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Woody: Don’t Tamper With Talla’

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, November 4 2009
The racing at Talladega allowed Larry Woody's to multi-task on Suday as he watched and napped at same time. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The racing at Talladega allowed columnist Larry Woody to multi-task on Suday. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

I remember a time when drivers had trouble sleeping the night before Talladega.

Now they have trouble staying awake during the race.

At one point during last Sunday’s race – using the term loosely – Tony Stewart radioed his crew that he was having a problem keeping his eyes open.

Trust me Tony, you weren’t the only one. About mid-race I switched over to watch old re-runs of the Joy of Dry-Walling.

Drivers spent most of the race running single-file, with points-leader Jimmie Johnson lollygagging in the back, and despite some late-lap fireworks, the overall affair was a snoozer by past Talladega standards.

I think the problem was due to two things. For starters, the race followed a scenario that has been typical this season – a lot of riding followed by a little racing. Fans should get a 95-percent refund on their tickets because they get to see only about 5 percent of actual racing.

Secondly was the pre-race warning by NASCAR not to touch anybody. Specifically NASCAR warned drivers not to “bump draft” in the corners.

Great. In a season in which fans are nodding off and tumbling out of the stands from sheer boredom, NASCAR tells drivers not to bump into each other.

(In other news, the NFL has called all its players together and warned them not to hit anybody.)

Over the years I’ve generally defended NASCAR and its decisions because I thought it was acting in the best interest of the drivers and the sport.

But this is getting ridiculous.

NASCAR, with its new car, tells drivers what to drive. At Talladega and Daytona it restricts how fast they drive and when and where they’re allowed to pass. Now it’s telling them how carefully to drive.

It’s about to regulate the life out of the sport.

I realize that NASCAR is concerned about safety. But driving race cars is not safe. It never has been and it never will be, not entirely. Especially on monster tracks like Talladega.

Look what happened last Sunday: even with NASCAR’s no-bumping edict, Ryan Newman still took one of the wildest tumbles in history, followed by a predictable pileup near the end.

The no-bump rule didn’t make the racing any safer. It just made it more boring.

NASCAR is searching for a creature that doesn’t exist: a Completely Safe Race.

It’s made great strides by cushioning the walls, mandating better cockpit restraints and making the cars virtually invincible – witness Carl Edwards’ Talladega tumble in the spring and Newman’s cartwheels last Sunday, both escaping without a scratch.

At Talladega NASCAR has further slowed the cars and raised the catch-fence. That’s about all it can do. It’s about all it SHOULD do. It’s time to stop the tampering.

Drop the starting flag and get the heck out of the way.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, November 4 2009
8 Comments

8 Comments »

  • Nero fiddles (Brian France) while Rome (Nascar) burns. Que sera, sera,

  • Jim R. says:

    Here is what should be done with both Talladega and Daytona:
    Have Junior come to these tracks twice a year with his #88 race car and give rides around the track to everyone willing to pay $200.00 and sign a release form. The car would be unrestricted so Junior can run as fast as he is capable of running. Motorsports Authentics can set up as many souvenir trucks as they think they will need just outside turn 4. The track could make it a one, two day or three day event. The races scheduled for these four dates during the year would be moved to real tracks that hold real races. It’s a win – win for everyone: Junior Nation gets to worship their idol in his two “churches”, NASCAR allows their fan base to get what they want… J U N I O R, Motorsports Authentics does not have to go through the bothersome motions of pretending to represent other drivers and the media can focus on just Junior for the whole weekend without having to make excuses for him. The best part is that real fans of motor racing won’t have to watch the travisty that occurs on these two tracks.

  • Richard in N.C. says:

    Good comments. As I recall, Robert Yates has been suggesting downsizing the Cup engines for several years. It seems to me that if they don’t reduce engine size soon, there are likely to become problems at the 1.5 and 2 mile tracks as the teams keep wringing more HP out of the engines.

  • MiK Watson says:

    It’s not a matter of leaving Talledega alone. I don’t WANT the speeds lowered, I want to see cars going as fast as they can go, within the rules. I want to see the drivers have racing cars. I want to have the best team win because he was the best, not because everybody else was taken out by “The Big One”.

    The first order of business is to reduce the engine displacement. They are getting 800HP out of 358cid! Richard Petty’s crew had 650-700hp from 427cid. Reduce the engines to 300(305?)cid and LET THEM WORK ON THEM! The crews will get 700hp, eventually.

    Next, The fencing was a nice, political move, but you know, and I know, that a car with a straight shot at it WILL land in the grandstands. THAT is unacceptable! The walls themselves should be raised, especially in the tri-oval, where the most tragic crashes have occurred. To ignore that fact is asking to be reminded by fate. Adding another 2 pcs of 8″x8″ iron on top of what’s there would decrease the odds of a car getting over it.

    Lastly, get the cars as aerodynamic as going backwards as frowards. Ryan Newman (#39) said that last year. Until they get the cars to stay down, there will be a risk of fans and drivers getting killed.

    That’s what needs to be done, Larry. To leave it alone is to ask someone to get killed for our entertainment. I don’t want to be involved with THAT!

    While they are revamping the seating, they should take out that lower section where the parts land.

  • Ed Smith says:

    NASCAR did exactly the right thing with the Talladega race: they made it so I could watch my NFL team’s entire game, then switch over to ABC and see the only action of the entire race! And they also convinced me to stay home next weekend and not spend my $$ on a ticket (and concessions, etc) to the Texas race! Yep, the NFL, and the cable channels that air (the always exciting – compared to NASCAR) “Joy of Dry-Walling”, owe Brian France and Mike Helton a “thank you” for putting a dagger in the heart of ABC’s sunday afternoon ratings!

  • Tim Smith says:

    I agree that steps taken this year and in the past are largely meaningless. But this race and track are a disgrace. It’s just not real racing, and it’s overly dangerous to boot. It looks like rush hour on a freeway. Nobody goes anywhere as the traffic clump snakes along. We need a major blowup — whether that’s rebuilding the track and lowering the banking, or whether it’s a new “formula” for the race engines or something equally radical. It’s just not working. Ask Ryan Newman. I also worry that NASCAR and ISC will never want to spend any money to make major changes to the track, but they need to step up and do their part — and not be their usual cheap and greedy selves. As to the engines — we don’t need 900 horsepower for good racing. Go to smaller, less powerful engines with rev limiters that do not require restrictor plates, which in turn gives good throttle response and allows for “normal” racing/driving/drafting tactics and far more safety that comes with it.

  • The0real0slander says:

    What should be done, at both Talladega and Daytona, is to get rid of the restrictor plates, drop the banking enough that the drivers _have_ to lift, and give control of the racing back to the drivers.

  • JohnP says:

    I agree with the smaller motor Larry. Get rid of the restrictor plate and run a smaller V8 motor at the two superspeedways only. Use the normal motor on the rest of the track. Keep it a V8 so they sound the same as current motors. Yes, the V6’s do sound different. I do not proclaim to know the C.I. of motors down to the numbers. But, I do recall a 289 C.I. motor by either Ford or GM. Smaller then the current block. Anyway, all the race motors are “built” motors by any standard, I’m not even sure if there built on the current “stock” blocks from the manufactures. So mandating a small motor can not be that hard to accomplish at all. Then, turn them loose at Daytona and Tallageda and let them race.