Monday, March 06, 2017

Las Vegas Set To Double-Down On NASCAR

Las Vegas Motor Speedway appears to be in line to host two races on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018, for the first time.

According to an article in last Friday’s Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board of directors held a special meeting last week “to consider a seven-year $2.5 million annual sponsorship agreement with NASCAR that would include the addition of a fall race at the speedway.”

Las Vegas currently hosts the third race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season; this weekend’s Kobalt 400. The agreement -- reportedly a seven-year, $17.5 million pact with an additional three-year option – includes $1 million in per-event sponsorship, along with an additional $500,000 annual marketing budget for “two NASCAR first-tier sanctioned races at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway every year during the term of this agreement.”

The Convention and Visitors Authority issued a written statement, saying, “Until the board votes on the proposal, it’s premature for us to comment on it. We have a great relationship with Las Vegas Motor Speedway and NASCAR and we look forward to continuing the partnership.”

According to working materials provided to the board, last year's Las Vegas race attracted 96,400 out-of-town visitors and contributed $139.2 million to the local economy. Based on those numbers, the Convention and Visitors Authority appears ready to pay for a second event.

A media release from Las Vegas Motor Speedway was fairly non-committal, saying, “When there is more information to provide, we will do so.”

NASCAR Senior Vice President for Racing Operations Jim Cassidy said, "We are constantly working with promoters to discuss and develop NASCAR schedules. We have not finalized any schedules for 2018 or beyond, but will announce them as they become final."

SMI's Marcus Smith
Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Marcus Smith said Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway that “We’ve always said we’d entertain a second date at Las Vegas.” He declined, however, to discuss where that race might come from, unleashing a firestorm of speculation in the NASCAR garage.
Sources say it is unlikely that NASCAR will add a 37th point-counting event to its already overstuffed premier-series schedule, meaning that another venue will need to relinquish an event. NASCAR has long allowed track owners to relocate events within their ownership portfolio, making it likely – though not cast in stone – that the second Las Vegas race would come from an existing SMI track; Charlotte, New Hampshire, Atlanta, Sonoma, Bristol, Kentucky or Texas Motor Speedway.
Atlanta, Sonoma and Kentucky host single races each season, leaving Charlotte, New Hampshire and Texas – all of whom currently host second events in the fall -- most likely to face the chopping block.
When former Speedway Motorsports, Inc. CEO Bruton Smith acquired New Hampshire International Speedway from founder Bob Bahre in 2007, he made no secret of his plans to transfer one of its MENCS events to Las Vegas. He changed those plans after witnessing the support northeast race fans have traditionally shown for “The Magic Mile,” but last week’s report has raised anxiety levels in the Granite State once again.
Northeast race fans aren’t the only ones unhappy with the reports.
Former series champion Kevin Harvick – an outspoken proponent of running only one race per season at each venue – said that while he enjoys racing at LVMS, the prospect of two races at the desert oval concerns him.
"I love Vegas and I think it’s a great atmosphere," said the Stewart Haas Racing driver. "I think it would be good. But sometimes you turn one great (race) into two mediocre ones. That’s something you have to consider and has to be evaluated.”
He cited the example of Auto Club Speedway, which struggled to attract crowds for many years, until cutting back to a single race each season.
“When we had one race, it was great,” he said. “When we had two, it wasn’t so great. You have to be careful of not doing that.”


  1. Anonymous8:07 AM

    Don't expect 95,000+ out of town fans showing up to both races. LVMS is a destination race track and expecting double to race fans for double the races is not a good business model. People love going to Vegas and a Vegas race weekend is a lot of fun. But instead of fans having 1 opportunity to get to the Vegas race they are now going to be split between 2 races. Once the newness wears off you will have 2 have filled races at LVMS.

  2. Harvick is 100% correct. Adding another 1,5 mile track is a mistake. I understand that SMI & ISC hold the cards with which ones come and go, but that COTA track in Texas and Road America need serious consideration. Iowa does as well. The fan base is starved for variation and putting another race in Vegas seems to add oil to the slope that is already very slippery.

    1. Circuit of the Americas will get a Cup race over Bruton and Marcus Smith's dead bodies.

    2. That's a shame, Dave. I understand there are significant monetary gains and losses with COTA obtaining a race while another venue loses one. However, NASCAR will have to eventually decide if staying at the same places over and over will sustain the sport going forward. While it would certainy be tough to allow one of your races to go to another venue, the health of the sport, to include growing the fan base in a new city, would seem like a good long term move.

    3. The folks at Texas Motor Speedway feel strongly that a race at COTA would severely compromise their existing event. And I suspect they're right.

  3. God forbid they give us something exciting to watch. I agree, I can't get enough of the kind of racing I saw yesterday.

