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  • 02/02/2012, 03:37AM ET

FFTI II -- Should NASCAR add more night races?

Bigalke (142-42-16) vs PatsFan21 (67-42-11)
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Sure, night races are fun and all. Prime-time racing is one of those things that are a fun change to the normal daytime racing schedule. But here are several reasons why NASCAR should not add MORE night races to a schedule that already has plenty:

1. ECONOMICS
Putting in lights at tracks that aren't equipped for night racing costs money. Running those lights for a 400- or 500-mile race burn through the kWh and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Can night racing generate enough people through the gate to mitigate those costs?

2. THE FOOTBALL EFFECT
NASCAR has already adjusted its starting schedules to try to prevent too much siphoning by the NFL on Sundays. Moving races to Saturday or Sunday nights only dilutes the potential audience further due to prime-time football and affects TV potential.

3. SATURATION
A few night races a year are a novelty, something that draws fans in. Too many is an everyday occurrence, the novelty gone as it becomes commonplace. There's a reason that, say, the NHL doesn't play every game outdoors...


There are many reasons; these are just a few as to why NASCAR should keep its schedule as is, without more night races...


NASCAR absolutely should add more night races.

First off all, let's discuss the football effect. The NFL plays most of it's games at 1 PM ET and 4 PM ET. That is normally when afternoon races start. So the race is competing with a ton of NFL games. On the other hand, the NFL only plays one Sunday night game per week and a few Saturday night games per year.

So more night games would actually be conflicting less with the NFL. With less fans switching to football, that gets more fans watching NASCAR.

The second reason for more night races is appeal to the average sports fan.

What does that mean? Well, NASCAR is trying to expand to get more fans. All sports fan know what NASCAR is, but to truly grab that fan's attention, NASCAR needs to go outside of the Sunday afternoon box. Going out of the box like that could grab the attention of more people and the night race atmosphere could bring in more fans.

Finally, lights will not be a problem. All other sports have to light their stadiums, and yes I understand tracks are big, but they can afford to light up tracks for a few more night races a year.


NASCAR absolutely should add more night races.

First off all, let's discuss the football effect. The NFL plays most of it's games at 1 PM ET and 4 PM ET. That is normally when afternoon races start. So the race is competing with a ton of NFL games. On the other hand, the NFL only plays one Sunday night game per week and a few Saturday night games per year.

So more night games would actually be conflicting less with the NFL. With less fans switching to football, that gets more fans watching NASCAR.

The second reason for more night races is appeal to the average sports fan.

What does that mean? Well, NASCAR is trying to expand to get more fans. All sports fan know what NASCAR is, but to truly grab that fan's attention, NASCAR needs to go outside of the Sunday afternoon box. Going out of the box like that could grab the attention of more people and the night race atmosphere could bring in more fans.

Finally, lights will not be a problem. All other sports have to light their stadiums, and yes I understand tracks are big, but they can afford to light up tracks for a few more night races a year.


You're quick to point out that fewer games are played Saturday & Sunday nights... by the NFL. But with NBC's flex scheduling, you're going up against one of the best games of the week, & prime-time Saturday leaves one competing with the marquee college games that week. Where is a casual sports fan more likely to stop on their TV?

Moving on to that appeal to the average fan, you SAY it would grab more attention. But the question is: have night races helped TV ratings already? When you look at TV ratings, it becomes obvious that the gains of racing under the lights haven't had the boost you assert.

Finally, "lights will not be a problem"? The initial outlay of installing the lights, & then the continued operation costs of pulling many mWh of electricity from the grid, are no small expense. For a sport that has seen attendance figures in decline the past few years and watched its TV ratings stagnate, the cost-benefit analysis across the board shows that:

A) You're not getting any more eyeballs on the TV with night races
B) You're not getting any more people to the track with night races


The football effect here does not come down to best game, it's number of games. On Sunday afternoon, an average sports fan will not turn his team's game off to watch a race if he isn't a huge NASCAR fan. On Sunday night, however, if his team is not playing in SNF, then he is more likely to watch a race, especially if there is a unique night atmosphere to it.

Sure, there a few night races but that has not been a point of emphasis in NASCAR marketing. They should say here are our night races, publicize the hell out of it and get the attention of people. Guys will sit down and watch their favorite drivers on a Sunday night, but they are less likely to do so during the middle of the day.

This comes down to when people watch these events. As, I have said already, when are people most likely to watch? People are busy during the day, especially on weekends. But, at night, people sit down and watch TV. If NASCAR is on then, they have a much better chance of catching on.

NASCAR absolutely should race more at night.


Where in the hard data already presented did it show that fans are more apt to watch their favorite drivers in prime-time than during the afternoon on weekends? You continue to assert this assumption without backing it up. As the TV numbers I presented (& you deigned not to dispute) back up, there is no correlation between night racing and dramatic increases in attendance or TV viewership.

Further, you refuse to refute the question of money. Would a night race generate enough gate receipts to mitigate the not-insignificant cost of electricity to operate a full array of lights? By sheer cost-benefit analysis, it would require many thousands more fans in attendance to offset the outlay.

Which seems unlikely, given that you're advocating racing late into Sunday night. Many people are back to work on Monday, leading those potential turnstile turners to stay home. Maybe they'll watch on TV, maybe not. But a saturated market in terms of TV is going to have a hard time generating enough money to do what gate receipts likely won't.

And besides... a few races is excitement. A bunch of night races takes away the luster of a special occasion & makes it an everyday occurrence.

February 2, 2012  06:15 AM ET

Some of us have to get up and work. I couldn't stay up that late even if I was sober, which rarely happens.

February 2, 2012  06:25 AM ET

I'd like to see a night race at Talladega and Martinsville, but there are plenty of night races. There's something about 1.5 mile tracks other than Charlotte for the 600 that says night races should be limited to short tracks and super speedways.

February 2, 2012  08:39 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Some of us have to get up and work. I couldn't stay up that late even if I was sober, which rarely happens.

It is Bigalke... if he sleeps, it's rare. Haha.

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February 2, 2012  11:30 AM ET

Night races are great! It gives the rednecks more time to get drunk. Other than them, no one gives a crap.

February 2, 2012  11:35 AM ET
QUOTE(#12):

This is going to get ugly real quick.

You have very much faith in PatsFan being able to put together a respectable argument, I see...

February 2, 2012  11:57 AM ET

They shouldn't have the races at night, because the fans may have to get up early the next day to go to work.

Ha! NASCAR fans with jobs! I crack myself up.

February 2, 2012  11:59 AM ET
QUOTE(#14):

You have very much faith in PatsFan being able to put together a respectable argument, I see...

I do.

February 2, 2012  12:18 PM ET

The night races are Saturday night except for the 600 at Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend.

Comment #18 has been removed
February 2, 2012  12:25 PM ET
QUOTE(#18):

Add more road courses, day or night.

2 is enough. What's so appealing about road courses? The speeds are cut in half, the cars are separated. There are only a couple areas on a huge track where a pass can be made. Oval tracks are more exciting.

Give Darlington it's second race back, bring back Rockingham, dump the Fontana track all together.

 
February 2, 2012  12:57 PM ET
QUOTE(#19):

2 is enough. What's so appealing about road courses? The speeds are cut in half, the cars are separated. There are only a couple areas on a huge track where a pass can be made. Oval tracks are more exciting. Give Darlington it's second race back, bring back Rockingham, dump the Fontana track all together.

I approve this!

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