Photo Credit: Sporting News
Growing up as a NASCAR fan I have witnessed the sport reach its peak in the early 2000s and its lowest of lows in the last few years with crowds smaller than many MLS games. However, Barstool Sports may be the resource the fledgling series needs to drum up new attention and grow a shrinking fanbase.
NASCAR’s biggest problem is its aging fanbase. Going to a NASCAR race is like walking into a retirement home. Almost everyone there has gray hair and is talking about “the good ole days,” which doesn’t take away from the excitement of stock cars zooming by at 200 MPH, but it’s not as appealing as the hip NBA and always powerful NFL, or even the MLS. NASCAR’s partnership with Barstool Sports aims to change that by bringing in a prominent voice of young America to the track and increase exposure to the drivers, the atmosphere, and the race itself so that younger fans will hopefully take interest in the sport and head to their local races.
As much as I dislike Barstool and numerous of its personalities, the company has found a niche amongst 16-30-year-olds who want an alternative, edgier take on the sports they watch. Led by “El Pres,” Dave Portnoy, a contingent of Barstool personalities have been in Daytona experiencing the Daytona 500 weekend and all the tailgating, binge drinking, and bone-rattling speed the weekend has to offer. The “extra-curricular activities” are very likely to appeal to college-aged fans as well as other young adults who enjoy a good party. NASCAR’s partnership with Barstool indicates that the series is ready to adopt and promote that as a part of why you should come to the race weekend. The Indianapolis 500 has adopted the popularity of the partying that occurs during a race weekend into a variety of events that draw thousands of fans to the track and surrounding campgrounds for the days leading up to the race and during the race itself. Events like the Carb Day and Legends day concerts on Friday and Saturday of race weekend, along with the Snakepit EDM concert during the race each bring in thousands of fans who otherwise might not get to the track. This converts a solid percentage of these people into race fans. NASCAR hopes adopting a similar strategy through their partnership with Barstool Sports will bring loyal “Stoolies” and other people who follow Barstool to the track and rebuild an aging fan base.
2019 is a pivotal year for NASCAR. With new aerodynamic and engine regulations and new efforts to grow and expand its aging fanbase, along with drama in the garage between drivers and crew members switching cars, NASCAR is in for a year of change, and hopefully, on track excitement. Partnering with Barstool Sports will provide NASCAR with additional exposure directed to a younger crowd that should bring new fans and new energy to a sport at its all-time low.