NASCAR Most & Least Popular States [MAP]

There is no denying that NASCAR’s popularity has waned over recent years. Just over a decade ago the Daytona 500 would draw 19 million viewers. The 2019 Daytona 500 viewership was just 9 million. By anyone’s standards that is an alarming fall.

People have different views on why the motorsport has failed to join the upper echelons of American sports. Some argue that the retirement of its high profile drivers has had a big impact, with the new generation of drivers failing to break through into mainstream sports fame.

Others claim that money has corrupted the sport and made it an elitist pay-to-play sport. The franchise system has made NASCAR a closed shop.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that NASCAR is losing TV viewers, struggling to fill stands, and being abandoned by sponsors.

NASCAR Popularity by State

While NASCAR scrambles to address its national (and global) popularity problem, we wanted to look at exactly where its core fanbase is. So here’s what we did:

We analyzed Google Trends data to compare NASCAR’s popularity across every state. We then plotted the data on a map to help to visualize the most popular regions across the country.

The numbers are based on proportion of searches rather than total searches, so the population of each state is accounted for in the data.

Here is a full ranking of NASCAR’s popularity by state:

State Search Interest
West Virginia 100
North Carolina 97
South Carolina 84
Iowa 78
Vermont 78
Maine 78
South Dakota 72
Indiana 71
Tennessee 70
Kentucky 67
Delaware 67
Alabama 65
Virginia 64
Wisconsin 64
North Dakota 62
New Hampshire 60
Nebraska 57
Pennsylvania 56
Ohio 56
Georgia 55
Wyoming 54
Michigan 52
Mississippi 49
Kansas 49
Montana 48
Missouri 47
Florida 46
Nevada 44
Minnesota 43
Arkansas 42
Idaho 42
Oklahoma 41
Arizona 41
Connecticut 40
Illinois 36
Maryland 34
Rhode Island 31
Colorado 31
New York 30
New Mexico 30
Oregon 30
Louisiana 28
New Jersey 27
Washington 27
Alaska 27
Utah 26
Massachusetts 26
Texas 25
California 20
Hawaii 13
District of Columbia 11

West Virginia is the so-called ‘NASCAR state’ with the most interest in the motorsport. Surprisingly, there are no active NASCAR tracks in the Mountain State, but that doesn’t seem to dampen the locals’ enthusiasm for the sport.

North Carolina is close behind. The Old North State is probably the the first place most people think of when they think of NASCAR. Firstly, the NASCAR Hall of Fame is located in Charlotte. In addition, the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the fact that the majority of NASCAR teams are based out of Charlotte, or nearby, makes North Carolina the unofficial home of NASCAR for many. North Carolina has also produced more NASCAR champions than any other state, including household names such as Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Dale Jarrett, Junior Johnson, Scott Riggs, Kyle Petty, and Rick Hendrick.

South Carolina, home of Darlington Raceway, follows in third place. With Iowa and Vermont making up the remainder of the top five.

At the other end of the table, District of Columbia and Hawaii are by far the states least interest in NASCAR. California sitting third from the bottom may raise a few eyebrows considering it hosts two Cup races and a number of drivers hail from the Golden State, including 7x champion Jimmie Johnson.

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