Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.

Connor Zilisch Says NASCAR Fan Experience is a “County Fair” Compared to F1…Is He Right?

Article Contents

Article Contents

Let us know what you think

Join the conversation on socials

Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts

What’s Happening?

Connor Zilisch raised some eyebrows this week with his comments in an Autoweek article. In the article, he compared the fan experience at NASCAR and Formula One races, saying that an F1 fan experience made the NASCAR experience, “look like we were going to the county fair, almost”. Is there something that NASCAR can learn from the Formula One fan experience?

  • Connor Zilisch is one of NASCAR’s hottest young prospects, but, he has been open that his initial goal was to race in Formula One. However, he eventually turned to stock cars.
  • Zilisch is currently in the midst of a development contract with Trackhouse. This includes a variety of races across the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Craftsman Truck Series, IMSA, and the CARS Tour. He has taken the racing world by storm this season with class wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring alongside a pole and a top-5 finish in the Truck Series at COTA.
  • Fans generally tend to agree with Zilisch’s comments. However, many point to how much it costs for fans to attend an F1 race versus a NASCAR race.

F1 vs NASCAR: Supply, Demand, and Overall Reach

It’s no secret that Formula One has significantly more pomp, circumstance, glitz, and glamour surrounding the races than NASCAR does. Look at the Formula One race at Las Vegas from last fall as an example: A-list stars across the starting grid, massive displays, and just overall pomp and circumstance.

There are two major reasons for that. The first is overall supply and demand, and the second is the overall reach of Formula One.

Supply and Demand

NASCAR’s top series has 38 races per year across the United States. If an American motorsports fan wants to head to a NASCAR race, chances are there are at least one, and potentially multiple races happening within reasonable driving distance throughout the year. As a result, each event has awe and rarity around it since there is another race the next week, potentially within driving distance. The article below talking about potential NASCAR road trips shows just how close some of these races are to each other.

Compare that to Formula One, which has 24 races, and rarely visits the same country twice in the same season. Even in the United States, which has 3 races, each Formula One race takes place in 3 completely different regions of the country. If Formula One is in town, it’s that country’s one opportunity to showcase itself on a worldwide stage, and its fans’ one true opportunity every year to attend a race.

The lack of supply naturally drives up ticket prices. Most NASCAR tracks offer discounted deals for fans to save money on tickets, and fans can often buy tickets for less than $100. Compare that to Formula One, where the cheapest current race day ticket available on SeatGeek for a race in the U.S. is $327 for the Miami Grand Prix.

The cheapest ticket available at Circuit of the Americas for the United States Grand Prix is a $398 3-day general admission pass. Compare that to NASCAR, where at Darlington, for example, can buy a season ticket package including 2 Cup Series races and 3 lower-tier series races for between $198 and $240 per ticket.

Overall Reach

It’s also important to note who F1 reaches compared to NASCAR. Formula One races all over the world, which means that Formula One is considered the premier, most popular motorsport throughout most of the world. NASCAR, on the other hand, has yet to see its premier series race outside of the continental U.S.

While NASCAR is the biggest current motorsport in the United States, it isn’t even in the same stratosphere as Formula One in terms of worldwide popularity. Whether or not Formula One takes over NASCAR as the most popular motorsport in the U.S. remains to be seen, but, it seems unlikely for now.

When combining these two elements, we see that Formula One simply appeals to more people around the world than NASCAR, which means more eyeballs, more TV contracts, bigger, worldwide brands, and more money flowing in. Zilisch even admitted that he isn’t sure NASCAR has the money to do some of the things F1 does.

Can NASCAR Still Take Things From F1?

With all of that being said, that doesn’t mean NASCAR can’t take ideas from Formula One. We’ve already seen NASCAR create a Netflix documentary, inspired by the success of “Drive to Survive”. NASCAR also brings big-time celebrities to races, with one recent example being Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at the Daytona 500.

As far as the fan experience goes, NASCAR probably can’t exactly replicate Formula One since Formula One simply has a better opportunity to generate more revenue thanks to the factors we already mentioned. With more money means more resources to spend on other things.

However, if a fan is willing to spend the extra money for a premier experience, there shouldn’t be anything stopping them from doing so. Luxury suites and VIP experiences are one example of that.

NASCAR can also reach different markets to create some of that newness that comes with visiting a market for the first time. They can do this internationally, but, we’ve seen how new fans react to Cup Series races in new locations. Gateway and Nashville were both sellouts with Road America bringing in over 100,000 people. Use the rarity of the event to create more interest surrounding it, which, in turn, adds some value to the experience.

Still, NASCAR and Formula One are largely playing in different ballparks. As a result, they will never be exactly the same.

Army Air Force Exchange Veterans Desktop

Let us know what you think

Join the conversation on socials

Share this:

Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts