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Empty seats in Charlotte look particularly bad

By admin | October 18, 2009

By Richard Allen

It was cold. It was windy. It has been a very wet fall season across much of the south and there was a chance of rain on Saturday. There were some big college football games all over the region. So, it is no wonder there were so many empty seats at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway just outside Charlotte this weekend.

Well, that all sounds good except for a few bits of logic mixed in.

First, those factors have not kept race fans away in the past when they felt as though there was something worth watching, especially in the heart of NASCAR country. After all, the number of people who work in racing related industries around the Charlotte area alone ought to be enough to fill a significant number of seats at the speedway.

Second, were there a demand for NASCAR tickets, the seats would have been sold well before it was cold, windy or rainy.

And more, even in times of a bad economy people will find ways to put money aside for things they truly enjoy. This would be especially true for a race held in Charlotte where there are supposed to be so many fans within such close proximity. Hotel and meal expenses would be negated due to the ability to stay at home right up to race day. If people still truly enjoyed NASCAR racing then there may not have been a sellout, but there would have been considerably more people in the seats than there were on Saturday.

It might be understandable and excuses might work when there are empty seats in California, Chicago or Kansas because those places are outside the home territory of the sport. Charlotte is the home base of the sport. And not only were there empty seats, there were empty sections.

There is nothing to explain this other than to say that people have grown tired of the product NASCAR is presenting to its ever diminishing number of fans. A car no one likes, a championship system despised by many which produces such a predictable result, drivers and cars with no individuality or identity and manipulated race finishes have driven many away.

No excuse will suffice. There is no positive spin to put on the poor showing on Saturday. Attendance in Charlotte was an embarrassment for NASCAR. Hopefully it will be an attention getter as well.

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

Topics: Articles |

13 Responses to “Empty seats in Charlotte look particularly bad”

  1. Millard Fillmore Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 5:46 am

    well, at least Brian France was there at the start of the race, which is somewhat of a rarity from what I’ve been told of races on non ISC tracks so he did see all those empties.

  2. bobby dee Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 8:23 am

    I saw some empty seats near the start-finish line as well. I just assume they were no-shows. I have not attended a race this year myself.

  3. Curt Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but JJ is the reason I’m not watching anymore. I’ve only seen 2 chase races this year on TV (one on dvr) and I’m likely cutting back on race attendance next year too. Especially after JJ takes his 4th.

  4. david Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    it has become a glorified IROC series. IROC died. i have not watched an entire race this year and have not attended one since 2004. They have ruined the sport I used to love

  5. Rodger Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I have been going to the Charlotte racers since I was a kid, I was there Saturday night and it was the worst I have ever seen. Truth is though, the only reason I still go is tradition and the friends I see, the on-track action has been absent since the COT. I remember great Charlotte races, but none with this car. And it is the Chase too, I don’t know anyone who likes it, and it just doesn’t work. The champ should be the best driver over the course of the year, from road courses to plate tracks. This system is just dumb, and I just don’t care as much anymore because of it.

  6. Becky Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    It’s the CHASE!! If it were not for the chase JJ would not have ever won a championship~~note that he has never been leading the points when they are reset for the chase. ANYWAY, people are tired of knowing that is who is going to win!!

    I am a season ticket holder to TX MS and we are very seriously thinking of not going because of this. We may just go to the campground and hang out and say to heck with the race.

  7. midasmicah Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    As a long time nas$car fan I’m just sad. It’s like watching the slow death of a best friend. I’ve stated my objections to the product put on the track so many times that I’m finally numb. I have not watched the last two races. Like I stated in response to another column I did not know who won the race till the next day and here’s the kicker. I didn’t care. nas$car had better be worried when fans of 25+ years like me are gone. Thanks for having an article I can repond to, Rich. Way too many media players are too loyal to an organization that doesn’t deserve it. Some are just shills. As the B.B. King song goes, “The thrill is gone”.

  8. Keith Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    First thing you can’t compare Charlotte to Kansas or Califorina or Chicago because Charlotte has 171,000 seats to fill and there was twice as many people in Charlotte as there were in California the week before so throw that arugument out. I live in Phila and have been going to the fall race in Charlotte since 1986 and the only reason I thinking of giving it up is I’m sick of sitting outside in the cold at night to watch a race. This race should be held during the day unless they move it back a couple of weeks only Na$car can screw up one of the best race weekends of the year by moving it 2 weeks later than it always was it was on the first weekend of October for years then it moved to the second weekend then they made it a night race then to the third weekend and it is cold most of the time. They should swap it with California the week before the weater is still good out there and 1 week would make a big difference here.

  9. Sharon Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I usually sit in turn 4 but sold my tickets this year and probably wont renew next year. Do not need to just call ticket office and probably get my same seats week before the event juding by empty seats in that area on Sat night

  10. Gina Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    We were at Charlotte. It was not a nice day that’s for sure and considering that Johnson is pulling away (again) for what looks like his 4th in a row Chase trophy, well, you pretty much said it all. A horrible car, boring racing and a predictable result doesn’t make people say they can’t miss it.

    Brian France — yeah, did you hear the dead silence when he was introduced? Who cares that he was there? I’m betting he didn’t stick around for the race, he was only there as an appearance for the HOF junk since the 2 people in his family who built the sport were inducted (I can see Big Bill this year, but I think having 2 Frances in the first class was overdone)

  11. Doug Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    The October race at Charlotte never sells out. Never has. We have gone over this before here is my last idea and if Lisa Kennedy France and Brian France have a clue they will use this idea…..Start season with Dayton 500 after the Superbowl as usual. End season in the middle of August. Maybe with the Brickyard 400 as the final race. So a track doesn’t lose a race move the New Hampshire, Phoenix races to Wednesday night during summer. NASCAR cannot compete with college or pro football.

  12. Brad Says:
    October 19th, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Well..more importantly besides format of Chase and weather is ticket prices. Lowes still has very high prices on front stretch.

    When people bashed Atlanta on the Spring race the media focused on the front stretch which were the most expensive seats ($90 and up) and the least filled.

    The media didn’t show the East Turn grandstand that was jam packed and holds 22,000 people - those seats 30 - 60 dollars. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

    NASCAR, Race Teams, Sponsors gouged fans on tickets and merchandise and those things are the first to go.

    Can’t take a family anymore it’s too expensive. They got what they deserved for their greed. Lower the prices the bubble has burst - have more pricing tiers in good seats.

    Otherwise this will be repeated for years to come.

  13. marc Says:
    October 20th, 2009 at 8:37 am

    What wrong with nascar ????

    lack of talent — over half the field couldn’t win in a local short track street stock race . drivers are selected by tv looks and sponser apeal !! lets face reality nascar doesn’t have the best of the best anymore. it’s not the car or the silly aero excuses its in the seat if a driver can’t tell the crew what the car is doing and doesn’t know the diffrence between bad and driveable ????

    what happens is what your watching now .