SBJ/Feb. 14-20, 2011/In Depth

Meet the Fan Panel Participants


Avid fans discuss what attracted them to NASCAR,

what they like and dislike about the sport, and what

it will take to keep them watching

KEVIN DEVITT (Charlotte): The 47-year-old IT executive has been a NASCAR fan for 27 hears and has attended races in Florida, Alabama and Michigan. He watches most races on TV.
HELEN BAILEY (Cornelius, N.C.): The 43-year-old has been a fan of NASCAR for 10 years and attends four to five races a year but has stopped watching NASCAR on TV.
MICHAEL DOBY (Charlotte): The 19-year-old college student went to his first race when he was 6 months old. A diehard Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan, he attends four to six races a year and watches every race on TV.
The NASCAR fan is more powerful today than at any point in the sport's history. As viewership has slid and seats have gone empty at races, NASCAR increasingly has turned to fans for advice.

NASCAR created a fan council in 2008 that has influenced everything from the return of the spoiler to consistent race times. The sport also spent last year interviewing spectators at nine racetracks in an effort to determine what tracks could do to improve the race-day experience. The results, which will be released early this season, could reshape the way tracks treat fans.

Recognizing the rising influence of the NASCAR fan,
BO JUMBERCOTTA (Fredericksburg, Va.): The 42-year-old golf course superintendent has season tickets to Richmond International Raceway and attends both races there every year. He watches most races on TV.
TERRI KETTERMAN (Mooresville, N.C.): The 46-year-old financial services executive grew up in New England attending races at Lebanon Valley Speedway She now attends seven to eight races a year, blogs throughout the season and watches every race on TV.
SUSAN PRITCHARD (Boston): The 60-year-old health care administrator has been a fan of NASCAR since 1994. Though she's never attended a race, she never misses one on TV.
we convened a group of seven avid fans in January to discuss the state of the sport. Four of the fans gathered in our Charlotte office, while the others joined via video conference. SportsBusiness Journal motorsports writer Tripp Mickle led the discussion.

We covered five key areas — drivers, competition, attendance, sponsorship and television — in hopes of learning how NASCAR consumption patterns have evolved over the last few years and what NASCAR could do to reverse recent declines in viewership and attendance. We didn't unearth a silver-bullet solution to what ails the sport, but we did learn a lot about what fans like and dislike about NASCAR today.

DAN MACKE (Albuquerque, N.M.): The 39-year-old attorney attends four to five races a year and never misses one on television.

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