Racing looks the same on the surface. It is dusty, deafening and nobody talks much about carbon footprints. But television ratings have declined, race attendance has dropped by as much as 20 percent and bankruptcies by automakers have affected racing teams.
NASCAR and its racing teams have laid off 1,000 people and now /*General Motors*/ and /*Chrysler*/ are in bankruptcy. As sponsors cut back, NASCAR teams expect they will have to follow suit. Some have shipped drivers to smaller circuits. A.J. Allmendinger, who drives a Dodge for Richard Petty Motorsports, does not have full funding for the rest of the year.
But even as people talk about the hard times, the recreational vehicles are pulling in, preparing to make a weekend of it. In other years, the hill above the track would be full by mid morning, but spaces remain.
That is good news for Dr. Robert Heffner from Seattle. He paid $500,000 in his 42-foot Dutch Star, which has more comforts than the average home. He may visit as many as seven races this year, with his wife, father, daughter and two sons.
"It is a good way to spend a weekend," he said. "And, once you see the strategy in these races, you're hooked; nothing beats waking up in this to the sound of all that horsepower."
"What about Yosemite," ABC7 asked.
"That's nice, too," Heffner said. "If you're around, tonight, come back," he added. "I'm cooking rib-eye steaks."