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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