Woody: TV Bumps Bristol For NFL Practice Game
Larry Woody | Senior Writer
Nashville’s ABC affiliate Channel 2 will bump Saturday night’s Bristol race in favor of an NFL exhibition game between the Tennessee Titans and Chicago Bears.
I’m sure there are contractual complications involved, but for whatever reason(s) the decision is telling:
In Middle Tennessee, once a hot-bed of NASCAR racing, one of the most exciting races of the season is bumped off the local network in favor of a meaningless NFL scrimmage.
(Back when I covered the NFL I referred to a pre-season game as an “exhibition” game. I received a snooty note from the league office telling me to please use the proper term: “pre-season game.” Ever since then I make sure to call them “exhibitions.”)
Back to racing: In practical terms Bristol’s bump from ABC is not that big a deal because the race will be carried on ESPN2, available in this area through most cable servers. Most race fans who want to watch the state’s single-biggest sports event will still get the opportunity. (Or listen on radio – a pleasure more fans should try.)
But the message is sublime: what was once the most exciting race in NASCAR is giving way to a televised football practice.
Notice, I said what was “once” NASCAR’s most exciting race. That hasn’t been the case at
Bristol in the last couple of years. There was more action in last Saturday’s road-course race at Montreal than in recent Bristol races.
There are a lot of theories about what’s behind the Bristol blahs. Some say the track has been changed for the worse – it had been the most exciting slab of asphalt/concrete in NASCAR before somebody decided to fix it.
Others point to the decline in racing throughout the sport; they say drivers are simply bringing that ride-around mentality to Bristol.
They can debate the cause but there’s no debating the effect: Bristol’s old-fashioned bare-knuckle racing has been missing.
Nevertheless, to get bumped for a glorified football workout …?
Last month Dover Motorsports announced it is seeking no more NASCAR races for Nashville Superspeedway, its 11-year-old track located 40 miles away in the suburbs.
Bobby Hamilton Jr., promoter at historical old Fairgrounds Speedway, is exploring the possibility of picking up one of the Nationwide or truck races lost at the Superspeedway but I don’t think it’ll happen. There’s too many hurdles to overcome, starting with expensive track upgrades and the fact that Nashville’s recently re-elected mayor is determined to close the city-owned facility.
The first auto race was run in Nashville in 1904 and since 1958 the city has hosted upper-tier NASCAR races – from twice-annual Cup races to this season’s Nationwide/Camping World truck doubleheaders.
Now it appears that NASCAR is gone from Music City, and the area’s once-mighty fan base is forced to watch the state’s biggest race on a secondary cable station.
The landscape indeed has changed.
– Larry Woody can be reached at email@example.com Comments