Frontal Lobes Warped After Full Memorial Day Racing Weekend
by John Close
Charlotte, NC (May 28th, 2012) - All lines are busy right now. An associate will answer your call soon.
That's how my brain feels right now after what is arguably the most jam-packed calendar of American motorsports to ever grace a Memorial Day Weekend.
The green flag dropped in Charlotte Thursday with practice and qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup race. The Charlotte weekend card of events was easily the best it's ever been with the World Of Outlaws Sprint Cars headlining Friday's action on the Speedway's Dirt Oval. Saturday's slate produced a NASCAR Nationwide Series and Global Rally Cross doubleheader at CMS. The GRS race Saturday night was really crazy and compelling to watch.
While Sunday's 600-mile Cup race at Charlotte was pretty much a snoozer, it couldn't take away from the fact that the speedway gave the fans more racing than ever. About the only way to make it better would be to add a four-wide Drag Race event at X-Max Dragway on Monday, Memorial Day.
Just kidding. Then again, maybe not.
While the total number of the events at Charlotte was impressive, the Indianapolis 500 again proved to be the best and most compelling race of the weekend.
The race - an American institution since 1911 - again captured the imagination of the nation with a number of compelling storylines, the best of which was a dash and crash to the finish on the final lap.
The racing at Indy is forever breathtaking lap after lap. There's an edge, a sense of danger that is evident. Amazing stuff, and based on what we saw yesterday, the Indy 500 is still 'The Greatest Spectacle In Racing.'
More 'Calls' -
Anyone who watched the weekend roar by was treated to a bunch some great and not so great moments. Here's some that made our radar.
Tony Stewart's doughnut and controlled power slide into his pit box after getting dumped on pit road in Sunday's 600 was a joy to behold. You know 'Smoke' was steaming, but he still had the focus to spin and four-wheel 'drift' his car back into position in one seamless move. Amazing, amazing ability and car control.
More Good -
Loved the Global Rally Cross event Saturday at Charlotte.
Very cool stuff. Great, different cars, cool paint schemes, lots of new, interesting personalities and enough on-track action to send even the most demo derby craving NASCAR fans home with a smile on their faces.
Goodness - Part 2 -
ABC again got high marks for their telecast of the Indy 500. With cameras seemingly everywhere around the track and in the cars, fans viewing the race got an unparalleled virtual experience.
ABC also continued its practice of going 'Side-By-Side' during commercial breaks allowing fans to view both the race and an advertisement simultaneously. We have applauded this breakthrough in race telecast thinking and banged the drum heavily for this to be standard in all race telecasts since ABC/ESPN introduced this years ago.
Finally, the ABC team of announcers did a good job of calling the race with concise, timely commentary. No need to embellish here - the on-track action was compelling enough.
Kudos to all at ABC/ESPN for making this Indy 500 telecast an award winner in every way.
Last Goodness -
The giant TV/Video Screen on the back straight at Charlotte is a total marvel. I am amazed every time I see it. If there was only some way I could get that in my sunroom.
The Bad -
As satisfying as the Indy 500 telecast was this weekend, the FOX broadcast of the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 was as equally disappointing. It is difficult - and perhaps a little unfair - to compare the two. Then again, it's hard not to when the two events are run back-to-back.
The FOX effort Sunday (and this season for that matter) seems overproduced and is totally overhyped. From the annoying rock music played under the comments of the pit reporters to the tinny, almost hollow engine sound enhancements, the FOX crew misses the mark.
The additional 'embellishments' added by some of the FOX announcing crew are even worse. First of all, there are too many announcers. The race for space seems to push several of the FOX personalities (you know who they are) to launch into hyperbole in an effort to make their little slice of face time memorable.
Additionally, many have been buttering their bread with NASCAR for decades and are so tied to the sport that the line between objective journalism and PR/marketing/damage control seems to completely disappear at times.
FOX, like ABC, does a good job of visually bringing the race into your living room (no Side-By-Side until the final laps), but there seems to be a fundamental disconnect at FOX when it comes to reporting the event.
More Badness -
You can't say racing doesn't love its women.
The FOX folks did their best to chronicle Danica Patrick's every move at Charlotte Sunday and worked even harder to convince everyone that a 30th-place finish, five laps behind winner Kasey Kahne was a great effort.
Seriously people - we've had women drivers since they turned the first wheel in NASCAR competition more than 60 years ago. This isn't anything new. Give Danica her due when she runs well. Until then, please focus on someone else who is.
Meanwhile, ABC did it's best to play up to actress Ashley Judd as she celebrated her husband Dario Franchitti winning his third Indy 500 Sunday.
Judd gave an uneven performance including an obviously rehearsed 1-2-3 signal in her post-race interview. And, while I don't mean to sound catty girls, haven't we seen that big floppy hat and printed sundress before?
We love the ladies too, but in an era of tight sponsorship, struggling teams and job cuts, let's give airtime to those men and women alike who earn it and leave the fluff to the tabloids and social media outlets.
Last Call -
Charlotte and Indianapolis were just two of the hundreds of American towns that held auto races this weekend.
At one of them in Wisconsin Dells, WI., good buddy Rich Bickle added yet another Super Late Model victory to his racing resume. This one may have been a little more special than most as Bickle dedicated the win to his mother, Jackie, who is battling illness in Charlotte, NC.
Jackie - or 'Ma Bickle' as she is affectionately known to by many - has been at Rich's side throughout his entire racing career. Only this recent illness has ever kept her from the track.
That said, you can find a race report on Bickle's latest win at -
Love you Ma.
Have a great week everybody.