TURN LEFT—GO FAST OR TURN LEFT AND RIGHT!

In NASCAR.com on Wednesday, David Caraviello’s column dealt with the possibility of adding another road race to the Sprint schedule. He revealed himself to be a road race fan, noting that many fans like races where drivers don’t simply “turn left, go fast” but rather “turn left and right”. He then went on to talk about the problem with a suitable venue and the problems associated with some of the tracks already in existence.

Well, a week before in ESPN.com, a story appeared about a new world-class road course — High Rock Raceway — under development. High Rock will be located in the town of Spencer, North Carolina, which sits directly off I-85, just 30 miles north of Lowe’s Motor Speedway. It’s within “spittin’ distance” of teams such as Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, and Richard Childress Racing. The design of High Rock will incorporate signature features from other road race courses, including Watkins Glenn, Sears Point, and even Mexico City.

Most important, the course design will be “green” by including consumption-reducing materials, alternative fuels, and recycled construction materials. There are other features being incorporated into the design that will rival many of the current NASCAR tracks — and the course will handle a variety of race vehicles, from sports cars to motorcycles to the COT!

It appears that in a couple of years Caraviello’s desire for another road race might become a reality.

That’s the view from here.

Jon

WHAT DRUG TESTING POLICY?

With the recent revelation by Aaron Fike that he had used heroin while competing in a Craftsman Truck Series race, many NASCAR drivers are coming forward requesting NASCAR take a more proactive stance on random drug testing. However, NASCAR’s upper management believes that the current policy is “working” (my quotation marks). NASCAR feels that the tiered approach to drug testing — owners and teams doing their own random testing — allows NASCAR to continue its policy of testing only for “reasonable suspicion”.

Now, I’m not one in the “know”, but it appears to me that NASCAR believes “reasonable suspicion” exists for every team when it comes to setting up their car, using illegal parts, etc. How else can NASCAR explain its extremely invasive inspections prior to qualifying and immediately after a race? There must be some reason, other than “reasonable suspicion”, for these inspections. Right? It’s because NASCAR knows how much teams “stretch” the rules. If NASCAR assumes the stretching of rules because it finds such things happening, shouldn’t NASCAR assume drug abuse by drivers or pit crew members in light of the fairly well-known incidents over the past couple of years with substance abuse by drivers?

The real issue for me isn’t whether a driver is “high” when on the track. The issue is the safety of the other drivers given how quickly accidents can happen at 180 mph. Heaven forbid that an accident occurs and it’s found later than one of those involved was “using” and no one in NASCAR had “reasonable suspicion”.

That’s the view from here.

Jon

Three Themes: Change, Safety and Recession

Other than the welcomed sunshine of Texas, there appear to be three themes
emerging in this young season.

1. Change:

Driver changes and team changes have finally begun — and in my opinion some
drivers seem to be on the decline (Petty, Sauter) and I really can’t say how much
longer survival is guaranteed.
Strangely, the most exciting racing is among the few drivers trying to acquire at
least the 35th rung — strange because it is somewhat exciting, also strange
because this rule should not live another day.

2. Safety:

Despite other COT issues, real or perceived, Texas showed the positive side of
research — namely the safer barriers (perhaps time for them to be used on other
walls as well) and the overall COT safety. After all, we just have to ask those who impacted them.

3.Recession:

Not what you are expecting. I’m sure that plans are being bent (to some degree)
by those fans (and near fans) as to race attendance, but I am more curious over
logistics/fuel costs for NASCAR teams as they haul cars, etc. around the country.This
will have a telling marginal effect on the “bottom line”– of course without more
hard data that effect is hard to calculate; but we know it can’t be good. I estimated that to travel to all 36 events is around 56000 miles of driving — and that is just a ‘straight’ round trip from Charlotte.

So let’s see where these themes take us. Hey,you never know TV viewership may go up.After all, some may be staying home.

– Michael

LOTS OF EMPTY SEATS IN M’VILLE BODES BADLY FOR SOME TRACKS

The headline on nbc12.com (our local NBC television affiliate) read “Sagging economy could hurt NASCAR ticket sales” (March 28). Even Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway acknowledged prior to last weekend’s races that the cost of gas plus other economic woes could impact attendance at tracks, especially in light of the fact that many race attendees travel a couple of hundred miles to make a race. Despite the cold weather last Sunday, it was quite evident that Campbell’s assessment rang fairly true, given the sparse attendance. And this in spite of the fairly low ticket prices at M’ville.

Now that TV viewership has improved so far this year, track attendance may indeed take a solid hit — doesn’t cost much to watch from home! And that bodes badly for those tracks where attendance has fallen in the past few years. There are some calling on NASCAR to take a race date from tracks with two race weekends to distribute to other tracks (Las Vegas? Kentucky?) where attendance has been better regardless of the series that is running. I’ve been to M’ville two or three times and it’s one of my favorite tracks. But even driving my compact, gas priced at $3.259 will keep me away. I suspect that many other fans will feel the same way in the next few months.

And that’s the view from here.

Jon