By admin | July 27, 2008
By Richard Allen
In 1994 when stock cars made their first appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway it seemed like a big deal, and it was.
At that time NASCAR was in the process of leaving all other forms of American motor sports well behind. As the unquestioned leader of the U.S. racing scene NASCAR should have been racing on America’s, or rather the world’s, biggest racing stage. And more, open wheel racing, formerly the sole proprietor of IMS, was in the process of tearing itself apart.
Now, is racing at “The Brickyard” still a special event for stock cars?
After yesterday’s race this may not be a fair question, or maybe it is.
With the reduced speed, conservation and pit stop contest held there on Sunday it would be difficult to find many who could argue in favor of this track being good for the sport of stock car racing. After all, this is a race on a track which is not conducive to competitive racing. Cars often get strung out and there is very little passing or side by side racing.
And more, the pit road is too narrow for these big heavy cars which often causes contending cars to be knocked out of contention while not even on the race track.
Granted, the track is steeped in racing tradition and as a history teacher I am a big fan of tradition. However, that tradition is not for this kind of racing.
The Indianapolis 500 is the biggest racing event in the world because of that tradition. That event can get by with a bad race or two and still keep fans coming back because so much of the event is based on things that take place before the race even starts.
Stock car racing at “The Brickyard” depends much more on the level of competition than does the other race held on this track.
NASCAR has found a bit of an historical niche with the kissing of the bricks but that does not really make up for the typical lack of good racing.
This race is often called the second biggest event on the NASCAR schedule, and at one time it was. Now, however, with that point I must respectfully disagree. I consider the Coca-Cola 600, Talladega, Darlington and maybe even the Bristol night race to be bigger than this race. I know the purse is a good one but it takes more than prize money to make an event special.
I wholeheartedly believe NASCAR should be racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But in my mind at least, “The Brickyard” has lost a bit of its significance over time, and the 2008 version is not going to help it regain any of its former prominence.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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