So surprise, surprise, this weekend’s cup raced sucked. Since 2005, NASCAR’s second race, and arguably the true start of the season, has taken place at Southern California’s Auto Club Speedway. You may be asking yourself how such an important race has settled on the worst track in entire season. (Seriously nothing’s worse, at least Pocono is a triangle making for some unique racing). Well, in 2003 International Speedway Corporation acquired Rockingham Speedway. It was only a matter of time before our good friend Brian France moved Rockingham’s date to the then California speedway. This move was a microcosm of the overall trend in NASCAR since Brian France came to power. In an effort to maximize profits at all costs, France has continually attempted to modernize and glamorize racing in order to appeal to a wider audience while sacrificing the core fans who built the sport.
So that’s where we are today, the February California race represents a major reason why our sport is struggling. NASCAR is forcing itself into a niche where it doesn’t belong, and doing a poor job of it. Sunday’s race gave us maybe 4 good laps of racing out of 250. Sure the first 2 or 3 laps after a restart has some good racing, and sure you can go five wide as DW often pointed out, but Drivers aren’t going to do that. The majority of the race saw single file follow the leader type racing. I could go on about why California sucks but anyone who saw the race already knows why and probably doesn’t want to relive it. So, what’s the solution?
Realistically our options are very few. California is clearly a lost cause, despite the broadcasters numerous attempts to sell it as exciting five wide actions, no one is buying it, (or tickets for that matter). Since the 500, racing analysts all over have touted California as the true beginning of the season, so shouldn’t the season start at worthy track. Originally the second race took place at Richmond, but frequent snow delays and poor weather forced a switch to Rockingham in the early 90’s. Any track north of Richmond is pretty much off limits for those reasons; NASCAR is a warm weather sport. Rockingham, under new owner ship of former driver Andy Hillenburg, has come back to prominence and with soon out rank most ISC tracks in terms of technology. Fan enthusiasm has proven that a single February date would certainly be viable at the Rockingham speedway but good luck getting the conglomerate ISC to give up a date, even a failing one, to a non- ISC track. The next option should be obvious now. Charlotte. Lowes Motor Speedway is at the heart of NASCAR. Where better to begin the season. Charlotte’s fall date has been struggling too, and while it is owned by SMI and not ISC, it shouldn’t been too hard to get ISC to agree to a switch for Lowes October chase date. While Charlotte is cold this time of, it’s not too cold to race as seen by Rockingham’s stint as 2nd race of the year. Charlotte is a natural fit and way better than anything California has to offer. So if you see Brian France on the street, please tell him to fix this and send NASCAR back to where it belongs (after you kick him in balls for ruining NASCAR of course).