As many as 13 NASCAR speedway tracks, including the Daytona International Speedway, could lose more seats because the facilities have been operating with too much inventory, according to the president of the International Speedway Corp.
An operator of NASCAR speedways, ISC, citing a "quagmire" of too many empty seats, is keeping a lid on ticket prices.
"We just simply have too many seats in the inventory and it's time to do something about that," said ISC president John R. Saunders.
ISC's tracks include Daytona International Speedway and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Both of these facilities have begun renovations. Daytona's new layout calls for the removal of the grandstand on the back straightaway. Slashing these seats will reduce the track's seating capacity by 31 percent to 101,000 from 146,000.
The sport saw record growth from 1996 to 2006. After rapid expansion in that period, NASCAR was hit hard by the economy's collapse and the sport has struggled since with flattening attendance and television ratings.
Removing seats would enhance the race experience for the spectators and help encourage patrons to return, the company said.
ISC, which is controlled by the France family that also controls NASCAR, did not say which speedways were being targeted for the planned seat reductions.
Faithful fans want more for their buck at the tracks. Seat reduction will result in higher prices being charged by NASCAR officials and track owners. This will benefit their bottom line at the expense of patrons' bottom dollar.
Cutting back is the answer for NASCAR, but not on horsepower. Brian France, CEO of NASCAR, expressed his urgency to reduce the amount of horsepower in Sprint Cup cars. France described a 100 to 150 goal by 2015.
Engine builders and officials have been meeting to decide the most economic way to accomplish the wishes of the NASCAR hierarchy.
Doug Yates from Roush Yates Racing Engines offered some solutions to managing the horsepower reduction issue. One was reducing the RPM range. His suggestion is taking 500 to 750 away from today's production engines to achieve the goal set forth by Brian France. Effectively, that reduces speed on the racetrack and goes along with making the parts last longer.
If the sport wishes to control the amount of power in these cars, Yates suggest another possiblity in a smaller throttle-body size, reducing the air flow through the engine. This is the main mechanism that could be utilized to reduce power.
Officials are looking into gear ratios as another alternative. The sport dealt with this possibility years ago when engineers decided to limit the RPM ratio. Yates believes it's the best way to go and is an easy-to-police policy.
Change is good if it is cost-effective and produces a better product. The current product needs something, but these suggestions are not it.
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