boost NASCAR popularity
is the fastest growing sport in America. Last year the
Daytona 500 was watched by almost 30 million people
at home, and 180,000 people packed into the speedway
all during weather that caused many delays. Why
is NASCAR so popular and what does that say about our
analyze an outsiders view of NASCAR: About 50
drivers going about 150 mph around an oval track for
over three hours. Straightaway, left turn, straightaway,
left turn: Repeat as desired.
I dont see the entertainment value why
do people watch?
Maybe its the car crashes. Those are the first
things you see on the TV recaps of the big races. Crashes
at that speed are especially violent but thanks to special
precautions, serious injury of the driver is a rare
result. Still, I have faith that people have a different
reason for watching NASCAR other than for the morbid
curiosity of seeing a fatal crash.
The competitors are all blue-collar, All-American
types. They dont have the image of being
overpaid like in MLB or thugs like the NFL or NBA. They
are the American dream.
Believe it or not, 40 percent of the 75 million NASCAR
fans are women. Minorities make up over 10 percent of
the fan base. But one demographic really stands out
kids. NASCAR, according to an ESPN poll, has
increased its 12- to 17-year-old fan base by more than
12 percent since 1999. Football, in comparison, has
only grown by 1.2 percent. I can relate to that and
I think Im beginning to understand.
When I was a kid I had a bunch of cheap toy cars I would
race all around my house and that was pretty fun. Back
then, I couldnt watch the races on TV so there
was never any motivation to see it in real life or buy
Nowadays, the coveted 12- to 17-year-old teenager demographic
is a must-have for companies. NASCAR realized this,
prompting them to drop their sponsor Winston, a cigarette
manufacturer, and replace it with Nextel. Its
No longer called the Winston Cup, it is the Nextel Cup.
Kids are responsible for steering NASCAR to its current
popularity and I can understand. Little boys like cars,
especially cars that go vroom! Moms and
dads watch it because it represents America. I have
to say Im kind of at odds with some of those assumptions
NASCAR racers are just as arrogant and troublesome as
athletes from other sports. Dale Earnhardt, the almost-mythical
racing legend, was known as The Intimidator
and pushed the rules of racing. Modern day favorite
Tony Stewart has a hot temper and has yelled at sports
reporters for asking questions he doesnt like.
As for the blue-collar worker mentality,
many current drivers are just following in the footsteps
of their fathers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Petty
family, for instance. The lack of diversity in the ranks
of NASCAR is the most un-American part of it all.
I still dont understand the allure for adults
to watch cars drive in circles and I dont have
a Hemi in my Dodge, so maybe there is something wrong
with me. Im willing to accept that, so heres
to going round and round and round and round.