the changes has been generally positive, although more traditional fans have expressed support for the way things have been.
Kurt Bush offered to vote “yes” to much of the new scene.
“I think we made huge improvements last year,” Bush said. “All the new places we’ve been to seemed to have this opening vibe. The energy level was high with everything that happened in Road America, Nashville. The indy road course had a different feel across the garage area.
“It is important to have access to new demographics, new fans and new markets. This is a key element. I recommend maintaining diversity.”
Ty Norris, Trackhouse Racing’s president and longtime CEO of Motorsports, said NASCAR’s trend toward the new and the different is critical to the health of the sport.
“The bottom line is for our sport to survive, we must have new markets, new fans, and new excitement to bring in new partners,” Norris said. “We cannot survive stealing a sponsor from another team to keep ourselves healthy and get them out of business. We have to bring new partners into the industry, period. To do that will require us not to do the same thing over and over again.”
To that end, Norris said the new racing locations add new energy to the sport.
“The Colosseum has sparked what I think is a lot of great interest from young people in the sport. Now that they have had a chance to watch, they are staying,” he said. “Nashville Market. It is a very hot market. We should have been there years ago. and Road America on July 4th this weekend. We have a new sponsor who went to this race last year and the sport has been amazed. They came with us because of this race.”
Some of the recent changes have been surprising. The season opener Clash moved to California after running every year since 1979 at Daytona International Speedway. Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway have disappeared from the stream. Many tracks have seen their shares of annual races drop from two to one. Indianapolis moved his race from the historic Brickyard oval to his on-road track.
“A lot of changes have happened,” said Brian Truitt, a fan from Atlanta. “It was all a little too much to keep up with. I love some of the new tracks they went with, but I don’t want to mess with the schedule any more.”
Sunday’s second dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway had mixed reviews, but Fox Sports said more than 4 million viewers watched part of the race and that viewership was 28 percent higher than last year’s BMS inaugural dirt race, which took place on Monday. due to weather delays. BMS announced Tuesday that the Spring 2023 race will once again be held on dirt.
Some observers say NASCAR is abandoning its longtime core fans, those who wore the Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, David Pearson and Bill Elliott jerseys, to hunt down potential new fans who may or may not become consistent followers of the sport.
Norris has a better perspective than most in this scenario. For more than a decade, he was Executive Vice President of the now-defunct Dale Earnhardt Cup Team and ran operations for Earnhardt, one of the most famous drivers of all time.
Older fans aren’t pushed to the side, Norris said, “because racing is what drew them in. And racing is exceptional. What we’re missing now has more to do with the culture of the car itself. People don’t work on their own cars. Kids are more concerned about whether the car has Bluetooth or GPS. From the Hemi drive. They don’t care about that stuff.”
Part of the answer, Norris said, is to create an atmosphere to have a good time, a concept that clearly includes racing but also includes extra activities.
“Kids know if they are having a good time at an event,” he said. “It could be a concert, a race, a soccer game. They know what it feels like to be in time. And the sport seems to offer a lot of that much.”
As whispers continue about NASCAR’s pursuit of street racing, there are questions about how much competition such an event can have within the normally narrow confines of races similar to those run by Formula 1 and IndyCar. The streets of Nashville hosted the IndyCar race last August. The event attracted a large crowd although the competition was generally less than convincing.
“I have never seen an event like this race on the East Coast in my entire life,” Norris said. “It was a wonderful thing what the city did around it and how many things were happening. Chicago, Miami, Nashville, Kansas City — name a place. When you are in the city, you are part of the lifeblood of the city. I feel like racing in the street is going to be a big bullet in the arm.” .
Former champion Brad Keselowski, who is now a team owner as well as a driver, is not a fan of the possibility of street racing.
“I think we have a lot of events on the roads in our season,” he said. “I think NASCAR is at its best on the ellipticals. It’s nice to have variety, but I don’t think we need more on-road courses, whether it’s on the streets or the trails.”
NASCAR officials are seeking input from auto manufacturers when developing schedules, and it seems likely that chiefs at Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet will embrace major city street racing, thereby putting their cars in front of a potentially huge audience.
Cup champion Kyle Larson said he would be “cool” in street racing. “I think everyone assumes my opinion would be to race on dirt every weekend, but no, I don’t think Cup cars have to be on dirt. The change I would like to make is not to race on dirt.”
So opinions are here, there and everywhere. Like the next tables may be.
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