THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business May '14

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May 2014 n Performance & Hotrod Business n 29 initial curiosity fan spike of the death of Earnhardt. That is, many new fans joined in after the word of his death shocked its way across all sports lines. Fans tuned in and popularity rose once again. But not long after that, fans started dropping away—and they've kept on leav- ing ever since. Trouble in Turn 1? How bad ticket sales have gotten is reflected by the reduction of seats at almost every major track. A prime example is Daytona Interna- tional Speedway in Florida. NASCAR's flag- ship track is in the middle of a huge, $400 million project that includes (among other things) a reduction in seating estimated in the 40,000 range. Other tracks have already instituted such plans and a quick check of track seating shows the majority having already reduced their seating. Those with fixed seating such as Bristol are, for the most part, not able to reduce without major reconstruction. Tracks have used a number of methods, with the most popular being the complete removal of an older or more remote grandstand. Daytona chose that route by eliminating the back straightaway grandstands. TV viewing, while not as accurate a gauge as seating capacity, has been up and down recently, depending on a number of factors such as weather, event and what is happening in NASCAR that week. The changes in networks carrying cov- erage can be attributed to evolution, but one note may be ESPN. That network was one of the first to provide flag-to-flag cov- erage of most of the season's NASCAR rac- ing, but now has opted to let its contract run out after the 2014 season. NBC will take over the latter-season coverage. The situation with fields of race cars is also complex. With the fatal accidents of Earnhardt and others, a safer way of racing was clearly needed. That brought about the Car of Tomorrow (COT) and other changes that made a big difference. But it was not without costs. Implementing the COT cost money, as the cars it replaced were no longer usable in Sprint Cup racing and teams had to completely refit their inventories. With a PHBMAY.indd 29 4/2/14 11:19 AM

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