Popularity of Nascar

Discussion in 'Sports' started by ccrobinson, May 24, 2006.

  1. ccrobinson

    ccrobinson
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    Nascar has been the #1 racing series in the U.S. for several years and is now #2 behind the NFL in overall popularity. Fox and NBC pay millions to broadcast the races. ESPN is going to pay millions beginning in 2007. But, why is Nascar so popular?

    It certainly isn't because the racing is so good, because it hasn't been consistently good for several years. Races frequently become parades and side-by-side racing is the exception rather than the norm. "Aero push" is a worse term than "points racing" and has almost single-handedly ruined Nascar.

    I submit that if the split hadn't occurred in the open-wheel world, Nascar would continue to be the #2 racing series in the U.S. I wonder what will happen to Nascar if IRL and Champ Car see the error of their ways and get back to one open-wheel racing series.

    What do you think?
     
  2. PastorSBC1303

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    I don't think the 2 will come back together.

    Even if they do, I don't see them surpassing Nascar at this point. It has grown too popular.
     
  3. swaimj

    swaimj
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    I don't think Indy style racing will ever surpass NASCAR either. Indy-type cars are too fast to run on ovals and the incidences of death are too frequent for the general public to stomach. The better drivers gravitate to NASCAR because of greater safety and greater financial reward.

    Indy car racing is older than NASCAR, so they remained more popular than NASCAR for years on the strength of the tradition of the Indy 500. But the Indy car guys couldn't manage themselves and they split. Those who stayed at Indy were not the best drivers of their day and there cars were inferior. They did not fill the shoes of their predecessors; Foyt, Unser, Mears, Rutherford, and Andretti. This lapse in the quality of Indy 500 fields ceded the line of traditon to NASCAR.

    NASCAR has a tradition to it that enriches the sport. There are goals which a driver must reach to achieve greatness; goals that have been historically difficult to achieve but which have been achieved by the great ones. Examples are winning three championships in a row (Only Cale Yarborough achieved this), winning seven championships (Petty and Earnhardt), winning 13 races in a season (Petty and Gordon did this in the modern era), winning 85 races (to achieve the 3rd all-time in wins and first in wins in the nodern era), and winning back-to-back Daytona 500's (accomplished by Petty, Yarborough, Marlin, and Jarrett). In time, the rare driver will come along and threaten these records. He will have the opportunity to achieve greatness. The challenge to these records reminds people that NASCAR has been around a long time. Breaking these records becomes an enviable feat across the generations. As these records are challenged, NASCAR will remain interesting for years to come.
     
  4. TomVols

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    Didn't NASCAR pass open wheel racing in popularity before the split? NASCAR has excellent marketing forces behind it.
     
  5. swaimj

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    It depends on how you look at it.

    Attendance of NASCAR vs Indy type? I'm sure NASCAR had more total attendance years ago, but then they have 30 races per year and Indy type has never had as many as 20.

    The Indy 500 had so much prestige prior to the split. It started in the early 1900s and crowds at the Indy 500 were around 300,000.

    I think that NASCAR started exploding and getting attention outside the southeast when the Daytona 500 was broadcast flag to flag in 1979. Flag-to-flag coverage was something that the Indy 500 didn't have for several years. Then, about 81-82 ESPN started showing almost all of the NASCAR races flag-to-flag every Sunday. Indy couldn't compete with that because they had so few races. The nail in the Indy-car coffin occured with the split because the Indy 500 was still held, the purse was still huge, the crowd was great, but the stars of Indy car racing ran at a competitor race (I think at Michigan) that day. That diminished the Indy 500 and it has never recovered. I think Indianapolis acknowledged this and basically surrendered when they held the inaugural Brickyard 400 for NASCAR in 1994.
     
  6. ccrobinson

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    I'm not sure I buy that timeline because the open-wheel split didn't happen until after the 1995 Indy 500, won by a CART driver, Jacques Villeneuve. I think the Brickyard 400 happened for the same reason that the U.S. GP happened. Tony George saw $$ signs for bringing Nascar, and then F1 to his track.

    Possibly, but deaths at Indy never seemed to stop anybody from watching the 500.

    USAC/CART/IRL/Champ have run on ovals for years. Phoenix and Nazareth used to be regular stops for USAC/CART/IRL and Milwaukee is still on the schedule for both IRL and Champ Car. Further, the IRL has run at Richmond, of all places, for several years now.

    I think the Indycar split helped Nascar's popularity more than anything Nascar has done. I do think the Indycar factions will reunite, beginning with top Champ Car drivers like Bourdais and Tracy running the 2007 Indy 500. I don't think Indycar racing will supplant Nascar from the #1 perch, but I think the gap will close. Mainly because Nascar only dreams of putting on the kind of show that the IRL does every week.
     
  7. padredurand

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    I'll watch the Indy 500 for one reason - Danika Patrick. 224+ mph, starting 10th, raced her way into the lead last year and, but for a few mistakes in the pits, could've pulled off a win.

    I wish her all the success in open wheel. That ought to keep her out of cars with fenders.

     

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