The Frontstretch: A Second Date For Vegas? by Mike Neff -- Monday March 12, 2007

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A Second Date For Vegas?

Full Throttle · Mike Neff · Monday March 12, 2007


The word was out this weekend in Las Vegas; in an effort to recoup some of the millions they invested rebuilding LVMS, Bruton Smith and Speedway Motorsports Inc. are lobbying NASCAR hard for a second race date. So while the Northwest, Northeast and Denver are still hoping to have a facility that will be guaranteed a Cup date once they are completed, Vegas is looking to cash in twice a season.

Many questions come up whenever the Cup schedule is discussed such as why does anyone have a second date when everyone wants a Cup date at their facility? Do the Northeast and Northwest even want a Cup quality facility in their regions? When, or rather, if one of those facilities is constructed, will the fans show up in sufficient numbers to support it? And the ultimate question: Is it not a conflict of interest for the sanctioning body that controls the dates to also own facilities that host races during the season?

There has been a quandary for years now as to why any race facility has two Cup dates when so many other tracks are clamoring for the Cup cars to run at their facilities. There are several tracks that have two dates that people simply don’t seem to care about. Michigan, Pocono, Phoenix, Dover, and Loudon all come to mind.

My belief is that if NASCAR is truly serious about spreading the sport to the masses in multiple areas of the country, then they would start by limiting every track to one date. Since they’ve already shown that they do not care about tradition, losing the Fourth of July race at Daytona and the Spring race at Bristol would be a necessary evil, but would afford so many other facilities the chance to host a race. It would also allow the series to go back to tracks like a refurbished North Wilkesboro or Rockingham, which was never given the opportunity to host an event during a period of the year when the weather in the Carolinas is hospitable to fans and would be conducive to full stands for a Cup race. Besides those two classic tracks, the one-race-per-venue rule would send the Cup series to new tracks like Nashville, Kentucky, Iowa, Memphis and possibly even to some dirt tracks. There is no reason that all of these facilities couldn’t have a race date and allow more people the opportunity to see the Cup cars close to their homes.

The ongoing debate about the Northeast and Northwest will probably never go away until the tracks are actually built. Only then will there be proof to the positive or negative as to whether the facilities can be profitable. The problem is that once a track is built, it will be years, if ever, before an ownership group is going to admit that it made a mistake by building a facility that doesn't have the support to make it viable. In the meantime, the fans will be subject to empty seats as have become common place at tracks like Michigan and California.

The ultimate question though, is how can the sanctioning body, NASCAR, be allowed to also own facilities where races are contested? The fact that International Speedway Corporation owns so many tracks on the Cup schedule, and is owned by the same ownership group as NASCAR, simply screams conflict of interest. How can a multi-billion dollar corporation be objective in handing out the dates on the schedule when the benefits of such an event are in the hundreds of millions of dollars? Since Vegas is an SMI track, and in direct competition with ISC facilities, the chance of NASCAR giving another lucrative race date to this competing corporation seems remote. Even if they are awarded a second race weekend, where will the date originate from? The teams are saying that the schedule is already full. If no new dates can be added, then the date will have to come from somewhere. As has already been pointed out, the odds of ISC giving up one of these dates from one of their facilities would not make logical business sense. So SMI would most likely have to cannibalize a date from one of their other tracks to be able to acquire a second date for Vegas.

The bottom line is, there are so many worthy facilities around the country that would love to have a Cup date on their schedule, it doesn't seem logical or prudent to give a second date to Las Vegas. Unless NASCAR comes off of its stance that the schedule is full, the odds of Vegas getting a second date seem very long. Here's hoping NASCAR will step up and completely rework the schedule, limiting all tracks to one date, and spreading the sport to more people all over the country.

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03/13/2007 07:36 AM

No one cares about LOUDON!!! You must be crazy, the track has sold out every CUP race since it was opened. The stands and parking lots are always full. Please come to NH for the next race so your eyes can be opened!!

03/13/2007 10:33 AM

“There are several tracks that have two dates that people simply don’t seem to care about“ Loudon? Where do you get off putting NHIS in this mix. I have season tickets to both races and I can tell you there are no empty seats. It takes years to move up the grandstand when and if seats open up. New England has a tradition of racing going back just as long as the south. We just have a shorter window to race between snow storms. NHIS is the only track for Cup racing within 6 hour drive of the New England States. People come every year from NY, CT, RI, MA, VT, NH, ME, and Canada to see the Cup races. Boston’s TV market, of which Loudon is served, is the 6th largest in the Country. Talladega is 2 hrs from Atlanta. Darlington is about 2 hrs from Charlotte. Bristol is 3 hours from Charlotte and Martinsville. Martinsville is a little over 3 from Richmond which is 3 hours from Dover. If I$C thinks for this reason they should slap a track up in Long Island and steal fans away from NHIS to tap into the NYC market they have obviously never looked at a map. The LI Ferry can not support the needs of those thousands of cars from New England making their way to a LI track. Those same thousands are not going to make the even more arduous trek down to NYC, then up LI only to return through that gauntlet after the race. There will be less New York swells at that track than Los Angelean beautiful people at Fontana. Regardless of what NA$CAR thinks, the best way to see a race is at a track. I have watched races at Daytona and Pocono, however you actually watch at most one turn and the top of some blurry roofs live and the rest of the track on the Jumbotron. Loudon is a track where you can actually see the race. Don’t say nobody cares about Loudon. I know at least 100 thousand people at the track, and more waiting for tickets, who would disagree.

03/13/2007 05:14 PM

With all of the attendance down at Fontana, why not take their second date and give it to Vegas? Vegas sells out every year where Fontana does not.And Vegas is close enough to Fontana so their race fans wouldn’t have to travel too far to see the race.

03/13/2007 07:00 PM

“...and the Spring race at Bristol would be a necessary evil” Good thinking..lets get rid of one of the few short tracks left on the schedule..maybe we can get another yawn mile and a half track. Bristol sells out..and why does it sell out? Its good short track racing that most of us have grown up with and can relate to. These silly cookie cutter tracks do nothing but make for follow-the-leader racing. At least short track racing brings in more driver ability. Funny thing is that even though Bristol sells out NASCAR still hasn’t caught on to the concept that people like short track racing. I’d be more open to losing the Spring race if, and only if the date went to another short track.


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