Sunday, September 16, 2018

NASCAR Attendance Thin at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

September 16, 2018
Las Vegas, NV

  The second date was granted to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the first time since it's existence.  The questions was posed year after year to officials at Las Vegas Motor Speedway "when will you get a second date".  The reason behind the constant question, attendance year after year has been stellar.  With the decline of attendance at many race tracks over the past few years, Las Vegas is no exception to those who have been suffering.  Since 2008, the down turn of the economy, NASCAR attendance has suffered.  Las Vegas among many race tracks have been pulling out seats, reducing capacity.  Some tracks had attendance records prior to 2008, Las Vegas was one of those who packed the place.  Bristol Motor Speedway had a waiting list to even buy tickets, that list no longer exists. 

  Today the attendance appears to be sparse, seats are vacant, especially in the Richard Petty (turn 1) and Dale Earnhardt (turn 4) terraces (upper seating coming out of turn 4 and going into turn 1).  I know the marketing and promotions departments at Las Vegas Motor Speedway have been actively working to promote the second date the minute the March race wrapped up.  It's a little bit of a surprise to see attendance struggles continue at Las Vegas, after all it is Las Vegas and there is plenty to do aside of the race track.

  So what seems to be the issue, why are fans not flocking to race tracks like they did just a few years ago, in fact just ten years ago?  I hear fans say it's the price of tickets, I find that hard to believe.  A ticket to get into Friday nights Camping World Truck Series race is under $20, the DC Solar 300 Saturday race is under $40 to get in and Sundays South Point 400 you can get a tickets and sit in the Richard Petty Terrace for under $90.  This pricing falls in line with other major sports, NBA single game ticket can be anywhere from $30 to $300 per ticket in most cases.  Concert tickets are upwards now of $65 and higher.  Sure you have travel costs such as vehicle fuel (providing you a close enough to drive), airline ticket, lodging costs and meals.  I get it, the total for a weekend can add up quickly.  Are fans just looking at their pocket books and picking a choosing which races they want or can afford to attend and / or questioning even going at all due to the race being on TV?  Is it cost or lack of interest?  This is what I keep hearing folks in my profession ask, the media that are dumb founded of the fall of the sport at a high rate of speed.  Sponsors leaving the sport, fan attendance down and TV ratings suffering.  Is NASCAR on life support? 

Ok...I didn't want to be that dramatic but I do wonder what the root of the decline may be.  I would love you feedback, comment and let me know what your thoughts are?   

Friday, September 14, 2018

NASCAR Sponsorship Struggles: Just Got Real

Friday: September 14, 2018

By Shane Beck
Las Vegas, NV

  With the 2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series driver, Martin Truex Jr, being the latest to fall victim to the loss of sponsorship dollars.  The question that many are asking is why?  For that matter a better questions may be how, how does your last years champion ship team fail to secure sponsorship dollars for the future 2019 racing season?

  NASCAR teams historic ally have depended upon sponsorship dollars to stay a float, to build a racing program and maintain it' relevance.  With seven time NASCAR Cup Series driver Jimmy Johnson losing Lowes Home Improvement in 2019, and now the #78 team owner of Furniture Row Racing, Barney Visser announcing their closing their doors at the end of 2018 due to lack of sponsorship dollars, the state of NASCAR is on rocky ground.  It's not easy for a single car owner like Barney Visser to survive for vary long.  Red Bull Racing which owned and operated it's own team was short lived, they lasted only six years.

  The cost of a top team in the NASCAR Cup Series can cost $30 Million to operate annually, sponsors pay for the majority of those expenses.  In the early years, the 1990s, sponsors like GM Goodwrench stuck by their driver through thick and thin.  Drivers would develop an identity as, in this case Dale Earnhardt as Mr. Goodwrench.  Driver Mark Martin was known as Mr. Valvoline, while Rusty Wallace was always the driver of the Miller car, Terry Labonte was the Kelloggs car and others we're well know with the identity of their sponsor.  Not only the sponsor but the colors were always consistent.  

