INDIANAPOLIS – Unfortunately, multiple sources are saying that the attendance for this weekend’s Brickyard 400 is going to be between 35-40,000. A source close to the situation that is employed by the track, said as of late last month, there were only around 35,000 tickets sold. Now, you can do the math on that one.
Approximately 238,000 grandstand seats around the world famous track, and only 35,000 of them filled.
Long story short, it’s not going to look good on TV on Sunday afternoon.
Also, the track isn’t expecting many walk ups this weekend either, as the temperatures are forecasted to soar into the low to mid 90s with heat indexes pushing triple digits. That doesn’t make get people who don’t have tickets want to go out to IMS and sit in that heat either.
Another issue I’m hearing are the ticket prices. General admission is $40 while most of the grandstand seating is around $75 and higher. Again, with the heat factored into the equation, you can see why the ticket sales are way down and why the track isn’t expecting many more tickets to be sold between now and the green flag on Sunday.
In fact, one of my sources told me they’re preparing for more people to be there on Saturday for the NASCAR X-Finity Series race followed by the Kid Rock concert than on Sunday for the main attraction.
What does that tell you?
With all this being said, many are wondering what the future of this race holds. Will it be around much longer? Will they move the race to the road course? Will they add lights? Will it even be here in the next five years?
Well, I can tell you this, as long as the race stays in the second half of the NASCAR schedule, and as long as NBC keeps NASCAR around, this race isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
From what I’ve been told, IMS makes a strong profit from the Brickyard 400 before anybody even walks through those gates. So, if they raced in front of a crowd of five people, IMS still made a huge profit.
That’s all due to the lucrative TV deal with NBC. NASCAR then shares that with the respective tracks. So, with NBC kicking off their coverage with NASCAR at Daytona the first weekend of July, all the Brickyard has to do is be on the schedule after that race and they’re making money.
With the Indianapolis 500 being in May, I don’t think there’s ever see any reason to think that the track would move the Brickyard up any earlier than July.
So, if its going to stay, what about the road course?
I can tell you that’s not even an option. Just forget about that. There’s plenty of other road courses around the nation they’d look at before IMS. Plus, the drivers love racing the oval. There may not be as many people here anymore for the race, and the luster may be gone, but nothing has changed for the drivers. It’s equally as important to winning here this year than it was in the glory days of the 90s for them.
Outside of the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 is the race the drivers all want to win at. They say that to this day.
So, now that we’ve crossed off that the race isn’t going anywhere and it will stay on the oval, what about lights?
Again, I don’t see that happening either.
Last year, they said it would cost nearly $25-million to put lights all around the track. With only around 40,000 paying customers this year, would you spend $25-millon to run that race at night?
Where’s the return on investment?
Now, I get more people would come back, but is it really worth the risk at doing so? Would they come back to make that cost a wash?
The entire Month of May would be run during daytime hours, so is $25-million really worth one weekend out of the year? It doesn’t sound as if that part is in the budget according to IMS officials.
So, we basically are down to this, the race will stay, the race will remain on the oval, and no lights are going to be installed. What’s going to change then?
The only thing to me that would make sense is moving this race back on the schedule to a Chase race. It’s cooler in Indianapolis in mid to late September than it is in late July. Plus, it would bring the prestige back.
Winning at Indy is always great, but what about winning a Chase race at Indy?
The intensity would ramp up even more. Plus, there’s more importance on it again, and with Indy hosting several championship events, why not put a playoff NASCAR race in the circle city?
Now, I don’t think it will get it back to the sold out crowds, as I honestly don’t think anything will, but adding the Brickyard to the Chase will get you back over 100,000 paying customers. In this day and age of NASCAR, that’s a solid crowd, one that will be in the top two or three all season long.
The unfortunate circumstance is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway seats more people than any other NASCAR track. So, a crowd of recent years gets swallowed up by the place and looks empty, when in all reality, it’s on par with the other races.
So, why not add importance to this race, draw more of a crowd in a friendlier time of year and spend no more money than they already are in doing so?
Like it or not, the Brickyard isn’t going anywhere.
Fans should embrace that too, because I get the IndyCar vs. NASCAR rivalry, but fans needs to get over that here because a good crowd on the NASCAR weekend only helps the Indy 500.