Stock car racing doesn't exactly work like you saw it in Days of Thunder, and investing doesn't always go as planned. Just ask shareholders of International Speedway (Nasdaq: ISCA), who have endured nine consecutive quarters of declining profits prior to the company's first-quarter report last week.

The company, which owns 13 of the U.S.' most well-known race tracks including Daytona and Talladega, delivered a $0.49 profit on revenue of $148.7 million. This was the first year-over-year earnings increase since 2008, but revenue still fell by 2%. International Speedway also authorized an annual dividend increase to $0.18 per share the following day.

While this company may have all the markings of a turnaround story in progress -- which is undoubtedly what attracted the Motley Fool Inside Value analysts -- I'd advise you take a closer look at what's really behind their figures.

Flat tire
In order to get on the fast track, International Speedway relies on media and consumer interest in its racing venues to drive business. Unfortunately, the Nielsen ratings for the Daytona 500, which measure household viewership, have fallen off a cliff since 2006 -- down by more than 25%. Daytona is easily International Speedway's most profitable and important racetrack, so this trend is worrisome.

From a broader perspective, NASCAR ratings have taken a hit for better part of a decade, translating into weaker ticket sales. Until NASCAR can garner more interest, it's likely that ticket sales will remain weak. One needs to only look at rival Speedway Motorsports (NYSE: TRK) for confirmation of this. Speedway, which owns eight popular racetracks, has seen its revenue decline since 2008 and is suffering from the same decline in motorsports interest as International Speedway.

Don't discount the impact that rising fuel costs can have on consumers either. As oil continues its march past $112/barrel, the discretionary income of Americans is shrinking. It's much more likely that race enthusiasts are going to choose to stay home and watch the race on TV than spend a shrinking amount of their income on traveling to see a race.

Finally, don't be lured in by International Speedway raising its annual dividend by $0.02. The stock yields less than 0.6% with the new dividend, and I can't say it's prudent of management to be raising the dividend in the midst of a continuingly weakening revenue stream.

Instead, consider Madison Square Garden (Nasdaq: MSG) if the prospect of investing in sporting events is too great to resist. The company has increased revenue for five consecutive years and is a favorite of Fool analyst Bryan White.

What's your take on these fast-paced companies? Is momentum on their side or are they about to hit a brick wall? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and consider adding these stocks and your own personalized portfolio of companies to My Watchlist.

Add International Speedway, Speedway Motorsports, and Madison Square Garden to My Watchlist.