NASCAR: Track officials complain tandem racing drove fans away from Talladega image

Many NASCAR fans didn’t enjoy watching the two-car tandem draft that dominated restrictor-plate racing, especially at Talladega Superspeedway in 2010 and 2011.

But now top executives of the sport expressed their concerns as well about this style of racing, with one of them blaming it for the sluggish ticket sales at Talladega Superspeedway. John Saunders, president of International Speedway Corporation which owns 12 tracks, including Talladega and Daytona International Speedway, was very clear about the damage done to the sport by tandem racing.

“The tandem racing, two or three events of that kind of stuff … was quite frankly pathetic. It’s not what Talladega has been known for,” Saunders was quoted as saying by Sporting News during a conference call last week with finance analysts. According to Saunders, bad weather during Talladega’s spring weekends in 2010 and 2011 and high unemployment also hurt attendance. He also fans were encouraged to stay home by drivers’ negative comments about the racing at Talladega as well.

Attendance at the Talladega stands was far from maximum last year, with NASCAR estimating the Talladega crowd last October at 88,000, including those camping in the infield. To cope with this, the track has been installing wider, nicer seats for spectator comfort, which will decrease capacity from 143,000 to 108,000.