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What’s Wrong With Racing In America?

Posted in Racing Coverage, Rants & Raves, Videos by Kurt Ernst | April 5th, 2011 | 5 Responses |

Watch the video below, which shows an exhibition run of a 2010 Red Bull Renault F1 car in Cape Town, South Africa, last week. That’s test driver Neel Jani behind the wheel, not Sebastian Vettel or Mark Webber. Despite this, the stands are absolutely packed with race fans, eager to see an F1 car up close and personal. The fact that it’s last year’s car, driven by a supporting member of Red Bull Racing, is completely irrelevant to the standing-room-only crowd. When was the last time you saw that kind of interest in a professional race in the United States? Aside from the Daytona 500, which is packed because of both tradition and the late winter weather in Florida, you really don’t see this level of interest in professional motor sports in the United States anymore.

The Indy 500 used to draw hundreds of thousands of spectators, and earning a decent seat usually required you to endure years of cheap general admission seating. I haven’t been to an Indy 500 since 1991, but I imagine I could show up on race day and buy a halfway decent seat at the box office, because the race has lost a lot of it’s prestige. Even NASCAR attendance is down, and tracks like Daytona are scrambling to stay solvent in a down economy. Is the answer that simple? Has racing gotten too expensive, or are today’s cars (in both open wheel and stock car racing) simply too bland to be entertaining? What would it take to fix racing in the United States?

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5 Responses

  1. Dan says:

    Mainstream support on Tv stations other than SPEED. Not less safety, but a little more room for driver error, maybe make the cars slower and more in the vein of Touring Car championships, cars that everyday people can go to a showroom and buy. These are just a few things, but they would probably help. Also let drivers personalities shine through the haze of sponsorships a bit more, thus letting people find someone to root for.

  2. Chris says:

    Kill Nascar. problem solved.

  3. Alex says:

    Forget NASCAR.

    I’m driving 3 or 4 hours to go watch an SCCA race in May, and then I’m going again in September to watch Petit LeMans. Both at Road Atlanta.

    We’ll see then how ‘dead’ racing really is in the US, :)

    and @Dan, Petit LeMans will be broadcast live from like 5 different TV stations.

  4. jase says:

    right hand corners.

  5. jase says:

    Let me expand that. NASCAR – Pretend Cars on oval tracks – there is no semblance of the real driving experience there. Agree with making NASCAR akin to touring car racing – big step. Then get them on tracks, real ones so they have to drive the car a bit and the experience resembles road driving. Then finally, tone down the sponsorship so that the cars look like cars and the drivers like people. INDY could attempt to market itself to an audience, instead of positioning itself to be too good for the working class and too low brow for the upper crust.