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NASCAR caught up to CART and passed them in popularity

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  • NASCAR caught up to CART and passed them in popularity

    This is a common statement at TF, but I've never seen anything to support it. During what years did this happen?

    In what year did CART-sanctioned races have better attendance than NASCAR? Any numbers?

    What were the TV ratings for CART and NASCAR for the period that CART supposedly lost the lead?

    It is evident that NASCAR racing is more popular today, but just when did it happen? Did it happen on CART's watch or before them when USAC was the sanctioning body?

    In 1965, North Carolina Speedway (aka Rockingham) had over 35,000 in attendance for the American 500 - a NASCAR Grand National race. What were comparable USCA Champ Car race attendances at this time? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockingham_Speedway
    27
    1950's
    0.00%
    0
    1960's
    3.70%
    1
    1970's
    18.52%
    5
    1980's
    33.33%
    9
    1990's
    44.44%
    12
    "I have been bored out of my skull by slower racing." - Turn13

  • #2
    Originally posted by PenelopePitstop View Post
    .....It is evident that NASCAR racing is more popular today, but just when did it happen? Did it happen on CART's watch or before them when USAC was the sanctioning body?

    In 1965, North Carolina Speedway (aka Rockingham) had over 35,000 in attendance for the American 500 - a NASCAR Grand National race. What were comparable USCA Champ Car race attendances at this time? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockingham_Speedway
    It's hard to say exactly when it happened and it varied greatly in different parts of the country. I remember that even in the late 1970s the USAC Indy race at Trenton was being outdrawn by the NASCAR race in (relatively) nearby Dover. People were starting to become aware of stock car racing even before the now famous 1979 live Daytona broadcast. It was a slow process.

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    • #3
      NASCAR went from being regional to national in the early 80's. The aforementioned '79 Daytona 500 is considered the breakthrough moment, but it was the ESPN partnership that sealed the deal. I'd say by the mid 80's CART was riding NASCAR's coat tails.
      I wish I knew - Dennis "Cutty" Wise

      When its game time, it's pain time! - Terrible Terry Tate

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      • #4
        http://www.sportsmediawatch.net/2009_05_24_archive.html
        Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

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        • #5
          Originally posted by don7031 View Post
          NASCAR went from being regional to national in the early 80's. The aforementioned '79 Daytona 500 is considered the breakthrough moment, but it was the ESPN partnership that sealed the deal. I'd say by the mid 80's CART was riding NASCAR's coat tails.
          I'm looking for facts, not speculation.

          NASCAR was drawing over 30,000 nearly every weekend for their races back in the 60s from what I'm finding. I can't find much of anything regarding USAC or CART races.

          What were the TV ratings, what was the attendance like at USAC events in the 60s and 70s?
          "I have been bored out of my skull by slower racing." - Turn13

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          • #6
            Interesting graph, but using then Indy 500 ONLY is not a completely convincing illustration. Lots of factors involved with the ratings - tape delay vs. live, 3 networks vs 200 cable channels, etc.

            Using what you provided, the Indy 500 viewership has been in steady decline under USAC and IRL.

            Actually, a friend of mine speculated that ever since the advent of rear-engine race cars the Indy 500 has gradually fallen out of favor because nobody can relate to it.
            "I have been bored out of my skull by slower racing." - Turn13

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            • #7
              Originally posted by PenelopePitstop View Post
              Interesting graph, but using then Indy 500 ONLY is not a completely convincing illustration. Lots of factors involved with the ratings - tape delay vs. live, 3 networks vs 200 cable channels, etc.

              Using what you provided, the Indy 500 viewership has been in steady decline under USAC and IRL.

              Actually, a friend of mine speculated that ever since the advent of rear-engine race cars the Indy 500 has gradually fallen out of favor because nobody can relate to it.
              Not meant to be a totaly convincing illustration. Just one indiciator and even that has many qualifications.
              I don't believe anyone has done the exhaustive research of documenting what you are asking for. Maybe a worthy task for you! :>)

              As things change, which they have to do, some fans are happy some go away and some never even notice. For those with a stake in attracting customers there seems to be a never ending task of periodically reinventing the pitch to the public to attract a new fan base, however fleeting.
              I recently read an advertisement from 1913 touting a new track's inaugural event and touting the presence of a champion driver while lamenting the fact that "they don't make them like that anymore."
              Towards the end of The Golden Age of AOW the number of Championship Events had dwindled to a few, there was a continued dissapearance of board tracks, the Miller Machine dominated the competition and public interest rapidly waning in the product.
              To me it seems 'things come and go' and it seems to be a universal process.
              Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

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              • #8
                http://www.trackforum.com/forums/sho...Car-TV-Ratings

                Found this on MotorsportsTv.com:

                Historical Winston Cup Broadcast Network Ratings

                Season # of Races on Broadcast Rating Share
                1990 4 4.5 14
                1991 4 4.4 12
                1992 4 5.3 15
                1993 5 4.8 13
                1994 5 5.3 16
                1995 7 4.9 14
                1996 7 5.1 15
                1997 9 5.6 16
                1998 12 4.8 13
                1999 12 5.4 14
                2000 12 5.0 13

                The above is, of course, an average rating.

