Empty Seats In The Grandstands, What Is The Answer NASCAR?

by Becky Davidson On Tue, Oct. 15, 2013

Photo Credit: David Yeazell
Photo Credit: David Yeazell

It is sad, especially to the fans of the Winston Cup Era, which is not that many years ago, that remember when the grandstands use to be full for most of the NASCAR races.

I remember when you could not get a ticket for a Bristol race, whether it was the spring or night race.  Only if you paid a arm and a leg through a ticket broker, paying triple the value. But I am also happy a lot of these crooked businesses have been put out of business. Why pay the big mega bucks when you can pack up and drive or fly into any race and walk up to the ticket window and buy at the track price?

Many tracks have lowered ticket prices or weekend deals, especially if they are hosting Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, with the icing on the cake if they were hosting the Camping World Trucks Series also, yet we still see the stands getting more and more empty each season.  You have to admit that the tracks are trying to bring the fans back and fill the stands.

That’s just my opinion and I am sure many people might not agree with me. I have always been very blessed that my tickets have been free, but for anyone that has to pay for a hotel/motel room, they know they have never lowered the room rates, doubling and some places even triple the normal room rates.  Then add your meals to this for a weekend and it costs a fortune.

As I wrote in a commentary many years ago, when families or friends buy tickets and pay for airfare and/or gas for their cars or car rentals, if they fly into a race, and a weekend of food, they can’t afford paying these high dollar room rates. But it looks like that is never going to change. It is not the local people who own these hotels/motels, no more Mom and Pops places.

What is the answer Mr. France? What has went wrong since back in the day, which is not that long ago? Not everyone is as fortunate as me, but would they fill these empty seats if they were? No and right now neither would I. Free tickets are great but the other expenses are horrible for a family or even a group of friends.

The Chase is going on and if you are a Matt Kenseth or Jimmie Johnson fan, you might be excited.  But I am sure you are excited on race weekends sitting back in your recliner with your remote in your hand. It saves lots of money, but that has taken the enjoyment out of going to the races.

What is the answer NASCAR?  What happened when we had people willing to pay any amount of money to buy a ticket and fill those stands like the good ole days of the Winston Cup Era?  Something has went wrong.  It’s no wonder that the drivers are having such a tough time getting sponsors with empty seats. Its cheaper to just stick an advertisement on TV then on the hood of a car.

Talladega is coming up this weekend, one of my favorite tracks to visit. I have been there many times over the years and yes, seen it where there was not a empty seat. I was there when Dale Earnhardt Sr. won his last race, the miracle win and there was not a empty seat. We know all know what we see this weekend and that is more empty seats. I love Martinsville and the town and its stores and the people. I am sure empty seats hurt these businesses as when NASCAR comes to town, so does the fans and the money.

Again, this is just my opinion but I have been a fan since back when Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Labonte, Sterling Marlin, and Ernie Ervin were running in what was the Busch Series.

Things were so much different. There has to be an answer as to why we have these empty seats and its not the situation our country is in right now. I remember when people took their last cent to buy a ticket just to get to see a NASCAR race. Not anymore!

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

I live outside of Nashville, TN in the country. I was raised in the country and am still a country girl at heart. I love new country music and classic rock. My favorite country duo will always be Brooks and Dunn. My favorite classic group is Three Dog Night. I love Jimmy Buffett. My first love is NASCAR and I was raised up during the Winston/Busch Era and in my heart, it was the best. That was when a handshake meant more then the million(s) of dollar contracts that are signed in the past few years. I will have to say, my favorite driver of all time will always be Dale Earnhardt SR. I have loved NASCAR racing a long time. I remember when we had NASCAR races when I was young we would go to the old Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville and watched Petty, Marlin, Labo nte and Earnhardt to name only a few race on that track. I am a fan of the Gen 6 car.

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  1. allan says:

    jr got to start winning an Johnson ,well not so much,chad stop cheating,got lots more to say ,but got no time ,got to work an pay the bills ,?

  2. kfrego says:

    It’s not demographics,it’s the racing.NASCAR stopped racing to the finish on yellows and stopped scoring race positions at the start finish lines. My take: the debris cautions are because NASCAR has scoring glitches which can’t be corrected without a yellow. Want your lap back..race for it. What is a wave around? What is a lucky dog? Is NASCAR serious. People will go to races. Nobody wants to see a four hour SHOW or PRODUCT.

