NASCAR May Find That Less is Not Necessarily More Share PDF Print E-mail
Special Reports


By Andrew Shaw

NASCAR has been roaring through America for decades now, but those days may soon be coming to an end. A plan to turn the volume down on the cars is being seriously considered, with team owners and track executives being informed of the proposal.

With attendance and TV ratings sagging, it’s not surprising to see NASCAR go out on a limb with this idea.

It would certainly be healthier for fans watching in the stadium. The average noise level from a pack of 40 cars, all fitted with hulking V8 engines, tops out at around 100 decibels.

Chainsaw and jackhammers reach around this level, but no one expects to watch them for three hours. The National Institutes of Health warn that listening to sounds of 100 dB for more than 15 minutes can lead to hearing problems.

The engine reforms are also hoped to lead to new fans. Currently, NASCAR seems to be on borrowed time. Of the eight Sprint Cup races Fox broadcasted in 2016, seven of them posted ratings down from the year before, and half of them were the lowest in recording history.

The 10-year, $8.2 billion TV package signed in 2013 means that the sport’s financial health remains relatively solid, but many will believe these shocking figures can’t be outran forever.


Ironically, all this is falling on deaf ears for serious fans of NASCAR. They hear scientific warnings and appeals to a new, younger generation as a poisonous rot infecting their beloved sport.

They’ve seen what’s happened to F1 – V8s were replaced by V6s in 2014, with many fans still complaining about it – and they don’t like it. They know full well what they’re getting themselves into, sitting in the blazing heat for hours on end as dozens of cars belch out pollution just a stone’s throw away, and they love it.

In an extremely composed message, Billy Boat, who runs a company that makes performance exhaust systems, said: “To bring a thundering pack of 900-horsepower cars down to a level where you can sit and have a conversation would diminish some of the show effect of what people are there to see.”

And he’s right. NASCAR may be imperfect, overly loud and losing viewers, but who are we to judge it? Football supporters cry bloody murder when owners attempt to change the team’s names, as with Hull, or the colour of their shirts, as with Cardiff. They too don’t care that the moves are done to increase revenue or reach a higher audience, so why should we pour scorn on those worried for NASCAR?

Many die-hard NASCAR fans will surely hope their unpolished gem is left alone, otherwise they may be forced to abandon the sport they once loved.


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