NASCAR Attendance and TV Viewing

Note: My articles are based on my own observations and feelings about racing and how I feel. Normally I do not offer stats.

When I first began writing articles for NASCAR, I mentioned on the forum I was posting my articles on at the time, that I like all types of motor sports and watch a lot of them. I still watch some, but not as many as I once did. Although I still enjoy motor sports with NASCAR and NHRA being near the top of the list to watch, my favorite is dirt track motorcycle racing, namely Supercross and Motocross along with Flat Track. I enjoy watching all three during their seasons and sometimes choose them over NASCAR if there are time conflicts. I chose to no longer have a DVR so can’t record any of them. As I have aged, tv is no longer one of my top priorities. 

Lately, I have been watching the number of fans at the races I watch on television. It seems the attendance has dropped at all types of racing events.  Although I do not count, nor research each event, just glancing at or studying the stands, one can see there continues to be less fans than there once was. By the way, David Nance, another author here is the one who is excellent when it comes to stats on a lot of different venues. 

As I watched a Supercross on Saturday, March 30th, the stadium was full of fans. I asked my inhouse expert if all the Supercross events had a full house where fans were concerned. He agreed with me that they had a very full stadium. It brought a smile to my face. It continues to attract as many fans as it has in the past.

Photo previous used Here.

Sunday, April 7th, I sort of watched some of the Cup Race, Stage 1, but then I chose to go out to breakfast and a long drive afterwards with my inhouse expert on racing. Was it the weather or just a plain boring beginning of a race?  I sort of listened to the race on Sirius – but trouble was – I found it boring. The scenery, including the ocean, we were driving near was so much more interesting. We changed stations about halfway through the 3rd stage so we would not know who won the race. After we returned home, we started watching a replay of the Cup race. It was kind of predictable as to who would win. Three Hendrick cars in the top 3 and the broadcast team really made a point of telling us it was the 40-year anniversary for them.  That feat was amazing. However, the race itself was boring. At times, I am not sure if it is the racing or my age that makes it boring. Maybe it is who is in the booth during the broadcast. Personally, I think Mike Joy over emphasizes Toyota and their drivers. Most of the people I speak with seem to think Toyota now owns NASCAR. Perhaps, but then there is also a lot of fairness in some of the broadcasters. 

Ummm, that brings up something interesting…age and racing. Have I become what we call a casual fan? Our definition of casual fan comes from the time Brian France was in charge of NASCAR   He wanted casual fans – mainly stars who would watch only occasionally and sit around the track in the more expensive areas and sip on wine and eat hors d’ Oeuvres, while being seen. Or they could be ones who would come to a race once in a while when there was nothing else to do. 

I have always, until lately, loved watching NASCAR racing on tv. It seems lately something else calls me during the live broadcasts. It could be anything from going out to eat to just going out and sitting by the river when weather permits. I am not sure, but many other fans seem to be having the same problem as I do. They have either stopped going to the races and/or have stopped watching them on television. It seems a lot of fans spend a lot of time on their phone. Are they watching the race on their phone or busy posting and reading something else? Social media has taken over so many people, especially the younger ones. 

Has anyone else been having these same problems? Do you have an explanation as to what has happened to the fans? I remember a time when one had to buy seats for NASCAR races up to a year in advance. Ticket sales stayed high for many years. That is no longer an issue for the sales. Something else is amiss and I am not sure what it is.

What do you think is the reason, or are the reasons, NASCAR fans have turned or tuned away from the sport? 

Thank you for reading and your comments would be much appreciated.

Vivian Simons

Photo Credit (cover): Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images


  1. We are in total agreement. For 72 years I was an ardent NASCAR fan and I have literally attended thousands of races including Late Model Sportsman whihe became the Busch Series and now Xfinity, to Grand National which became Winston Cup which became one Cup after another until now it’s the NASCAR cup. I no longer watch and definitely have no intention of attending one. Racing has changed. Too many smart-mouth, punk drivers. If Toyota doesn’t totally own NASCAR it certainly seems to have a controling interest.

    1. Hi Tim! happy to hear from you. Thanks so much for reading and posting a response.
      I do often wonder if maybe I have just outgrown NASCAR. I still remember attending the first 24 Hours of Daytona. What a great and happy weekend. Racing was racing and I learned to like road track racing from that and subsequent 24 Hours at Daytona I attended. Then I moved away and that is when Sears Point and open wheel took over. Meanwhile, televised NASCAR races were top on my list. Racing has changed and a lot of it has to do with the young drivers. I am a big fan of Ryan Blaney – the quiet one who pretty much stays to himself.
      Thanks again and take care

  2. I attended my first Cup races in 1965 (Darlington, Rockingham, Martinsville) with my Dad. Been going ever since except for my college years. Just my opinion, but I think race start times have a whole lot to do with race attendance and TV viewership also. I don’t think it serves either. By the time 3:30 comes on a Sunday, I’m doing something else. Martinsville is 2hrs and 45 mins. from my home. I used to go up at 6:30 and be home by 7 or 7:30 when races started at 1:00. Now it ends between 6-7 so by the time you stop for supper it’s a long day and late getting home. Keeps me from going. Sure wish the day races started at 1 and the night races at six!

