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Atlanta: Only one Cup weekend in 2011? Good move, or bad?


 The first shoe drops: Kurt Busch here wins what looks like that last spring NASCAR Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which appears to be losing that event to Kentucky Speedway, near Cincinnati in 2011 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)
 

  By Mike Mulhern
  mikemulhern.net

  WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.
  Atlanta Motor Speedway does indeed appear to be losing it's spring Sprint Cup weekend.
  The track just released this:
   "Atlanta Motor Speedway officials today announced the facility’s 2011 event schedule will include one NASCAR racing weekend on September 2-4.
    "One of the original NASCAR superspeedways, the track has hosted two of NASCAR’s premier event weekends for 50 years, including the upcoming Emory Healthcare 500 slated for Sunday night, Sept. 5.
    "Atlanta Motor speedway has provided top-quality racing entertainment to spectators from across the nation and around the world for 50 years," said speedway president, Ed Clark. "While our schedule will change, our commitment to the racing fans who have been the heart and soul of Atlanta Motor Speedway through these years will be stronger than ever. Our entire staff will be even more driven to produce the top annual sporting event in Georgia for many years to come.
   "Atlanta Motor Speedway hosted its inaugural Labor Day racing weekend in 2009 when the events were moved forward on the NASCAR schedule from the speedway's traditional October date.
     "We were thrilled with the acquisition of the Labor Day date two years ago and are proud to host such a prestigious, historical date on the NASCAR schedule," added Clark.  "This track produces some of the greatest racing the circuit sees, it remains one of the drivers’ favorite tracks and we will continue to build a platform that sets this one date apart from the rest." 
    This year’s Sept. 3-5 Labor Day Weekend Schedule will include the Friday Fan Fest presented by Your Georgia’s Best Chevy Dealers, Saturday night’s Great Clips 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and the Sunday night Emory Healthcare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.

No surprise - the track

No surprise - the track simply hasn't been able to support two dates anymore.

i understand your

i understand your thinking...but there is more to this than just filling seats on Sunday. As California's Gillian Zucker points out, the Fontana track -- while the crowds may not look that great -- offers a marketing gateway for year-round promotion that is more important to the sport than just the bodies in those seats. LA is a year-round market, and so is Atlanta. We need to be looking at the full marketing impact over the entire year, not just two weekends at the track itself. does that make any sense?

I wish the Cup series would

I wish the Cup series would cut back to 1 date at all tracks except for the best 5: Bristol, Dover, Charlotte, Daytona, and Richmond. Jimmie Johnson said it best when he stated that the races become "more special" when you only race there once per year. Otherwise boring tracks and races would be made a little more special if the Cup Series only went there once. It would also open up 8 dates on the schedule for new/former Cup venues to get dates since Kentucky is now getting a date. Iowa, Gateway, Nashville, Rockingham, North Wilkesboro, Memphis, Milwaukee, and another road course would all be good candidates to add to the schedule. Several of those have had or are having financial issues, but getting a Cup date would likely cure that and peak some interest into getting buyers for Memphis, Gateway, and Milwaukee. Pikes Peak may even come out of mothballs. As long as NASCAR gives those tracks only Cup Lite (Nationwide) and Senior Cup (truck) races, those tracks can't thrive and barely survive. Kentucky has been the only exception to that.

I agree. We have too many Cup

I agree. We have too many Cup events. the season drags on too long. The sport is oversaturating the market. One race per track, except for the few that could/should have more, would make more sense. However, we're locked into this 36/38 week tour, that is simple too much. RJR execs realized that in 1972 when they persuaded NASCAR to cut back. It may be time again to cut back.
Yes, there are tracks --- Iowa, Nashville, and others -- that deserve/need a spot on the big schedule.
But as long as the sport is so tied to TV that TV dicates everything, we won't be able to solve the problem.
Adding Kentucky, dropping an Atlanta race and a California race, is only putting a bandaid on the problem.
We need to do a major re-think of the Cup tour schedule. And we also need to look at the Nationwide and Truck tours and consider them too.
We're tweaking when we may need some major surgery.
And Fox and ESPN need to get in the mix too and provide some guidance. Do a lot of races with mediocre ratings work? Or would fewer races, but events with more impact, provide more punch?
And I'll be honest -- Kentucky may be a great track, good market and all that, but does that solve any of the sport's big problems? In the grand scheme of things, does dropping the Atlanta market and adding Cincinnati solve anything? I fear we're doing too much plug-and-play and not enough strategic thinking here.

I agree that adding the

I agree that adding the Cincinnati market but dropping one date from Atlanta, doesn't make a whole lot of sense, that being said I do not have a problem with Kentucky getting a race date. I still question of putting Indy and Kentucky that close on the schedule (if that's what happens). But I definitely agree that this is again a bandaid on a much larger issue. What do you think is the motive behind Mattioli suggesting he may be willing to part with a date at Pocono in a couple years? Is the cost of having 2 Cup dates having the same toll that Gateway saw with their issues? Or is it just the fact that he's sees dollar signs in selling that date? How long before SMI/ISC scoops up Iowa, Dover (&Nashville) and Pocono?

