Monday, July 27, 2015
Gannett Columnists Worry About A Handful Of Confederate Flag Wavers While Brickyard 400 Dies
Like many NASCAR and IMS fans, I stopped attending the Brickyard 400 several years ago after faithfully attending every race for many years after the inaugural race in 1994. In its hey day, Brickyard 400 crowds rivaled attendance at the Indianapolis 500 in its banner years. By the time I stopped attending, motor sports fan interest in the race had already started to wane. I was looking for stories discussing attendance figures for this year's race in the local news media and came up short. Instead, I found two columns written by Indianapolis Star columnists Gregg Doyel and Suzette Hackney, neither of whom know their ass from first base about auto racing, whose sole purpose in covering this year's race was to find any evidence to support caricaturing NASCAR fans as a bunch of white supremacist, Confederate flag-waving bigots. The kowtowing of NASCAR and IMS officials to the political correctness police as of late probably hasn't helped matters and only served to offend many among its most loyal fan base.
Judging from some of the highlights of the race and the video above a race fan posted to YouTube of the start of this year's race, there were probably fewer people at the track this year than in attendance at a regular season Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium. A conservative estimate would be 50,000, while IMS officials would probably argue there were closer to 75,000 there. The truth is probably somewhere in between. What can't be argued is that interest in the race is rapidly declining from the earlier years when 200,000 plus fans regularly showed up on race day. The local media did a lot of hyping and cheerleading for the IMS to help bolster interest in this year's race, focusing on the fact local favorite Jeff Gordon was racing his final race at the track this year before he heads into retirement. Gordon won the inaugural race in 1994 and four others along the way, but yesterday he crashed early in the race and finished next to last, perhaps a sign of where this race's future is headed.