The White-Zone: Atlanta race fans must drop the excuses and go to the race

“The white-zone is for immediate loading and unloading…” and it’s time Atlanta race fans drop the excuses and start loading into the track.

Let me just start off by acknowledging Atlanta Motor Speedway is not alone in attendance issues. In fact, it’s almost across the board. Percentage-wise, Atlanta probably fills more seats than Indianapolis. However, the issues surrounding attendance at most tracks are the on-track product. Atlanta is unique in its attendance issues.

Atlanta has a reputation for being a lousy sports town. Basically, the only sport people in the Atlanta area care about is college football. The Atlanta Falcons are consistently one of the top teams in the NFC South and could very well make a deep playoff run this season. However, the Georgia Dome is rarely sold out. The Atlanta Braves won 14 straight division titles from 1991 to 2005, five National League pennants and the World Series in 1995, but they couldn’t sell out playoff games during that run. The only series this season that packed Turner Field was when the Braves played the Yankees, and there were far more Yankee fans. The Atlanta Hawks finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but Philips Arena was toward the bottom of NBA attendance. I should also mention that Atlanta has been host to two failed NHL franchises, the Flames (now the Calgary Flames) and the Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets) because of attendance issues.

Atlanta sports fans are also notorious for coming up with all sorts of excuses for not going to an event. I’ve heard because it’s “too cold,” it’s “too hot,” “I had a party to attend” and my personal favorite, “I’ve still not forgiven William The Conquerer for The Invasion of 1066.” Okay, the last one I made up, but I’ve heard the rest of these on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio channel 90 over the years.

Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. has played host to four of the 10 coldest games in NFL history. The Packers fans not only don’t use the cold as an excuse to stay home, they’ll even get painted up and pack the stands when the temperature is penguin house. The “it’s too cold” excuse is laughable to those who grew up in places like New England where it only warms up two days out of 365 (a slight hyperbole).

I also don’t think you can use the “it’s too hot” excuse when you live in a temperate place like Atlanta. Now I live in Knoxville, Tenn., but the weather patterns between Knoxville and Atlanta are very similar.

I know it seems like I’m nitpicking and picking on Atlanta. Nitpicking perhaps, but I’m not saying all this to be mean. I’ve said everything I’ve said because I really believe Atlanta Motor Speedway is close to being axed off the schedule. If the Atlanta sports fans continue to drag their feet and use these excuses to not attend the races, you eventually won’t have a home track to see the Sprint Cup Series. Knowing Bruton Smith has wanted to put a second Sprint Cup race in Las Vegas, the lack of support from the Atlanta populace will tell him that you don’t mind not having a Sprint Cup race in your area.

Do your part and go to the track in February if you want Atlanta Motor Speedway to continue existing. If y’all start packing the track, NASCAR will begin to seriously consider moving your race to an ideal date. But if you’d rather stay home and complain about the race weekend being too cold or too hot, don’t be shocked to wake up one day and read online that Atlanta has lost its Sprint Cup race.

I don’t want to see Atlanta Motor Speedway disappear. I consider it my second home track and it’s been home to some of the best finishes in NASCAR history. But you must understand that the Southeastern United States is the most saturated race market in the world. From Knoxville, there are eight tracks within a few hours driving distance. As such, it’s important for each track in the South to have a solid local base to fill the seats. With Atlanta being the third largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States, that shouldn’t be hard to accomplish.

My plane is about to take off, so I must wrap this up. Until next time, I’ll leave you with this fact. May 29 is officially designated as “International Put a Pillow on Your Fridge Day.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."

6 COMMENTS

  1. I’m a race fan in Atlanta. A few years back I went to the race every time it was here. You can blame us fans all you want. It doesn’t change the fact that us fans in Atlanta feel slighted (to put it politely) by NASCAR. We used to have the last race of the season which was kinda cool. They took that away with the Chase. For a while we had a race the weekend of Halloween. That was still pretty good so I still went. Then they took that away. The gave us Labor Day weekend as a consolation prize when they took away our second race and dropped us to one. Now as of last year they moved the race here in Atlanta to the last week in February. I stopped going. I guess it’s my fault and all the people like me that see this chain of changes the way I do. NASCAR doesn’t give a rats behind about the fans in Atlanta. We are too close to their prized Charlotte and too close to the monster Talladega. I think they would just prefer to stop racing here but they can’t just do it so they intentionally caused this slow death of this track. We are the biggest market in the Southeast and this is how they treat us. Frankly I’ve had enough of NASCAR’s antics and they can stick it. I’m not paying $115 for a ticket in February to freeze my butt off just “to be a good fan”.

    So there you go…blame me. I got big shoulders. I can take it…but I’ll spend my money where it’s appreciated.

    • I couldn’t agree more.. moving our single race even EARLIER in the season than the traditional March date is the last straw.. NA$CAR knows full well thatmove will drop attendance even FURTHER at AMS so they can get it off the sched and move one of SMS’s dates to an ISC track.. for YEARS I attended those freeze fests that were the norm when it was still AIR & still an actual OVAL too.. just no way folks are willing to sit in that kind of cold for a 500mi race.. BIG difference in how long that takes compared to a stupid football game.. what is that, maybe 2 hrs?.. NA$CAR is done with AMS.. just like a lot of folks are done with NA$CAR

      • Fans were not going to AMS on Labor Day. Fans weren’t going to AMS in October. Fans weren’t going to AMS on the final race.

        Atlanta has a notorious reputation for being a lousy sports town.

        • Tucker – The Atlanta fans were packed into Atlanta Motor Speedway in the mid 2000’s before they removed seats. The economy changed things for all tracks. However, we in Atlanta have seen them move our track date several times. It is now in the winter. The 2015 race was miserably cold. And please don’t compare us to Green Bay. They only have one sports choice there, and we have several. Plus, they have all the high-tech cold weather gear and we don’t. My NASCAR friends in Atlanta all feel disrespected. We have the worst date in NASCAR.

  2. Funny. You don’t mention how many races at Atlanta you’ve attended in February, March, or November. That’s what I thought. Shut up, little boy.

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