  4. No more 1.5 mile race track they are boring and they are killing the sport. Iowa or Rockingham should get a race before another 1.5 mile does.

    1. Dwayne in Memphis12:34 PM

      Change your line from, "they are killing the sport," to "they killed the sport," and you'll be spot on.

      I haven't watched a single lap of a single race so far this season, and, like baseball box scores,I've been able to catch up on who won/lost/wrecked without sitting through it.

      Like Clear Channel Radio, NASCAR has stopped seeing the fanbase as its customers and racing as its product. It seems they've started viewing racefans as the product and advertisers are the customer.

      Clear Channel Radio (or whatever it's called now) plays the same 36 songs over and over and couldn't care less if you're bored with it. You are a product supplied to advertisers. Until you leave and go to SiriusXM.

      The NASCAR Premier series (or whatever it's called now) runs the same 36 races over and over and couldn't care less if you're bored with it. You are a product supplied to advertisers. Until you leave and go to another sport.

      When they started caring more about money than racefans, the sport started a precipitous drop. It's sad.

    2. You "haven't watched a single lap of a singe race so far this season." You claim to be unaware of the new series sponsor. And yet, you still feel qualified to comment on what's happening in the sport?

      That's special.

    3. Dwayne in Memphis4:01 PM

      Yup...that's the way of it. I still listen to your show, read your blog, and read the news links. Until this season, I've been watching/attending since 1992. So yeah, I'm qualified. The "or whatever they're called now" was a shot at the name change analogy to Clear Channel Radio. I'm fully aware that Monster Energy sponsors the series. And I'm also aware that Brian France has almost single-handedly ruined the sport I loved. I like to know who wins, and I like to keep up with the storylines. But I've found I can do that without sitting through 20-someodd D-shaped tri-ovals per year.

      If I were alone in my feelings, maybe I'd feel a little more like I'm wrong...track attendance and television ratings, however, tell me that I'm not.

    4. No Paul, Rockingham cannot justify returning to NASCAR's premier series any longer and Iowa is nothing but a respectable but still rinky-dink short track whose racing isn't as good as the hype. 1.5 mile tracks are not killing the sport; on the contrary they are a proven viable competition model. What has harmed the sport is the mixture of poor handling of the technology arms race and overemphasis on points battles at the expense of fighting for the win (a situation the new "segments" bonus-point structure is addressing to effect).

  5. Andrew11:29 AM

    It would be a shame to take a race away from NHMS. I've attended the fall race with my father ever year starting in 2001 and we've attended the July race a few times too. The fans really do support the track and the crowds are typically great. Vegas doesn't even sell out it's one date it has now...

    1. That is some high dollar stuff! I'm sure the 96,000+ out-of-town visitors include the race teams, sponsors, reporters, fans, etc. that all eat, gamble, and pay for lodging/entertainment.

      But doing the math off of the $139 million+ that supposedly goes directly back into the local economy- that means at the very least $1440/per person is spent..suggesting that overall figure could be much higher considering funds not staying local(such as state taxes/fees or souvenirs purchased from the Fanatics tents). That must be one expensive race to go to! I've been to Vegas and many other NASCAR races and never spent that kind of money. I must be part of the exception to the rule.

      I wonder how those figures are tabulated. Even considering Vegas as the venue- it seems like the same people who put out those numbers are the same ones in NASCAR that say we are looking at sold out crowds when the stands are only half full. They just don't seem to add up.

    2. Indeed - it's why I doubt NHMS will lose a date plus the other "candidates" have greater justification for staying than Vegas has for a second race. Ultimately this 36-race limit has to go to 37 or 38.

  6. Herein lay why NASCAR will have no choice but to add a 37th race - not one of the proposed chopping-block races doesn't draw well, so NASCAR can't justify dropping a race by claiming the event didn't justify its existence.

    That Vegas - a poor sports market like Los Angeles - is even asking for a second date is myopic.

  7. Sad day yet another boring pathetic race added to the circuit. All nascars segments did was make the agony of a 1.5 mile race even longer. Golf is more interesting to watch than a 1.5 race. NASCAR just keeps shooting at the hip and have even come close to the target. If they don't figure out a car that can actually race at a 1.5 instead of play follow the leader there going to continue to fail

  8. I've saw my first race in 1958 it wasn't NASCAR then. I've seen exciting races on dirt, half mile tracks all sizes a shapes of tracks. I see races on all to these tracks that weren't so exciting. But I've never seen a race that wasn't interesting. I think today we need to have a book "Race Watching for Dummy's" to show people how to enjoy a race.

  9. The overhead shots of the race on 3/12 showed a lot of empty seats in the stands. Hopefully, Las Vegas can put their marketing dollars to use and find out a way to get it so fans show up to support (2) races a season in the future. But of course, if any comments are made about attendance, they will say it was a sold out crowd.