Brickyard 400 under the lights? Why it doesn’t really matter.

Talks have come about Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) possibly installing lights so that NASCAR could run a Sprint Cup Series race at the good old Brickyard under the lights. For the past five years IMS has been battling attendance problems at the track but there have been no talks of discontinuing the famed race where the winner kisses the bricks that lay across the start finish line.  Officials say that the commitment on both sides couldn’t be stronger to continue the races there.

Installing lights at the 2.5 mile track would cost IMS tens of millions of dollars.

This year they brought the NASCAR Nationwide Series race to the track, which previously raced at Lucas Oil Raceway. They also brought in Grand Am Racing and entitled the fans to a “Super Weekend, three races in four days.” They were sure that bringing in the additional races along with the Sprint Cup race would bring the attendance number up.

Last years attendance for the Brickyard 400 was around 140,000. This years attendance…. 125,000.

The attendance has declined every year since the first race in 1994, only staying close to the same between 2010 and 2011.

There are many problems with IMS that installing lights may not fix. Many traditionalist are against any changes, but the speedway is in a catch 22. They are faced with fixing their attendance problems for their NASCAR event while trying to maintain a link to their rich history.

If you have ever been to IMS  you know that you can see very little. The length of the track (2.5 miles) coupled with no banking, and the famed grandstands along the inside of pit road make for a race that is nearly impossible to see much of what is going on.

For me, I kept saying… “It’s all about the experience! The Brickyard and the history!”… and that is a huge part of attending IMS, but even that wears off over time.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway adding lights might bring in initial interest, there thoughts of trying to get fans out of the heat is a noble one. We know it can be down right miserable at the end of July in Indiana.

The problems IMS are facing are more then lights might be able to fix alone.

One thought is IMS could install larger video boards. The ones they currently have are not adequate for a track its size. You can barely see what is being played on them. This would at least let fans be able to see a little more of what is going on around the track during the race, but it does not solve the epic boredom of the race itself.

Lights, video boards, free wifi or $2.00 hotdogs won’t change the fact that the race is a game of follow the leader. Many fans state that the race is “boring” “dull” and even “too long.”  They just don’t enjoy watching single file racing for lap after lap.

If Indy can’t find a way to fix its attendance woes, what could become of NASCAR at the famed track? Only time will tell… we just hope it doesn’t come down to NASCAR having to kiss the bricks… for the last time.

Photo Source: Boarman Photo – Syracuse Indiana 7-29-2012

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