Wake us when it's over (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday May 15, 2007 12:55PM; Updated: Tuesday May 15, 2007 1:52PM
Moreover, some drivers and teams have begun savoring All-Star week more for the travel break it offers than for the Saturday night on-track action. As a result, the race has been marginalized, losing television viewers and its entertainment value. Starting this year, the race isn't even being televised by a major network. Instead, it's being picked up by SPEED channel as part of the new TV contract.
Well, the way I look at it is that the All-Star race is held for one group and one group only: the fans. It's a chance to see their favorite stars duke it out without the pressure of points on the line. So why shouldn't fans see drivers do this at a venue that offers them more excitement?
Part of the hesitancy in moving the race out of Charlotte is that teams savor the break. With most teams headquartered within an hour of the speedway, it's an opportunity for them to work from home for two consecutive weeks. If that's what the teams need, why even bother to have an All-Star race then? Just create an extra week off in the schedule so they could all stay at home.
But if they're going to race, why keep the race at Charlotte, year in, year out, I have a solution that I think will work for everyone: Start rotating the All-Star race among five tracks in and around North Carolina -- Richmond, Bristol, Martinsville, Darlington and Charlotte. With a five-track rotation, three of them short tracks, fans would be treated to the type of aggressive racing that should signify what the All-Star race is all about.
Can you imagine five of the best drivers in the sport racing neck-and-neck at Bristol with 10 laps to go, with nothing but pride on the line? How about the Track Too Tough to Tame hosting two events in two weeks, with drivers slipping and sliding all over the place in their bid for $1 million in prize money?
All five of the tracks mentioned above are within four hours of Charlotte, still giving teams a welcome break from the hectic schedule of flights all over the country.
Critics claim, of course, that the All-Star entertainment Charlotte provides can't be duplicated anywhere else. Well then, how does it work for baseball every year? Charlotte promoter Humpy Wheeler is one of the most talented personnel in the business at getting people to come to the track, but he's not going to be around forever, and some of these other tracks deserve an opportunity to create the same kind of atmosphere in their neck of the woods.
Having the All-Star race on a short track such as Richmond from time to time would make for better on-track action in the long run. All-Star racing at Charlotte may have the weight of history behind it, but right now the fans aren't getting the final product they deserve. If that means the race has to rotate racetracks in order for that to change, so be it.