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Exciting race and empty seats in Talladega

By admin | April 27, 2008

Exciting race and empty seats in Talladega


By Richard Allen


In victory lane on Sunday Kyle Busch thanked the fans for being there and supporting NASCAR racing. Unfortunately, there were not that many fans there, or at least there were not as many fans as there could have been.

There are two tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit that almost always sell every seat in the place and them some. In the past, fans have not been able to get enough of the excitement at the Bristol Motor Speedway and the Talladega Superspeedway.

This year, however, the Food City 500 on March 16th in Bristol was run in front of pockets of empty seats. That is almost unheard of for the East Tennessee short track.

Likewise, Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 in Talladega played out in front of not just pockets but numerous empty seats.

Could it be that fans are souring on the way NASCAR conducts it business? The Car of Tomorrow, “debris” cautions, perceived inconsistencies in the way the sanctioning body enforces rules and the moving away from tradition may have driven fans away from even the most popular tracks.

Or, could it be that the slumping economy has forced NASCAR fans to do so much belt tightening that they have had to settle for watching races from home instead of forking over the hundreds of dollars it takes to attend a race?

Television ratings are up slightly over last year. The explanation for that could be a simple matter of mathematics.

With gas prices now well over $3 per gallon and the cost of other necessities at the grocery store sky rocketing many fans may be finding it difficult to justify spending so much money on a luxury.

“If the fans didn’t like that you just don’t like racing,” Denny Hamlin declared in his post race interview.

That statement may very well be true but for whatever the reason, fans missed out on the excitement the Alabama track has become known for.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

11 Responses to “Exciting race and empty seats in Talladega”

  1. Tom Wilkilnson Says:
    April 28th, 2008 at 3:13 am

    Good article, I for one have been staying home because I can no longer be ripped off by the owners of these tracks. There is much more expense other than a ticket to get in. Gas, parking, and condiments just to name a few .

  2. Douglas Says:
    April 28th, 2008 at 7:55 am

    I generally will not miss a Talladega Race, but with the way NA$CAR is being run and managed, I did not attend last year, this year, or any year in the future!

    And I have been to 12+ races there!

    Sure, gas prices and such play a part, but the price of admission and the “souvenir” prices are out of touch with what people now can afford! If someone “really” wants to see a race in person, they will figure a way to do so! But with the ‘quality” of today’s NA$CAR races it is hardly worthwhile!

    In fact, I will be attending ZERO NA$CAR “contrived” racing events in the future!

  3. marc Says:
    April 28th, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Empty seat ? yes there are huge blocks of seats that are purchased by the sponsers , i believe these free seats in the past packed the stands. Now these seats are empty of not fans but sight seeiers that won’t pay the price to drive to a race. Case in point my last trip to darlinton was not a pleasent trip we were sorounded with drunks and bozo’s that all got there tickets on a comp deal . We do not attend any races anymore unless i can get garage passes or infield access to get away from these people , but now its seems maybe thing have changed thus the empty seat deal perhaps there are race fans again in the stands and it maybe enjoyable again.

    AS far as the racing sucking ?? yea !!! again a typical race is like taladega where the race didn’t start till 60 laps to go the rest was parade laps . The current group of drivers do not race till the ending laps they are rideing around, they even admit that they are !!!!! The best way to watch a race is to show up after 3/4 of the race has been run , watch the end and stay late at the track and watch them load up the trucks and leave. I do see a gilmer of hope in a couple of newbee drivers that run flat out from start to end and guess who they are ???
    yep !!! the guys with wins already this year .

  4. Charlie Says:
    April 28th, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Gas prices may have played a role but the way NASCAR has distanced themselves from the folks who made this sport contributes to this situation. People are tired of all the drivers from the mid-west, racing in Kansas City, a “unicar.” The core fans are not going to go out of the way to attend a race. I’m one of them.

