Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

July 5, 2010

Bad Indy Car Attendance at ISC Tracks…Coincidence?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:12 am

The lack of a crowd for the Indy Car race at Watkins Glen is utterly stunning. There is really no excuse why a crowd at that beautiful and legendary track should not have been great. The weather was picture perfect and all the Indy Car stars were on hand.

So long Finger Lakes…it’s been nice. What do IZOD Indy Car races with sucky attendance have in common? They are all ISC tracks. It is going to be really difficult losing Chicagoland or not having Michigan on the schedule, but enough is enough. There are enough other SMI-owned and other tracks available to offset ISC tracks, where not much effort has ever been put into making them work. When you compare Watkins Glen to, say, Barber Motorsports Park the differences in crowd, enthusiasm and promotion are obvious.

Quit screwing around with trying to be a NASCAR bastard stepchild and divorce ISC once and for all. Develop and cultivate your own new ‘triple crown’ and have each leg associated with a summer holiday. The first leg is the Indy 500 on Memorial Day. Leg 2 would be the 4th of July and the final leg would be Labor Day. In addition to Indy there should be one short oval and a road course, preferably natural terrain and preferably not ISC.

Also, instead of screwing around with a $20 million dollar ‘double’ on a day Indianapolis rightfully owns, spend it instead on a real triple crown. A $20 million dollar ‘double’ benefits only NASCAR because they run 2nd. If I were in charge NASCAR would run Charlotte Saturday night. That ought to be the ONE Indy Car term of that particular deal. If they refuse, run the 500 on Memorial Day Monday, late in the day.

Here is another fan amenity with which race tracks are going to have to deal. Cover the grandstands to make them shaded. Fans are rarely comfortable baking in hot summer sun on shiny, reflective aluminum. Cover them with a tent or fabric temporarily, if nothing else. Re-invent race weekends to make them three day events. New chassis and motors are one thing, but the entire race weekend experience must be reworked.

Those pinning hope on new cars need to understand that enthusiasm for a new car alone is not enough. The DP-01 did not make a dent toward ending champcar obscurity. More than one chassis and more than one engine are absolutely necessary. The more Penske and Ganassi win, the more difficult good stories will be to find.

This was a wasted Indy Car race weekend thrown away on a dead end venue. That must change going forward. What a shame.


  1. Shame as I thought it was a pretty good race too, but the sparse stands were made fairly obvious from the overhead camera shots.

    Comment by Leigh O'Gorman — July 5, 2010 @ 4:20 am | Reply

  2. Interestingly, Bernard mentioned racing on the Vegas oval next year being a goal of his to end the season. I really don’t think divorcing ISC is a good idea, but they REALLY seem to have sucky attendance compared to everywhere else. It’s pretty obvious they’re not Indycars friend, but I think we should try and use them for a couple good races.

    Comment by dylanpt24 — July 5, 2010 @ 4:38 am | Reply

  3. I remember when they had a Triple Crown in the ’70’s, consisting of Indy, Pocono, and Ontario. It worked pretty well, and Al Unser did the unbelievable in 1978 when he won all three, but lost the USAC Championship to Tom Sneva because Al did terrible on the short tracks. That Triple Crown eventually failed, probably because of the CART/USAC split. I don’t know if the concept would work today, but I agree with Defender, it would be worth a try.

    Comment by DOUG — July 5, 2010 @ 4:33 pm | Reply

  4. AS far as attendance, expect all the excuses. Nobody was in the stands because everybody was hiding in the woods ( dressed as trees, because I couldn’t see them ), the weather was bad ( might rain ), the weather was too good ( sun was hot ), too far to drive ( Syracuse 35 miles, Rochester 60 ), sparse population area ( the population of the 12 western counties is 2.5 Million ), holiday weekend ( race fans had other things to do than come see an actual race).

    People will point out every problem that kept people away except the ACTUAL problem.

    Meanwhile, two hours north. On the Saturday night before Watkins Glenn, Oswego Speedway ( Oswego, NY. pop. 18,000 ) puts approximately 10,000 butts in the stands for a SuperModified race that is essentially a weekly show. If we can’t get twice that amount of people to come see the Premier American Open Wheel series, then there is a problem.

    Comment by Chris Lukens — July 5, 2010 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

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