Monday, November 23, 2009

Fix the Tracks, Racing Will Get Better


Remember the 80s? Hell, remember the 90s? The term "cookie cutter" didn't exist yet. Charlotte was a relatively unique 1.5 mile tri-oval, with a challenging and bumpy surface. Atlanta and Michigan were still virtually the same, but both fast to the point that they were scary. We still had Rockingham and North Wilkseboro, two awesome, challenging small tracks.

Now what do we have? We have greed ruining the schedule. What else is new. Darlington lost one of its race dates, only the most important race on the schedule next to the Daytona 500. The Southern 500 is one of the most prestigious races in the world, and now it's disappeared and neutered. And it was IMPORTANT to have it on Labour Day, during the DAY--it was a grueling, sweaty, 110 degree endurance race. It was never meant to be in the evening, and more importantly, never meant to be at such a crappy track as California.

Rockingham loses its race to Yet Another Cookie Cutter track, claiming it was because they couldn't sell the place out--of course, now, they can't sell out a lot of tracks, including California, which replaced it--OOPS.

These are two tracks responsible for many of the "best finishes in racing history"... And they're dropped because of the almighty dollar. I hate that.

Las Vegas, California, Chicagoland, Kansas, Homestead, Michigan... They're all awful now. Louden has never been particularly good, Pocano, at least in the current car, is a bore.

The cookie-cutter tracks are in that middle-ground between short tracks (1 mile or less) and super speedways (restrictor plate), such that they're so aero-dependent that passing often seems a virtual impossibility unless you've got fresher tires or lapped traffic in the way. This is particularly bad at Kansas and Chicagoland.

If I were king of the world, I would decree all of those tracks dropped or reduced--give Michigan one race date, give Charlotte one race date, drop the rest until they can design a real track. Add real tracks with real character--Bring back Rockingham, give Darlington the Southern 500 back... Add Irwindale Speedway, Iowa, Indy Raceway Park, and Winchester. And up here in Canada, Cayuga or Delaware. Any track that doesn't have the facilities yet, pump money into them to upgrade them--it's in NASCAR's best interests to do things like that, not the track owner's.

But maybe that's just me.

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