Wednesday, October 1, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

In The Pits: Selfies can’t fix NASCAR attendance woes

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson drives during the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race, Sunday, June 1, 2014, at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

By
June 04, 2014 |

CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Larson lingered near his car waiting for the race to begin at Dover International Speedway when British television presenter Cherry Healey joined him on the concrete. Kneeling next to a rear tire, Healey snapped a selfie with NASCAR’s newest star.

Selfies are all the rage in every age group, and in NASCAR, where fans can rub elbows with their favorite driver minutes before the start of the race, the ability to snap a shot with the stars is just another perk in the fan-friendly sport.

A snapshot of attendance shows a wider problem that social media can’t fix.

Dover had swaths of empty seats on Sunday, continuing the trend of declining attendance at the Delaware race track that primarily serves Baltimore, Philadelphia, Richmond, Virginia, and Washington. Longtime observers said the crowd was the smallest in years, something CEO Denis McGlynn seemed to hint was coming in the pre-race driver meeting.

McGlynn told the drivers that fans simply can’t afford to attend races at Dover, and warned “you’re going to see some holes in the grandstands.”

McGlynn and his staff are targeting a younger audience, trying to build a new generation of race fans, and offered kids 14 and under a $10 ticket on Sunday. In an effort to appeal to those kids, who love Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Snapchat, McGlynn urged drivers to take a moment and pose for selfies with the new fans. Autographs mean little to anyone but collectors and the guy trying to make a buck, so the selfie goes a long way.

Far enough to fix attendance woes?

Hardly.

It still costs roughly $65 to get in the gate at Dover, and all those kids targeted with the $10 seats can’t get them without the purchase of an adult ticket, too. Throw in parking, food and drink — even if you bring your own — and it’s a big spend.

At least half of Dover’s targeted audience could have attended the race at Richmond in April. A huge portion of the fans can go to Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania this Sunday. And the luckiest fans at Pocono can skip the drivers and aim for selfies with the grand marshals, actors Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.

NASCAR desperately wants to appeal to East Coast fans, but it’s a bloated market. There are too many entertainment options already, and NASCAR is cramming in four Sprint Cup races from April 26 through Aug. 3 in one region.

Some will argue attendance doesn’t matter because the tracks don’t need attendance revenue like they did years ago. All tracks receive a cut of the television package, and the deal that begins next year is worth $8.2 billion, so there’s plenty of wealth to trickle down to every facility.

“It’s a media-based revenue now, that’s a fact,” said McGlynn. “But I’m not sure that’s a desire for us. We still want those people in the grandstands.”

Dover seats 113,000. Maybe it will hit that number this year if it combines attendance from Sunday’s race with its September race.

Empty seats are ugly. They look bad for the race track, bad to the sponsors and are bad for the health of NASCAR, regardless of the TV deal.

Could tracks fill the seats by lowering ticket prices? Probably. But hotel prices remain an issue in many markets, and the lodging costs are simply too high for fans even if the tickets are free.

So, aside from giving each driver a daily selfie minimum to meet, what’s the solution?

There’s only one answer: blowing up the schedule.

Iowa Speedway desperately wants a Sprint Cup race and seems to have the fan base to deserve consideration, but it can’t get on the 38-race schedule. Las Vegas Motor Speedway wants a second date, but can’t have one unless track owner Bruton Smith is willing to move a race at one of his other tracks.

This isn’t pick-on-Dover day, but when a track is struggling to fill half the grandstands, it shouldn’t get two races a year. Atlanta is a big market and a storied race track, but when attendance dwindled, it lost one of its two races.

There’s no logic at all in having Dover and Pocono back-to-back unless the marketing priority is the RV crowd that has the free time to travel to consecutive events.

NASCAR wants every race to matter, for every win to be a huge event. But there’s a winner every week and if you missed it this Sunday, you can catch it next Sunday or the one after that.

Selfies can’t fix this. Something far more drastic has to be done.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Middle school students put school candidates on the hot seat

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Pact with union wins Vacaville council OK

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1

Suisun City candidates get lively in 2nd council forum

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Solano focuses on rail safety

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3

 
Juveniles hit by vehicle have minor injuries

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Booz and Brewz benefit for the Blue Star Moms

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Police search for missing man

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Blessing of the animals slated Sunday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

DUI-drivers license checkpoint nets arrests

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

 
Travis airman killed in motorcycle accident

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

Caltrans cancels nighttime Highway 37 closures

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
Salvation Army gears up for annual Red Kettle campaign

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Theaters primed for bevy of new movies

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

Fairfield police log: Sept. 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: Sept. 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: Sept. 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

4-H Achievement Night honors county members

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A10

 
Measure A committee plans weekend precinct walk

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A10

$26,227 payment to maintenance man challenged

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A10

 
FBI announces reward for Vacaville bank robber

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A10

American Legion seeks Korean War veterans for award

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Third Annual Ride to Defeat Diabetes is Sunday

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

.

US / World

Forest areas reopen after huge fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Hong Kong leader refuses to meet with protesters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Secret Service chief on hot seat for WH breach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Afghan pact signed amid questions on Iraq pullout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Government confirms first case of Ebola in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Mayor of suburban Los Angeles city killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Crash, suspicious device lead to 101 closure in LA

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Gov. Brown governor vetoes ethics bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Police on manhunt find pipe bombs in woods

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Oklahoma man charged with murder in beheading

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Luck, instinct determined fates of volcano hikers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
California becomes first state to ban plastic bags

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Gov. Jerry Brown signs California gun restriction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Bay Area looks to expand overnight transit options

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

 
Ignored House contests may hold surprises

By Albert R. Hunt | From Page: A8

 
Stop hounding Moy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 1, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

One simple slicing trick to bake a beautiful tart

By Sara Moulton | From Page: B6

 
A speedy, kitchen sink approach to pumpkin bread

By J.M. Hirsch | From Page: B6

The flavor of fall – pumpkin pie in a cinnamon bun

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

 
Morgan: ‘Can’t believe’ Walmart blaming him

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Royals beat A’s 9-8 in 12 in AL wild-card thriller

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Local report: Rodriguez volleyball team downs Armijo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Pirates’ Volquez looks to continue revival against Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders make Tony Sparano interim coach after firing Allen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
NFL has laundry list of verboten celebrations

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Government: NFL TV ‘blackout’ rule unsportsmanlike

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Olympian Michael Phelps apologizes for DUI arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Gravely injured Giants fan sues Dodgers again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ex 49ers RB James agrees to terms with Dolphins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
FCC will consider petition to ban ‘Redskins’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Training camp essential for NBA’s new head coaches like Warriors’ Kerr

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
No. 14 Stanford trying to jolt stagnant offense

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NC State coach apologizes for fake injury remarks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NFL says Abdullah should not have been penalized

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

49ers’ Wilhoite filling the injury void at linebacker

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Business

EU says Apple gets illegal tax benefits in Ireland

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Could a merger follow the PayPal-eBay split?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

.

Obituaries

Marte Abad Lubag

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Clara May Clift Triplett

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

John ‘Bo’ M. Miller

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
David Earl Butenhoff-Forristall

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

.

Breast Cancer Awareness 2014

Breast cancer in younger women

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA2

Talking with your doctor

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA3

Breast cancer myths

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA4

Diet linked to cancer

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA9

Giving emotional support

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA10

After the treatment

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA12

Join the fight: Get involved

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA15