Race Fans Love Watching Night Races
Race fans love watching night races, whether it takes place at your local short track or on the super speedways of the NASCAR circuit. The month of May has been filled of night NASCAR events, and although those events have not been sell outs this year, local tracks have seen empty seats because of them.
For years, NASCAR only had two night races, and those were held at the Bristol Motor Speedway and the Nashville Fairgrounds. Nashville dropped from the schedule to be replaced by Richmond as the only other night race.
When Bruton Smith announced that his staff would be installing lights around the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway, most baulked at the idea, and many thought it would prove to be unsafe for both the racers and the fans.
The 1992 running of The Winston proved the skeptics wrong and had NASCAR fans clambering for more night races. Fans could see so much more at night. Sparks as the cars bottomed out in the turns, rubbed the walls or made contact with other cars. Fans could even see sparks from lug nuts as cars charged from their pit stalls. Then there was the fireworks show. Not the last lap battle between Kyle Petty, Dale Earnhardt and race winner Davey Allison, but the fireworks show from the stands as fans snapped picture after picture. This show even caught the eye of the drivers.
Over the following years, lights were added many tracks including Atlanta, Texas, Las Vegas, St Louis, Kentucky, Darlington, Daytona, Phoenix, and Chicago. Some of these tracks only host Nationwide and Camping World truck night races, while others have added Saturday night Sprint Cup races.
Local fans will skip a lower tier NASCAR event to watch their local favorite’s battle, but many will jump at the chance to see a Sprint Cup race ran under the lights. Then you figure in the threat of a thunderstorm and others will decide to stay at home and watch the NASCAR race instead of getting caught in the rain.
This year, there have been cancelled regional touring events, weekly shows reorganized, shorter car counts, and some tracks that have just called off a night of racing all together due to the loss of fans wanting to see the NASCAR night races.
Local tracks work hard to keep their fans entertained from kids meetings with candy drops, trivia questions, t-shirt give-a-ways, and bicycle races for fans that dare challenge the fellow fans for bragging rites. Track owners flirt with the option of added bonus money during the month of May because they know some fans, as well as some competitors, will be lured away by the thoughts of watching Johnson, Kahne, Hamlin, Busch, Stewart and Gordon battling under the lights.
Could NASCAR move some of these night races to mid-week? The truck race at Bristol always draws well on Wednesday night, but asking folks to make the trip to Daytona or Charlotte for a mid-week race might prove too big a challenge.
Local track owners will breathe a sigh of relief after the Nationwide race takes it checkered flag early Saturday evening. Many fans may decide to leave this race, with a scheduled green flag at 2:30pm Saturday afternoon, and slide in the local track in time for the main events.