In defense of NASCAR

Over the years, some readers have expressed opinions ranging from baffled confusion to undisguised contempt over the space, time and attention devoted in this newspaper to coverage of motorsport activities at Sonoma Raceway, which lies just south of our fair city, on the northern shore of San Pablo Bay, and which only became unclogged with NASCAR weekend traffic late on Sunday.

Why, some people have asked, do we lavish attention on a sport with such an ostensibly-high carbon footprint, such hideously-loud sound pollution and such gridlocking impact on local roads and highways?

It’s a fair question, and in the immediate aftermath of the annual NASCAR circus, we’ve decided it’s a good time to address the question that no doubt lingers on more than a few local minds.

First, a few facts, courtesy of Forbes magazine:

According to Forbes, one in three adults – 75 million people – are NASCAR fans, roughly 40 percent of whom are women. NASCAR has become the No. 1 spectator sport in the country, and 17 of the top 20 most attended sporting events in the United States are NASCAR events, which are broadcast in 150 countries. Only the NFL has more TV viewers than NASCAR. Throw in all other forms of motor racing, and you have a sport with unprecedented popularity.

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