NASCAR is the most popular racing series in North America. For the fan, there are many reasons to love and follow this sport. The cars, covered in colorful sponsorship, capture our attention as they fly around the track. The drivers are the heroes and villains; each with their own personality and characteristics. Some are hot-headed, arrogant and loud. Others are more reserved, mysterious and calculating. Some, like Danica Patrick, are just plain good looking. Of course, the atmosphere created on and around the tracks on race day is another attraction for fans. The sounds and smells at the track can be intoxicating as one is pulled into the culture of NASCAR.
Yet, being able to get to a race event can be a major challenge. If travel isn’t a challenge, it is likely that for some races the ticket availability and price will be. In NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series, certain races are more popular than others. This means that tickets can be a challenge to get. When available, tickets can be as little as $60 or more than $2000 for higher-end package deals. For the more popular events, as in any sport, average prices increase significantly. Fans may complain about these prices but, in reality, they’re not as high as some other sports.
To put it in perspective, an NHL ticket to a more popular club like Toronto or Boston will run you over $300 on average. An MLB ticket to the Yankees averages well over $200. If basketball is your sport, an NBA finals ticket before a scalper adds their premium will cost at least $150. To keep things race related, the American Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring costs anywhere from $70-$550 for a general ticket. Compared to these sports, NASCAR’s prices are perhaps not as steep as some fans have argued.
According to online ticket sales websites, the following races are the top 5 most expensive, so which Sprint Cup races have the highest average ticket costs?
5 Camping World RV Sales 500, $182
Those not familiar with NASCAR will think of Will Ferrell’s character, Ricky Bobby, when they hear the name Talladega. However, true fans will know that the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama is home of the Camping World RV Sales 500. This race sees competitors make 188 laps around the 2.66 mile track. Notable multi-time winners of this race include Buddy Baker, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. In October 2013, the Camping World RV Sales 500 was won by Jamie McMurray of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. This year sees the race moved up to July.
The Talladega Speedway was opened in 1969 and has a capacity of 78,000, although original seating capacity was placed at 175,000. Excessive speeds and spectacular crashes at Talladega saw NASCAR implement restrictor plates on engines to reduce power outputs. Despite this, fans still get to see some of the best racing of the series here. Ticket prices range as low as $66 and can climb to over $1500, depending on availability. Last year, the average ticket price to see drivers ‘shake and bake’ at Talladega was $182.
4 Irwin Tools Night Race, $192
The Irwin Tools Night Race is held at the famous Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol Tennessee. It is the second of two races held at the track, the first being the Food City 500. The Night Race sees drivers speed around a small half-mile oval 500 times to cover just over 266 miles. Since 1961, many notable drivers have left their mark in this race. Some notable multi-time winners include Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt. For 2014, the race takes place on the 23rd of August.
Opened in 1961, the Bristol Motor Speedway is a favorite among NASCAR fans. The track’s short length means average speeds are under 100mph. This is more than compensated by the steep banking and high congestion which results in a lot of contact between cars. With a 165,000 seat capacity and one of the loudest experiences in NASCAR, tickets to this event are often very hard to come by. Prices range from around $100 to as much as $400 per ticket from official sources. Of course, demand can drive up prices and tickets to the Irwin Tools Night Race in 2013 averaged $192.
3 Kobalt Tools 400, $210
One of the newer races in the Sprint Cup series, the Kobalt Tools 400, was introduced in 1998. The race sees drivers cover a little over 400 miles in 267 laps of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In its short history, the Kobalt Tools 400 has been dominated by a few drivers. Multiple winners of this race include Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards. Together, these four drivers have won 11 of the 16 races. What makes this race unique is that winners receive a belt instead of a cup. This type of prize is linked to Las Vegas’ history as a fight town. For the 2014 season, the competition has changed its name to the Kobalt 400 and will be held on March 9th.
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway was opened in 1971 and has a capacity of 142,000. The track spectators see today is the result of a massive 1995 refurbishment. NASCAR races now take place on a 1.5 mile asphalt track with 20 degree banking. These changes have seen unofficial qualifying speeds of 185 mph and greater being achieved. In addition to the actual racing, fans at the Kobalt 400 can enjoy getting closer to their favorite cars and drivers thanks to increased access and designated zones put in place after the refurbishment. All of this makes the Kobalt 400 ticket very popular. Prices range from as little as $60 to nearly $1600 for a VIP package. Overall, the average ticket price comes in at $210.
2 AAA Texas 500, $241
Previously known as the Dickies 500, the AAA Texas 500 is held at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. The race is always held on the first weekend in November. The Texas 500 is a 334 lap event during which drivers cover 501 miles. It has been held 9 times since 2005 and has been dominated by a few drivers. Combined, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart have won this race 7 of the 9 times. One of the more famous scenes from this competition occurred in 2010 when Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon got into fight after crashing early in the race.
The Texas Motor Speedway can hold 190,000 spectators, making it the second largest NASCAR track. Being an oval with a length of 1.5 miles, cars can regularly qualify with speeds near 200 mph although race speeds are significantly lower, averaging between 140-160 mph. Tickets range from around $144 to over $2400. The high end tickets give access to the infield and a space for RV parking for several days. It is no surprise these tickets can command an average price of $241.
1 Daytona 500, $253
The Dayton 500 is often referred to as the Super Bowl of American racing. Race enthusiasts consider this to be ‘the’ race of the year. Held at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, this race has become the icon of NASCAR competition. As well as being the first Sprint Cup race of the season, the Daytona 500 packs the biggest purse at $19.3 million. To get a piece of this prize money, drivers complete 200 laps and 500 miles of the tri-oval track. With 7 wins to his name, Richard Petty is the winningest driver at Daytona. Other notable multi-race winners include Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon. In 2013, Jimmie Johnson won the race and claimed more than $1.5 million in prize money. One of the most notable, and sad, events to occur at the track in recent time was the death of famed driver Dale Earnhardt in 2001. On the final lap of the race, Earnhardt’s car spun out and struck the wall at 160 mph.
The Daytona International Speedway has a capacity of nearly 168,000. It has been renovated numerous times, most recently to improve the fan experience. Spectators can get close to their favorite cars and drivers and have access to a variety of food, beverage and entertainment venues. The most expensive ticket for the Daytona 500 is the $1885 VIP Pass. This gives fans access to the Sprint Tower for four days of competition at Daytona. Included in the price are food, parking, gifts, celebrity appearances and pre-race access to certain areas of the track. Of course, the popularity of this event means even regular tickets can be expensive. Depending on availability, Daytona 500 tickets have an average cost of $253.
In comparison with the biggest events in other sporting competitions, NASCAR looks to be one of the best values. While the average ticket price to the popular races can seem a bit steep, it’s a purchase that willll give you a NASCAR experience which Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly never could. Shake and Bake.