Just a look at all those empty seats in these grandstands, and it’s clear that yesterday’s Goody’s 500 should be a wake-up call for NASCAR executives and the France family, which owns Martinsville Speedway.
It may have been the first race of spring, but it was the coldest Sunday of the Sprint Cup season. There were many holes in the 62,000-seat grandstands at the Martinsville track, and those backstretch grandstands were even empty and covered with advertising banners to boot.
This being the heart of stock-car-racing country – they’ve been racing right here over the North Carolina border since 1947 – that poor crowd has to be a significant blow to NASCAR, and to this track, at least in its current flat, low-speed configuration.
With some five million people within two hours of this track, NASCAR executives certainly can’t blame this market for such a low turnout.
And, yes, the weather was unseasonably cold. But just a few days earlier it was 70 degrees and sunny, and tracks in the NASCAR heartland shouldn’t have to be so dependent on a good walk-up crowd to prosper.