NASCAR Moving Forward

Sitting here watching the NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Atlanta, it seems that the powers-that-be in Daytona have made some positive moves toward improving their product in hopes of attracting more ticket buyers on race day and quelling shrinking TV ratings.

They have moved to stabilize race starting times for both Sunday afternoon and Saturday night events, in some cases starting races earlier to get fans on the road toward home at a decent time. And the dreaded aerodynamic wing on the Car of Tomorrow will be gone soon, likely replaced by the Texas stop in June with the traditional spoiler that should make the cars handle better and increase competition. Coupled with their vow to let the drivers race for wins, even if it takes three tries at the end, this should result in more green-flag finishes.

And whether you love her, hate her or fall somewhere in between, Danica Patrick’s ARCA and Nationwide Series runs have increased “Water Fountain” talk about NASCAR that at least focuses non-race fans on what’s going on at the track- something that can’t hurt in the long run. And though TV ratings haven’t perked up yet, they are likely to get better now that the 400lb. Gorilla of the Olympics is over. At-track attendance always depends on the early-season weather, and the nation-wide cold temperatures haven’t helped, but only California’s turnout was really embarrassing- proving that they should probably only have one race. Has anyone ever thought of granting Cup events to tracks like Milwaukee, Road America, Kentucky, Road Atlanta and others on a rotating basis ( an event every 2-3 years), taking second races from California, Pocono and Michigan? Some tracks don’t merit one race yet alone two.

? Five chassis makers have submitted proposals to the Indy Racing League for new chassis designs to be introduced in 2012. And while the IRL wants to choose only one supplier, we long for the days when anyone could build a car and enter the Indianapolis 500 and other events. Economic times are, however, different today, and builders need to produce a spec chassis so they can recoup their investment: But sameness isn’t as interesting. The design proposals of Lola, Swift and present supplier Dallara are updates of the current car, but the Delta Wing concept and the recently unveiled BAT Engineering design hold hope for those who think “Outside of the Box”. The IRL held a meeting several years ago for potential engine suppliers, hoping at the time that more than one company could provide competition for Honda. Again, economic times have changed to the point where the IRL needs to hope that even one engine maker will step forward in 2012.

? To think that no major racing series will compete on the Milwaukee Mile in 2010 is something that many fans still find hard to believe. The IRL was owed money from previous Mile promoters as was NASCAR, so the Nationwide Series moved an hour north to Road America, the Camping World Series trucks will go to Darlington, SC and the Indy Cars move on to Barber Motorsports Park road course instead of the historic Mile oval. Is there hope for these series to return to the West Allis oval any time soon? In this writers opinion, the business model of a State Fair Board hiring a promoter to run a state- owned track harkens back to the days of barnstorming IMCA “Big Cars” putting on county fair races and moving on the next day. Racing is a big business today-a business where the sanctioning bodies need to deal with the track promoter only-not with a promoter and a Fair Board. How about the state of Wisconsin selling the track to a promoter/owner who could run races in June, July and September, while leasing the track property back to the state for Fair use in August? With NASCAR and the IRL being the only potential money makers for a promoter, we can’t see anyone taking over the track’s activities until the Fair Board gets out of the racing business and sells the facility- their record of choosing promoters demands it.

? And finally, did anyone see the move of the Badger Midgets from Angell Park in Sun Prairie, WI to Beaver Dam coming? The sanctioning group has competed at “The Prairie” for 64 years and has become synonymous with the suburban Madison facility, but no agreement could be reached for a 2010 schedule, rumored to have resulted from a dwindling car count by Badger over the last few years. If Badger has signed a valid contract with Charter Raceway Park, then things will be quieter on Sundays in Sun Prairie, unless the Firemen at Angell Park can come up with a Plan B. The track has a meeting set for March 13th, hoping to organize a competing midget series. They are offering $1,000 to any car that runs eight nights at Angell Park along with no entry fee. Time will tell what will happen if BMARA cars try to run in both series, but this situation can’t help midget racing in Wisconsin.

Share Button