Ish and I were talking at lunch about motorsports because we are both driving in events this weekend. He's drifting and I'm going to do some solo rallycross again. We had this long discussion (for the most part we agreed which is rare) about which sports are growing and which ones are losing fans. This was all just hot air and bench racing until I remembered that it's possible to use the Google trends analysis to gauge interest in certain search terms. Now we can reveal which sports are as hot as "Miley Cyrus VMA Twerking" and which ones are dying the slow death of "Yolo Swagger". You'll need java enabled to see the charts embedded in this post
I'm just going to pretend that chart up there doesn't exist. If we ignore it maybe it will go away.
It ought to be apparent that Drifting is a growing sport. Especially in the US. Formula Drift, like most motorsports has a seasonal interest and interest peaks each year in April.
You can see that 2013 is FD's biggest year. Google trends uses a self adjusting scale of 0-100 with 0 being the lowest interest level in the time period selected and 100 being the highest, the whole scale is relative. Clearly Formula Drift hasn't peaked yet and if you look at the source data from Google you'll even see that its very popular in Malaysia and Singapore as well as Canada and the US.
So what about Rally? Well the search term Rally isn't really very specific because it could get mixed up with results for pep rally's or other things. However both the term rally and WRC are on the downslope
That's a sobering graph for fans of stage rally racing. I hope the FIA is paying attention because having a series dominated by one driver and one manufacturer is bad for the sport. Having only a few drivers and 2 manufacturers in serious competition is a disaster. Only 6 drivers and 5 teams have actually raced at every event this year.
Luckily interest in rallycross is growing slowly to fill some of that void:
Its not quite the explosive growth of formula drift but to be fair its still in its early stages with both FIA European rallycross and Global rallycross finding their feet.
Speaking of the FIA, how does Formula One look?
No big surprise there, F1 has a massive and relatively stable fan base. Things are set to shake up some in 2014 with 6 cylinder turbos and restrictions on fuel quantity but it's unlikely to lose or gain a lot of fans over those rule changes. Of course interest doesn't always translate into dollars directly, fans still need money to spend on things like red bull drinks or cell phones.
Another big motorsport finding it hard to stay relevant is the good ol' boy sport of NASCAR
It looks like NASCAR had its worst year in 2010 and may have turned the tide a little with stronger years more recently. It would seem however that its best years are behind it. Id like to see what they do to reverse the long term trend, perhaps if Danica could peel off her fire-suit a little more...
I looked up the term drag racing and it was dominated by games for phones and tablets. NHRA on the other hand was another downward trend and is having a worse time than NASCAR in terms of online interest. Sadly the last big peak in interest in NHRA was Scott Kalitta's fatal crash in 2008 a blip in an otherwise steady downward trend.
In summary then, racing in circles and straight lines is losing fans, while sliding around on tracks is what people want to see. I can't imagine anyone is surprised by that. I shall leave you with some even more positive news. Internet interest in Honey Boo Boo peaked in 2012 and is in steep decline, and Lindsey Lohan has been falling steadily for years. There is hope for mankind.