This week NASCAR finally released the schedule for the 2016 season. NASCAR's schedule looks pretty much identical to this year's, which is sad, but expected. Along with the new schedule NASCAR announced a 5-year partnership with all 23 Sprint Cup Series tracks that allows these venues to be guaranteed a Cup Series race. This deal is something new to the sport and a new direction NASCAR is taking. Usually NASCAR would do yearly contracts with venues in which long-term guarantees didn't technically exist. Though I am proud of the sport for trying new things, this is one decision that does not impress me. This post was written to highlight three things that disappoint me about this decision. Well enough talking, let's get into it.
1. No New Tracks
Though I appreciate every venue on the Cup schedule currently, I still want something new. I would love to see the Cup series get a little more diverse in terms of tracks. Though it would be hard considering there are already 23 different tracks, only 1 new track has been added in the last 10-years, Kentucky. I understand that this is more complicated than we all think, but I just want diversity. New tracks take us new places and provide something new to the sport, fans, and drivers. Another point is that fan's love new events! Go back to when NASCAR agreed to go to Eldora once a year, fans flocked to the event. Now, the Eldora truck race is not only the most popular truck race, but one of the most popular races in NASCAR each year. I get that the idea of it being a dirt-track is why people were excited, but the idea of something new also got fans on their feet. Again, I appreciate everything NASCAR and the venues do for the sport, but I just think this area could be improved. I know there is more to the process than just finding tracks and adding them to an already busy schedule, but I want NASCAR to give more of an effort. Just thinking of some of the tracks out there, Rockingham, Nashville, Iowa, and Road-America, all are choices that would be great additions to the Cup schedule.
2. NASCAR still isn't listening to fans
Before I get deep into this point, I do want to applaud NASCAR for everything they have done for the sport over the years. NASCAR seemed to really listen to the fans a few years ago with the 'boys have at it' attitude, but sadly it seems that this has fallen through. Though the sport still pays attention to it's driving force (the fans), NASCAR has still not given what fans really want, a refreshing schedule. Kentucky was a great addition a few years ago, but fans have been pleading for more diversity. Personally I have wanted a road course in the Chase for years, and would love to tweak the Chase every few years to challenge drivers. Again, I understand it is very VERY difficult to make these high-profile changes, but NASCAR can do anything they put there mind to. Fans want more short-tracks, want less cookie-cutter racing, and the emergence of something new. I am not saying we should go so far as to put the Cup cars on dirt or something of that nature, but if this was under consideration, fans would go nuts!
3. Not reaching a new audience
Fans are joining the sport everyday, but I see nothing but un-tapped potential (as pinocchio would say) at other venues. I think the people of Iowa, Mexico, or Canada, would sell out their venues for a Cup event. These facilites have shown great racing in the past and have never had an issue bringing in fans. I can understand the issue with going across the border because of the legal issues and processes to get everyone cleared, but NASCAR has so much room to go internationally. Also, I think more can be done in the central and northwestern United States. This may require investing in more tracks and locations, but there are great sports markets across the U.S., that NASCAR has yet to look in to. Just picture racing in Seattle, Portland, or Denver, all of which are huge sports markets. I think avoiding new locations is simply missing out on new fans. There is always room to grow, and NASCAR has actually declined over the years, so new locations could revive the weakening fan base. As a younger fan at the age of 21, I want to make sure that my passion continues long after I am gone, and the best way to do this is to gain more followers.
Overall, my respect for NASCAR will not fade, especially due to the fact this is where I want to make a living one day, but I think there is room for improvement. New tracks and venues will do nothing but HELP the sport. I know there is a lot of money involved, and that the 5-year agreements are actually very good business moves, but one I didn't want to see. Though there are room for changes to be made to the schedule, gauranteeing tracks races over the next half-a-decade doesn't sound promising to fans who want new markets. Now, I could be all wrong in what I have said, but I don't think we will see new tracks or types of tracks for that matter added to the schedule in the near future. Honestly, if NASCAR would just add Iowa and another road course I would be satisfied, along with many other fans. Iowa deserves a race and a road course in the Chase will separate the good drivers from the great ones, but those are both arguments for another day.
Well, thanks for reading! Let me know what you think, and what new tracks would you like to see added to the Cup schedule?? Don't forget to follow me on Instagram: NASCAR OPINION & Twitter: @nascar_opinion!!! Hope you have a great rest of your day!!