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


  1. Attended every year until they moved start of race up one hour. It made the heat absolutely unbearable. We even took turns going down under the grandstands to get out of the heat as the day wore on. We all collectively decided that it just wasn’t worth it.

  2. There is no freakin’ way that there were 125,000 people at the Speedway this year. We had the run of the place. We could sit wherever we wanted to, and there were way too many empty seats to claim that number. Even right at the Start/Finish line there were a lot of empty seats. I think NASCAR is trying to blow smoke up our asses; that’s what I think.

  3. Year of the tire problem was my last too. I was a loyal season ticket holder from day one. This race was a joke. What did Nascar/Indy do for us loyal fans? Nothing. They got our money, but we didn’t see a “real” race. When the tire fiasco with the Formula Grand Prix happened, those unhappy fans received refunds or tix to the next years race. Way to go guys – refund money to the rich ‘blue bloods’ and stick it to the average, blue-collar working Nascar fans! I knew right then that I was done. Haven’t missed it at all! As someone else mentioned, the security was getting bad before I quit going. After they got your money and the race is over, they treat you like crap and run you outta the place as quickly as they can. BTW, that is happening at Lucas Oil after the Colts games too. Used to enjoy relaxing in my (expensive) seat while the crowd dispersed. Not any more. The ‘barney fife’ security run you out of there immediately after the game now too. Really torqued me off though when we lost to the Jets during the playoffs a few years back. Ran me and my wife out (wearing our proud Colts shirts), but let the stinking Jets fans stay! Those fans were bad-mouthing the Colts right on our turf in front of the fans, but were allowed to continue to congregate and get obnoxious and roudy while season ticket holding Colts fans were ushered out! I complained to the security guards, point to the “roudies” and asked, “What about them?” They replied, “Oh, we’re just letting them get it out of their system before asking them to leave.” Asking??!?!?!? I was a 20 year loyal Colts fan and you didn’t “Ask” me! I was told to leave NOW. As you probably figured out, I no longer attend Colts games either (especially since they cut Peyton). Fans are getting fed up with paying lots of money to be treated like crap! We can do that at home for free!

  4. I’ve been to only 2 races there since the start of the Brickyard. We don’t go because it does suck, too bad since it’s only 60 or so miles away, not being able to see the whole track is a drag. The fact that there is LOTS of single file racing is another, but because of NASCAR that is how most of the tracks are getting to be these days! Which really sucks!! I love NASCAR & want to see it the way it was 10+ years ago, racing side by side the entire time, racing for the win NO green/white/checkers!! We try to go to at least 2 races a year that we have to travel out of state to & it does get very expensive, hotels $175+ per night because they can! Most camping is $250+ for just a spot, no electric/water hook ups! Seriously, if they want to improve the attendance back off on the prices!!! Tickets have come down for the most part its all the extras that you need when your there that kill ya!

  5. This has to be THE worst racing venue out there for a spectator other than the road courses. You can’t see any of the “action” and the jumbotrons aren’t that jumbo. And parking… WHAT parking?? Best way to improve this race is to cancel it. Tell the George family to stick it. Move the date to another track or better yet, just shorten the season by one. OBTY: NASCAR stated that Danica was the answer to put more fans in the stands. How did that work out for them at her “best” track??? A dismal failure by the looks of it…..

  6. I go every year. The quality of racing has declined since the car of tomorrow. The car is simply too big to really get a lot of passing in the corners at Indy on the low bank high speed corners. Nascar needs t return to racing NASCARs and not the advertising buses that are on the track now.

    A night race would help. It is too hot to sit on those bleachers during the day. I bought 4 penthouse tickets for 600 this year just to stay out of the sun. Next year and until lights are installed, I will go the cheaper route and go down to Kentucky.

    To the people who said parking is bad, there is plenty and the access is easy. You just need to know where to go and when to be there by. Better to tailgate than sit in traffic.

    Also, I like it much better when the race started at 3PM.

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