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Can You Trust the Latest Gen-Z NASCAR Poll?

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

The Morning Consult recently surveyed 1,002 13-26-year-olds, and it said that NASCAR is quite popular amongst Generation Z. According to the poll, 36% of Gen Z consider themselves at least a “Casual” NASCAR fan, more than Formula One. This surprised many, but, is the poll actually accurate?

  • NASCAR is notorious for having a much older fanbase, but, this poll suggests that NASCAR is popular amongst younger audiences as well. NASCAR has made a push to reach a younger audience in recent years.
  • However, is this poll accurate? There is plenty of data to suggest that NASCAR is not that popular amongst younger audiences.
  • Fans loved the results of the poll, but, they were also skeptical. Being that popular among the youth seems like the exact opposite of the general trend of NASCAR’s fanbase.

Looking at the Poll Itself

According to pro.morningconsult.com, this poll was conducted as an online survey. In this particular poll, there is one issue that stands out.

How do you define a “Casual” or an “Avid” fan? Those are both relative terms that could have very different meanings depending on the individual.

Is a “Casual” fan someone who watches one race per month? Is it someone who just knows that it exists and may look at news from time to time? Is it someone who watched the Cup Series only, but does not care about any other series?

If the question was, “How often do you watch NASCAR?”, it would be easier to see how many of those fans are translating to viewers on Sunday. Morning Consult did make a hypothesis on the sports viewing habits of members of Gen Z, so, that question could have been asked overall about watching sports. This poll was not NASCAR specific, so, it’s understandable why they did not go into deep detail about NASCAR specifically.

On top of that, some data calls into question whether or not 1/3 of Gen-Z watches NASCAR.

TV Ratings Data

First off, according to explodingtopics.com, there are 68.6 million members of Gen-Z in the United States. If 36% of Gen-Z members are NASCAR fans, that’s just short of 25 million. NASCAR’s most viewed race in 2023 was the Daytona 500 with just over 8 million viewers.

That’s before factoring in data on demographics. If there are 25 million NASCAR fans amongst Gen-Z, then why were the vast majority of them not tuning into the biggest race of the year?

As far as an average race, the Homestead-Miami Race in the fall of 2023 brought in 142,000 viewers between the ages of 18-34 according to Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch. Indeed, these TV ratings do not factor in viewers under 18, but, still, that’s less than 1% of the supposed 25 million NASCAR fans that exist.

If these 25 million NASCAR fans are out there, then why are they not watching the races? Why is attendance still far below its’ height of the 1990s and 2000s? Why do you not see officially licensed NASCAR merchandise front and center at the supermarket or on Amazon?

Maybe Gen-Z is more interested in NASCAR than originally thought. However, it’s obviously not proportionally translating into viewership, attendance, or merchandise sales.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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