Is It Time For NASCAR To Ditch The Bricks? Why NASCAR Needs To Leave IndyBy Justin Tucker
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is well regarded as one of the meccas of Motor Sports. Since it opened in 1909 it has been labeled as the greatest race course in the world. It is practically a who’s who as to who has been fortunate enough to add their name to a winner’s trophy at the Brickyard. From AJ Foyt to Rick Mears to Dan Wheldon in Indy Car. Jeff Gordon,Tony Stewart, and Jimmie Johnson in NASCAR and F1 legend Michael Schumacher. With a seating capacity of well over 250,000, the Brickyard is the largest venue attendance wise in the sport. With all this being said it is time for NASCAR to leave a place more noted for Open Wheel Racing and return to a venue that has a tradition more geared towards Stock Car Racing. Here are a few reasons why.
First reason is attendance. In 1994 the inaugural Brickyard 400 drew 350,000 fans which is the largest crowd ever to witness a sanctioned NASCAR event. Fast forward to five years later in 1999. Attendance for the Brickyard 400 was an estimated 250,000. The 2012 Brickyard 400 only managed to draw 125,000 fans. Half of the speedway’s permanent seating capacity. So while yes attendance is a major issue. What are the factors driving down attendance? I have a couple of theories.
Summertime in July at Indianapolis can be described in one word. Hot okay miserably hot. Last year’s Brickyard 400 was contested in almost 100 degree temperatures. NASCAR and the speedway only have a couple of viable options. One the speedway could install lights and contest the race at night or NASCAR and IMS could work to move the race to an earlier date on the schedule. But would that even in itself draw fans back to the speedway. My guess is no for this very next reason.
It can be summed up as basically you get what you pay for. Fans are not going to pay the money for race tickets and travel if they can’t see all the action on the race track. Obstructed fan views on the front stretch leaves many of race fan relying on video boards and scanners to follow their favorite driver on the track. Tradition and history can only provide so much. Fans want bang for their bucks.
Another reason for the decline at the Brickyard is the races lack competition. In the 19 year history of the Brickyard 400 the race winner has led an average of 54 laps over those 19 races. 2008 was the most damaging year for NASCAR at Indy. Tire failures plagued most of the event leaving NASCAR to throw a competition caution every 10 laps leaving many fans outraged. Last year’s Brickyard was won by almost 5 seconds and seeming there was no real action on track unless it was a restart.
So where does this leave NASCAR’s future at the Brickyard? It is a question that has many answers. Will they stay the course and keep coming back every July for the 400 or Will NASCAR look for greener pastures and go to a venue where it won’t have to compete with Indy Car? For me personally I think it is time for NASCAR to look at getting back to its roots. 20 years at the Brickyard is long enough. .