It’s never good to see a track lose a race date, but there is a bit of irony woven in New Hampshire Motor Speedway being stripped of its September event. That’s the race was ripped away from North Wilkesboro Speedway in a bully tactic in conjunction with the Texas Motor Speedway folks. Now some 20 years later, some act as if New Hampshire is the victim in all of this.
Well at least New Hampshire gets to hold onto its July date, which was award to it during the 1993 season, rather than bought. Attendance had not been a strong suit and condensing down to one race might help fans be able to prepare better and get to the event. I’ve never understood why tracks have races within months of each other, much less Pocono’s asinine six week turn around. If I’m a fan in the area, I’d want to go to both, but financially I don’t know if I could make both.
North Wilkesboro found out that attendance figures don’t factor in to whether a track can keep a NASCAR event, their numbers were the highest ever at the end of its run in 1996. What New Hampshire couldn’t do was appeal to the corporate side of NASCAR. After all, NASCAR is a business that makes its money from other businesses. Would you rather entertain VIPs in Loudon, New Hampshire which I presume has something more than a race track, or the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, Nevada? Along with the Las Vegas tourism board giving money to the speedway, it’s a win-win.
Despite that win-win quote, there’s no guarantee it’ll play out like that for fans. We can all remember back when business interests meant the Auto Club Speedway would get a second 500 mile race on Labor Day. Not only stomping on the tradition of the Southern 500, but putting it at a venue that was boring to fans. And if that was not enough, let’s make it a night race, because that’s cool. On paper, you can’t argue that sponsors might be more invested in a race located near Los Angeles, California rather than one in Darlington, South Carolina. It made good business sense, it just was not only not well received by fans going (or rather, not going) to the event, but drove home the point we shouldn’t have races at some tracks twice.
NASCAR corrected its course with the Auto Club Speedway and now the weekend is well received for not only its great racing, but shorter race (400 miles versus 500 previously) and one could argue it’s more of a selling points since it only comes once. As for Vegas, time will tell if that event will be overkill for the market as well.
I just wish other tracks could be stripped of events to bring back the magic of the NASCAR Cup Series coming to town. Kansas Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway are on the top of my list, along with Phoenix Raceway. Ideally one of those could go to Iowa Speedway, but there again we’re stuck with the business question once again. Does it make sense when the area of Newton, Iowa has the speedway and nothing else?