Race Weekend Central

2-Headed Monster: Is It Time to Do Away With the NASCAR All-Star Race?

The NASCAR Cup Series’ All-Star Race started in 1985 to much fanfare, and over the years it has had its share of legendary moments. However, Sunday’s (May 22) running of the event left a lot to be desired, and the ratings for the event reflected that the race was not well-received.

There were tire issues, a terrible caution call, confusing rules and controversy at Texas Motor Speedway, all of which made many wonder if the race has overstayed its welcome. Yet, many others think that the All-Star Race can survive, albeit with some tweaking. Joy Tomlinson and Stephen Stumpf debate whether or not NASCAR should do away with the All-Star Race.

Keep the All-Star Race

Don’t end the All-Star Race. Not yet, at least.

For one, it’s become more than a race; it’s a full-blown event. Texas Motor Speedway had a BMX stunt show, high dives, axe throwing and even a human cannonball there. Blake Shelton even showed up.

These activities and entertainment enhanced the atmosphere in the facility. I applaud the racetrack for doing something different and trying to make it fun for the whole family. But of course, the main reason why families go to a racetrack is to see a race.

Although the racing product wasn’t the best, it’s still a new car and had only 24 cars in the field (which went down to 20 before the end of stage two). Perhaps the teams didn’t want to do too much with their cars in case some parts got damaged? Maybe the traction compound forced there to be one main racing line. Whatever the cause is, we shouldn’t expect perfection from the Next Gen car.

But we also shouldn’t keep the race at Texas for years to come, either. So what can be done with the All-Star Race?

First, hold it at different venues every year, whether they’re on the NASCAR Cup circuit or new(ish) ones like North Wilkesboro Speedway. Even a road course could work, or maybe somewhere outside the United States. That helps to keep the racing exciting, because there’s always something different. Whichever track is chosen, though, keep in mind the weather that’s typical of the time of year in the area.

Second, change up the format. Make it a timed race, where whoever is first at the end of a set time is the winner. Or have one long stage of 150 laps, so teams can work with different pit strategies to get ahead of their rivals. Or have fans vote on the format of their choice, either before or during the race itself. Fans could vote whether they want an inversion, a required pit stop or maybe a race around the infield road course (depending on where the race is run).

What if we did half of the race at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park and the other half on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course?

And it’s an All-Star Race … why don’t we get some all stars from other series to join? Like from the Camping World Truck and Xfinity series, or even Formula 1 or NTT IndyCar Series or IMSA drivers? Of course, we’d have to make sure it’s fair for everyone, so all drivers would drive Cup cars.

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Lastly, bring back underglow lights or have special markings on the cars that make it to the ASR. If the Open was run on a different day, then the markings (like stars or certain colors on their names on the front windshield) could be added to the cars before the main event.

Whatever we do with it, don’t burn it to the ground. There’s a lot of history behind this special event, including famous finishes (like that of “One Hot Night” in 1992). All it needs is something that will make people excited about the race, so that they’ll tune in the following weeks as drivers race for points.

Besides, the 2022 event got people talking. Why end it now? – Joy Tomlinson

Drop It and Make It an Off Weekend

There was a point in time where the All-Star Race was a prestigious and anticipated weekend on the calendar.

The same could also be said for the Brickyard 400, and the plug got pulled on that event last year.

Even discounting the dwindling lack of interest in the race, NASCAR and other auto racing series don’t benefit from an all-star competition like other sports do. In the NBA and MLB, only two teams out of 30 play each other on any given night. Therefore, the All-Star weekend gives a chance for fans of these leagues to see the biggest names all at once.

In NASCAR, the drivers race each other every single weekend. Every race is an All-Star Race. Therefore, the only point of interest for the All-Star Race — which doesn’t count for series points — is the grand prize of $1 million. When that is the only draw, the concept will get stale quickly if there is little excitement to go along with it on track.

What has also grown stale is the constant changes to the format, which has occurred partially in an attempt to find a format that sticks. The races from 2014-19 at Charlotte Motor Speedway had a different format every single year, and the two races at Texas have also had different formats. When there is a lack of continuity in the race, it becomes harder to follow and gain an interest in. The Daytona 500 wouldn’t be as popular if it alternated between variable lengths or a different number of stages each year.

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If no format seems to work and there is a dwindling interest in the race, NASCAR would be better served to drop it. Just a few hours ago, the NFL announced that it is trying to improve its All-Star weekend; one of the proposals is the complete removal of the Pro Bowl game. If other leagues don’t see a reason to keep their All-Star events due to a lack of interest, NASCAR shouldn’t feel pressured to keep theirs.

