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July 28, 2014


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I expect that full grandstands do affect the enjoyment, somewhat, of some fans. To what degree is hard to say. Having a race where the grandstands are full do make the race seem a little more special. Not that it changes whether I'll watch or not. I watch racing because I enjoy it. My friends don't. And I don't care that they don't.

Racing series have peaks and valleys and no amount of hoping or angst can change it. We live at a wonderful time where so much racing is broadcast. Race junkies can get their fill on TV as well heading out to the local track. We have the internet now where we can read as many articles as we care to and engage with other fans and writers.

The glass is more than half-full. It's overflowing.


Perception v. Reality - the rematch.

1/4 full 100k seater DOES have better actual attendance than 100% full 20k seater, however, perception is that product is lacking at 100k-seater because '75% empty', as seen on TV.

Iowa at 90% always looks better on TV than 20% Pocono, even if the number of people are the same.

I contend perception is everything and scads of open aluminum looks bad always.


Fantastic point about attendance impacting the at-the-track experience, Dennis.


Estimating attendance through television cameras is the most inexact of the sciences. Though I'm not proud of it, I readily admit to participating as recently as this year.

Those who oversell attendance put too much stock in tight and angled shots, which make the stands look fuller. Those who undersell crowds tend to ignore suite patrons and campers, two groups or attendees who typically generate more revenue per person than folks with grandstand tickets.

I've come to believe that the real attendance number lies somewhere in between the "track estimate" and the number Robin Miller comes up with to unfavorably compare with the crowds from the days when Steve Chassey was a household name.

Brett Smithson IndyRaceReviewer

Such blasphemy! My eyes almost burned out of their sockets. "Free markets"?! What were those? Admitting you rooted against certain tracks ("Snore-noma" comes to mind)? Crazy brave. Who are you letting write these for you, Bill? Now the post about "embracing the twisties" makes more sense. Finally, reforming your own hatred inspires hate in others, so in that I'm supportive of this new found you.

The Speedgeek

This may be my favorite thing you've posted in quite some time, Bill. I hit this point earlier this year. If the promoter is happy with the attendance, what do I care? He's the one with the skin in the game. Happy promoters make for profitable racing series. Everybody flipped out about Iowa Speedway attendance a couple weeks ago. Oh, except for one guy: Jimmy Small. If he's cool with their cash flow in, guess what? He's gonna want the race to come back next year. Which sounds like is the case. So, what did all that attend-angst get us all? Zilch. My time and energies are better spent elsewhere. Glad to hear that you've seen the light, too.


Something like 60% of the revenue from NASCAR's new TV deal will go to the tracks. Ticket and concession sales just became icing on the cake.


But what about sponsors? Maybe I missed it in the posting, but traditionally sponsors throw money at teams for exposure, AT THE TRACK, and on TV.

I happened across the NNS race on Saturday and the grandstands were DEVOID of humanity. I don't care how you choose to factor the size of IMS, there was NO-BOD-EE there.

Historically, overwhelming fan interest at the track has driven TV networks to pay for broadcast rights. Maybe in this new age, it goes the other way, but it really sucks when the TV broadcast keeps showing the eventual race winner's brother in the stands SURROUNDED BY EMPTY ALUMINUM.


In addition to the above, can you find the TV ratings for the NNS Saturday race at the Brickyard? or the Sunday race?

I'd wager there is a direct correlation with falling track attendance and TV ratings. Anyone? Buehler?? Pressdog???

Brett Smithson IndyRaceReviewer

Psssssst. Hey guys - I think P-dog's gone awol from the site and read on Twttr he's going on vacation. Let's ransack his blog! Commenters - run wild! Yippieeeeeeee! How 'bout some ATTENDANCE here in the comments, UNATTENDED as this blog seems to be. he he
PS - Don't tell him I sent ya, though. Would hate to have my comments section ransacked by bored to death road course viewers when I'm on vacation in August.


