Feature Richard CraillRichard Craill May 30, 2021 (Comments off) (267)

Why the Bathurst 1000 is the biggest race in the world

THE BATHURST 1000 captures the attention of the Australian TV viewing public more than any other major race does in their own country, according to data researched by The Race Torque.

In the first part in a series charting just how much of an impact Motorsport has on TV audiences around the world, we profiled some of the biggest races around to see how they stacked up on a per capita basis.

Basically, we’ve taken the biggest races in Australia, the United States, the UK, the USA and France and crunched the numbers to see which captivates their own market the most.

In the USA, the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 are the two most-watched races of the year.

In France, the LeMans 24 Hour is their most prized motorsport possession.

The British Grand Prix showcases British Motorsport at it is finest while in Australia it is Bathurst and the Australian Grand Prix well on top when it comes to drawing eyeballs.

These are the ‘stop the nation’ kind of events – ones that are entrenched in the national sporting culture as any football game, cricket match or other favourite local sporting pastime.

As such, in charting these numbers we wanted to see which race grabbed the largest share of their home market each year to show which one really captivates their own region the most.

Working it out on a per capita basis is the best way to do it because it avoids the issue of massively different populations in each country.

You would never be able to directly compare the Daytona 500 with Bathurst because the US TV audience is twelve times bigger than it is in Australia which naturally means it’s going to get more eyeballs.

But is Daytona’s Audience 12 times larger than Bathurst’s once you level the playing field and work it out on a per capita basis?

The answer? Absolutely not. Read on to find out why.


THE MAJOR event on any given motor racing calendar is often one of the most-watched sporting events of the year in any given region, as such it is interesting to chart where each ‘major’ stands in their home market.

And it’s here where our own Great Race stands proud; with an average audience of more than 1.6 million people watching the Bathurst 1000 every year for more than a decade, it remains easily the most watched car race, per capita, in the world.

A full 6.5% of the entire nation watches the Great Race each year showcasing just how important it is on the Aussie sporting landscape.

It’s a huge chunk of the TV audience and the fact that it draws those kind of numbers for a full six hour period (or more) makes it even more impressive.

Second is the British Grand Prix, the most watched motor race in the F1-mad UK, with a full 5.25% of the British population tuning in to watch the Silverstone event.

In 2019 the race drew a domestic UK audience of more than 3.5 million people which is substantial.

Remarkably, the Australian Grand Prix is next on the list: nearly 1 million people watched in Australia in 2019, 3.86% of the total people in the country.

The AGP and Bathurst are the only two motorsport events that rank with the footy finals and test match cricket in Australia which shows how important they are for the sport, and how big they are in the sporting landscape.

The Great American Race is next; the Daytona 500 drawing the largest single race audience (more than 9 million in 2019) of any race in a single market. 2.8% of the total US population tune in to wait for the inevitable ‘Big One’ and the unlikely winner story to emerge.

Earlier we referenced Daytona and Bathurst as two of the biggest events – but on a per capita basis our Great Australian Race absolutely smokes the Great American one.

If 6.5% of the US TV audience watched the Daytona 500, the Audience would be more than 20 million people – that’s approaching Super bowl territory.

The Indy 500s TV ratings have also been declining in recent years, though more than 5.4 million watched the 2019 race on NBC – 1.66% of the US population.

LeMans’ 24 Hour classic does solidly in its native France: according to an official ACO media release, 990,000 people watched the race start in 2018 which accounts for 1.48% of the population.

And for those Europhiles amongst the TRT readership: the ACO also claimed an audience of 19.6m watched the LM24 on Eurosport – 2.6% of the total population of just under 750 million.


OF COURSE, some of these races have much larger audiences than Bathurst thanks to a larger global reach.

An average of more than 85 Million people tune in to watch each Grand Prix so the British GP would easily top this list if we worked it out globally.

However, when it comes to events that dominate the sporting psyche of a specific country, there’s nothing in the motorsport world that can match the impact of our Great Race.

RACETV AUDIENCE MARKETBROADCASTERAverage AudienceTotal National Population Audience %
(Per capita)
BATHURST 1000AustraliaFOX Sports & Channel 101,661,00025,360,0006.55%
BRITISH GRAND PRIXUnited KingdomSky Sports & Channel 43,500,00066,650,0005.25%
AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIXAustraliaFOX Sports & Channel 10979,00025,360,0003.86%
DAYTONA 500United StatesFOX9,170,000328,000,0002.80%
INDIANAPOLIS 500United StatesNBC5,450,000328,000,0001.66%
LEMANS 24 HOURFranceFrance 1990,00067,000,0001.48%

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