Race Weekend Central

Keepin’ it Short – We need more

Keepin’ it Short is normally for all of the local short track fans in the country, but we’re going to diverge from our normal angle briefly this week thanks to the tremendous action in Martinsville, Virginia last weekend. The Cup race at the shortest track on the schedule had just about everything a short track racing fan could ask for. Brian Vickers hit everything but the ambulance, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was playing bumper cars for most of the race, Jimmie Johnson had the race in the bag until a late race restart when Tony Stewart made the outside lane work to take the lead and ultimately the win. 18 caution flags flew and not a single one of them was for debris, at least not initially. The longest green flag run was 99 laps and that was the only run over 56 laps in length. Simply stated, the race is what we want to see more of.

There are only three race tracks on the schedule that are less than a mile in length–Richmond, Bristol and Martinsville–and each track has its own personality. Richmond is a mini-Intermediate with moderate banking, featuring a dogleg in the front straight and plenty of side-by-side racing. Bristol is a high banked half-mile that used to be single file but, thanks to the variable banking, is now providing side-by-side racing as well. Meanwhile there is Martinsville, two drag strips connected by very tight corners and supposed banking of 12 degrees which leads to single file racing and bump-and-runs to pass.

After watching last weekend’s race, there is no question that we need more tracks under a mile in length and it should not be all that hard to accomplish. There are seven race tracks on the current Cup schedule that are 1.5-mile tri or quad-ovals, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Kansas, Kentucky, Vegas and Texas. Of those, four of them have seats on the back straight or turn three, although Texas and Las Vegas only have minor seating areas in those locations. Chicago, Kansas and Kentucky do not have any seating on the back straight. It would be relatively easy (in major construction terms) to take those tracks, alter the corners to a tighter radius, move the back straight closer to the stands, and have a track that is somewhere in the 7/8 to ¾-mile length. It will obviously require some adjusting in the infields and garage areas, but in the end, it will provide far greater racing and ultimately result in more fans at the track and watching on television.

It isn’t just fans who want to see more short track racing. “I’ll admit that when we went through this big building process,” Jeff Gordon said, “of all these mile-and-a-halfs, nobody considered building something more like a Bristol or a Richmond or something like that. I think that we need one or two more tracks like that on the circuit.”

And Gordon wasn’t alone in his thoughts.

“Please build some more short tracks,” begged Dale Earnhardt, Jr after Martinsville. “We need some more short tracks. All these 1.5-mile tracks…I know you can get more seats or whatever, but they just don’t really turn everybody on, y’know?”

NASCAR was built on short track racing and unfortunately, over the last 20 years, has truly abandoned those roots. Sunday’s race saw a more than 25% increase in television ratings. The fans are clamoring for more close quarter racing where drivers can pass for the lead some time after the first five laps after a green flag flies. The short tracks give that kind of racing to the fans and it would not be that costly to the ISC and / or SMI folks to yank up some asphalt and put it down a little closer to the fans. Every year the best races of the season take place at Bristol, Richmond and Martinsville. Hopefully the track owners will realize that and give us more of them.

This Weekend’s Racing Schedule

Fri : Nov. 4th – Deep South Speedway ; Loxley : AL – Crate Late Models
Fri : Nov. 4th – Canyon Speedway ; Peoria : AZ – Total Seal Late Models
Fri : Nov. 4th – Canyon Speedway ; Peoria : AZ – West Coast Late Models
Fri : Nov. 4th – Perris Auto Speedway ; Perris : CA – California Lightning Sprints
Fri : Nov. 4th – Perris Auto Speedway ; Perris : CA – USAC/CRA 410
Fri : Nov. 4th – Perris Auto Speedway ; Perris : CA – USAC National Sprint Cars
Fri : Nov. 4th – Five Flags Speedway ; Pensacola : FL – Tampa Bay Auto Racing Association
Fri : Nov. 4th – Dixie Speedway ; Woodstock : GA – Super Late Models
Fri : Nov. 4th – Greenville Speedway ; Greenville : MS – NeSmith Late Models
Fri : Nov. 4th – Greenville Speedway ; Greenville : MS – Promoters Racing Organization Dirt Car Series
Fri : Nov. 4th – County Line Raceway ; Elm City : NC – Late Models
Fri : Nov. 4th – County Line Raceway ; Elm City : NC – Modifieds
Fri : Nov. 4th – Dirt Track @ Charlotte ; Concord : NC – Super DIRTcar Big Block Series
Fri : Nov. 4th – Dirt Track @ Charlotte ; Concord : NC – World of Outlaws Late Models
Fri : Nov. 4th – Dirt Track @ Charlotte ; Concord : NC – World of Outlaws Sprint Cars
Sat : Nov. 5th – Deep South Speedway ; Loxley : AL – Crate Late Models
Sat : Nov. 5th – Mobile International Speedway ; Mobile : AL – Tampa Bay Auto Racing Association
Sat : Nov. 5th – Canyon Speedway Park ; Peoria : AZ – Total Seal Late Model Dirt Series
Sat : Nov. 5th – Canyon Speedway Park ; Peoria : AZ – West Coast Late Models
Sat : Nov. 5th – Perris Auto Speedway ; Perris : CA – California Lightning Sprints
Sat : Nov. 5th – Perris Auto Speedway ; Perris : CA – USAC/CRA 410
Sat : Nov. 5th – Perris Auto Speedway ; Perris : CA – USAC National Sprint Cars
Sat : Nov. 5th – Citrus County Speedway ; Inverness : FL – Florida United Promoters Late Models
Sat : Nov. 5th – Dixie Speedway ; Woodstock : GA – Super Late Models
Sat : Nov. 5th – Waycross Motor Speedway ; Waycross : GA – United Dirt Late Models
Sat : Nov. 5th – Greenville Speedway ; Greenville : MS – NeSmith Late Models
Sat : Nov. 5th – Greenville Speedway ; Greenville : MS – Promoters Racing Organization Dirt Car Series
Sat : Nov. 5th – Ace Speedway ; Altamahaw : NC – Fall Out Invitational
Sat : Nov. 5th – Caraway Speedway ; Asheboro : NC – North/South Shootout – SK Modifieds
Sat : Nov. 5th – Caraway Speedway ; Asheboro : NC – North/South Shootout – Super Late Models
Sat : Nov. 5th – Caraway Speedway ; Asheboro : NC – North/South Shootout Tour-Type Modifieds
Sat : Nov. 5th – County Line Raceway ; Elm City : NC – Late Models
Sat : Nov. 5th – County Line Raceway ; Elm City : NC – Modifieds
Sat : Nov. 5th – Dirt Track @ Charlotte ; Concord : NC – Super DIRTcar Big Blocks
Sat : Nov. 5th – Dirt Track @ Charlotte ; Concord : NC – World of Outlaws Late Models
Sat : Nov. 5th – Dirt Track @ Charlotte ; Concord : NC – World of Outlaws Sprint Cars
Sat : Nov. 5th – Rockingham Raceway Park ; Rockingham : NC – United Auto Racing Association
Sat : Nov. 5th – Rockingham Raceway Park ; Rockingham : NC – USARacing Late Models
Sat : Nov. 5th – Atomic Speedway ; Alma : OH – AMRA Late Models
Sun : Nov. 6th – Florence Motor Speedway ; Florence : SC – Allison Legacy Race Series
Sun : Nov. 6th – Florence Motor Speedway ; Florence : SC – Southeast Limited Late Models

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