For the last decade many race fans have felt their favorite sport’s best days were behind them. Not true. Not by a long shot.
The modern history of American motorsports essentially shows a fairly steady growth curve. After World War II ended champ car racing and the Indy 500 came back with a vengeance while Bill France created NASCAR and started building banked super speedways. Veterans who brought back European sports cars and British motorcycles helped create GT and then prototype racing; bikers expanded flat track, road racing, motocross and off road racing. Wally Parks started the NHRA to capitalize on a new phenomenon called drag racing. Sprint car, midget, modified and short track stock car racing prospered as American motorsports’ quiet, grassroots anchor.
Racing got big. And it kept getting bigger and bigger through the mid-nineties.
Then things began to go a bit south. Sports car racing, which exploded with the unlimited, sixties-era Can Am and the Ford/Chevy/Dodge/Plymouth/America Motors Trans Am series, slowly lost its way in the early 00’s thanks to splintered rules and multiple sanctioning bodies. IndyCar ‘split’ in 1996, hemorrhaging millions of fans, and got back together in 2008, barely recognizable and seemingly on life support. NASCAR’s reputation as the 400-lb. gorilla began to suffer as attendance and TV ratings started to flatten and then decline. Same with NHRA drag racing.
Blame the economy. Blame greed and inflation and over saturation or inefficient promotion. Or more entertainment options divided by less discretionary income.
But here’s the good news. A racing renaissance is occurring. All aspects of motorsports, from new technology to research and design to testing, manufacturing and the on-track products are in a growth mode.
It’s why Attesa is being built; to help facilitate racing’s renaissance via a new, world class, hi-tech community dedicated to transportation design, high performance driving and motor racing events.
The data that inspired the concept of Attesa is clear.
IndyCar has seen a 35-plus percent increase in TV viewership in the past five years. The most popular races, other than the Indy 500, are on road courses.
The 2017 IMSA WeatherTech sports car racing opener in January showed almost double the 2016 broadcast household rating, averaging 714,000 viewers for the Rolex 24-hour race.
NHRA drag racing on Fox saw a 24% ratings boost in 2016 after switching from ESPN, averaging 634,000 viewers per national event with the 18-to-49 demographic up 49 percent. They also showed 34 million total viewers online with video streaming, 14 million more than the previous year. And the 2017 Winternationals, the first race of this season, was the most watched broadcast in the event’s 57-year history.
Another clear example of optimism for the future of racing is how International Speedway Corporation is investing in facility improvements. Daytona International Speedway completed a $400 million renovation in 2015 and they’ve just announced Phoenix International Raceway is about to undergo a $178 million makeover. This despite the fact that NASCAR ticket sales and viewership are still falling, prompting yet another rules revision designed to renew fan interest and turn those numbers around.
Monster Energy would not have signed on as the new Cup Series sponsor if they had any doubts about the sports’ future viability.
An American company just bought Formula 1. Short track racing is thriving again. MotoGP continues to grow, as are the Pirelli World Challenge, Trans Am and Global Rallycross series.
Attesa was conceived to facilitate the R&D, testing and even manufacturing of almost any kind of race car and its components, from system hardware to chassis, tires and motors or engines. The four-square-mile community is being designed to attract and house advanced technology companies dedicated to transportation design in concert with environmental responsibility and resource efficiency.
And yes, part and parcel of Attesa is a 2.8-mile road racing circuit with numerous passing zones, a 70-ft. change in elevation and incomparable spectator accommodations; from parking, access and viewing lines to first rate restrooms, concession options and off-track entertainment.
Racing is in a renaissance period. Attesa is going to be a renaissance community.