SBD/March 22, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NASCAR Aims To Improve Southern California Presence With More Hollywood, Hispanic Fans

The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series head to Auto Club Speedway in Southern California this weekend and the region is “crucial to NASCAR's present and future,” because even though Fontana might not be L.A., “it's as close as NASCAR gets,” according to according to Jeff Gluck of USA TODAY. The venue was “punished” for low attendance at many of its races when NASCAR moved one of its race dates Kansas Speedway in 2010, and now Southern California's remaining date “deserves to be embraced." NASCAR “knows this, certainly -- it has an office in Los Angeles where efforts are made daily to connect with the entertainment industry -- but the drivers and fans need to be fully on board, too.” The remaining date “cannot be allowed to fail; it's simply too important.” And Hollywood “holds the key to NASCAR's push to promote the star power of its drivers.” Southern California is the “largest population center to host” a Sprint Cup  race and it is a “heavily Hispanic market.” It is “conceivable much of NASCAR's future fan base could come from California.” But Fontana remains the “butt of many jokes, particularly when it comes to attendance.” The problem is the track “has long symbolized the time when NASCAR's bubble burst -- and it has left a bad taste in the mouths of many in the industry that lingers to this day.” NASCAR might be “better-served to race on the Long Beach Grand Prix course or even at the Irwindale short track (provided the capacity was greatly increased), because those would provide better entertainment value.” But that kind of “hand-wringing misses the point: Fontana needs to succeed in spite of the racing quality and attendance, not because of it” (USA TODAY, 3/22).
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