By admin | July 22, 2013
By Richard Allen
Like many, I was excited months ago when NASCAR announced that its Camping World Truck Series would race on the dirt at the famed Eldora Speedway during the 2013 season. I am an avid dirt racing fan and last year attended over 50 dirt late model races as a reporter for my own TennesseeRacer.com website as well as for DirtonDirt.com.
And now that the week of the Mudsummer Classic has arrived, I still look forward to seeing the trucks do battle on the Tony Stewart owned half-mile oval located near Rossburg, Ohio.
However, as a dirt racing fan, a certain degree of anxiety has crept into my thinking as the July 24th race date approaches. This will be the first time in over 40 years that NASCAR has sanctioned a dirt race for one of its three top divisions, and therein lies an opportunity to benefit both dirt racing and NASCAR. But lately, I am starting to wonder if this foray from the norm might do as much harm as good to one or both forms of racing.
Make no mistake, the MudSummer Classic has created tremendous buzz for the sport as a whole, and dirt racing in particular. There have been few times when I can remember so many people talking about this form of racing. That is absolutely a good thing. Anytime more eyes can be focused on the product, the better.
On the flip side, however, there is a chance this race could be a disaster. Drivers unaccustomed to racing on dirt could cause so many cautions that the average person watching this form of racing for the first time might come away thinking that attending a “real” dirt race would not be very much fun if they just have caution after caution for spins.
So a concern is that fans might actually be turned off by what they see, when they aren’t even seeing the real product.
But to take a more positive viewpoint, there will be a number of fans watching on Wednesday night that will be exposed to dirt racing for the first time. And they might just like what they see enough to go visit their local track. That would be a very good thing.
There will also be dirt fans who might watch a NASCAR race where normally they would not even consider such. What some may not realize is that there is a real disconnect among many in the dirt racing world toward NASCAR. When discussing this upcoming race with a somewhat prominent figure in dirt late model racing, he said, “We don’t need NASCAR involved in dirt racing in any way.”
That is not an uncommon thought in this form of the sport. Perhaps this brief unification will benefit both. Dirt racing will receive exposure and NASCAR could mend some fences with an alienated fan base.
The ultimate impact of this race on both NASCAR and dirt racing won’t be known for a while. But at least the majority of fans are going into the race with a positive attitude.
In a poll conducted by Fox Sports on their website, 23% of respondents said “I’ve had this date marked on my calendar” regarding the truck race at Eldora while another 42% replied “NASCAR on dirt? Sounds like a winner”. That’s 65% of the total who responded to the poll question that were in favor of this event. Hopefully, the race will live up to everyone’s expectations.
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