Johnson is wrong. The races

Johnson is wrong. The races don't become more special when you race there once a year - all it does at most tracks is create a market for more, and this is why most tracks have two dates. And if certain tracks deserve two dates then the bulk of them deserve two dates. Bristol and Richmond don't necessarily deserve two dates - they're both good racing markets but Bristol is the most overrated track in the sport and Richmond is just a short track, albiet one on steroids.

Why is there so much love for Iowa, North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, Memphis, and for adding another road course? Iowa is not a good track - it's far too small and even though it's pretty roomy it's still just a short track on 'roids. North Wilkesboro is a dead demographic and a dead racetrack. Rockingham is a dead demographic (shown by dismal attendances at the races it now runs). Memphis is gone. Milwaukee is far too small and flat to race on. The sport should not have even one road race because it is the least competitive form of racing that exists.

Atlanta can't sustain two Cup dates, yet it would benefit Gateway et al to give them dates? That's beyond ridiculous.

The tracks that deserve two dates are Daytona, Phoenix, Texas (though I'd prefer a Texas World Speedway clone near Houston than the controversial quad-oval near Forth Worth), Talladega, Dover, Charlotte, Pocono, Michigan, New Hampshire, Kansas, and maybe Fontana, Bristol, and Richmond.

If you were running NASCAR

If you were running NASCAR you would have all of the dates at Daytona and Talledega. Only you could screw up a schedule more than NASCAR.

Nobody wants to watch Nationwide races, so gauging interest for Cup dates by looking at Nationwide attendance is LUDICROUS. Give the tracks I mentioned a date and see what happens. Worst case scenario, the Cup Series goes to a market it hasn't been to before, except for Rockingham and North Wilkesboro. NASCAR makes money off of TV ratings now, and only good racing makes for good TV ratings. Fontana, Chicago, New Hampshire, and Kansas are all great TV markets, but a yawner of a race for the most part. Try some new venues out and let's see what they do. If they're yawners too, at least a change of scenery might keep the TV audience watching.

North Wilkesboro is not dead. The racing cranks back up three weeks from tomorrow, and I'll be there. If you want to see some real racing, come on up and I'll buy your ticket. If you still don't like it, you won't have to b#$%* about having to pay for it.

http://www.proallstarsseries.com/2010_Forms/9-1/2010-event-sched-NWS-Sept.pdf

Having seen North Wilkesboro

Having seen North Wilkesboro for the first time in bypassing the speedway two months ago, it's ready to go. Just need to pull up some weeds, add some paint and we're racing. Not a bad seat in the house from the vantage points I saw.

fireballroberts, here are the

fireballroberts, here are the tracks that deserve two dates -

DAYTONA
TALLADEGA
DALLAS & COLLEGE STATION, TX (How Texas Motor Speedway got there is worth continuing censure but the demographic is superb)
POCONO
MICHIGAN
ATLANTA (I don't dislike Atlanta the speedway, I'm just not impressed by that racing demographic and I don't buy the excuses offered for why it hasn't drawn well)
KANSAS
KENTUCKY (the only issue I had was that place trying to force the issue and bully its way to Cup)
PHOENIX
NEW HAMPSHIRE
DOVER

Tracks that should be reborn/areas where tracks should be built -

ONTARIO and HANFORD, CA (2.5 mile rectangle at Ontario, Talladega-style superoval in Hanford, site of the old Hanford Speedway and a better demo than LA)
TRENTON (1.5 mile oval like Chicagoland)
HOUSTON (I mentioned Texas World Speedway above; a Texas World Speedway outside Houston would work better)
TENNESSEE (the present Nashville Superspeedway is too small and has the wrong surface - it needs to be a 2.5-mile superoval like Talladega)

The sport does not need "new" venues, it needs better speedways and better support of those demographics that want it.

"Nobody wants to watch Busch Series racing." Kentucky proved you wrong; New Hamsphire proved you wrong; Miami proved you wrong; Vegas proved you wrong. Those places ALL drew well for BGN before they got Cup dates.

If you want to go to a local track, go to North Wilkesboro; if you want major league racing, go to a superspeedway.

Seats being filled,

Seats being filled, marketing, crap sounds just like Nascar bull. You want to help the sport and do something to really help. Take the last 10 years of racing, break each down by lead changes, passes per lap, wrecks(sorry it is what people come to see)and how many laps did Jr. lead, being many think he is Nascar, which to me is a crock of bull. But anyway break the races down and make the decisions on that. And get rid of at least one of the boring Pocono races if not both. That has to be the most boring thing on tv.
And to me one race per track with a separate race for the other two series would give additional income for each track. This would spread across the entire US and maybe one in Canada the Nascar name.

I say please get rid of at

I say please get rid of at least one of the Pocono events that track sucks

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