By David G. Firestone
This is my favorite week of the year! Not because of the Memorial Day racing, but because I’m gonna get my kicks at Route 66 Raceway this weekend! I’m the kind of guy who loves the roar of an 11,000 horsepower engine, and the scent of burnt rubber, burnt nitromethane, and clutch dust! This is what being a racing fan is all about
I also love that the NHRA allows their fans to meet the drivers for no extra cost. NASCAR is too money oriented, and Formula 1 is so expensive that it isn’t even worth the effort. IndyCar does charge extra, but the prices are actually pretty reasonable. This access to drivers is a big draw, and I’m going to make a somewhat bold prediction. The Route 66 Nationals are going to out draw the Overton’s 400 in terms of ticket sales.
This isn’t that bold because ticket prices are somewhat more reasonable, and the above-mentioned access to drivers. The NHRA has shown in recent years that it is a box office draw, as opposed to NASCAR which has seen shrinking attendance for the last ten years. If NASCAR wants to increase fan attendance, one of the changes they should make is better access to drivers. Fans have been saying this for years, but now, I think NASCAR should listen.
It should be noted that the NHRA will never score higher television ratings than NASCAR. That is just a fact of life. FOX has done an amazing job with the NHRA, but it’s not a television draw as much as it is a box office draw. We have to accept the fact that the racing boom is over, and racing isn’t the draw it once was. I’m also sure that there will never be another racing boom on the level of the 1990’s again. It’s sad but true.
There are still a lot of racing fans out there, and the various sanctioning bodies need to understand that the fans should be part of what drives the sport. Fan attendance and television ratings should be one of the top priorities. I hope for the sake of the sport they start to be. I’ll talk about my experience at Route 66 next Friday.