This writer has made it incredibly clear on Twitter that despite watching his 25th season of NASCAR during the 2019 season; he has never been to a NASCAR national series race. He lives outside of Buffalo, New York, 130 miles northwest of Watkins Glen International. In order to get a ticket for the race, the track is asking an expensive amount of money that one person could not afford. As it will be explained, the track is well over its brethren, including its sister track Sears Point International Raceway. Watkins Glen is insane.
The seating at Watkins Glen International is split up into eleven different grandstands, all on the northern end of the track. In turns 10 and 11 are the Sir Jackie Stewart grandstand and a general admission area. On the front stretch are five more, the Pit Terrace, Ninety, Frontstretch, Bodine, and Riesbeck. From turn 1 and turn 2 are the Seneca and Argetsinger. Through the esses are the Esses Party Deck, Esses Grandstand and another General Admission. From turn 4 on, there is nothing.
The problem is the cost of these grandstands. The General Admission stands are $120 for the whole weekend, which would make sense, if the Sunday only ticket was not $110 by itself. The other stands are $130 for the whole weekend and $120 for the Sunday race. A $10 difference does not make sense. For a partial view of the entire track, including an ISM Vision board almost everywhere, $110-$120 is asking an awful lot. You can camp at the southern end of the track for as little as $220.
Think about the demographic here. A bunch of 20-something people want to see a race. Fresh out of or in college, getting the ability to blow $120 to spend a Sunday at Watkins Glen reeks of poor financial decision making. This writer made a lot of those during his years in college and is in debt himself. Are you really going to attract more people if it requires an arm and a leg to attend the race for one person, much less more?
The website is a little deceptive. When you click on a grandstand, it says tickets from $20-130. However, when you click further, you realize the $20 is only for kids. Teens get $25. So it jumps from $25 to $110. There is not any change in the seating. This really should be specified up front, because it could be argued it makes it sound like prices are different depending on the seat.
Now, Sears Point International Raceway, the other true road course on the schedule, has adult tickets at $49 base. Some tickets are $69 and $89. Some are more than all of that. However, unlike Watkins Glen, whose stands are limited to one part of the track, Sonoma/Sears Point are all over the place. There are seats in turn 7, turn 11, turn 2, turn 12, turn 1, turns 3 and 4. Not only are tickets cheaper, but the seating is more diversified. It does not make sense. Sonoma’s prices are so much better for a similar experience.
Watkins Glen needs to consider that they are charging a lot for someone of this writer’s demographic to attend a race at his home track.
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