My Perspectus On Bristol

Juan Pablo Montoya

(WOMR file photo)

Every since the sprint race at Bristol just a few short weeks ago, there has been some talk about why there were so many empty seats at, what once was the toughest ticket in NASCAR to get.  In fact Bruton Smith, the owner of Bristol Motor Speedway, has chimed in that there will be a change made before NASCAR returns to Bristol for the fall night race.

Every since Bristol was reconfigured, a couple of years ago, there has been talk about how the racing has changed at this rough and tumble race track. If you want to see “beatin’, bangin’, and wrecks”, then the old style Bristol is your track.  However, if you like hard side-by-side, door handle-to-door handle, two wide racing, then the new or current Bristol is your track.

To borrow a phrase from James Carville; “It’s the economy,stupid”!

If you really look at the true reason why there are empty seats at Bristol, you need to look no farther than the economy.  It has become very expensive to travel to a race!  Those empty seats at Bristol are also reflective at every race track that NASCAR visits.  I can attest to the costs that one incurs when traveling to a NASCAR race weekend.

My personal experience is that to go to a NASCAR it is very costly.  I make yearly treks to Daytona, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tallaedega.  The Las Vegas and Phoenix races I travel in my motorhome.  The costs incurred are for diesel, the RV parking, weekend tickets, and of course groceries for the weekend stay, is around a $1,000.00.  Just a note,  the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is only 300 miles away from my home, and the Phoenix International Raceway is 165 miles from home.

For my trips to Daytona and Talladega requires airfare, a rental cars, hotels, and food. One of the problem areas is the cost of hotels for a NASCAR weekend.  For both Daytona and Talladega, I can verify that the hotels generally jack their prices up 2 1/2 to 3 times their normal daily rates!  That is HIGHWAY ROBBERY!  However, it is a captive audience, and if you want a hotel room you will be forced to pay those stiff prices.

Additionally, the seat prices at most of these events are very expensive, for the Sprint Cup race, the prices range from $65 for a seat that is up against the catchfence with very little view, to $325 at Daytona for the Sprint Cup Tower!  Those prices have forced the “average NASCAR fan” to rethink their priorities!    The average fan cannot afford to drive their car, rent a room, and pay those kinds of prices for a NASCAR weekend outing.

If Bruton Smith and Brian France want to see a full grandstands for their race tracks, spending millions of dollars reconfiguring their surface, as Bruton Smith is prepared to do, is not required.  However, reconfiguring their pricing structure would greatly enhance their bottom line!  Cutting their profit margin down and filling their seats would, in the long run, make their racetrack more profitable!

It is the old business model, do you want to make a huge profit on a few units, or would you rather make a little profit on a 150,000 units?  Both Brian France and Bruton Smith, in my opinion, need to rethink their priorities!  NASCAR has always prided themselves on being “fan friendly” and “fan accessible”, however, their current business model is not keeping up with the current economical struggles of its constituents, or fan base!

What are your views?


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