Story by Paul Blaufuss. Photo courtesy Formula 1.
- The Formula One season appears to be shaping up to be as, ahem, ‘competitive’ as ever. The championship will be between two drivers; Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. But for a series to be basically decided this early? To effectively eliminate the remainder of the field after only two races is a problem, even for the most dedicated of F1 fans. Modern F1 may be a spectacular technology and money parade; but one thing it is not, at present, is racing.
- So after several races in the books, what do you make of the new NASCAR rules, and segment racing? At this stage I can only offer an indifferent shoulder shrug. Competitive racing is of course the worthiest of goals; just not when it is achieved by contrived, artificial means. It’s the wrong answer given to a much more complex question.
- I received three calls this week from the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office asking to renew my tickets. One can only assume sales are not strong. I remember the days when as soon as a race ended, before leaving the track, we would run down from the grandstands to the ticket office and renew our seats for the following year. We had to, as the races sold out every year, and we did not want to lose our seats. It was not that long ago.
- Shortening the NASCAR season by a few races would not hurt. There is no reason to be racing into mid-November.
- It’s great to see so many graduates of the CMS Tuesday Night Legends racing series moving up into NASCAR’s top tier series. Past Summer Shootout competitors include Kaz Grala, Daniel Hemric, Bubba Wallace and William Byron, among so many others. The CMS Tuesday night Summer Shootout races are an inexpensive, family friendly night out. And the races present the future stars of the sport, as they are just beginning their driving careers.
- On the other end of the spectrum, my kids wanted to go to the Daytona 500 this year. I checked into tickets. The least expensive on the front straight was $150. For a family of 4, that is $600 to watch a 2 ½ hour sporting event. And that is sitting in the worst seats. Then add travel expenses on top. I can’t go for that, no can do. I am one of racing’s most dedicated fans. However I am also a working shmuck in a cubicle farm, and I simply cannot afford that kind expense. And in turn racing loses exposure to its future fans in the process.
- I drove past CMS last week, and something did not look right. As I approached the stop light, I looked up at the track and it occurred to me: the turn 4 grandstands have been removed. Probably 10,000 more seats, gone. In addition to the 60,000 or so removed over the last few years. I took my daughter to the fall race last year, and we had an entire section on the front straight to ourselves. Behind closed doors, NASCAR must be alarmed. And for a life-long race fan, what is happening is just plain sad to watch.
- Should all tracks on the calendar be guaranteed yearly dates? Perhaps the time has come for tracks to not automatically receive a yearly NASCAR race, much less two. Should tracks earn their races? Perhaps some races could be rotated among tracks? Should races be awarded by ticket sales/ support? Could it be time to shake things up and bring back Wilkesboro and / or the Rock on a rotating basis? (HELL YEAH!) Is it time to add a dirt track race? (DOUBLE HELL YEAH!) Now all that would generate some excitement. I don’t know; competition in any market generally improves results. (I know, I know, like any of this would ever happen.)
- Word is the Charlotte NASCAR fall race in 2018 will be run on the infield road course. The course is fairly tight from what I recall, and the first corner may be really interesting. I am sure the campers who may lose their spots on Redneck Hill may not be pleased, but what do you think?
- Now that Bernie Ecclestone is finally on his way out, hopefully smarter powers that be can figure out how to make F1 racing more competitive and interesting, and elevate lesser teams competitively and financially, without resorting to gimmickry. (PLEASE no ‘push to pass’ buttons and other such shlock!)
- I’m in favor of scaling back the F1 technologic requirements (such as KERS, for example), and lightening the rule book. Strict technical rules certainly do not seem to save teams money, nor improve the quality of racing. Rich teams just spend all the more money, and still win. Smaller teams in turn find it all the harder to compete. F1 is after all first and foremost a drivers’ championship, not a technology championship.
- Racing has always been more interesting to me when the cars are diverse and engineers are allowed to be creative. Spec racing to me has little appeal. And what have many major racing series basically become nowadays? Exactly.
- Perhaps this is one reason why sportscar racing and the NHRA has maintained its attraction to me, and others as the fan base seems to keep growing. Headers, cylinder heads, blowers look a little different car to car. A savvy engineer can still make an impact, even with a lower budget.
- Next time you are at a race, in most any series, tell me how many teens, 20-somethings and millenials you see in the stands. I suspect there will not be that many. Time was that the younger age range was racing’s bread and butter market. No longer. Racing is not connecting with younger generations, and the average race fan’s age is visibly increasing. Some races I have attended recently had all the excitement of Bingo night at grandma’s Autumn Heights Senior Living Home.
- The question is what can be done to reverse this trend? What does racing need to do to reverse the attendance slide in general? And in particular how does racing break the teens and twenty somethings away from their IPod-doodles and get them out to the races? What must be done to engage the younger demographic?
- Two Indy car races down and two street parades. Yawn. How can any series/ promoter expect open wheel cars to race on 1 ½ lane wide circuits between concrete barricades? Much less make the event interesting? More often than not pass attempts result in strewn carbon fiber and a crumpled car against a barricade. I realize the city street races are an interesting spectacle. I attended every Toronto Molson Indy for many years. It is definitely cool to see cars hit 190 in city streets. However these style circuits just do not produce compelling racing. I truly wish Indycar focused on its oval short track roots, reconnected with sprint racing, mods, and held road races primarily on the fixed circuits.
- And let me get this straight…..NASCAR wanted to make races shorter and more watchable, so they added two contrived 10 minute breaks in the middle of races? Everyone knows cautions breed cautions. And so the races seem longer than ever. Brought to you by real men of genius. I would not be opposed to NASCAR awarding more points for qualifying and at halfway in the race, or whatever; but why force two unnecessarily long stoppages in the process?
- At least the current Formula One cars are more aesthetically appealing. Finally, after a decade of overly technical rules resulting in unusual appearing machines, the cars now are finally in proportion. Most of all they just look cool, as any proper racecar should.
- Now can someone please do the same for Indycars? #fugly!
- I found a cool website with old Formula 1 photos from the Glen. Racing the way it used to be, the way it still should be. For those too young to remember, check out the 6 wheel Tyrrell. Ah, those were the days. glenphotos.com
- And no matter how much I may bitch, I will always love racing. My gripes are always with the best intentions with an aim to improve racing, and at the same time recognize all that is good. I will always be at the races.
Happy Easter to all, and I hope to see you at the track!