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The Northerner

NASCAR works to increase fan base

Matt Steffen

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NASCAR is a sport gaining popularity today, and many fans around the country are trying to become a part of it.

Auto racing is a sport that many consider to be blue collar and only appeals to the hillbilly sector of America. However, NASCAR is taking steps to improve their image and help minorities become fans of the sport. This was shown when popular singer Vanessa Williams sang the national anthem at this year’s Daytona 500 in February. American Idol judge Randy Jackson was the grand marshal for the Auto Club 500 held at the California Speedway the following week.

Hall of Fame basketball player and former Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson is heading a diversity initiative for NASCAR. With these three African-American celebrities, NASCAR is definitely trying to bring more diversity to their sport. This is a smart move, because it will help them draw more fans. The sport is also trying to expand and build tracks into major cities, such as Seattle and Staten Island in New York City.

Attending a race firsthand is something that any fan should experience in their lifetime. Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., a popular racetrack located about five hours south of Cincinnati, is known as the “World’s Fastest Half Mile.” I went to the race held there this past weekend, the Food City 500, and it was a great experience.

It’s amazing how they pack 160,000 fans into that venue. More fans attend this race than the Super Bowl. Football is the most popular sport in America today, but NASCAR is holding it’s own as the number two sport.

The fall race held at Bristol, the Sharpie 500, is a night race that tickets are hard to come by. According to the popular former NASCAR driver and current NASCAR analyst for the FOX network Darryl Waltrip, a ticket to that race is considered one of the toughest in all of professional sports to obtain.

The half-mile track at Bristol also provides fans with something they want to see when they go to a race: car wrecks.

An aspect of the Bristol Motor Speedway that I’ve never seen at a sporting event is that they let you bring in a cooler that you can pack with all the food and drinks you want.

Northern Kentucky is getting in on this NASCAR craze with the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. After several years of hosting the NASCAR Busch Series, the minor league of NASCAR, they deserve a Nextel Cup race. The weekend when this happens will be crazy and pump a lot of money into northern Kentucky’s economy.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
NASCAR works to increase fan base