Open Wheel Racing vs Stock Car Racing

Hello Topspeed,
I'm a big fan of open wheel racing but it seems like NASCAR is more popular. Why is that?

John H. from Newark, New Jersey

Hello John,

I'm glad to hear that you're a fan of open wheel racing. I personally think open wheel racing is more exciting to watch than stock car racing although it's nice to watch stock cars on a road course every now and then. In regards to your question - there are several reasons why NASCAR is currently more popular in the American mainstream.

For starters, NASCAR has an excellent marketing program in place which includes race broadcasts on regular network television. This greatly increases their exposure and makes it easier for your average racing fan to tune in. Most open wheel races are broadcast on cable networks which require a paid subscription. This greatly hinders access to viewing open wheel programming. Luckily, this is changing and there will be more open wheel races available on network T.V. this year.

Another factor helping the popularity of NASCAR is that most, if not all of their drivers, are American born. American racing fans want to support race car drivers they can relate to. A lot of open wheel racers are foreign born or live in another country. This means fewer American racing heroes to root for. I think this could be partially remedied if American companies stepped up to the plate and sponsored more American drivers. Write a letter to your favorite brand and tell them to sponsor me, wink.

Lastly, the infamous split in open wheel racing that currently exists between ChampCar and the Indy Racing League is detrimental to open wheel racing as a whole. While ChampCar and the IRL fight each other for basically the same fans, NASCAR only gains momentum and leaves them both behind. It's kind of like most auto races - two drivers fight each other for 2nd place while the driver in 1st place gets away, laughing all the way to the finish line.

I favor and support ChampCar and the IRL equally. I can't wait for the day that ChampCar and the IRL reunite for the benefit of all open wheel racing. If that's not possible, I hope in the very least that they find a way of working together to surpass NASCAR in the popularity rankings.

In closing, these are only some of the reasons for NASCAR being more popular than open wheel racing but if dedicated fans like you keep spreading the word, it won't be long till open wheel racing is equally recognized in the American consciousness.

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