|Photo – Scene Daily|
After a very successful truck series race last Sunday in Rockingham, lots of NASCAR fans, and reporters are now thinking about a return to Rockingham for the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series’.
In years to come Rockingham will need NASCAR to purchase the track so they can make much needed upgrades, like a new surface, more grandstands and some newer garage stalls.
If, in a few years, NASCAR were to return to Rockingham for the Sprint Cup Series, why not make a daring schedule change that could potentially bring in a lot more fans? This idea could bring NASCAR back to its southern roots by eliminating some west coast races and making east regional fans happy. I’m not saying eliminate all west coast races. What I am saying is, cut down on the number of races run in western states.
West coast tracks like Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California have lacked attendance for years now. Since Fontana is outside of Los Angeles, they continue to keep a “big market” track on the schedule, even though “smaller market” tracks like Darlington in South Carolina – not close to any big cities – have great attendance with fans that come back year after year.
In an effort to fill the stands, the Auto Club Speedway is known for giving away tickets to superstars in the Los Angeles area to attract fans. Tracks in NASCAR’s southern region like Charlotte, Darlington, Daytona, Atlanta and more, don’t need an effort to fill the stands by giving away tickets to superstars. They rely on die-hard fans to continue showing up at the track, as they have for years.
My proposed way of attracting more NASCAR fans, while going back to the sport’s southern roots is simply cutting down on less popular west coast races and bringing more races back to the east coast – especially the south.
Going to Phoenix twice a year isn’t the same as going to Darlington twice a year with all of Darlington’s rich tradition. I’m not saying don’t race at Phoenix – just go there once a year.
Fontana’s efforts in attendance, sponsorship and racing action have been less than stellar. So why spend the money traveling across the country to race at a track that is under performing in these key areas?
Maybe Fontana would actually boost their attendance with just one event for regional fans to attend for the season. For example, Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s schedule appears to be working well with one event as the third race of the year.
After the Sprint Cup race at Texas last weekend, fans found that Texas Motor Speedway didn’t produce the extremely exciting race their advertising promised. NASCAR doesn’t need two races at Texas, especially if the racing action is less than fans’ expectation.
The first road course race of the year in Sonoma, California always proves to be a great race, but with lack of sponsorship that track could be replaced on the schedule. Road America, in Wisconsin, made its way onto the Nationwide schedule a few years ago and proved to be a great track for racing. Now it could soon add a Sprint Cup date for the season if Sonoma can’t find sponsorship to remain in NASCAR’s schedule.
A return to NASCAR’s roots basically brings racing more often to the sport’s heartland in the southern portion of the United States. In the last ten years NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series left Rockingham completely and left Darlington and Atlanta with one date for the season. These tracks are part of NASCAR’s southern roots with fans attending anytime possible and leaving few seats empty.
Although money has played a role in why these tracks were left with one date on the schedule; with a slowly improving economy these same tracks could easily bring sell-out crowds and create interest from sponsors with two events each season.
These proposed moves won’t be easy to make happen. However, with fan support and an improving economy, they are certainly possible. Bringing NASCAR back to its southern roots is risky but could also pay off in the long run.
This fan proposal was originally published at Turn 4 Racing News and has been edited here by Fan4Racing’s managing editor, Sharon Burton with the author’s permission and final approval.