Millions misused by NASCAR

In a move designed to enhance fan engagement as well as to secure the future of one of the racing and entertainment facilities in the Midwest, NASCAR has purchased Iowa Speedway. The agreement is effective immediately.

“Iowa Speedway is a great entertainment facility with a very bright future,” said Eric Nyquist, NASCAR vice president, strategic development. “The facility has the support of the region, it’s positioned well in the heart of the Midwest, and year in and year out, it provides great short-track racing action for motorsports fans.

“NASCAR ownership will allow us to draw on the entire resources of our company. It also provides us with the opportunity to execute first-hand a number of entertainment ideas and engagement opportunities with fans – much of which we have outlined repeatedly as the core of our Industry Action Plan.”

The facility features an .875-mile, asphalt-paved tri-oval designed by Rusty Wallace. The speedway released its 2014 schedule earlier this month, encompassing three weekends, one each in May, July and August.

The schedule will include two NASCAR Nationwide Series races, a combination NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and IndyCar Series weekend, plus two additional NASCAR K&N Pro Series support races. NASCAR has no plans for Iowa Speedway to host a Cup Series race in the immediate future.

The 2014 Iowa Speedway season opens May 17-18, with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East versus West Challenge. The Nationwide Series will run in a 250-lap race.

The Camping World Truck Series/IndyCar Series race weekend is slated for July 11-12.

NASCAR has revenue to purchase racing facilities, but cannot develop an on-track program to increase competition or fan participation.

The racing product is in need of some sort of upgrade or change to require faithful fans to pay the increasing cost of a ticket.

The average cost of a general-admission ticket is $50.

This will get a fan basic accommodations for any race on the Camping World Truck, Nationwide or Sprint Cup Series.

The price must be dropped in the coming years to gain better attendance and demonstrate that NASCAR is willing to spend some of its billions of dollars for fan enjoyment.

A new television contract will be forthcoming in the next couple of years for the industry.

It will generate billions for officials, but nothing to lower the cost of admission or increase the level of competition on the track.

The cookie-cutter tracks hinder the level of competition. NASCAR runs half of its Cup series races on 1.5-mile tracks. Let’s get back to short-track racing. It is the grassroots of the sport.

My final word on the 2013 NASCAR season is pitiful.

Contact Eddie Thomas at ethomas@newsandsentinel.com