It is no secret that big things are in motion for the new “Generation 7” version of NASCAR. This goes beyond the car type and an overhaul of the entire organization. Big on that list is the trimming of the schedule from 36 events down to, as rumored, 28 races.
With that in mind, I began to ponder what tracks could lose a date. My first instinct is to totally pull events from tracks I’m not fond of, that includes Fontana (Auto Club Speedway), Texas, Pocono, and a few others. My knee jerk reaction is my opinion and actually not what would be beneficial to NASCAR overall.
Case in point Auto Club Speedway, which hosted the race this past weekend. The crowd was meh and the race was meh, but it is an important stop. For NASCAR they can leverage the Hollywood angle and judging by the turn out of celebrities for the event, it was a success in that regard. True is with Texas, where it hits a top TV market and you can’t deny that. Kansas Speedway gets into the Midwest area, which is one that was hardly hit during NASCAR’s 90s heyday.
I would love to remove Indianapolis as the race is always dull, but the history and prestige of the event always keeps me coming back. Michigan is along those lines in that it’s a dull race, but the ties to Detroit and the automobile industry will keep two races there.
The other issue at hand is places like Phoenix (ISM Raceway) where massive capital projects have been made to improve the experience for the fans. It’s hard to see ISC (track owner and arm of NASCAR/NASCAR is trying to buy them) taking a date away from them. Richmond and Talladega are other venues doing that.
Side note, looking at Talladega’s rendering, I think it’s great. If you’re not a NASCAR fan. My example is this, I went to a local baseball game this past summer. Not a baseball fan, but it sounded like a good reason not to go into work that day. I spent the event chatting with friends, walking around the stadium, enjoying the creative food they sold and probably only watched 2 innings of baseball. I enjoyed the experience and would go back, but if I’m going to Talladega I want to watch the race and not mingle. It’s a very interesting concept.
Back to the matter at hand, so you might be handcuffed on where you can pick dates from or eliminate. That said, I’m surprised they don’t want to go to 30 races, do 20 regular season and keep the 10 playoffs. It’s a more round number, but if they want to cut more, have at it. To eliminate eight events, you really have to be serious and take a look at what is best for the sport and not the bottom line. That’ll be quite the challenge.
Doing research for another project, I’ve noticed that the schedule has always been the same in spirit in that it starts in February (sometimes January) and always ends in November. We need that to stop, mid-October at the latest is when it should end.
The criteria for keeping multiple events at a venue must be high as well, not every track needs a second date. For me, I would eliminate a single race from Dover, Pocono, Texas, Kansas, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Those I could do without blinking an eye, but that only gets us to 30 events and doesn’t add any venues like Nashville. To accomplish adding additional tracks I would offer up Michigan and Talladega.
It is going to be interesting how this all shakes out, maybe we get to a point where we only visit a track once. That opens everything up to visit 28 (or so) tracks across the country and maybe get more of the short tracks and road course fans are clamoring for.