Watch a NASCAR race on television these days and you will see row after row of empty seats in the stands.Attendance at the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis last week dropped well below 200,000 — the lowest mark in the history of that race and Allstate announced after the race that it was ending its sponsorship of the event.
Tickets for the Sprint Cup races at Bristol used to be the hardest to find. Now you can walk up to the ticket booth on raceday and buy spots in good seats. The track recruited Tony Stewart in a promotion to help sell tickets to its August race.
Ratings for the nationally-televised racing series drop week after week. The sport that once bragged it would overtake the National Football League in viewer interest is going the route of Roller Derby and staged "professional wrestling."
Lowes is dropping its lucrative sponsorship deal with Chalotte Motor Speedway. Race teams consolidate or just fade into oblivion. Morgan-McClure Racing in Abingdon used to be a powerhouse in NASCAR. It’s gone. The Wood Brothers Team moved from Stuart to Charlotte, but is struggling. Richard Petty’s fabled team exists in name only after another team bought The King’s operation out just to use his name.
Teams struggle to find sponsors and former Charlotte Motor Speedway President H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler says he doubts the track will be able to find another sponsor to replace Lowes.
Some say the economy is killing NASCAR but the racing series is really hilling itself. NASCAR has become a sham sport, done in by rules changes that dumb down the competition and cookie-cutter, made-for-TV drivers devoid of personality.
It’s like watching a loved-one deterioate in the waning years of their lives: Sad, but inevitable.