  3. tim murphy says:

    I hear ya Ruth, I think once the multi car teams took over things went down hill. Today the “big” teams have a whole division of engineers, the cars are pretty much cookie cutters. The rules do not legally allow much “tuning” of anything. I love racing and it’s obvious the sport is not looking for me anymore, I’m old. My wife and I moved to NC from Boston and I worked for Richard Petty for seven years, it was the best, I would have done it for free, it was a childhood dream. We are back in Boston and I still watch but the vacant seats in the stands speak volumes for the sport. NASCAR , wake up and do something for your loyal fans before you completely chase [no pun intended] them away—

    • Brent Bach says:

      NASCAR has done what college and pro football have done, catered to the well heeled fans with sky boxes and corporate tents and events etc. Used to go to Michigan Int’l for many years, I can’t even afford the price for a tent campsite and the last race I did someone with a U-Haul van ran his generator all night. No sleep, lousy race, overpriced everything. Now I watch the last 10 laps on TV.

  4. Ken says:

    Why go to a race when you know the finish will be manipulated by NASCAR? Fake cautions to have an exciting ending to a boring race drives fans away. Special treatment of certain drivers and certain teams do not make me want to attend a race. I’m sick of the way NASCAR handles their business and seems to think the fans are stupid.

  5. Troy VandeKamp says:

    I think the problem is over-saturation and too many choices. Charlotte alone has (3) race weekends (600 – AllStar Race and fall race).

    If they truelly want the stands to be FULL, quit giving us fans a choice as to which one to attend. NO racetrack should have more than one race weekend. Make it an EVENT, people will attend instead of the “well, sometimes it’s cold and rainy in May, we’ll wait for the fall race. A few months later it’s, well, we could go to Charlotte, or hit a College FB game or something else.”
    IMO, this is one of the issues facing Iowa Speedway now, they could get 58,000 people to a Nationwide race when they held one per year, now they get 55,000 people COMBINED between the 2 Nationwide races per year. When you stop making the event “special”, the tracks attendance declines. Short Tracks know this already, that’s why they generally have ONE big event per year (they make it a “must see” event for their fans).

  6. Flora Stanton says:

    Will nascar is running the sport in the ground all most reached china. Its not the price of tickets with the empty seats that is keeping fans away. They are making the cars too much alike oh they say that they are trying to get more side by side racing and speed. I say Brian France and the other nascar family better take a hard look at what is really going on. I know that nascar had called debris when for sure they did not want a driver that has been running well up front. They play their games all so the fans know and they are pretty tired of it. This is part of the grandstands empty seats not money its what Brian France and nascar people turn this sports into, NO I’m not big fan of the chase either I say best car and driver wins.

  7. helmick35748@bellsouth.net says:

    I largely agree with Richard. FranceCAR sucessfully alienated its core demographic. For me it started when they allowed the bully of Charlotte to screw North Wilkesboro, then Rockingham. The final straw was moving the Southern 500 from Labor Day to that bastion of stock cars –Cali-bore-ya. Oh, and NASCAR bullied its way such that they wouldn’t allow a Sons of Confederate Veterans scheme on a Butch Hylton ARCA car at Rockingham.

    No offense to my northern / western friends, but if I wanted to watch a bunch of yankees go in a circle, I’d go to New York.

    Oh, and the tracks/NASCAR have made it too damn expensive. And, the post-9/11 excuse of ‘security’ made an already overpriced concession untouchable to working class folks. Thank God for USAR ProCup. It’s like Winston Cup used to be. Too bad it isn’t televised, but the tracks are better and, hence, the racing is better.

  8. Steve says:

    The product on the track is terrible and people aren’t buying into contrived finishes nor a contrived Chase championship to get their enjoyment. There are plenty of other things to do that have more entertainment value and cost less.

    When the stands were full back in the 90’s, it was about the race each week. Now its all about the Chase and drivers are only looking for a good points day. That doesn’t spell excitement in any language. Add in the fact that they go to virtually the same track every week and Nascar has become less appealing.

    Until Nascar fixes the product on the track and makes each weekend about the race at hand (instead of the Chase), its not going to get any better.

  9. Richard says:

    I said years back when nascar started this drive for diversity it started the down fall of nascar, and no don’t call me racist this is not the issue here. But clearly the message was sent to the people that supported this sport for years with there hard earned money that you are a bunch of redneck bible toters gun carrying demographic and we have to show the world that nascar wants to be politically correct so what did they do. Ditched the fans that made the sport. Its not everyone that will love nascar so nascar appeal to the fans that do.

  10. Ruth Ferguson says:

    Yes the cost keeps alot of people at home. What is nascar’s target group?
    we took our 14 year old grand daughter, almost had to pull a grown drunk man off of her. I am 52, while at a race this summer one of the Nascar security officials may a very inappropriate remark to me. At race this spring our truck got vandelized in the campground while we were at the track. We have driven almost 4000 miles and spent thousands. So you tell me what is nascar’s target group? Familys with children? Nope! Women? Don’t think so, have you seen some of the commercials! Most Nascar fans wants to see a fair race, what happened this weekend was anything but fair. They should not be deciding who wins. We are not going to travel that far and spend that kind of money to see them throw bogus cautions. Weare middle aged like rock music, do not drink beer and do not smoke. So who is their target group?

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