On August 18 Brian France, Chairman and CEO of NASCAR, announced the 2011 Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Series schedules. Among the most notable changes are the addition, or “realignment” as Mr. France calls it, of two race events. The first change will be seen at Kansas Speedway on June 5, which will be the second Sprint Cup race of the year at Kansas Speedway. And the other “realignment” of the 2011 schedule will be a new Sprint Cup date at Kentucky Speedway on July 9. This is the first time since 2001 that NASCAR has added a new track to the schedule, those being Chicagoland and the previously mentioned Kansas Speedway.
Under these changes NASCAR seems to want to open its doors to new venues, being the bluegrass state, but also it seems that they are making sure they can fill the seats of these venues. Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway are both 1½ mile tracks, but both have less seating capacity than Richmond International Raceway (RIR), a ¾ mile track. RIR seats roughly 112,000, while Kansas Speedway can fit just over 82,000 and Kentucky Speedway can only seat 66,000. My belief is that NASCAR and the track owners, International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports, Inc., respectively, want to be sure they can retain the value of their ticket prices.
In other motor sports news the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and Formula One World Championship (F1) have announced the plans to open an FIA sanctioned event in Austin, Texas. The track is scheduled to open for the 2012 season and will be the first time in over five years that F1 will have an event in the United States. The Austin F1 Circuit will be 3.39 miles in length, feature 20 turns, elevation changes of over 130 feet and top speeds reaching 200 mph in a “proper” F1 car. Renowned F1 circuit architect Hermann Tilke, who has also designed the Bahrain International Circuit and Yas Marina Circuit, which start and end the F1 season respectively, has designed the track. Included in the final design is seating for 100,000 plus fans, and considering it will be five years since the last F1 race was on United States soil I can only imagine that ever seat will be occupied for the entire race weekend. According to the F1 Times, the circuit and its organizers, Full Throttle Productions, are hoping to make $300 million dollars annually for Elroy, Texas and Austin.
The questions I pose to readers are:
How will the “realignment” of the 2011 NASCAR season schedule affect viewership and attendance numbers?
Will the addition of an FIA sanctioned event in the United States affect the 2012 NASCAR season?