Home » NASCAR - Sprint Cup Series

Woody: On Road Racing, Put Me Down For A No

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 17 2009
Fans seem to either love road racing, or hate it. Media, too. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Fans seem to either love road racing, or hate it. Media, too. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Well, they’re off to Snore-noma this weekend for a road race.

Time to catch up on watching the grass grow.

If I could figure out what time the race is over – which is impossible because I can’t even figure out what time it starts – I’d leave a wakeup call.

I think most NASCAR fans feel the same way. I can’t understand for the life of me why NASCAR persists in running two Sprint Cup races on road courses at Sonoma, Calif. and Watkins Glen, N.Y.

I don’t get it. Why not give one of the races to a great, proven venue like Kentucky Speedway? Or even my home track, Nashville Supespeedway, a terrific 1.3-mile concrete  layout?

OK, so I’m provincial. But I guarantee you a Cup race at Kentucky or Nashville would beat any road course ride-around out in the Land of the Quiche-Eaters.

And if not here or there, then anywhere – shoot, give Darlington its second race back, return one to Rockingham. Run three at Bristol. Re-open North Wilkesboro. Anywhere, so long as its round and banked and the cars turn left.

Someone, writing in defense of road course racing, asked if we gripers would like to see every race run at Talladega. Yes, of course. But that’s beside the point.

For years I went to Riverside (Calif.) for the season-ending road race, where Darrell Waltrip clinched his first of three championships. It was something to see – or, more accurately, not see. The field of cars would thunder by the press box, disappear around a curve, and wouldn’t been seen again for two or three minutes. When the pack finally did come back into view, often some cars would be missing.

What happened to them? Where’d they go? Nobody seemed to have any idea. They’re still out there somewhere, far as I know.

Then there’s the ringers. Road races bring out NASCAR’s designated hitters. If road racing is really NASCAR racing, then why are these specialists needed? More to the point, why are the allowed?

Some defend the presence of road races on the Cup schedule because they’re “different.”

Well, racing camels around the track would be “different” too. If “different” is what you want, let’s add a couple of camel races to the NASCAR schedule.

I suspect that Kyle Busch would crash his dromedary in the first turn.

I realize that the first “stock car races” were held on road courses. The drivers zinged around back-country roads with moonshine sloshing in the truck and revenuers on their tails. But the sport has evolved. It became civilized and started running in circles.

Look, I’m kidding – sort of. I have nothing against road racing except that it’s boring by round-track standards and represents an entirely different brand of racing.

If you happen to be one of the three fans who like it, fine. Some folks like cold goose liver, Rosie O’Donnell and ball-room dancing. Have at it. But include me out.

The NFL doesn’t play 14 games on turf in cleats and two on an ice rink in skates. That’s not a criticism of ice skating – it’s just not the way football was meant to be played. Ditto for NASCAR racing and road courses.

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

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 17 2009
5 Comments

5 Comments »

  • KY1WING says:

    Always thought Riverside was something special, especially watching Tim Richmond carrying the inside front tire through the turns.

    Sonoma – not the same. How can you consider it a real track when all the competitors can’t use the same pit area (ie Gilligan’s Island)? They shouldn’t have a date until all that is fixed (and if it has been – I’m sorry, see how much I pay attention to road course racing) and then try again. Can’t see how its a real track until everyone who makes the race has somewhat equal footing.

    Watkins Glen is a little different, I think better suited to NASCAR. Can’t enjoy it because of J.D McDuffy’s wreck and NASCAR’s subsequent installation of the inner loop (not because of the wreck but to get more seats for the fans . . . wink, wink).

    TBone makes many good points for their inclusion and expansion. It does bring a different skill set thats for sure. So would putting a couple of dirt tracks on the circuit. Bruton has shown that it can be done at Bristol. Give them a third date, haul the dirt in and see what happens. Bet it would be more exciting than what we’ll see this weekend and it wouldn’t take a competent TV director to make it entertaining . . . even FOX might get that one right.

    As far as camel races – one hump or two or will they run the COT (camel of tomorrow) spec camels? And I wouldn’t bet against Kyle Busch in a camel race. I figure he’s about the only one out there who could figure out the handle on one.

    • Jerry says:

      They have fixed the island there for pit road. As far as Nashville Superspeedway, that place is a single groove dump that Dover cant sell to anyone. I miss the Fairgrouds.

  • yankeegranny says:

    Thank you Larry Wood. I agree with you completely. I plan my vacations around the road course races, so I don’t have to miss one of the “circle” races. They have absolutely no place in the chase, and I would be the first one to sign a petition to replace them with two short tracks. Now that is real racing.

  • TBone says:

    This obviously sounds like a troll if I ever heard one.

    If the goal here is to see which driver has the best skill and determination and which team can build the best cars and set them up to perform better than any other, then the road courses are perfect for that.

    Nowhere is the car setup more important than on a road course. The car has heavy reliance on the steering, handling, shocks/springs, brakes, transmission, gearing you name it – so much more than a cookie cutter oval.

    Then take the driving, shifting, braking, positioning, tight grooves, difficult passing, that really separates the skill sets of the drivers out there.

    Granted, road course races suck to watch in person, but on TV with a competent director in the truck, they can be a lot of fun to watch.

    Personally I wish we had more road races throughout the year – and especially at least one in the Chase (if we have to keep this crappy Chase format after all). If you truly want to give the cup to the best driver/team, you need to have the road courses.

  • [...] On Road Racing, Put Me Down For A No By Larry Woody | Senior Writer RacinToday.com Well, they’re off to Snore-noma this weekend for a road race. Time to catch up on watching the grass grow. If I could figure out what time the race is over – which is impossible because I can’t even figure out what time it starts – I’d leave a wakeup call. http://www.racintoday.com/archives/6237 [...]