Racing has always had a large following. Whether it’s racing on a go-kart track, tuning in to see the Duke boys floor the General Lee in the 1979 to 1985 TV show Dukes of Hazzard, or hearing the “start your engines” announcement that begins the iconic Indy 500, people will always flock to fast cars.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has been going strong for nearly 70 years. Despite its recent hiccup in popularity, at least in terms of attendance, the sport is still going strong, and NASCAR officials remain optimistic about the future.
Even if race attendance continues to drop, NASCAR will have plenty of financial backing over the next few years. According to USA Today, the association recently signed a 10-year, $8.2 billion TV deal with NBC and FOX that runs through 2024.
One NASCAR saving grace has been rookie driver, Chase Elliott, who sprang onto the scene this year and brought in an even younger audience. And for the first time since 2011, a car driven by someone other than Dale Earnhardt Jr. led the way in NASCAR model die-casts sold.
“Chase Elliott’s arrival on the NASCAR scene has been big, and the overwhelming popularity of his first rookie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series die-cast is further proof that race fans relate to him and everything he represents,” said Howard Hitchcock, president of Lionel Racing.
Auto Week reports that Earnhardt Jr. fell to second with his Batman vs Superman number 88 die-cast. Earnhardt Jr. also sold the third, fourth, and ninth-most model cars as well.
Fox Sports states that though Elliott did not win a race in his inaugural Cup season, he did place in the Top 5 ten times and had seventeen Top 10 finishes, racing his way into clinching the 2016 Rookie of the Year honors.
“I’m proud of our season for sure,” said Elliott. “I’m definitely proud to earn the Rookie of the Year honors. It’s been a long season, a lot of ups and downs, but we’re happy to be here and definitely enjoyed racing against those guys for the Rookie of the Year this season.”