By admin | February 12, 2013
By Richard Allen
WordÂ has been out for a whileÂ that the powers that be at the Indianapolis Motor SpeedwayÂ are considering installing lights around that 2.5 mile facility for the purpose of running the NASCAR sanctioned Brickyard 400 at night rather than as a day race. The cost of such an undertaking would run into the tens of millions of dollars.
To help cover those costs, IMS is seeking additional tax revenues from the state of Indiana through a piece of legislation working its way through the state legislature. Also, remember that just after the New Year, fiscal cliff legislation in Washington allowed race tracks an extension on a tax break that allows them to write off investments made on their property.
Financing aside, what real benefits would come from the addition of lights around this most historic of tracks?
As a history teacher, I love tradition and it has been my long standing belief that NASCAR should be racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway… with its Sprint Cup division that is. The moving of the Nationwide Series race away from Indianapolis Raceway Park(or whatever its current corporate name) is a matter to be addressed on another day.
But for all its tradition and grandeur, IMS does not produce great racing. For that matter, itÂ rarely evenÂ produces good racing.
Would that fact change with the addition of lights?Â It would be hard to believe that any real change in terms of the quality of racing would occurÂ just because the race were runÂ in a different time slot. A single-file parade race at night is hardly any better than aÂ parade race run during the day time. Â
There are certainly benefits to night racing. Fan comfort during the summer months is certainly a worthy consideration. Television ratings could potentially be a bit better in prime time, although viewership of NASCAR races has been in a somewhat steady decline since 2007.
It remains to be seen if NASCAR’s new Gen-6 race car will make any sort of real difference in the quality of racing on “aero-dependent” tracks such as IMS and the 1.5 mile “cookie cutters”. If the new car helps improve racing and takes some of the parade element out, then it won’t matter so much what time the races are run. If the new car doesn’t help improve racing, then installing lights on such a big track will prove to be little more than an expensive gimmick.
The truth of the matter is, I just don’t see where the installation of lights will make much difference. A parade is a parade and good racing is good racing. Fans know the difference and won’t be fooledÂ in either theÂ darkness or the light.
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