  3. Thank you, John! Great comments and I do appreciate them. Glad you took time to read and then comment. Life and racing has changed and as we grow older, perhaps our time is more precious? Time of race does make a difference, huh? On the West Coast, it is hard to wait for a race sometimes, especially when weather is great. Some of us need to be outside, and time seems to slip away much too fast…
    Thanks again!

  4. Thanks Vivian!

    You’ve posed an interesting question. I’m still here and still watch but this is unfortunately like so many things in life not the part that it once was.

    I almost got out when my Dad passed. I stayed in because I had a everal friends who got interested bigtime and dragged me back in. Most of them have moved on to other things. I tried to get my son into it and he loves going to the track but is bored out of his head trying to watch it on TV. Yeah, he’s one of these that have the short attention span that folks use as excuse for the decline, but he can sit and game on-line for 12-14 hours at a time. I’ve concluded it’s not attention span but engagement commitment-if not engaged, he isn’t going to commit. Unfortunately, even after going to races and knowing what it can be, on-line doesn’t connect so no engagement. Not being able to pass it on, kinda hurts.

    I had big plans as he grew up and was going to get opportunities that I didn’t, but when SMI closed KY that finished that.

    Between FOX and Brian France’s Playoffs that about finished me. I emptied out a garage full of print material in protest and not once flinched. I held on in hopes things would get better. I’m not sure the product did, but a lady named PattyKay Lilley asked me to write for her site. I got in with a great group of passionate and talented fans which rekindled a spark. When PKL shut down her site I was kinda lost and thought about just getting out until Berra gave me a chance. So it’s the great people I’ve met along the way and needing to watch to give me something to write about keeps me in. But must admit the frustration level of todays sport coupled with the treatment older fans receive on-line makes me question things at time.

    I stayed in because it’s in my blood and I said I’ll be damned if I let Brian France run me off. There were still enough people who knew racing and cared still in to give me hope. As time goes on, my wonder about that increases.

    Like why folks got into the sport, everyone has their own reason why their level of involvement is what it is. That’s mine as rambling as it is.

    Thanks for the challenge and the chance to share.

    1. David, you and I have a lot of parallels in what’s wrong. My dad started taking me to races when I was 8-9 age, and I was hooked. At 17 I had a great opportunity to swap a 1970 Torino GT convertible for a Ford Maverick 6 cylinder that ran in the compact division. I mean a turn key car that ran up front a lot, all of his spares, and an open trailer to pull it. All I needed was dad’s signature on the age release to get started (I was only17). That was a firm NO, and don’t asked again reply, and he meant it. As I was already going delayed entrance into the Air Force in less that a year, I didn’t do the deal.

      I had already started racing my modified in Tucson, when my son turned 16. I wanted him to be in the pits with me, and learn what we do close up. I wanted him to get my passion for racing.He came ONCE! The closest he came to actually seeing me race was when I pulled into or out of my pit stall. You’d thought I was shoving bamboo under his nails. But he did have something to kill his time with. I had a 3 pump floor jack to use on the car. If the jack wasn’t being used, he would spend hours standing on the jack, going up and down, with him on it. He never went into the pits again. I too thought I could share my love of racing with him too. Yeah, that never happened. He’s a computer genius guy. All of Oracle ‘s cloud programs operate on the systems that he designed and has copyrighted. He quit them about 4 years ago. He got bored because they wouldn’t let him start writing programs for things he saw, that would be coming down the road soon. But there was one thing that he thought would get us more time together. He bought me NASCAR 2000, and then a console for steering, shifting, and braking. It had floor pedals to handle it. He even went as far as to paint up the car to match my modified. I think I played it 3 times. I think that if I hadn’t ever raced an actual race car first, it could have been fun. That was his last attempt to tolerate my racing. I regret that for both sides I guess.

      Through the 70s+80s & 90s, if I wasn’t working, in a hospital, or deployed outside of the US, I was watching every bit of NASCAR racing I could on TV. I even bought a satellite system when we lived in England, just to watch NASCAR. Rarely does NASCAR’s top divisions have my eyes on them anymore. I’ll watch when I can, and nothing more, At the Cup level, the show just isn’t that good anymore. And that’s because of the short track package isn’t working, and apparently none of the braintrust there in Daytona have a clue. They need more tire wear, and more horsepower. Those 2 thing working together will fix it. And no matter how many current Cup drivers are saying that, NASCAR haven’t dug in their heels, they’ve cemented those heals in place.

      The truck & Xfinity classes have turned into rich kid demo derbies. My first 3 demo derbies took place on the same day.They were my first, last & only demo derby. And don’t get me started on ARCA. There is however one thing that NASCAR really got right. Funding the expansion of FloRacing has been GREAT!! There I can see drivers that really want to be there. Also, most drivers have to build/repair and fund their race cars, and they tend to not want to crash so thy can afford to race.

  5. David & Ron,
    Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I really enjoy all the points of view and all the comments that make me ponder things even more.

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