On its front page Wednesday, the nation’s largest newspaper by circulation said NASCAR’s problems “seem to have spun out of control.”
“Long a Cultural Icon, NASCAR Hits the Skids,” reads the headline on the article in The Wall Street Journal. One of the article’s two writers, Tripp Mickle, graduated from Myers Park High in Charlotte.
The article says NASCAR’s largely working class and white fan base is aging and was knocked harder by the recession than more-affluent fan bases of other major national sports.
“There’s no magic pill for this one,” former NASCAR race team owner Ed Rensi told the Journal. “It’s about economics and demographics.”
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NASCAR also has suffered from a lack of stars, the article says, noting how Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sidelined last year by a concussion but is scheduled to race in the season-opening Daytona 500 on Sunday.
The article quotes a spokesman for seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty and comments by three-time champion Tony Stewart that NASCAR chief executive Brian France should attend more races.
France said he attended roughly half of the race weekends last season, according to the Journal. France said NASCAR teams, drivers and automakers are working more closely to improve competition and boost interest in the sport.
The article said members of the France family met with NBC Sports executives in October over declining TV ratings and agreed to act. Each race will now be divided into three stages, awarding points to the top drivers at the end of each stage.
The article also cited how NASCAR is working on at least a dozen more potential changes.