By admin | June 9, 2011
By Richard Allen
I hate walking simply for the sake of walking but I need to do something to get myself moving. To that end I have devised an activity that keeps my interest up as I make my nightly jaunt around my neighborhood. Each night as I start out I devise a racing related topic or two and try to get a discussion going on Twitter. It has worked so well this past week that I have not missed a night of walking and often forget how many laps around the subdivision I have traveled.
Whenever the Sprint Cup Series visitâ€™s the Pocono Raceway, the topic of race length invariably comes up. So I decided to have Thursday nightâ€™s topic revolve around the length of races.
I used to be of the opinion that the longer the race the better. However, over the past few years of attending more dirt track events and years of sitting through NASCAR television coverage I have come to think many races on the schedule need to be shortened.
As a matter of fact, I would suggest that only three races -the Daytona 500, the Southern 500 and the Coca-Cola 600- need to remain at a length of 500+ miles. No other race should be longer than 400 miles or laps, depending on track length.
There are several reasons why I have come to this conclusion. First, we live in an age in which attention spans have grown shorter. Now, I am very rarely one who advocates a break from tradition just because it is the trendy thing to do. However, in this case it may be more than trendy, it may be necessary for the survival of the sport.
I am a high school teacher by trade and I can tell you that fewer and fewer kids of today will grow into adults of tomorrow who will be willing to invest 4 hours into a NASCAR race on a Sunday afternoon. That said, traditions will have to be thrown aside, or at least adjusted, to accommodate the next generation or the sport will die altogether.
Secondly, the need for the 500 mile race has passed. Many years ago, 500 mile races separated good equipment from bad and the well prepared from the not so well prepared. Nowadays, cars rarely drop out of races due to mechanical failure. And more, with better conditioning and technology, drivers rarely need relief so the 500 mile races are not necessarily serving as a test of man or machine anymore.
And lastly, I believe shorter races would encourage harder racing. With less time to get the objective accomplished, drivers would be forced to get to the front of the pack as quickly as possible rather than bide their time and wait for an opportunity to make a move.
Tracks and television networks would likely balk at such a suggestion. And some fans might feel as though they were not getting enough bang for the buck.
To counter this I would suggest a system much like that used in dirt racing. After qualifying on Saturday, the field could be broken into four groups. Those four groups would compete in 25 mile or lap qualifying races on Sunday. Those races would determine starting positions for the main event and would also determine pit stall selection, which would cause drivers to race hard in the qualifiers.
Television could sign on the air and go immediately to the heat races. After these races ended, the network could do its pre-race interview and feature segments while crews prepared for the feature race.
Tracks would benefit from having an intermission which would invariably send fans to the concession stands during the lull. And ultimately for the fans, there would be more or at least as much racing, and more meaningful racing, packed into the day.
In my opinion, Sprint Cup races should be shorter for the reasons I listed above. But there is a way in which television, tracks and fans could come out better in the end.
And as for my walking, I plan to be doing more of it but Iâ€™m afraid my neighbors may think Iâ€™m disoriented or worse as I often wander all over the road while looking down at my phone. Join me on Twitter if you would like to get in on the discussion.
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