Report: NASCAR interested in racing on city streets

Report: NASCAR interested in racing on city streets


NASCAR might pursue city street races for the Cup Series in 2021 and beyond.

If you can’t bring the city to NASCAR, bring NASCAR to the city.

According to a report in the Sports Business Journal, NASCAR executives are considering adding temporary tracks in city centers or near sports stadiums in 2021 and beyond. While commonplace in open-wheel racing, the concept is less prevalent in stock car racing.

It’s worth mentioning that NASCAR’s Canadian division, the Pinty’s Series, includes two races on city streets—at Toronto and Trois-Rivières. 

In addition to a variety of different oval track types, NASCAR also races on a multitude of road courses across all three of its national tours. It also debuted the infield road course (Roval) setup for its fall Charlotte Motor Speedway weekend in 2018.

The SBJ report claims that NASCAR intends to add up to eight new markets by 2022, meaning the elimination of several current events at longstanding tracks.

NASCAR has not offered a response to the report, but the idea meshes with what league president Steve Phelps said during his annual state of the sport address and press conference earlier in the month at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Phelps said that any new event needs to check three boxes:

·         Where can we have the most compelling racing?

·         Where can we have full grandstands?

·         Where are the best new markets?

“There are a lot of discussions that are going on both internally and then with other owners of racetracks,” Phelps said. “We need to obviously work with Speedway Motorsports, work with the three independent tracks that we have, then the tracks that we own as NASCAR now.

“Again, we’ll look through that same lens. I think it’s important to do that. This is the first time I’ll (personally) go back to the fans. It really is about the fans. We need to make sure we are putting on compelling racing and having full grandstands when we do that.”

At the same time, it will be challenging for NASCAR to take dates away from tracks it owns or away from Speedway Motorsports Inc. without incurring a lawsuit as a result. But if the industry agrees that change is needed, this could prove to be a viable option with so many short tracks needing a considerable infusion of cash to meet NASCAR specs.

The next-generation chassis, featuring independent rear suspension, would be better poised for racing on tight city streets. It will debut in 2021 with a new engine formula, featuring elements of electrification, to follow a year or two later.

NASCAR’s current television agreement with Fox Sports and NBC Sports ends after the 2024 season with the sanctioning body working to correct the decrease in interest before that time. Television ratings were overall flat year over year, but several races recorded all-time lows.

The entire discipline is set to undergo radical changes over the next several years in the pursuit of meeting technological and financial realities but also in recapturing the attention of fans.

And there are a great deal of fans living within major metropolitan areas.  

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