John Potts · Thursday June 16, 2011
John Potts offers a weekly column combining his popular ‘Driven to the Past’ column and a fan Q&A. Have a question for John about NASCAR, or any other series? Contact him below.
Only one question for this week, and it comes from another Web site.
Josh asked if I thought NASCAR would approve a race featuring cars and trucks together if it was a charity event.
Another chance to say “Hmmmm.” It’s done at some short tracks, of course, with rules being equalized. I’m not sure what NASCAR would think of the idea, and of course it would take some equalizing.
Back in the ’90s, we had a two-day practice session at Indianapolis Raceway Park (now Lucas Oil Raceway) for the Craftsman Truck Series and Busch Series, and they were on that .686-mile oval at the same time for most of the day. The Busch cars were a little faster, but there were no incidents that I can recall.
Well, there was one “near” incident. Joe Ruttman was getting in some laps in his truck, when his crew chief informed him that there was a Busch Series car gaining on him.
Joe told me, “He’s faster than I am, he can get around me without any trouble.”
To which the crew chief replied by informing Ruttman that the aforementioned Busch Series car was being driven by one Roy “Buckshot” Jones.
Joe said he immediately pulled to the inside and headed for the pit entrance.
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As I said, no questions, but we did get some comments on our recent dissertation about short tracks and the problems they have nowadays. Conelly said, “Kudos to Kevin Piercy at Hickory Motor Speedway, a true racer, who struggles to make HMS go for the love of the sport.”
I have to agree. Kevin is a friend, and I know how passionate he is about the sport. I hope I have the opportunity to work with him sometime.
And Matt comments, “It all comes from the top. What’s the most visible racing series in the U.S.? NASCAR. What is the most popular sports show? SportsCenter. How often is NASCAR covered? Rarely. ESPN is a stick & ball world. NASCAR Now is in its own little island at ESPN. If ESPN doesn’t give a crap about NASCAR and considers it nothing more than rednecks driving in circles, the younger audience will share that attitude and not be interested in any racing, including local racing. A better presentation of the racing on top can make a big difference for the racing at the bottom.”
Hard to disagree. ESPN does a little bit better job when they’re actually doing the races themselves. That’s kind of provincial, I guess, but SPEED doesn’t seem to make any distinction about who covers the racing, they report on it. We can only hope that they continue to grow.
ESPN also seems to take pains to report when there’s a real controversy or a big accident involved, but that’s a lot like the mainstream media seems to be at times. Did anybody else get tired of hearing about Richard Childress and Kyle Busch last week? At Corbin Speedway, which like many others has problems, I act as PR director as well as announcer, and I try to get the promotional pieces and race results out to all the area’s local papers. I pay particular attention to the drivers’ hometowns, and sometimes change the lead of the story to make sure it gets the editor’s attention.
This is a trick I learned from (of all places) our armed services. While I was a weekly newspaper editor in Indiana, I used to get press releases from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and even the Coast Guard when any service member from our community was transferred to a new base, or took part in some kind of exercise.
When Steve Stubbs and I were doing the Media Services number for ASA, I mentioned it and we decided we could do that. In our qualifying results story, we’d simply do separate stories, changing the lead paragraph to indicate how their hometown driver did and where he’d be starting the next day.
This was before the Internet. Heck, it was even before fax machines. We used the old telecopier, where you wrapped the paper around a cylinder, turned it on, plugged in the phone, and dialed the number.
Much easier nowadays.
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