Race Weekend Central

If a Tree Falls in a Forest…

Monday’s Food City 500 in Bristol actually managed to elicit a cry of excitement from me as I watched the closing laps tick down at the end of Monday afternoon.  Kyle Larson was dinged for speeding exiting pit road during the second to last caution, placing him at the tail end of the field on the restart instead of the top five position he had been carefully maintaining all day long. For a moment, visions of his first Camping World Truck run at Eldora flashed through my brain as Larson continually climbed the hill to dabble with the marbles before launching off the corner and closing in on the leaders after dispensing with the rest of the field.

Yes, it looked like in only 30 laps he could possibly muscle his way around the short track into Victory Lane. But as so often happens–and happened at Eldora–wiser and calmer heads prevailed.  Larson wiggled just one too many times on that top lane while Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 heated up its tires and set sail for the victory.

Honestly, it really was a classic short track race.  The kind that built our sport into the billion dollar business that it is. The sort of afternoon that fans in the 1990’s would talk about for weeks to come.

Yet, nobody will be talking this week.  Why? Well, it’s a combination of Mother Nature and a slump of viewer interest.  Bristol endured three long days of torrential downpours, leaving the Sunday afternoon race washed out.  Many of the fans that would have been sitting in the stands packed up their sopping tents and headed home so they could clock in at the factory on Monday. Those that would have turned on the TV at home were all safely ensconced in their cubicles and classrooms when the postponed show finally aired.

Bristol put on an awesome show, but nobody was around to see it happen.  Instead of the beating, banging, blow outs, and short tempers, Tuesday’s headlines will say that Johnson won the race and leave it at that.  We lost the opportunity to share with the new race fan just how magnificent the Last Great Coliseum really is.

In the world of entertainment, timing is everything. If you put on a great Broadway play in a small farming town in the heart of Kansas, it’s almost the same as not doing it at all.

While NASCAR is looking at ways to keep their fans in their seats at the track and in their living rooms, the sport is going to have to look at how they can still drop the green flag even when it is raining. We might have to think beyond the current iteration of rain tires and work on other methods to put the show on no matter what may come.

America’s attention span is fickle at best. If auto racing is going to maintain even a small portion of that elusive commodity, changes will have to be made.  And in the current atmosphere of “let’s try something new,” why wouldn’t they?

Something Shiny

On Saturday afternoon, the creek that borders Bristol Motor Speedway rose rapidly, flooding out the low lying campground next to the track. As Chris Buescher and some of his crew were returning from dinner, they noticed the rising waters and entered the campground to see what was up.  The teammates spent the next two hours assisting campers evacuate to higher ground.  Nice job, guys!

 

 

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