  Many companies are not shelling out those same dollars and receiving the same benefit for those dollars, teams have been forced to split up the number of events that a sponsor would get the hood of the car and color scheme to cover the cost of operations.  Another words, if you have three ten million dollar sponsors who split the racing season in thirds, then you achieve the total operating expense of $30 million to cover your operations.  However, if one of those sponsors doesn't renew and you still need $30 Million to operate, you either cover out of pocket or find another sponsor.  This is where the problem lies, the value of what the teams are putting out isn't worth the benefit to the sponsors and they're reluctant to renew.  Farmer's Insurance sponsored Hendrick Motorsports $67.28 million dollar deal, the deal was for 102 total races, far short of the season total.  Kyle Busch might be the only driver left that runs one sponsor for the duration of the season.  The Bang for Buck theory!  Not getting enough Bang for their Buck.  It's become way to expensive, even for fortune 500 companies. 

  So what can be done, how will these teams not only survive but start to thrive?  I believe the bottom line is NASCAR needs to take a step or two back, they need to dumb it down.  NASCAR needs to make it cheaper for the teams to operate and need to do it fast.  This sport has become a victim of the times and has out priced themselves. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Indy 500: Danica Patrick's Last Hurrah

Saturday, May 26, 2018
By Shane Beck
Salt Lake City, UT

A race fan turned media member covering racing in general but a little heavy towards NASCAR, I find this years Indianapolis 500 to be a slight bit somber.  I know many of you are laughing right now, some of you may even be celebrating this day.  The day the Danica Patrick races in her last professional race as a IndyCar driver!

I remember the day Danica started her professional career in IndyCar, I even remember her fist victory in Japan on April 20, 2008, the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Montegi in Montegi, Japan.  Making her the first female winner in IndyCar racing history. 

Patrick had many firsts in her career, the first woman to win the pole of the Daytona 500 (February 18, 2013), or for that matter the first woman in the history of NASCAR to win a pole for any race.  She was also Rookie of Year in the 2005 Indianapolis 500 for Rahal Letterman Racing with three pole positions in her 2005 season. 

Danica Patrick grew up on Wisconsin, she began karting at the age of ten with much success, winning the World Karting Association Grand National Championship three times in the mid 1990s.  She dropped out of high school with her parents permission in 1998, and moved to the United Kingdom to further her racing career.  Patrick competed in Formula Vauxhall and Formula Ford before returning to the United States in 2001 due to a lack of funding.

Danica was fortunate to have landed Go Daddy as a sponsor, a partner who was able to fund her way into NASCAR making Danica Patrick a household name.

Over the years many have become true Danica Patrick fans, I have personally witnessed her apparel trailer as one of the midway's busiest with lines 7 wide and 10-15 people deep waiting to purchase her merchandise.  I would look around and trailer just next door had no one in line or very few.  I've also spoken with fans who cut her zero slack, all based on her on track performance.  As a long time racing enthusiast I can completely understand how they may feel.  I also understand the bigger picture, how Danica has paved the way for many female competitor, giving young ladies hope that some day they to can race at NASCAR's top level or  perhaps race in the Indianapolis 500.  

I have become a fan of Danica Patrick, I admire what she has done, how she has achieved the success she has had and how she has given so many hope.  I WILL be pulling for Danica Patrick to win her final Indianapolis 500 race on May 27th of 2018.  I also hope that Danica doesn't completely walk away from racing, that she can get involved to help others achieve their life long dreams!  #GoDaddy #GoDanicaPatrick

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Opening Night: Royal Purple Modified Series at Meridian Speedway

Saturday, April 8, 2017
By Shane Beck
Meridian, Idaho

A long off season for many, yet not long enough for some, the drives are awaiting to see just who shows up with what?  Coming off a great 2016 season, promoter Todd LaBronte is optimistic of 2017.  

The season kicks off at Meridian Speedway, a race track where driver and former Meridian Speedway Modified track champion Shelby Stroebel dominates.  LaBronte and Meridian Speedway have agreed to four events including a two night show at the historic Diamond Cup, June 2nd and 3rd, a show that features the return of Super Modified racing.  The Royal Purple Modified Series will also make the trip back to the historic Magic Valley Speedway (Twin Falls, ID) for four nights of racing.  

