Look at all those empty seats. I mean, we probably could have fit a small city into the glistening benches at Dover International Speedway Sunday afternoon.
Most times, we hear such a statement and it’s promptly followed by a dissertation regarding the downfall of NASCAR. I ask you, must the glass always be half-empty?
Well, I can tell you one good thing those unsold tickets are doing: I get to pick where I sit at the track! Even on Sunday. Over the past decade, that has been a rarity, indeed.
Long ago, my friend scored a four-pack of tickets for New Hampshire. We really had no idea of the value of these seats – second row from the top right at the exit of turn 4. Nice! But what did we know? We had been following the sport from the comfort of our living room, and had never experienced the stands shake under our feet when the command was given. Needless to say, after the race, we were all looking at each other wondering how we had been missing out on this amazing experience!
Of course, we inquired about buying tickets for the following year, only to be faced with a waiting list. The first set of tickets we managed to acquire were in row 15. While the breeze generated by the passing field was exhilarating, we could only barely see the roofs of the cars. This would not be the only time that we struggled to find good seats at the track.
Ticketmaster tried to sell me row 1 seats as the best seats in the house at Atlanta. The chartered group seats in Las Vegas were firmly planted halfway to nowhere in turn 4. At Pocono, the seats looked good on paper, but we needed binoculars to see anything but what happened exactly in front of us. For each of these adventures, we had to make plans at least six months in advance just to get past the gate! Needless to say, we didn’t even attempt to get into Bristol.
Times have changed. For those that are heading out to the track, lucky us! I have been able to select exactly the seats I was looking for at each of the venues we’re attending this year — a view of Gasoline Alley at Indy, start/finish line at ORP and the exit of turn 4 at Dover. The choices are endless!
And for those who have never decided to take in a Sprint Cup race in person, with bargain ticket packages available at nearly every venue, this is the perfect year to dip those toes into the waters.
Besides a better angle to look down on your favorite competitor, the current downswing in attendance levels also permits you to enjoy a most precious commodity on race day: elbow room. I’ve suffered through many years where I was almost sitting in my husband’s lap as we all struggled to squish into the allotted seat space. When the sun is heating up 100,000 people occupying aluminum benches, the lack of air between you and your best friend can be tortuous.
We can also look forward to shorter lines at the restrooms, concession stands and t-shirt haulers. To the seasoned race fan, these are all positive additions to the day. For the newbie, a stress-free experience just might encourage them to return in the future.
So stop being such a Negative Nelly. Instead of bemoaning the economy, start-and-parkers and the boredom of watching Kyle Busch take out Jimmie Johnson, maybe now might be the time to head out to the track and take a new look at the reasons that this sport made us all fans.
After all, the best seats are still available!
About the author
The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.
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