Mr Smithson you are an evil man; MY kind of evil man! ;-)

Phil Kaiser

Anybody read, see or hear that once-mighty DAYTONA is removing 58,000 seats as part of their $400 million "refurbishing?" That's not a typo, they're removing (not replacing) 58,000 seats! They will only have 101,000 seats there now, which is less capacity than a couple of major university's football stadiums! This comes after the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway removed thousands of seats near Turn Three last year and invested thousands in colored tarps they now use to cover up empty grandstands they didn't sell so it will "look good" on TV!

Please don't piss on my leg and try to tell me it's raining, LOL; empty seats (on television or in-person) matter a whole bunch to the folks running these places whether you care about it or not, just sayin'.... :)

Phil Kaiser

Damn it, I forgot to include the tasteless painting of the seats many NAPCAR tracks did a few years back to make it look like there were folks in the stands! They think we're all idiots!


HOOLIGANS! A guy gets busy with the day job and the place is overrun .. Take it easy.

George: Ratings via ESPN PR: Brickyard 400 Cup 3.4 U.S. rating, averaging 5,196,000 viewers, down from the 2013 race, which earned a 3.6 rating and averaged 5,460,000 viewers, but were up from 2012, when the telecast earned a 3.3 rating and averaged 5,055,000 viewers. Indianapolis led the nation’s metered markets with a 15.0 rating, up from a 13.7 rating last year, while Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville was second with a 9.4 rating. North Carolina’s Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem market was third nationally with an 8.7 rating while Charlotte and Richmond tied for fourth at 7.7. The rest of the nation’s top 10 markets for the race were Louisville, 6.9; Nashville, 6.5; Birmingham and Raleigh-Durham, 6.3; and Tampa/St. Petersburg and Orlando, 5.5. Nationwide 1.3 rating, averaging 1,988,000 viewers. Viewership was up over last year’s race, which averaged 1,913,000 viewers with a 1.4 rating.

George: sponsors pay for TV exposure. At the track ... pfft. The bigger the series, the more it's about TV, IMO. Local sprint cars: all about at the track. NASCAR Cup: all about TV. TV executives buy the rights to stuff because it draws TV viewers (and increasingly viewers to their online streams). Pretty sure they don't give a shit if anyone shows up at the track, as long as the viewing audience numbers are high.

Phil: I said "the only people to whom attendance really matters are the track promoters, and to a lesser extent the sanctioning body" so I'm neither pissing on your leg nor telling you it's raining. Race tracks SERIOUSLY overbuilt during the hay day and are now contracting, and rightly so. Not a sign of the apocalypse but a sign of reality. I'd be willing to bet that the 100,000 seat Daytona will be more fan-friendly and attractive (given the changes they plan for the $400 million renovation) than the 158k seat Daytona. There are a lot of seats at IMS that are just shitty seats. Nobody argues it. It's more about quality than quantity these days.

Brett: don't make me ban you. KIDDING. I kid. I'm a kidder.


Track asttendance does matter & if you think it doesn't then ask yourself why several tracks have dumped Indycar & some have even dumped Nascar as it is NOT worth their trouble to put on a race--end of story. Indycar has to guarantee their tracks a certain amount of $$$'s as that's the only way they can save the tracks they have as LOW attendance isn't paying the bills for track owners. Ratings ARE down & sponsors do care about that as wait till Nascar is on the low rated NBCSports network next yr then watch Nascar execs cry about low ratings as they are dropping across the board anyway & will continue to do so--period. People are simply losing interest to these boring follow the leader parades in most races in Indycar & Nascar with few exceptions. Fans used to like all the crashing etc like a demolition derby but now there isn't much of that either as most races you can turn on the last 30 minutes of races & see more action then the entire boring race--end of story. Ive watched Indycar & Nascar for over 50 yrs but now can barely stand to watch the boring crap nowdays & apparently Iam not alone--lack of attendance & lack of ratings says it all & both of them DO matter.

Brett Smithson IndyRaceReviewer

Whheeew! Is that old man stink I smell in here? Who woke the crank up? But seriously, Vern may come off a tad negatively at times, but he has a point. Mid-OH didn't do much for ratings I imagine, as folks probably thought it was a previous year's race shown during a rain delay - because the exact same thing happened. But we must remember ratings don't matter, which pills to take and also regular naps.

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