By admin | February 26, 2012
By Richard Allen
As we heard countless times during the television broadcast on Sunday or by reading posts on Twitter, “You can’t race in the rain.” And, “We can’t control the weather.” Both of those statements seem completely obvious. But for whatever reason, some felt the need to state them anyway.
The problem isn’t in the facts that racing stock cars in the rain is not feasible or that we can’t control the weather. The problem is that once it became apparent that the weather was going to ruin the day on Sunday, there was an opportunity missed when the decision of when to run the Daytona 500 was made.
With no disrespect intended, the Daytona 500 is not the same as a race at Martinsville or Pocono. It’s the premier event on the NASCAR schedule. Where the sanctioning body’s ‘as early as possible on the next clear day’ policy may be fine for any other track, it is not necessarily the best option for ‘The Great American Race’ or the ‘Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing’.
Contesting the sport’s biggest event mid-day on a Monday amounts to a lost opportunity to showcase the product on its brightest stage. No other event on the schedule garners the same type of attention as this one. Thus, it should not be treated the same as the others.
So, what should have been done?
Here’s a suggestion that might have actually turned the negative happening of a rainout into a positive. The new race time should have been set for Monday evening instead of Monday at noon.
Just look at the success the NFL has had staging big events on Monday nights. How does ‘Monday Night Racing’ sound?
And aside from the NFL, perhaps the next biggest sporting event in America as far as garnering massive amounts of attention is the NCAA Basketball Tournament. It’s championship game is on…Monday evening.
After weeks of NASCAR and its television partners hyping the coming of Danica Patrick, the weather actually presented an opportunity to showcase her Sprint Cup debut in the sport’s premier event in prime time. Instead, she and every other driver may very well race at a time when the majority of the country is at work or school and will only see a brief clip on ESPN SportsCenter that night.
This could have been the same type of perfect storm that was once provided by weather during the 1979 running of the Daytona 500 when what is perhaps NASCAR’s most historic race was run in front of a newly exposed television audience on a day in which much of the country was socked in by a major snowstorm.
An audience of the full nation could have been watching the 2012 Daytona 500 in prime time.
There are arguments against this proposal. For example, what of the fans at the track who would not be able to hang around that much longer?
Here’s how those fans could have had this situation made up to them. Offer a promotion such as a two for one ticket discount for the rarely sold out Coke Zero 400 in July or either of the two races at the other behemoth track owned by International Speedway Corp. at Talladega. Those three races often have large sections of empty seats when they are contested and could benefit from the special offer. Or, there could even be a discount offered for the 2013 Daytona 500 to make amends for the inconvenience.
Another argument against waiting might be that teams will face a difficult turnaround with a race the next week in Phoenix, Arizona. Again, the Daytona 500 is the sport’s premier event. Phoenix, a track also owned by ISC, could be told to make adjustments such as having all Sprint Cup practice and qualifying on Saturday while Nationwide Series preliminary events could be moved entirely to Friday to clear up the track’s schedule.
Or, some might suggest that the Fox Network might balk at an intrusion into their Monday night lineup. To that, I would think a solution could be worked out.
No, you can’t race in the rain and there is nothing anyone can do about the weather. But the biggest race on the NASCAR schedule should never be treated like it is just another race. In my opinion, there was a real opportunity missed here.
According to the Daytona Beach area weather forecast, a Monday night race may come to pass anyway. However, luck and happenstance should not be the key factors involved in making the best of an unavoidable situation.
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