Wednesday, March 4, 2015

NASCAR’s West Coast Swing – Good or Bad?

Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images

After two races on the East Coast, NASCAR moves to the West Coast for three weeks of racing in its premier series. The Sprint Cup Series will make stops at Las Vegas, Phoenix and Auto Club Speedway.

When the 2015 schedule change was announced in September 2014, many fans were quick to say that it wasn’t a good idea.

NASCAR felt grouping the tracks closer together on the schedule would be more cost-effective from a transportation and personnel standpoint. The change allows drivers additional time on the West Coast to make media appearances and meet with fans. For teams, it creates a more manageable travel time between tracks.

When you look at it that way, it does make sense - for NASCAR. 

For fans, it's a different story. The "West Coast Swing" creates a dilemma for those hard-core fans who want to attend more than one race. How will they get the time off work to attend the races? And if they are able to get the time off, can they realistically afford two or three race weekends in a row?

Gas prices on the West Coast continue to rise and it's widely known that most hotels don't offer "race weekend" packages for fans to help with the expenses involved with attending a live NASCAR event. The loyal fan seems to get the short end of the stick. Designing the schedule in this manner leaves little wiggle room and is an expense most families can't justify.

Last year’s NASCAR schedule had Las Vegas, Phoenix and Bristol before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returned to the West to race at Auto Club Speedway.

It may not appear that the schedule has changed much from 2014. But for the West Coast and a population that "lives" in their cars and drives everywhere, it has. The additional time off work and the expense of getting to the track makes a tremendous difference for those who only have a limited number of races within driving distance.

How will this new schedule affect attendance at the tracks for the next three weeks? What race/races will the fans choose?

These questions will no doubt have the entire NASCAR world talking. The last six races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway have seen different drivers in Victory Lane, Phoenix International Raceway has had its share of exciting racing too. Last year, at ACS they were able to sell out the Cup race after a thrilling Xfinity Series event. Drivers, media and fans attribute the aging race surface as the primary reason that ACS has become one of the best tracks on the circuit.

Whether you attend the races in person or watch from the comfort of your living room, you can expect some terrific racing in the next three weeks, that’s a guarantee. It remains to be seen just how many fans will be able to enjoy the races at the track.

Are you a race fan who lives on the West Coast? Does the grouping of three races back-to-back-to-back force you to choose just one? Which event did you choose? Share your comments below.