Views from the Grandstands

Kay Bell | December 01, 2010

Well, Santa, that’s it for Christmas 2010. Have a safe journey as you race around the globe. Keep an eye out for any debris along the route. We’ll have cookies and milk waiting for you.

Kay Bell is an Austin, Texas-based writer. When she’s not yelling at her television during NASCAR races, she blogs about taxes and other financial topics at


IndyCar ratings up While NASCAR has been bemoaning its television ratings the last few years, IndyCar says its second season on Versus was up 16.2 percent in 2010 over the cable sports network’s 2009 ratings. Even better news for the series is that its race ratings are up nearly 40 percent in the coveted 18-to-34 male demographic. OK, so the raw numbers are anemic; IndyCar races on Versus this year averaged 366,000 viewers for 12 telecasts. And the open-wheel series’ TV numbers are still well below where they were when IndyCar ran on ESPN. But ESPN’s parent, Disney/ABC, offered some better news for IndyCar. The broadcast network televised four IndyCar events, including the Indianapolis 500, and averaged 2.696 million viewers. Ratings for those four ABC races were up 2.3 percent from the 2.636 million viewers who tuned in for the 2009 races.

Europe’s F1 tracks face global competition The world’s most popular racing series, Formula 1, swears it will race in my hometown of Austin, Texas, in 2012. I’ll believe it when I hear the engines start. F1’s commercial manager Bernie Ecclestone has always taken his title to heart; if a venue isn’t commercially viable, he moves the race. And while Austin might indeed see some races, if they don’t produce the kind of money Ecclestone likes, he’ll find a track that will. Ecclestone confirmed that approach in a recent interview with Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, where he acknowledged that the future of historic F1 venues like Silverstone, England, and Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, remain uncertain amid the ongoing surge of new venues and a simultaneous push by teams to cap the schedule at 20 races. Ecclestone said the Belgian Grand Prix in particular was “absolutely” threatened by new venues with big bucks behind them. “If it wasn’t supported by the government over there, it probably would go because they wouldn’t be able to afford it,” he said of Spa. “It’s the same with the British Grand Prix.”

Danica dates Mark your calendars, Danica Patrick fans. She will drive the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in the first four NASCAR Nationwide Series events of 2011. Those are the Daytona, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Bristol races. At press time, Danica’s NASCAR schedule beyond that was not determined, but the Dale Earnhardt Jr. team indicated that Patrick’s schedule next year will be similar to her 13-race rookie season this year.

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