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Why Brickyard 400 Winner Newman Is Only $423,033 Richer

Douglas A. McIntyre

Ryan Newman won only $423,033 for his victory at the Brickyard 400. That would seem to be a low number since it is considered the second major race on the NASCAR circuit, behind the Daytona 500.

The prize money is one indication that NASCAR has become a stepchild to may other sports. Mediocre golfer Brandt Snedeker won third tier PGA event--the Canadian Open-- this weekend and was paid $1 million.

What happened to NASCAR? Attendance in general at NASCAR events is down. A recent article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported "The numbers don’t lie. Speedway Motorsports Inc. — the parent company of Las Vegas Motor Speedway — has watched total revenues, including ticket sales, drop annually for the past five years.

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It may be that fans tend to come  from areas of the country which have been hit harder by the recession and have suffered higher unemployment. But that doesn't explain TV ratings, which seem to be flat to down as well.

Race event-related revenue at Speedway Motorsports’ eight NASCAR tracks has also dropped each year for the past five years except 2011. The venues staging NASCAR races are in markets such as Las Vegas, Atlanta, Charlotte, San Francisco and Dallas. For the first quarter of this year, Concord, N.C.-based Speedway Motorsports continued to show sluggish revenue results. Total revenues for the first three months of 2013 hit $84.2 million, compared to $84.8 million for the same three-month period in 2012.

The revenue movement compared unfavorably to one of the other primary fan supported sports. NFL attendance continues to rise, and so does sales. The Daily Kos recently reported:

The NFL estimated revenue for 2012 is 9.5 billion dollars, dwarfing all other major sports.  It is not exactly hurting for cash. The network that televised it made $245 million in advertising revenue, in about 4 hours. The network commissioner, Roger Goodell, earned $29.5 million dollars in 2012. And the reason his salary is public is because the NFL as a 'non-profit' organization must disclose it on their tax return. Which also means, they pay no federal taxes.

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Ryan Newman is in the wrong business, but it's too late to become a professional golfer or football player now.

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