Formula One, NASCAR, and other motorsports have gotten too rich for their own good, and now they are paying the consequences.
We are all aware of the tough financial climate that we currently live in. Times are hard world wide, including the world of motorsports.
You only have to look at the empty stands at the German Grand Prix recently to see the effect. It’s much the same the whole world over. Look at the empty seats in NASCAR these days. Not that long ago, that would have been unheard of. The obvious answer is the cost of tickets. It’s no surprise at all that motorcycling, with its cheaper tickets is better attended.
For example, at Silverstone for the British Formula One Grand Prix, you would be paying in excess of £100 or $170 US. I reguarly attend the British Touring Car Championship for a bargain £30 or $51 US. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that the economy has bit race teams who are struggling to secure sponsorship.
Lack of sponsorship
Recently, I spoke with a talented young ARCA driver, whose name I won’t divulge. He has a team, cars, but is yet to turn a wheel in 2014 due to no sponsorship. NASCAR is suffering too. We recently only had 42 teams for a Sprint Cup event (which is unheard of), and the Nationwide Series has been cut down to just 40 teams, with the Camping World Truck Series now just 36 teams. Very rarely do full fields even show up for Nationwide and Truck events.
The cost of motorsport is way to high. Despite lucrative TV deals, it's still a struggle. The only way to reverse the trend is cutting costs. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has a very long year with teams having just a couple off weekends in nine months. That is just not cost effective and somewhat absurd. Maybe a change in the scheduling with less races or a change of some race dates in order to cut travel costs would help. It’s all relative, make the series cheaper and that will encourage sponsors. They wouldn’t have to pay out the huge fees they currently do to get the hood of a car.
Formula One has been cutting costs for over a decade and is expanding to new parts of the world. Sadly, tickets are ridiculously high. Whilst the German Grand Prix took place at Hockenheim, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series were at Nurburgring with nearly as many spectators. Why? Well, they are sensible with ticket prices and they put on a great show at every event. Every venue has an American celebration, and there is an open feel where fans can look at the cars and chat to the drivers.
Moto GP will race at Silverstone soon, and prices are less than half of Formula One. The product, some would argue is better viewing too. Here in Great Britain, we have a thriving domestic racing scene. Costs are kept to a sensible level, large crowds attend the bigger races and there is decent TV coverage. The paddocks are friendly towards fans and media alike. All this means that sponsors are only too happy to part with their money. Of course there are exceptions, but in general, it’s a very healthy outlook.
I don’t have a magic wand or a degress...but what I do have is the common sense to realize that there needs to be a change. The problems aren't going to fix themselves.