By admin | December 7, 2009
Now that the season ending banquets are behind us we can officially lay the 2009 NASCAR season to rest. So, what did we learn from this past year of racing?
I have complied a list of lessons learned from the 2009 season. Over the next several days I will publish this list.
Here is one of my thoughts on the list of lessons learned from 2009:
Lesson #2- Over the course of 2009 we learned that NASCAR’s ever eroding fan base is…well, ever eroding. Empty seats were evident at virtually every race on the circuit throughout the season. Even tracks such as the Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond Raceway, which at one time seemed to be guaranteed sellouts, struggled to fill seats. And despite claims of sellouts, both of those facilities had pockets of empty seats when the green flag was dropped on their events.
There were so many empty seats at the Talladega Superspeedway in October that the painted pattern on the grandstand seats was clearly evident when viewed from overhead camera angles. Talladega was at one time a tremendous fan favorite. Although the track may not have the same sellout record as Bristol or Richmond because of its enormous size, it has had far better attendance in past years than it had this season.
NASCAR officials are quick to point to the economy in explaining the vacancies on race day. However, one fact flies in the face of that argument. That fact is the ever decreasing television ratings.
Across the board broadcast ratings were down for the 2009 season, and that is compared to a particularly weak 2008. If it were true that the economy were the sole reason behind the drop off in attendance it would stand to reason that television ratings would be higher.
If people still loved the sport they would tune in to watch on television even if they could not afford to attend an event in person. It seems as though there must be a deeper issue than just the economy causing the attendance and ratings declines this sport has experienced in recent years.
NASCAR officials had better figure that out soon rather than hiding behind pitiful excuses like the economy or they will be wondering why no one is watching after the economy makes a turn around, whenever that is.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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