NASCAR NEWS & NOTES: GROWTH OF NASCAR EXAMINED
NASCAR, currently a $2B enterprise, was the subject of
a three-part series by Richard Alm of the DALLAS MORNING
NEWS. Calling NASCAR "America's fastest-growing spectator
sport," Alm noted the 31-race Winston Cup series, the top
tier of NASCAR, drew 5.58 million in attendance in '96, up
from 3.3 million in '90, and will "top that with ease" this
season. Felix Sabates, owner of three Winston Cup cars:
"Every racetrack we go to is a sellout. No other sport can
say that." TV ratings "set another record last year," with
111.89 million households tuning into racing on CBS, ABC,
ESPN, TBS and The Nashville Network, "double the audience at
the start of the decade" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/16).
WHO'S BUYING? Alm wrote that "what the sponsors see in
NASCAR is a legion of fans." Alm: "NASCAR chief Bill France
rules the sport. Entrepreneurs operate tracks and run
racing teams. ... But sponsors ultimately pay most of the
bills -- for NASCAR, the tracks, the cars and the drivers"
(DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/18).
EXPANSION: Alm added expansion to "untapped markets
outside the Southeast" depends on new tracks being built,
and racing "doesn't get the public subsidies" that go to
other sports' stadiums. Alm: "In fact, the most unforgiving
impediment to expansion may well be the calendar. There are
plenty of tracks and untapped markets that could sell
100,000 or more tickets to a Winston Cup contest, but with
travel, holidays and a short off-season, it's difficult to
add new races" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/16).
FELIX & OSCAR? Calling them NASCAR's "version of the
Odd Couple," Ben Blake profiles Speedway Motorsports CEO
Bruton Smith and NASCAR President Bill France in the
RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH. Blake: "The signs indicate that
Smith is trying to lever[age] something from NASCAR: dates
for his race tracks. He seems to believe France owes him at
least one date" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 3/18).