The Numbers from Sunday That Proves NASCAR’s Fall in Ratings When Compared to F1’s US GP

Published 10/27/2021, 2:35 AM EDT
May 2, 2021; Kansas City, Kansas, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski (2) leads the field at the start of the race at Kansas Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports


Traditionally, Formula One has ruled the global domain, particularly in Europe. Meanwhile, America has its own motorsport past-time, namely NASCAR and IndyCar. However, F1 broke into the American market as early as 1958, but only rose in prominence by 2000.

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After the Indianapolis debacle of 2005, many feared that F1’s foray onto American soil was dead in the water. However, all of that appeared to change with the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Since then, the motorsport giant has been steadily gaining popularity. Though it still had a long way to go before it could challenge the likes of NASCAR and IndyCar.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 24, 2021 General view of the fans in the grandstand during the race Pool via REUTERS/Darron Cummings

At last weekend’s US Grand Prix and Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas, there were two different stories. On Sunday, COTA witnessed an astounding 140,000-strong crowd. On the flip side of the coin, the crowd at the Kansas Speedway was scant and had a TV rating of 1.26 rating for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 with 2.105 million viewers.

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Previously, the annual F1 race barely impacted NASCAR’s attendance numbers, even during conflicting weekends. This was the trend until the 2019 United States Grand Prix.

What triggered F1’s popularity and how can NASCAR get back its numbers?

Haas F1 team boss Guenther Steiner said, “Formula One grew very quickly in the last two years, I would say. In the beginning, when we started (in 2016) it was a lot smaller and now it seems … why we didn’t see that coming?”

One solid reason for the resurgence could be the popular Netflix docuseries ‘Drive to Survive.’ It is also worth mentioning that ESPN reported an average of 916,000 viewers in the first 15 races of 2021. With the docuseries serving as a great introduction to F1, it also helped earn new fans to watch the actual sport. With a second American race on the horizon and talk of a third, F1 seems to be rooting itself in the continent.

On a different note, defending champion Chase Elliott made some observations about ‘Drive to Survive’. According to him, the series has chosen to portray F1 in a “very respectful, very intense way.”

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He said, “It’s like, ‘This isn’t funny; this is legit. And then the next thing was a comedy skit that came out for NASCAR (the Netflix comedy series “The Crew”) that just kind of further confirmed the outside opinion that we just turn left for fun and there’s nothing else to it.”

This could potentially pose a threat to NASCAR, as it adds yet another broadcasting conflict. In addition to Austin, F1 also races at Canada and Mexico, and two more potential races may be tricky.

Admittedly, IndyCar has never been as popular as its stock car counterpart. However, with F1 throwing its hat in the ring, will it unseat NASCAR as the go-to sport for America?

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Oct 24, 2021; Austin, TX, USA; Red Bull Racing Honda driver Max Verstappen (33) of Team Netherlands (left) and Red Bull Racing Honda driver Sergio Perez (11) of Team Mexico (center) and Honda Chief Executive Masashi Yamamoto (right) celebrate on the podium after the running of the United States Grand Prix Race at Circuit of the Americas. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin noted that the race itself was not the issue. So, he was baffled by the low turnout at the Texas Motor Speedway. Conversely, F1 reportedly boasted of the ‘biggest crowd in history’ for the COTA F1 race.

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Dhruv George

12322 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Motorsports author for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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