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Changing start times because of weather for NASCAR races not feasible or a good idea

By admin | September 4, 2011

By Richard Allen


With rain bearing down on the Atlanta Motor Speedway, some have proposed the possibility of changing the start times of races in order to get events in before the inclement weather arrives. While juggling pre-race activities to gain five or ten minutes toward the start is certainly feasible, gaining hours is not.

Even when the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee arriving on Sunday evening and ruining the race seemed about as inevitable as night fall itself, a start time could not have been changed so dramatically as several hours.

The television contracts between NASCAR and its network partners would not allow for a change of three or four hours. Quite simply, there is a matter of obligation that would not withstand a legal challenge of a major change were to be made at a late hour.

While it may seem logical for the network to want to get the race in, even if it has to be moved up, advertising is sold, promotion is done and other programs are scheduled based on a pre-set start time.

And more, many people plan to leave their homes or hotels in order to get to the track at a certain time. A major change would open the sanctioning body up to a storm of criticism from fans who missed out. Imagine the local news broadcasts and sports talk radio shows filled with the stories of woe from fans who had tickets and arrived at the originally appointed time only to find out the race was already over.

Even in this era of smart phones and social networking, there would be a significant multitude who would not get the word if a change were to be announced early on race day or even the night before.

But aside from television issues and the difficulty for fans, the biggest reason NASCAR should never move a start time forward by several hours is that they might get too used to the idea. If there is any sports organization who does not need to have much leeway in its decision making, it is NASCAR. Few sanctioning bodies have shown such a mastery of making bad decisions as this one.

Quite simply, I would be very leery of the top levels of NASCAR brass being allowed to stray very far from the previously agreed upon script.

*The race is now tentatively set for Tuesday at 11:00am.

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