Motor sports have been in a steady decline for a decade now, as fans find other activities to spend their disposable income on, particularly in the face of rising prices for event tickets and Cable TV packages.
From NASCAR to dirt-track racing, the drop-off has been palpable. When you look at the numbers for dirt-track or off-track racing, which not long ago were popular sporting events with thousands of fans packing the stands, the past few years have hit this segment of racing especially hard. A record of poor management, lower sponsorships, and lousy track maintenance have driven the sport right into the dirt, so to speak.
And dirt-track racing is not alone in this steady decline. NASCAR has also witnessed a large decline in ticket sales and TV viewers.
The figures for the first half of 2018 from the top three public companies involved in NASCAR, which are: International Speedway Corp. or (ISC), Speedway Motorsports Inc., and Dover Motorsports Inc., show a 14.7 percent drop in admissions revenue for the 14 NASCAR Cup Series weekends after the Daytona 500. TV ratings for the first 16 events of the season were down 20 percent, according to ISC. In addition, big-time sponsors Lowe’s and 5-Hour Energy are among the sponsors who have announced they are leaving NASCAR this year.
But NASCAR enjoyed such a boon just 10 years ago that the decade-long drop in numbers are nothing less than startling. The three public companies named above reported overall admissions revenue of $215 million in 2017, a drop of 54 percent from 2007, when the companies hit an all-time high of $467 million. That is a drop of a whopping $252 million dollars in admissions – not to mention sales of products, food and TV ad revenues.
ISC says it is emphasizing exclusive VIP hospitality experiences and driver appearances, as well as ticket packages aimed at youth demographics, with kid pricing and family-targeted promotions.
And just as with NASCAR, poor leadership and greed has contaminated all aspects of dirt-track racing. While tracks, event producers and conventions decimate what is left of the sport, one has to wonder why race teams continue to pour money into a sport that has deserted them a long time ago, and why racers still have an appetite for an industry that has taken advantage of them for years. What we do know for a fact is that there is little left for the fans to be happy about.
The once-great sport of dirt-track racing has been held hostage for over a decade by track owners and business interests that only seem to benefit the ones who control the sport.
Interestingly, this month, from January 18th-20th, the Motorsports trade show takes place at The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. With racing teams and people from the car racing industry converging to showcase the sport at a cost of many thousands of dollars for each team to showcase their teams’ cars and accessories they sell.
With some impressive sponsors like Sunoco and Aqua-Duck, the show is spearheaded by Area Auto Racing News (AARN), which is located in Trenton, NJ. AARN publishes a racing newspaper that covers the sport of dirt-track racing. For many years, various Media outlets were shut out of this private club called ‘dirt-track racing.’ The sport shunned and rejected any outside media trying to provide fans with honest coverage of the sport. In recent months local media in New Jersey has questioned why a sport that is crashing would still be abrasive to outside media coverage.
Here is a fun fact: AARN owns Bill’s Printing Service, which
produces the newspaper that showcases what they choose to report as “news” in the racing world. In effect, they control the sport and report on what they consider the outcome should be. That same stranglehold can be found thoughout the East Coast tracks that continue to hold hostage a sport that is riding in quicksand. It is sad that AARN holds such control of the dirt-track racing convention at the end of the month, and that inquiries from local news and radio shows in New Jersey have been shut out and discriminated against from covering the event.
Press credentials are offered on the Moto Sports website, yet local media not afiliated with the sport are given excuse after excuse as to why New Jersey state media is being denied credentials for this event.
This problem with local media started last year when a race track threw out local media and those with bona fide press credentials again were denied access. Moto Sports is in no way a qualified judge or authority of media or who should be allowed to cover the sport. You, as a consumer, should take a pass on any local racing track that discriminates against free press, and you should spend your hard-earned money at the movies – where you will have a better time – and have money left