Risking Safety For Ratings....Do We Go Too Far?
Those involved with sweeps ratings periods in television know that they may be asked to do really crazy or silly stunts so they can grasp that coveted rating by Nielsen Media Research.
This month, at the IRL closing season race, it might appear they took a risk on drivers to bet the brand on ratings. 34 drivers raced on a track of 1.5 miles....the highest driver roster for the entire 2011 IRL series this year, on one of the smallest tracks. All while trying to revive IRL from a decrease in fan base and ratings. Did they go too far?
In 1911, the AAA, American Automobile Association, sanctioned that the size of the track needed to correlate with a 400 foot average space between cars. On a 2.5 mile track, such as Indianapolis, that would allow for 33 cars, which is what they race year after year. On a 1.5 mile track, such as Las Vegas Motor Speedway, that would allow for 20 cars.
If you look at the recent history of average cars for a season on a 1.5 mile track, you will notice a gradual increase, with a test of sorts in 2008, setting the pace for the continual increase up to this 2011 season.
In 2006, 1.5 mile tracks raced an average of 19 cars.
In 2007, 1.5 mile tracks raced an average of 20 cars.
A big jump in 2008, for 1.5 mile tracks bumped the average cars to 26.
In 2009, 1.5 mile tracks slightly decreased the average cars to 23.
Back to a bigger increase in 2010, 1.5 mile tracks raced an average 27 cars.
This past year, in 2011, IRL raced an average 31 cars on a 1.5 mile track.
How would you, as a driver, feel when you are asked to change it up from a race that is recommended to be 20 cars to 34 cars? Danica Patrick, along with other drivers, admitted in interviews on ESPN, that they were scared going into this race.Continued on the next page