(photo source: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
The Food City 500 at Bristol has come and gone. There were lots of lead changes at Bristol, and the passing looked decent. The coverage again seemed to lack excitement during the national broadcast, but maybe that is just me. Kyle Busch won the race at Bristol, having won at Bristol eight times now to brother Kurt’s six wins.
Best quote of the post-race comes from Kurt Busch who came in second to his brother Kurt. He told Jamie Little after the race: I was going to wreck my little brother to win today. Very reminiscent of when Tony Stewart claimed he would wreck his mother to win the 2011 championship. He did win and luckily for everyone he didn’t have to wreck his mom Pam to do it either.
Sadly the Stewart-Haas cars didn’t have a great showing. Kevin Harvick started the race with penalties, failing pre-race qualifying and having to start from the rear, then after the green flag waved he had to pit under green and then he was four laps down. While the beginning of the race wasn’t the best for Harvick, he was at least able to finish the race on the lead lap. Teammate Aric Almirola ended up out of the race early as well thanks for trying to fix a car on pit road and dumping a jack stand on the track. Bowyer was up front for a good part of the end of the race, but incidental contact with Joey Logano took away his chance at winning the race. ADaniel Suarez had a speeding penalty but ended up 8th and in the top ten.
While watching the race, I checked in on my social media. Someone in a Facebook group stated that the stands were so empty at Bristol. Someone else commented and said: Are you in the stands? If not, then you are part of the problem. I profoundly disagree with that statement. First off no one fan can go to all the races- unless they are wealthy and retired. There are a considerable variety of reasons while someone couldn’t go to a race. Health issues, work, and the big one for most fans- financial. Would I like to go to Bristol? Heck yeah. I live in California. I would have to fly in and purchase tickets and then get a hotel. Hotels in close vicinity of any NASCAR race seem to magically jack up their prices. Several people responded on that thread and others that I follow that the hotels in this area are around $300 or more a night during race weekend. Usually, they run about 100 dollars a night. Three nights and you’d have $900 for lodging alone. That doesn’t account for food, tickets to the race, transportation, and other incidentals. This is the same thing about Sonoma. Sonoma is just far enough North from me that it would require a hotel. But the hotels in Napa and Sonoma are outrageously expensive. Most of them are in wine country. We use to get a reasonably nice hotel in Benecia (a Best Western) for a reasonable rate.
The hotel grew wise and jacked up their rates for NASCAR race weekend. Hotels in Petaluma, Santa Rosa and the myriad of other nearby cities are just as bad. Sonoma depending on where you stay you also have to factor in tolls. There is also food. Even if you luck into a hotel with free breakfast, racegoers would have to find something to eat before the race, then find something to eat during the race. Race food is super expensive. I spent $7.00 in Vegas on two tacos. Waters? $3.50 each. Margarita more your speed? $14.00. Granted I am one person. I could afford that. But what if you are a family of five?
I doubt NASCAR can do anything to offset the cost of the hotels. But they could make their tickets less pricey. Make food and beverages less pricey. The beverages are less pricy.