NASCAR and New York City sounds like they don’t go together but they do. There has never been a race inside the boroughs, and that might be impossible to do for a variety of reasons, but there have been races in Long Island and in New Jersey throughout the 50s and 60s.
New York City is also the home of 2019 NASCAR Hall of Famer and current Fox analyst Jeff Gordon. Gordon was speaking for Nationwide at an event for the Financial Planning Association of Long Island and according to Newsday, Gordon really wants to see a short track built in the NYC area for NASCAR racing. To the point where Gordon would consider coming back to race one more time.
Gordon’s ideal solution is a short track built in New Jersey, near the Meadowlands. And Gordon feels there’s ample space for a short track that would also appease NASCAR fans who want more short tracks.
“Going down to Teterboro (Airport) from time to time, going by the Meadowlands all the time and seeing all the things they’re building that are all sports-related, I just wish we could have figured out a way to get a race track there, especially a short track,” he said. “You look at the schedule and we desperately want another short track.”
“Man, I would give anything,” Gordon said. “That might even bring me back to driving if we had a track at the Meadowlands.”
Surely, there’s a debate as to whether or not a NASCAR race in the surrounding NYC area would work. Prevailing logic says it wouldn’t and it definitely couldn’t work inside Manhattan where the track would be too big and too expensive to build. Plus, everyone living in the surrounding area would complain that the cars were too noisy for the city. The closest NASCAR came at racing inside the five boroughs was a potential track in Staten Island about 15 years ago that never materialized. International Speedway Corporation bought the site in 2004 and sold it in 2013 without doing anything to the property.
There will probably be less opposition to building a track in New Jersey than New York but that’s not a guarantee either. There was a proposed Formula 1 street circuit in Weehauken along the Hudson waterfront that would have overlooked Manhattan that never happened. The only racing currently in NYC is Formula E, the FIA’s electric racing series, racing a street circuit in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood.
Government red tape aside, a NASCAR track in New Jersey could be successful if utilized properly. You’re not going to see many New Yorkers walking down the street wearing a Jimmie Johnson shirt and the market is one of the lowest rated markets for NASCAR races. But in a city of eight million people, that not only brings down the rating but means that just in total number of viewers, more people probably watch in NYC compared to Charlotte, NC just because the population is ten times more. Surely there are 50,000 or so NASCAR fans, not including fans traveling from other areas who may like to vacation in NYC who would go see a race.
In reality, this seems like an optimistic pipe dream that has a one in a million chance of happening. It would be interesting to see how this would work but it’s probably best to look at other ways to improve interest in NASCAR.