THE BIG WHEELS JUST KEEP ON TURNING!

Creedence Clearwater Revival would be proud of how well the BIG WHEELS keep on turning (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ProudMary) . Indeed, over the past couple of weeks since I last posted a blog, a lot of wheels have been turning. Some of what’s been happening has been purely racing — take Kasey’s performance the last two weekends. And pity poor Tony for the blown tire with three laps to go last Sunday. And Greg Biffle, second twice to Kasey in races at Charlotte.

But there’s more happening — for example, the retirement of Humpy Wheeler and the promotion of Bruton Smith’s son Marcus as president of Lowe’s Motor Speedway. And, speaking of Bruton Smith — how about the purchase of Kentucky Speedway and his announcement that there will be a Sprint race there in 2009? Still, Brian France noted during a press conference over the weekend that NASCAR would not be scheduling such a race in Kentucky in 2009; indeed, France indicated that there may be a saturation of the market in that area.

And, NASCAR — Brian France specifically—has acknowledged that gas prices are indeed affecting fan attendance. We suggested that when interviewed for USA Today over a month ago. Gas prices didn’t, however, seem to affect attendance at the Indy 500 over the weekend — 300,000 fans in attendance (even if that’s an inflated number, it’s still impressive).

Finally, I have to comment on the All Star Weekend a couple of weeks ago. As I watched the pre-race show, I immediately asked myself the philosophical question: Is NASCAR a sport or a business? I think we all know the answer — and it certainly was loud and clear in Charlotte that weekend.

At least, that the view from here.

Jon

The Last Lap

Well at least it was a beautiful night …

Not much to say here but to reiterate that old chestnut that it is still the last lap which is the one to lead.

That’s the (short) view from here

Michael

Death, Taxes and RIR Sellouts

There’s an old saying that there are only two things certain in our lives — death and taxes. Well, in Richmond, there has been a third “certain” — a sellout for Richmond International Raceway NASCAR weekend races. For the past double-digit years, RIR has experienced the pleasure of having a sellout for the Sprint (Nextel/Winston) races for both the May and September races. That sellout has been as certain as “death and taxes”.

Now, however, two days before the Saturday race and RIR has announced that it has yet to sell out — although RIR management is certain it will. Still, rising gas prices and escalating ticket prices — coupled with three-night minimum hotel stays and higher food prices — are having an impact on race attendance. Clearly, it’s cheaper to stay home and watch ESPN or Fox than to venture a couple of hundred miles to drop $1,000 for a three-day weekend.
In fact, in the last ten days USA Today, the Associated Press and the Richmond Times-Dispatch have all featured a story on the impact of the sluggish economy and record-setting gas prices on NASCAR attendance.

I’ll be at the race on Saturday and I’ll do my usual walk-through of the parking lots to identify the origin of the license plates. I’m guessing I’ll see fewer Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Tennessee plates this year. I’ll let you know. That’s the view from here. Let’s go racin’, boys! Jon