The global pandemic that swept across the world in early 2020 sent people into quarantine and shut down most businesses. The sport’s world, including motorsports, also shut down. NASCAR was the first to get back on track, however, and others followed later in the year.
The 2020 NASCAR season was successfully concluded in November with the crowning of a popular champion. While the races were all completed, only a few had fans, and those were limited in number. Fans purchasing tickets have always been a big revenue stream for the sport, but that stream was barely a trickle last season. There was still TV money, but with empty seats there is little doubt NASCAR’s bottom line suffered.
How much NASCAR’s bottom line suffered in 2020 though remains a question that may never be answered. NASCAR and its parent company International Speedway Corporation merged in 2019 and went private. This means of course no shareholder calls, nor any earnings reports.
This season NASCAR has returned to near normal. Fans are once again in the seats, and NASCAR is running a normal schedule. How the sport is doing financially is still a mystery. However, Formula 1 is publicly held through Liberty Media
F1 held seven races in the second quarter of this year. That’s compared to no races in Q2 for 2020, which was pretty much the norm for all of motorsports. At the seven races held this year, there were a limited number of fans allowed based on local government guidelines. But, while there were fans none were allowed in the paddock (the garage and infield area to American fans) and there was no hospitality, something sponsors rely on, and normally pay big money for.
Despite those challenges however, revenue increased for F1 in the second quarter thanks to growth in race promotion, media rights and sponsorship fees. Media rights fees were increased as the sport saw an increase in TV subscription revenue. Of course, in the second quarter of 2020 no races were held, so really there was nowhere to go but up for F1.
The earnings report said that $501 million was generated in Q2 with $308 million distributed between the 10 teams. There was also a $36 million loss. In Q2 last year, with no races, there was $24 million in income with a loss of $122 million and no team was paid.
Looking at F1’s earnings before the pandemic: In Q2 2019 the sport earned $620 million, showing a shortfall between Q2 of 2019, and Q2 of 2021 of $119 million. Considering the lack of fans at some races, the Q2 2021 results show that F1 is on a healthy road to recovery.
While NASCAR isn’t a public entity, one of the companies that owns two of the tracks NASCAR races on is. Dover Motorsports Inc. owns Dover international Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway.
The Company held a NASCAR triple-header weekend at Dover International Speedway in May and a NASCAR triple-header weekend, which included the return of NASCAR Cup Series racing to the Nashville market, at Nashville Superspeedway in June.
Dover Motorsports Inc. reported a second quarter 2021 revenue of $49,896,000. In all NASCAR held a total of 32 races across all three of its top touring series in Q2, six of those at tracks owned by Dover Motorsports Inc. That leaves 26 events held across NASCAR, most of them with an unlimited number of fans.
It doesn’t take too much to figure out that with the number of races NASCAR has held, their earnings are most likely on par with those of F1. Meaning NASCAR too, is on its own healthy road to recovery.
With the pandemic numbers rising once again, NASCAR, and all motorsports including F1, could face a loss of fans at races again. NASCAR has put some restrictions in place again, but not on the number of fans. However, as long as there are cars racing on a track, the financial health of all motorsports, led by NASCAR and F1, should remain on an upward trajectory.