The results are in: The annual Hagerty Motorsports Participation Survey is complete. This year’s survey looked at topics including overall events, gas prices, inflation, what kind of events are increasing in popularity and which are on the wane, as well as a few of the reasons why people might be participating more this year.
We received responses from hundreds of car lovers, event-goers, autocross racers, driving school leaders and people with decades of experience in the automotive event field. Here’s what we’ve gathered about the current state of automotive enthusiasm paired with a look at what the future might bring.
Overall, the number of events held in 2022 is above the number of events held in 2021, especially early in the year. That trend continued across shoulder season, making us wonder if the limited availability of locations in peak season is holding back other event organizers from reaching their annual potential.
That said - having more events doesn’t necessarily equate to additional attendees at every motorsports gathering. The average number of participants at each event is down month-over-month nearly across the board (with the exception of April). These declines aren’t dramatic when you look at individual events—between 2-10 participants per event—but those numbers add up over the course of hundreds of gatherings each year. Below, we’ll spell out some potential reasons for why these numbers might have dropped a bit.
As for the immediate future, 2023 is looking even busier: our respondents are predicting that they’ll run 11% more events next year compared to 2022. Perhaps more events + fewer drivers at each event is better overall for everyone’s experience?
When we look at what kind of future participation attendees are anticipating, 2023 is looking good: More respondents plan to participate next year, and the number of people planning to attend regularly really jumps: Compared to actual repeat attendance this year, people who plan to attend ten or more events in 2023 more than doubles.
When it comes to respondents that are cutting back on event attendance this year, distance traveled to the event is the main consideration: About 45% of all people who responded said this was a factor. Amount of time spent away from home is another major factor, though interestingly, that declines significantly for people who are attending more than ten events per year (a drop of about 20%). Perhaps these super-attendees have fewer family obligations, or more flexible work arrangements?
Some disappointing news for aftermarket parts companies is in here as well: about 40% of respondents across the board reported cutting back on upgrades to their vehicles this year as well.
Inflation, Gas Prices and other Interesting Data:
It’s impossible to disconnect the increase in gas prices earlier this year and the drop in overall event attendance. Those jumps in price per gallon started in March, which is where we see per-event participation dip below last year’s numbers, where it has stayed through the end of our data in July. The largest gap was in April when the prices were high and staying there, though the numbers did begin to get closer to normal in June and July.
In terms of participation per type of event, 2022 was a good year for combined events and flat-track racing, both up 25% or more year over year. Lots of people interested in boosting their skills, too: The biggest increase came to driving schools, participation of which jumped 41%. On the flip side, sim racing, ice racing, offroad and motorcycle schools all had a tough time in ‘22: all down 40% or more for events listed on MotorsportReg.
Finally, the numbers we tracked showed that autocross participation is lagging behind 2021’s numbers but is somehow consistent month over month. That paired with an increase in kart racing participation might indicate that people are turning to less expensive motorsport endeavors. If those trends revert to the norm as gas prices continue to fall, we’ll have a better idea.
Does this align with what you've witnessed this year? Have you noticed anything else you've found interesting? How is your organization overcoming some of the challenges we're all facing? Start the conversation by sharing your thoughts below!