IndyCar seems to be getting more popular by the day
Open wheel once dominated America and it was the type of racing one typically thought of when they referred to auto racing. Championship Auto Racing Teams or CART ruled professional racing and from 1978 until the early to mid-90’s in the United States. Issues came when CART started to turn away talented young drivers like Jeff Gordon do to the lack of opportunity and these young drivers went on to drive in NASCAR. This lack of opportunity became a feeder to NASCAR. Tony George, President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, went on to start his own racing league in 1994 causing the “split” that would ruin open-wheel racing in America and would contribute to the rise of NASCAR’s popularity. Since then NASCAR has ruled automobile racing in the states and whenever Americans think of racing, they think of NASCAR. But that trend seems to be ending, kind of.
NASCAR popularity peaked in 2006 with the DAYTONA 500 being the most watched race in NASCAR history with nearly 20 million viewers turning in that year. While the 2017 Daytona 500 had only 11.9 million viewers. For NASCAR popularity has declined greatly. At its peak, NASCAR was the NFL’s greatest competitor and was coined, “The fastest growing sport in America.” NASCAR also used to share their attendance numbers for each race but stopped after the 2012 season. The reason for the decline is a multitude of things including but not limited to, the economy, the changing of the points system, the changing of the cars, stages, and random yellow flags.
IndyCar delivered its second most-watched season ever in 2017 and ratings were up 3% from the 2016 season which is good in a world where tv ratings are declining across most sports. Where is this coming from you may ask? It’s coming from now-former NASCAR fans. More fans are switching over to IndyCar because they are simply tired of NASCAR’s BS. IndyCar is a purer form of racing. It has no stages, no Playoffs, no random cautions to produce false drama, and no gimmicks. It’s just racing at its finest form. For 2018 it will be returning to 16 of the 17 tracks from the previous season and adding an old fan favorite, Portland International Raceway. IndyCar is showing nothing but consistency unlike the other series and it’s worth checking out if you haven’t yet.