                I couldn't find race-by-race stuff for 1995 NASCAR, although I'm sure it's out there. Interesting, though: In 1995, counting Indy, open-wheel racing had 11 races on network - four more than NASCAR. Yet, NASCAR drew higher average ratings than CART. Make of that what you will...
                I am a fan of the Verizon IndyCar Series, Formula 1, and AMA Supercross. Go Oriol, Seabass, RHR, and J.R.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by PenelopePitstop View Post
                  NASCAR was drawing over 30,000 nearly every weekend for their races back in the 60s from what I'm finding. I can't find much of anything regarding USAC or CART races.
                  Im pretty sure they were still road warriors in the 1960s. Theyd go on the road and race 3 or 4 nights out of the week. Any bullring that could afford the sacntioning fee and was close enoguh to the previous race got a date
                  Aint no way they were putting 30,000 butts in the seats in Oxford or Fonda or Old Bridge.
                  The weekends only schedule didnt really take effect until WInston Came along around 1970 or 71 I think
                  They still had a couple dirt races as late as 1970.
                  Live like Dave

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                  • #10
                    I'd say the transition was between 1975 and 1980, but it depends because it's not exactly apples and oranges.

                    There were some events and teams that did better than others, some sponsor deals in each series that eclipsed the "regular" ones. NASCAR was the people's choice by the early seventies though, I'd say, comparing one series as a whole to the other, with Indianapolis alone rating higher in some categories.

                    Michigan was a huge IndyCar event, though, by every standard, 'til the Split, and there were some other commercially popular events that pleased B2B sponsors and the teams, but of course attendance records are sketchy
                    "Each day well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this one day for it, and it alone, is life"
                    ~ Sanskrit poem attributed to Kalidasa, "Salutation to the Dawn"


                    Brian's Wish

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PenelopePitstop View Post
                      "NASCAR caught up to CART and passed them in popularity"
                      OK... if this is the actual topic, then why are you going back to the USAC years of the 60's and early 70's.....??

                      I would think that one would need to address the years that CART was in operation to accurately assess the statement in question.... but what the heck do I know...

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                      • #12
                        How about comparing the "Crown jewels" during the CART era pre-split...

                        Totally unscientific... and probably not as accurate as some here would like... but how about TV ratings for Indy v. Daytona '79 to '95...:

                        Year – Indy - Daytona
                        1979 – 13.5 – 10.5
                        1980 – 13.8 – 8.0
                        1981 – 12.8 – 8.4
                        1982 – 12.3 – 9.4
                        1983 – 14.1 – 8.7
                        1984 – 12.9 – 8.7
                        1985 – 9.7 – 8.3
                        1986 – 8.8 – 8.4
                        1987 – 11.1 – 9.4
                        1988 – 8.5 – 7.4
                        1989 – 7.8 – 8.1
                        1990 – 7.4 - 7.3
                        1991 – 8.0 – 7.6
                        1992 – 10.9 – 9.3
                        1993 – 9.3 – 8.4
                        1994 – 9.1 – 9.6
                        1995 – 9.4 – 7.8

                        CART and Indy pull better numbers than NASCAR and Daytona for 15 of the 17 years... and then that whole 'split thing' kinda came along...

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by use2know View Post
                          How about comparing the "Crown jewels" during the CART era pre-split...

                          Totally unscientific... and probably not as accurate as some here would like... but how about TV ratings for Indy v. Daytona '79 to '95...:

                          Year – Indy - Daytona
                          1979 – 13.5 – 10.5
                          1980 – 13.8 – 8.0
                          1981 – 12.8 – 8.4
                          1982 – 12.3 – 9.4
                          1983 – 14.1 – 8.7
                          1984 – 12.9 – 8.7
                          1985 – 9.7 – 8.3
                          1986 – 8.8 – 8.4
                          1987 – 11.1 – 9.4
                          1988 – 8.5 – 7.4
                          1989 – 7.8 – 8.1
                          1990 – 7.4 - 7.3
                          1991 – 8.0 – 7.6
                          1992 – 10.9 – 9.3
                          1993 – 9.3 – 8.4
                          1994 – 9.1 – 9.6
                          1995 – 9.4 – 7.8

                          CART and Indy pull better numbers than NASCAR and Daytona for 15 of the 17 years... and then that whole 'split thing' kinda came along...
                          Good data. And kind of interesting in that the Indy 500 was shown on a tape delayed basis in the evening up until 1986 while Daytona was shown live starting in 1979. In some ways it's kind of hard to compare the two during that period but it does kind of show that stock car racing (at least at Daytona) was already pretty darn popular by the 1970s.

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                          • #14
                            Well we know this for sure...NASCAR is still at Daytona...

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by use2know View Post
                              OK... if this is the actual topic, then why are you going back to the USAC years of the 60's and early 70's.....??

                              I would think that one would need to address the years that CART was in operation to accurately assess the statement in question.... but what the heck do I know...
                              You don't understand the premise of the topic.

                              OTHERS regularly post that "NASCAR surpassed CART in popularity" and I'm asking if that is true or if NASCAR had already surpassed USAC in popularity before CART was in existence.
                              "I have been bored out of my skull by slower racing." - Turn13

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