New addition to the schedule in 2017 for the Royal Purple Modified Series is Wenatchee Valley Speedway for the Thunder In The Valley two night show, July 15th and 16th.  

A surprising return to Rocky Mountain Raceways (Salt Lake City, UT) in 2017.  Coming off a decent showing in 2015 the Royal Purple Modified Series was not invited back for 2016.  Part of that decision due to schedule conflict and the other, two promoters not able to come to terms.  Both Mike Eames (General Manager of Rocky Mountain Raceways) and Todd LaBronte are excited for the August 5th 75 lap Hot August Nights racing event in 2017.

The racing action should be fantastic in 2017, with the return of many good drivers from the northwest, four to six different states, the competition should be fierce.  

Drivers to watch out for this season, Idaho drivers Chris Fenton, Shelby Stroebel and Kyle Lathem.  Drivers out of Utah, Zach Webster, and Eric Rhead.  California driver Kyle Tellstrom is always a tough competitor.  

You can follow the Royal Purple Modified Series on Facebook.

Follow Shane Beck on Twitter @racingfanradio or email

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ratings Down, Empty Seats; How Does NASCAR Stop The Bleeding

March 28, 2017
By: Shane Beck
After five races, NASCAR’s TV ratings are showing no signs of improvement, hitting record-lows, according to Sports Media Watch.
Auto Club Speedway - California Ratings dipped again, Fox drew a 2.9 overnight rating for Kyle Larson's win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway, down 17% from a 3.5 for last year's event, which aired one week earlier in the season. Fox drew a 4.0 overnight for the Cup race from Fontana in both '15 and '14. 
Las Vegas TV Ratings In ratings delayed by the winter storm in the Northeast, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing from Las Vegas scored a 3.58 final rating and 5.973 million viewers on FOX Sunday (3/12/2017)
Atlanta TV Ratings Posted Fox drew 3.6 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race from Atlanta, down slightly from a 3.7 for the same race last year. However, the second race of the Cup Series season was down from a 5.1 in '15 from Atlanta and down from a 4.8 in '14 from Phoenix.
Daytona 500 TV Ratings With a thrilling, last-lap pass in the first MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES race to feature the new stage format, 2004 NASCAR premier series champion Kurt Busch won Sunday's season-opening DAYTONA 500 on FOX, with 23.3 million viewers tuning in for all or part of the event. An average audience of 12 million watched the race across the FOX broadcast network, FOX Deportes and FOX Sports GO, including 11.92 million on FOX alone.
So the real questions is why? So many opinions on how to fix NASCAR, we hear the following "if they shorten races the ratings will go back up" or "they need more short tracks and road course races". While some of these opinions may be true the problem is deeper then a small change here and small change there.
NASCAR has lost control, the product is now controlled by sponsors, what you say?  You mean the sponsors that have been so instrumental in putting NASCAR on the map? No not those sponsors, those were different. The sponsors like GM Goodwrench, Winston and others understood that NASCAR is a sport which is driven by it's drivers and their personalities.
The raw emotion of the drivers has been taken from the sport, the drivers are being promoted in such a way that you only identify them by their sponsors and what's best for business. Not so much as what's best for the fans and the sport.  
Fans are passionate, some so much as to name their kids after their favorite drives. Not to many fans have named their kids after the drivers sponsor. sons name is Dewalt get the picture!!  
NASCAR has lost the villain, the drives genuinely competed and it bothered them to lose, so much so as they would fight, almost hate each other. Now they hang out, laugh and have fun and NASCAR can't decide from one week or another if they should let the "Boys Have at It" or fine them for saying or doing something detrimental to the sport, as they say in the NASCAR rule book. 
At Las Vegas Kyle Busch marched down pit road and punched Joey Logano in the face because he felt he was done wrong on the racing surface.  NASCAR....that is real raw emotion and that's what fans want.