The Frontstretch: Full Throttle : Buenos Dias El Busch Series by Mike Neff -- Thursday March 2, 2006

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Full Throttle : Buenos Dias El Busch Series

Mike Neff · Thursday March 2, 2006

 

Well, after a grueling two weeks of competition, the Cup series has the weekend off. The trucks are off for two weeks. That means that this weekend is all about the Busch Series. To take advantage of the singular focus, NASCAR has scheduled their second annual visit south of the border to Mexico City.

The first question that comes to mind when thinking about this trip is…why? Well, NASCAR tells us that they need to grow the sport. They say they need to push it outside of the traditional bounds of the United States to bring in other fans. Again, the question is…why? It may be old-fashioned thinking, and people may say these are the best of times for NASCAR, but some of us miss the old days. I honestly wish the sport would stop growing. In fact, and I know this is selfish of me, but I wish it would shrink. I wish there was still a Busch race at Hickory. I wish there was a Busch race at Rockingham. Just because they moved the Cup date away, I truly think it would have been a great weekend to have the Trucks and Busch cars run a standalone weekend at the Rock. I hope that the folks that are buying North Wilkesboro can convince NASCAR to give them a Busch race. I miss the smaller tracks with character. What was wrong with keeping a Busch race at Nazareth? If NASCAR would give these smaller venues standalone Busch races or Busch/Truck combination weekends, it would be a great deal for the local race fans. Do the folks in California really need two Busch races? Judging from the attendance on Saturday, I don’t think so.

The second question that springs forth is simply can the Busch teams really afford it? The travel schedule over this three-week stretch is simply brutal. The teams have to send two cars to California. The next week they send two cars to Mexico City. The following week, they have to send two cars to Las Vegas. I’m no expert on the economics of moving a team around the country, never mind other countries, but it seems to me the cost has to be exorbitant to turn the equipment around and move it that far, that fast, in a three week period. We all know that the Busch Series purses are a joke. I don’t see how any team, even the winners of these races, are coming close to breaking even. Between driving cars back and forth and the man hours needed to turn the cars around between races, there just has to be a loss incurred by these Busch teams.

The third question is, after expanding to Mexico, what lies ahead? The writing seems to be on the wall that we will see the Busch Series in Canada within the next couple of years. Which track is going to lose a date to make that race happen? Hopefully they’ll add a race rather than moving one, unless they take it from California. However, if these races continue to be a success, and who really knows what NASCAR considers a success, will the Cup series be far behind in this era of international expansion? How long will it be before the Cup series takes a trip to Mexico, or to the Great White North? More importantly, who is going to lose a date for those races to take place? Is that really going to benefit the fans of the sport?

I understand the goal of a business is to expand and grow. That doesn’t mean that I have to like it. I miss being able to walk up on race day and buy a good seat for $25 – $50. I miss drivers working on their own cars and showing up whenever their show car made an appearance. I wish it was still possible to see real racing with cars that actually looked like something that came off of the show room floor. The new Dale Earnhardt, Jr. show on SPEED has really reminded me of the reasons I fell in love with this sport. It was about the racing. It was about the innovation. It wasn’t about aero dependency and shock rebound. It was about lining those cars up and seeing who could drive them the fastest. I’m glad the France family is able to make a killing off of their sport. I just wish the fans could still see a product that was about the best driver, and not the best car. And I wish the teams that are killing themselves to keep this sport going were being properly rewarded instead of being exploited…just because there is always someone else who is willing to take their place should they ever choose to quit.

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M. B. Voelker
03/03/2006 06:22 AM
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Back in the Day is a fun and informative show, but take off the rose-colored glasses and think for a minute.

In the first episode that race finished with only 2 cars on the lead lap. IF Biffle had gone on without debris cautions or the engine failure and had lapped everyone but Tony Stewart (again no engine failure), would we not have spent this week not just yawning over the boredom of a less than thrilling California race but screaming in fury over how Nascar needed to DO SOMETHING about the lack of competition?

And if that same California race we yawned over had been edited down to half and hour—minus commercial breaks - AND wrapped around a pit stop competition wouldn’t the editors have been able to convince us that it had been a great race?

When considering past racing its important to remember that memory and the magic of editing combine to eliminate the dull parts and emphasize the best parts so that the things from the past get a glowing polish that they didn’t have when they were current. :)

Mike
03/03/2006 07:33 AM
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Thanks for the comment M.B. I agree that people would be screaming, but would that necessarily be a bad thing? No one wants to see Ned Jarrett win by 14 laps. But I also hate to see people lose 8 spots on the final lap because the 12 cars behind them took tires on a late race caution before a green/white/checker. Not to mention, the Biff would have been passing a ton of cars if he was that dominant in the old style cars vs. the new style. I honestly miss 8-10 cars on the lead lap at the end. I think the lucky dog has changed the sport. It is great for safety, but I’m not sure it is great for competition. That sounds like a good idea for another column.

Thanks again for the comments M.B.

M. B. Voelker
03/03/2006 12:54 PM
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Working lapped traffic isn’t passing. Its just as boring as seeing the leader running alone because even if the cars are side-by-side its meaningless because its not for position. Any tension induced by the possibility that the car being lapped might mess up and take out the leader is minimal and does not compare to the excitement of cars actually racing. :-)

Biffle may be my tied-for-favorite driver, but I’d rather see a competitive race won by a driver I dislike than see a snoozer where Biffle wins and the other drivers I root for all take top 10’s.

 

Contact Mike Neff

Recent articles from Mike Neff:

Thinkin' Out Loud – The Off Week Season Review
Special Winter Sprint Car Series set for January debut at Cocopah Speedway
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Kroger 250 postponed until Sunday afternoon
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