IMS Hoping Full Schedule Draws Larger Crowds For Brickyard's NASCAR Weekend
Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials are “counting on a super-sized schedule to increase attendance" for the upcoming NASCAR weekend at the Brickyard, according to Curt Cavin of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The two days of racing include the Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal 400, Nationwide Series Indy 250, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Indianapolis Grand Prix and the Continental Tire Series Brickyard Sports Car Challenge. IMS President & CEO Jeff Belskus said that he expects “50,000 people for Friday's inaugural sports car day” as well as a “good turnout for Saturday's doubleheader of Sprint Cup practice and qualifying followed by the track's first Nationwide race.” Belskus “isn't sure if the new attractions, including a host of musical acts highlighted by The Band Perry, will boost Sunday's main event crowd.” He said that ticket sales are “flat year over year.” Cavin noted Brickyard crowd estimates "have dropped dramatically each of the past four years, with NASCAR estimating last year's at 138,000.” Smaller crowds "don't reflect well on the speedway or the sport, and all eyes will be on the totals." NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson said, “To see empty seats at Indy and Bristol is mind-boggling. Two major raceways slipping; nobody understands that.” Cavin wrote, “There are several reasons for the decline, led by the improved at-home TV experience." Traveling also "is down across the country due to lingering effects of a sluggish economy, and it doesn't help that much of the Midwest is enduring a record-hot summer.” NASCAR driver and team owner Tony Stewart said that he “fears some Indianapolis fans are still smarting from the 2008 race that was marred by Goodyear's shredding tires” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/15).