Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: Daytona 500 Or Indy 500… Which Is Bigger Now?

Welcome to “Mirror Driving.” Every Wednesday, your favorite columnists sit down and give their opinion about the latest NASCAR news, rumors, and controversy. Love us or hate us, make a comment below and tell us how you feel about what we’ve said!

*This Week’s Participants*:

Amy Henderson “(Mondays / The Big Six & Fridays / Holding A Pretty Wheel & Frontstretch Co-Managing Editor)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/351/
Toni Montgomery “(Frontstretch IndyCar Managing Editor)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/360/
Beth Lunkenheimer “(Frontstretch Co-Managing Editor / NASCAR Truck Series Insider)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/3362/
Phil Allaway “(Tuesdays / Talking NASCAR TV & Frontstretch Newsletter Editor)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/18439/
Summer Bedgood “(Frontstretch NASCAR Senior Writer)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/32577/
Matt Stallknecht (Frontstretch NASCAR & IndyCar Contributor)
Mike Neff “(Mondays / Thinkin’ Out Loud & Tuesdays / Tech Talk & Frontstretch Short track Coordinator)”:https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/1744/

*Which is bigger in America today: the Daytona 500 or the Indy 500?*

Amy: Indy. It has more prestige, more history, more mystique.
Summer: I’m with Amy. It’s the history and prestige that makes it bigger. More non-race watching Americans know the Indy 500 better than the Daytona 500.
Toni: Daytona might get bigger ratings on TV, but I argue the crowd on hand for Indy is bigger. And without Indy, there would be no Daytona to put it in proper historical perspective.
Matt S.: It pains me to say it because I am forever in love with both races (go ahead, judge me), but the Daytona 500 is a much bigger deal today in America. It is one of the toughest races on Earth to win, and it is part of a sport that is much bigger than the Indy 500 is attached to.
Summer: The prestige is much bigger with Indy, though. Admittedly, some idiots think the Indy 500 _is_ NASCAR. But I get the sense that more people know that race as larger than the 500.
Amy: The Indy 500 was shown on the big screen at Charlotte before the Coke 600, and everyone in the garage was watching. If you showed a NASCAR race in the IndyCar garage, I’m not sure most people would give it a glance.
Phil: Some people in open-wheel would watch a NASCAR race. Jenson Button is apparently addicted.
Matt S.: Indy is more important historically. Honestly, I prefer to think of them as 1 and 1a. They are both such storied and incredible spectacles.
Mike N.: The question wasn’t historically more significant. It was more significant in motorsports _today._ Open wheel is on a no name network with decimal point ratings. NASCAR… is in much better shape.
Amy: History is what _makes_ it significant.

Which racetrack holds the most important 500-miler in America right now? Is it Daytona…

Toni: The Indy 500 is not on a no name network. It’s on ABC. And it gets well beyond decimal points ratings.
Matt S.: Among diehard motorsports fanatics, the Indy 500 has more prestige. But to the vast majority of America, the Daytona 500 is the more visible and important race.
Toni: Ask any race car driver, even NASCAR drivers, if they could win just one race ever, what race would it be? They don’t race Indy cars, but they’d still love to have that one.
Amy: Ask Tony Stewart or Robby Gordon which one they’d rather have.
Summer: We’re also talking about _one race._ And that _one race_ is by and large the biggest motorsport even in history, even today.
Matt S.: The TV ratings tell the whole story, really to me. Daytona scores 8.0s and 9.0; Indy is lucky if it breaks 4.5.
Summer: I don’t look at the TV ratings because NASCAR will always trump open-wheel there. But looking at the general perception from ALL Americans, not just motorsports viewers, the Indy 500 is bigger.
Matt S.: Really? Most kids growing up today who love racing would probably tell you they’d prefer to win the Daytona 500.
Amy: But would everyone, including working race cars, be glued to the screen?
Mike N.: Ask _me_ which one I’d rather win and it is Indy. Bottom line is, Daytona is more important _right now_ than Indy. It probably only has another year or two before it is surpassed, but the question was right now.
Matt S.: Personally, I’d rather win Daytona. As a child growing up in the late ’90s and early 2000s, the Daytona 500 was the most important race on the planet. I still fantasize about winning it!

…or Indianapolis?

Summer: I still see right now, Indy is more significant. The Daytona 500 doesn’t have a damn parade… there is more celebration for the Indy 500 winner than the Daytona 500.
Amy: You’re contradicting yourself, Mike. If Daytona is the bigger race, why would you want another trophy on your mantle…
Phil: People are more likely to have heard of the Indianapolis 500 than the Daytona 500, but Daytona is the bigger event now. Although Daytona Beach could put on a parade during Speedweeks if they felt like it.
Amy: The Indy victory celebration is iconic, not just in auto racing, but in sports in general.
Summer: I know. And it’s not in Daytona. That’s the point.
Toni: I bet you more people know what the Indy 500 trophy is called and what it looks like than Daytona’s.

Matt S.: The Borg-Warner Trophy for Indy and the Harley J. Earl Trophy for Daytona. I win! I personally think ESPN/ABC does a much better job of conveying the prestige and importance of Indy than Fox does with Daytona.
Mike N.: I grew up in Indy. Historically, Indianapolis is the biggest race in the history of the world. That wasn’t the question. The question is right now which is the most important. Right now, Daytona is still more important.
Summer: I just don’t think so. The Indy 500 is the only race that many people will watch all year for IndyCar. Daytona, not necessarily.
Phil: The dropoff ratings-wise is nowhere near as severe in Sprint Cup as in the Izod IndyCar Series.
Amy: History makes it the biggest, Mike.
Matt S.: Disagree. In today’s world, it’s Daytona. Daytona is the only race in any motorsport that non-fans I know will watch.
Summer: It’s the opposite for me, Matt. More people I know talk about the Indy 500 than Daytona.
Matt S.: Might be a locational thing…

*Connect with Amy!*

“Contact Amy Henderson”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14352/

*Connect with Beth!*

“Contact Beth Lunkenheimer”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14353/

*Connect with Matt!*

“Contact Matt Stallknecht”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/38642/

*Connect with Mike!*

“Contact Mike Neff”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14354/

*Connect with Phil!*

“Contact Phil Allaway”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/18440/

*Connect with Summer!*

“Contact Summer Bedgood”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/28526/

*Connect with Toni!*

“Contact Toni Montgomery”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/14351/

About the author

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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