NASCAR Economics 101: Bleak News in Atlanta; An Update on GM

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst IMarch 9, 2009

There's not much good news in the economy these days. And for NASCAR, it's not getting any better.

Depending on who you ask, the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway sold between 70,000 and 90,000 tickets. Either way, the race didn't sell out. Worse yet, overnight TV ratings are reportedly down.

"Atlanta has had a tough time," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "You'd think that this place would do really well. I love it. I love coming here...I would hate to see them lose a race, which I ain't saying they will...It is a great race track with a lot of history."

"This place should be packed," teammate Jeff Gordon said.

In an attempt to bring more people into the seats, Atlanta held a promotion in which they sold tickets for the price of whatever driver won the Daytona 500. It ended up being Matt Kenseth in the No. 17.

"We worked hard to sell two seats and four seats," Ed Clark of AMS said. "We had to start to think a little differently (for this race), and I enjoy that. It’s fun."


In other grim news, General Motors still appears to be a dying company on the verge of bankruptcy.

They are seeking nearly $17 billion more in federal funding.

President Obama's special task force, which will also meet with Chrysler executives, made a visit to one of Detroit's failing three. The trip was called a "constructive glimpse" by executives.

“We were pleased to host the task force so they could experience firsthand the new products and technologies that are an integral part of GM’s near- and long-term competitiveness,” GM said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to support the efforts of the task force as they move quickly to address their critical tasks.”

Speedway Motorsports, Inc. owner Bruton Smith said "the country owes (General Motors)," talking about the sacrifices the company made during World War II.

"Every time you turn on the news, you're petrified," he said. "When I sit there watching the news, I'm begging to turn the channel so I'm not so depressed."

NASCAR's newest driver-owner, Tony Stewart, doesn't believe we should be depending on the government.

"I think it's at the stage now where we can't rely on the government to do it all for us," the former Cup champion said. "We have to take an active role ourselves. I'm not saying as drivers or NASCAR. I'm saying our country together. We've got to get off our wallets and go back being Americans again and living life the way we used to."

"We’re not immune to what’s happening in our economy," fellow Cup driver Carl Edwards said this past weekend.

And sadly, the rest of us aren't, either.


Thanks to The Detroit Free Press, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ESPN and The Canadian Press for the information and quotes used in this piece.