  5. Amy Says:
    April 28th, 2008 at 9:40 am

    When will the stadiums and tracks get it that folks don’t want to pay $8 for a hot dog or a bottle of water. It shouldn’t cost $100 just to feed a family of four HOT DOGS and a couple of drinks! That on top of tickets, gas, hotel, and all the miscellaneous expenses that add up to one ridiculously expensive race weekend. Sure, gas has a lot to do with it, but so does the mediocre racing that NASCAR has become. I mean, who needs to spend all that money when you can watch the same crap from your living room?!

  6. Sweet Old Bob Says:
    April 28th, 2008 at 10:51 am

    I’ll bet 2 or 3 points awarded to the leader at the end of each 50 0r 100 laps (depending on track size) would stop the parade lap racing BS. I went to 27 straight Daytona 500s but finally stopped when tickets, food and accommodations exceeded 2 week’s take home pay.

  7. Blocker Says:
    April 28th, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I have tickets to a race later this year, but I am not really looking forward to going. In my case it’s more about not liking the changes to NASCAR than the gas prices or even merchandise.

    I haven’t liked any of the big changes. The cars look awful, and the whole COT program is just about as wrong as they could have gotten it. I used to really love the way the cars looked, and how they raced. Not anymore. It’s a spec program, just the way NASCAR wanted it so they could control everything and not depend on the US manufacturers, and then just in time they bring in Toyota to feed off a whole sport developed by other people, with it handed to Toyota on a silver platter. Why? Money, just like the changes to the starting times of races, the failed experiment with the Chase, a team like Gibbs who would be nowhere without the help they got from GM now putting their Toyota name on their spec car for money. You name it. I can’t get excited about the whole charade anymore.

  8. Rouser Says:
    April 28th, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Am sick and tired of hearing how bad the cars of Jeffy and Jimmie are as they sand bag their way toward the end of the race. Sure, they may win, but are they racing? At least Junior goes out and races, but these other two… Hendrick must pay the announcers pretty well to have them keep gushing about how bad Jeffy and Jimmie are and then be in awe of their rermarkable comebacks. Who wants to watch or pay good money to watch those sandbaggers? Smart racing? Give me a break. It doesn’t even come close to racing.

  9. Charles Says:
    April 28th, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    I am sure gas prices and economics has hurt Nascar and other sports to a degree!

    But for some of us “car guys” Talledega has not been on our list for a while! Larry McReynolds quoted that GM or Chevy had won 16 of the last 18 events at Talledega! Thats enough, GM has great cars and teams, but seems if anyother brand starts winning like this they react to ‘even it up’ faster! Better competition between the car brands helps Nascar and makes for a larger fan base! Nascar needs to entertain all their fan base! IROC is a great example of where they are heading if they dont change!

  10. Charles Says:
    April 28th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I am sure gas prices and economics has hurt Nascar and other sports to a degree!

    But Talladega in good economic times is not on some of us ‘Car Guys’ list! On Fox they said GM or Chevy had won the last 16 of 18 races there! Nascar should have “even it up” between the manufacturers so they could entertain all their fans! Having races that are competitve between the car brands and drivers helps Nascar! Looks like they are heading in IROCS failed direction if keep this up! Chevy has great cars and teams but so do the others!

  11. Nancy Says:
    April 30th, 2008 at 7:17 am

    I was in the stands for Sunday’s race as I have been for the spring race at Talladega for the last seven years. With the exception of four seats next to my two, the rest of the area around me is a corporate block. There are never the same people in those seats and this year the ones who sat in them were obnoxious drunks.

    Still, I try to attend this race every year. I bring in my own water and snacks because the concession prices are obscene. There is nothing I can do about the price of gas either. But what really galls me is that it is nearly impossible to find a hotel room within 60 miles that does not require a three night minimum with prices per night at three times the normal cost. I used to be able to book one year in advance at the normal rate with no minimum stay. I do not mind paying a little more for a room for one night, but the three night minimum is a killer. If NASCAR wants to appeal to its core fans, they need to work with the hotels on this issue.

    As far as the racing, I like what the COT has done for restrictor plate racing. Sunday’s race was the best I had ever seen at Talladega. Two cars could hook up and pass a long line of cars. There was more passing and lead changes than I can remember from the past. These cars are less aero sensitive which means that the drivers can maneuver them better in traffic with less likelihood of causing the big one.