Motorsport News

Should NASCAR Continue Racing on Easter?

Nascar Cup Series Denny Hamlin pack racing at Richmond NKP

Sunday night (March 31) under the lights at Richmond Raceway looked to be well in hand, right before Bubba Wallace sent Kyle Larson sliding down the frontstretch with two laps to go. While the resulting restart controversy has dominated the post-race reflection the last few days, another has emerged given the glaring absence of spectators — and competition for the most part.

Should NASCAR continue the pattern of breaking tradition and racing on holidays? This week Vito Pugliese and Mark Kristl take on the topic in 2-Headed Monster.

There’s a Way to Work Around Holidays

A year ago after NASCAR ran its Easter race at the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track, I argued in this column that NASCAR ought to continue racing on Easter weekend.

The 2023 Easter NASCAR Cup Series ratings were lower than in 2022. Guess what? This year’s race, held at a different venue, wound up with even lower ratings.
That’s not good, but not all is lost. Should NASCAR continue racing on Easter weekend? Yes. However, it should not race on Easter Sunday, it should race on Saturday night instead.

Easter Sunday is a day when families come together, often go to church and share a meal. That does not leave much time for watching a Cup race.

But other major sports play on other holidays. MLB plays on July 4, the NBA plays on Christmas, the NFL plays on Christmas, NHL on New Year’s Day and other holidays often have sporting events on TV.

On Easter Sunday, NASCAR ratings have not resulted in growth for the sport; quite the contrary.

So what is the solution? Saturday – Holy Saturday on the religious calendar – night.
That Saturday night doesn’t have as many activities for people. People are spending Sunday together, not necessarily Saturday night too.

Additionally, racing on Saturday night would allow the fans to attend the race and still have their Sunday free to spend the holiday with their families and friends. Likewise for the folks in the garage – drivers, teams, media, etc. Not racing on Easter weekend either extends the season a week longer or results in a different off weekend. For three straight years, NASCAR has raced on Easter weekend. It wants to top the TV market with high ratings.

Another challenge NASCAR has faced with racing on Easter is date equity. For the stick and ball sports, the Detroit Lions play on Thanksgiving, the Rose Bowl is on Jan. 1 and almost all MLB teams play on July 4.

NASCAR fans disliked the Bristol…

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