By admin | May 26, 2009
By Richard Allen
I often use this blog space to criticize NASCAR for a wide variety of things. However, an organization that has been around for 60 years and has risen to the top of its particular area of concentration must do some things well. And, I do not like to be negative all the time so I have decided to list a few of those things the sanctioning body does well.
First, NASCAR pulled off one of the more classy moves in the sports world on Memorial Day when they stopped the Coca-Cola 600 and had drivers silence their engines in honor of America’s fallen war heroes.
President Obama had asked all of America to observe a moment of silence at 3:00pm on Monday. At that time, the race was short of the half-way point which would be required to make the race official. Rain was moving in the direction of the Lowe’s Motor Speedway and stopping the race as they did could have jeopardized their ability to reach lap 200, but they stopped anyway.
That was the right thing to do and it showed both respect and class.
Another thing NASCAR does well was also demonstrated during the Coca-Cola 600. NASCAR has often used what is referred to as a ‘competition caution’ when there is a need to. In other words, they will put out the yellow flag on a predetermined lap early in a race if there has been some sort of change. If it has rained since the last practice, if there has been an issue with tires during practice or any number of other situations that might create problems during the running of the event for drivers and teams. These cautions allow teams to better understand the conditions they are racing under.
Again, competition cautions are the right thing to do in many instances.
I believe NASCAR is dedicated to safety. I know there are many who criticize them for moving too slowly on certain issues, but all in all, I believe they want this sport to be safe for all involved.
For all its faults, there is no question the Car of Tomorrow is safer than its predecessor. Hans devices, freezing the field under caution and pit road speed limits are among numerous changes to be enacted in recent years. All of the things have made racing safer.
NASCAR has even worked to make qualifying more entertaining. They responded to the suggestions of competitors and television networks to group the so called ‘go or go homers’ at the end of each session so that the drama of who would make the field and who wouldn’t could play out to its fullest extent.
And above all else, NASCAR promotes itself very well. Even those who focus their attention on other sports will often remark that they wish their sport promoted as well as NASCAR. Perhaps the only sport as good at promotion is the National Football League. Major League Baseball could take lessons.
There are other things NASCAR does well. It is my favorite sport, and the favorite sport of many more, for a reason. Certainly, there are things I would like to see done differently. But when it gets down to it, there is nothing like the sights and sounds of stock car racing.
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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