The All-Star weekend would better be served as a week off, especially now that the traditional off-week at Easter has been removed from the schedule. Numerous Cup Series drivers remarked about how much they enjoyed the two-weekend break during the Summer Olympics at Tokyo, and this would give the teams and drivers a chance for a breather in what has become a compacted schedule. – Stephen Stumpf 

About the author

Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor while continuing to write daily fantasy and news articles. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.

Stephen Stumpf joined Frontstretch in September 2021. He is a staff writer and the Friday news writer. Stephen also pens the weekly “4 Burning Questions” column and contributes to “Friday Faceoff” and “2-Headed Monster.” A Texas native, Stephen started following NASCAR at age 9.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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Bill B

All Star events are kind of dog and pony shows in all sports if you think about it. Football and hockey events are really stupid because they are contact sports and no one wants to risk injury for a dog and pony show, so we get an event that is a total farce. On the other hand, baseball’s All Star game is the sport that most resembles a real, regular season game. In the end it is what it is. Fans either watch or they don’t.

Big Tex

If you actually go to the event in Texas, it’s very enjoyable. There is lots to do besides the race (just like other all-star events), and the racing is terrific. The segments work great at Texas, and you get straight to the action. 500 miles is too long there, even for the playoffs.

johndawgchapman

NASCAR Cup Series has one of the most grueling schedules in sports.

Give them a break for that week.

If they insist on running it, let’s go with truth in advertising, & just rename it the Cluster, because that’s what it’s turned into.

stubbscupseriesdotcom

If Texas really has to have 2 races, why can’t we make the All-Star Race be on the quarter mile frontstretch track and have 2 exciting .25 mile exhibition races? (Assuming the LA Clash stays)

Larry D

Want to make it exciting? Make the winner’s share $10 million!! Otherwise, get rid of the race altogether. Half the cars equal about 1/4 of the excitement.

Last edited 1 month ago by Larry D
Jeremy

OK, so there is an actual good idea! But let’s expand on it. Let’s bump the purse… The winner of the “All Star Race” should get $25 million. But you have to qualify to make the All Star Race! How do you qualify? By winning a race!

Such a lofty purse for one event should be used to improve racing throughout the season, right? So let’s meld the “All Star” race with the final “Season Championship” race. That’s right, race #36 is also the “All Star” Race. If you’re not in the “Final 4” or have not won a race during the season, you don’t start the final race.

So, for the entire year an entry to the All Star race (and chance at $25 million) is on the line. Each and every race is valuable to all drivers. Think about it. If you win even just once, you get a shot at $25 million. PLUS the more races you win the fewer competitors you have in the final event. Better odds of winning it all! AND the final race will be an elbows up, get on the wheel and Git R Done event for all drivers in the field! NO ONE will be rolling over for the Championship contenders, as they will ALL be gunning for $25 Million!!

Bill B

Interesting idea but isn’t that more than winning the Daytona 500 or Championship pays? If so, I see a problem with a ridiculous exhibition race being the highest paying event during the season. Too much like the tail wagging the dog.

Jeremy

Fair points. I personally don’t care about the Daytona 500 (not in it’s current pack racing iteration), but since NASCAR likes to tout it as their “Main Event” it should have at least a similar purse as the All Star race, and the Championship purse should definitely be bumped up – I’d think double what Daytona and/or the All Star pays would be a good starting point. Even more motivation for the Champion contenders to do whatever it takes to win – basically two major bonuses for the same race!

Hmmm. Maybe the money is the problem? What if we starve the drivers? They get little pay, just enough to survive, then these purses could be as low as $100K each and the drivers would gouge each other’s eyes out for the money if given the chance. Unlike today where they’re sitting in their million dollar coaches after flying in on their private jets, so finishing second and missing out on a few more millions is kind of “meh”.

OK, that’s probably not a good idea either. I’ll stop now before NASCAR decides my bad ideas are actually good and tries to implement them!

Kicks

“What if we did half of the race at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park and the other half on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course?”

That sounds like something BZF would come up with. I’ve been to both tracks and it simply would not be practical. The tracks are not next to each other. Run half the race, load the cars on the transporters, drive to the other track, unload the cars and run the other half of the race while hoping no shenanigans happened to the cars in between? The entire audience, in person and on tv, would probably disappear during that intermission.

The ASR has become a Ringling Bros show and like the traveling circus it is due for retirement.

Old Fan

Ooh! I have a better idea. Let’s run 1/2 the race on the Indy road course, then race through the streets of Indy (since they want a street course) to IRP to finish the race there!

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