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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Off Week Flotsam and Jetsam

I don't really follow the Busch series, so two weeks into the season, this becomes an off-week for this race fan. A few items that have washed ashore.

* Learn the Rules:
It simply amazes me that in 'big time' sports, how key players or coaches don't have a full working knowledge of the rules, rule changes, and how they will effect them. Listening to the 19 this past weekend at California, during the late race red flag, there was dialogue between owner and acting 'Crew Chief', Ray Evernham, and the 'Southern Gentleman' concerning when they would be able to pit once the cars started rolling again. Rays final comment was an admission that he "wasn't up on the rule all that well".

Now I don't expect the driver to be a walking rule book, as his focus is directed at more pressing issues such as driving the car fast, and turning left. But I would expect an owner who has been in the sport for decades to have a better working understanding of the 'in-race' rules. At the very least, hire someone else that their sole job is to have close ties to Nascar and race officials and a working knowledge of the rulebook.

The 19 team is not alone in this though, and this problem even spills over to other major sports as well. In recent years, NFL teams hire ex-officials to help 'teach' the rules to players and coaches and to aid in keeping up with rule changes from season to season. The same can be said for MLB and the NHL.

* The Blame Game:
How many times do we hear that "Nascar has turned a blind eye to tradition and forgot it's roots", concerning specifically with race dates and race venues. But there is a current event in Dallas in which the similarities to the lost dates of Rockingham, North Wilks and even Darlington are so close, it is scary.

Officials with the State Fair of Texas and the City of Dallas conceded Monday that after 71 games, several national title contests, the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic will almost certainly move from its namesake stadium in Fair Park to the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium in Arlington. Rest assured, when the contract runs out in 2010, the OU/TEXAS game as well as the Grambling/Prairie View A&M will follow suit.

The question that needs to be asked is just how can such a 'tradition' be forgotten and ignored like this? That answer is simple. In order to keep 'traditions' like this, the venue, the city, and even the fans that attend need to be willing to pony up the dollars for upgrades, basic maintenance and making the game day event as pleasurable as possible. The City of Dallas owns the Cotton Bowl Stadium at Fair park, and has refused for the past 10 or so years to upgrade the antiquated facility (Although a late 'band-aid' of 30 million dollars was pledged late last year, how ever since that pledge the city has drug their feet in announcing their plans for that money). Even the fans that attend games as this venue have lowered the demand for tickets for various reasons, and are not willing to support the City in upgrading this facility.

The result as the same fate of Rockingham, North Wilks and even Darlington. That is losing event dates, and eventually shutting down the venue all together. This has little to do with ignoring tradition, it has more to do with making sound business decisions. Nascar (for the most part) has made the correct decisions just as now the Cotton Bowl is doing. If not, races would be held at venues that are falling apart because of neglect and/or poor financial backing.

* Separation of Duties:
It is pretty much common knowledge that I am quick to point out the poor 'PR' decisions made by the Spotter of the "Southern Gentleman", but giving credit where credit is due, I think the Brett Griffin is a top three spotter (if not the best). He has an uncanny ability to not only watch the 19 car, but also scanning the track to see the lines the leaders or faster cars are running and relaying that information to the driver. When the 19 car exits a corner 'better' than the cars in front of him, its a safe bet that Griffin will give the driver some positive feedback of where the car is running it's best on the track. That is not a 'pom pom' spotter by any means, but a spotter who lets the driver know where the strengths of the car seems to be.

Over the years I have listened to dozens of spotters who don't do this, and the result can be easy to see, especially when listening/watching the driver in post race interviews. Drivers that have spotters unlike Brett, simply have to search out on the own for the faster lines and it can become a trail and error.

Now if only we could see that same excellence shown by the spotter from the driver, crew chief, crew, and shop personnel, then we might see the results projected by many for the 19 team.

Just giving credit where credit is due!

3 comments:

Gvav1 said...

I guess it's hard to keep up with FranceCar's ever changing rule book!

Snafam said...

Great blogging, as usual!

From what I understand, North Wilks and the Rock were not only suffering from 'amenities' but the tracks are both in race saturation markets. Fans may 'love the racing' but did not support the tracks for the races. The tracks that have great attendance, have the money come in for upgrades.

Darlington is a great example of that...two dates, no sell-out, and they lost the traditional Labor Day weekend slot. However, they have since been filling the stands for the Mother's Day weekend, and the track was given funds for upgrades.

I hear Fontana manager Gillian Zucker is complaining that her track's spring date is too close to Vegas. I don't think a larger separation would do any good, as the Vegas race simply has more to do in the city, unlike the burg of Fontana.

Every track promotor would love to have certain key dates. However, the logistics of trying to start the NASCAR season so early requires that they race where there is a better chance of good weather. I am sure that Kansas, Chicago or Michigan would be challenged to have races earlier in the year, just as it would be misery to have a mid-summer date for Vegas. The September CTS race in Vegas can be a scorcher, even at the end of the month.

Onebadwheel.com said...

I've heard Dallas mayor Laura Miller and the city council hem and haw about doing something productive with the Cotton Bowl for years now. They just never seemed to 'get it' about why they needed to spend the money.

I wasn't surprised at all to hear they finally lost the game.