We attended the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Mid Ohio this past weekend. This is our annual vacation, as the track is about an hour from our home. It was our first NASCAR race in 2014. It’s not the only ‘stand alone’ race we’ve been to. We also attended the Xfinity and ARCA race at Kentucky that same year. We have also been to Eldora for the Truck race. I personally believe that stand alone races are a great way for NASCAR to build their fan base, as long as it is kept affordable for fans. It is also a great way to promote the ‘feeder’ series such as ARCA and K&N, as well as introducing fans to other series like the Trans Am Series, late models, and so on.
Mid Ohio hosts many events thru the year, their biggest being the annual Indy Car race, usually two weeks ahead of the NASCAR Xfinity race. We haven’t attended any of their other events, but would like to.
These are my takeaways from this past weekends event, and why I question the future of stand alone Xfinity and Truck races.
The first year we attended, the midway was full of vendors and the ‘food court’ full of food vendors. There were actually even a couple team trailers in the midway.
This year? Five midway vendors and three food vendors. The track has three food concession stands that are permanent. That’s not counting the bar at the Mid Ohio deck; no food there. And of the five Midway vendors, one was REI, that rents the race scanners, and another was Mid Ohio Driving School.
We camp at races. I personally think there is no better way to enjoy a race than camping with a bunch of race fans. You meet ALL kinds of people. Some are asshats, but most are great people.
So, when we camped in the back of my mother-in-laws van that first race, the tent campground was PACKED. Mid Ohio doesn’t even open the entire tent camping area anymore. Hell, they didn’t even have the portable shower facilities available in the tent campground area this year. They do have a permanent shower facility available on the grounds. The rest of the camping areas seemed pretty full. But Mid Ohio offers season long camping regardless of whether you choose to attend a race event or not.
Mid Ohio does not offer hook ups for electric or water. Not a biggie for us. But this year, I did not see one pump out of the porta potties, and they were bad when we first came in. NOT pleasant, and not our first year experience.. They were on top of that then.
THERE WAS NOT A RACE SPECIFIC TSHIRT AVAILABLE THIS YEAR. All the Mid Ohio merch vendor had was Mid Ohio specific shirts. And a lot of prior year stuff available at discounted prices, from all the events they hold (we got some Vintage Grand Prix glasses real cheap)
I am not sure what the contract is between NASCAR and Mid Ohio, but I see this race dropping off the schedule, which is a shame. Properly marketed, it could be a win/win. A lot of NASCAR fans can’t afford to travel to the big tracks (maybe that is part of the problem, it isn’t supported because it isn’t, it’s an independent track that was successful before including NASCAR). Ohio has a large contingent of NASCAR fans. Not all of them can afford trips to their bucket list tracks.
On the flip side, how many NASCAR fans actually support the lower series? Maybe THAT is the issue to address?
This is totally an opinion piece. But I think it needs to be considered by NASCAR as they work on the series schedule going forward. Everyone has their opinion on how NASCAR can improve. This is just my fan experience.