Pedley: Some Birds Not Meant To Fly
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
In the Monday Morning Memo today we find:
* How can you not find what you saw Sunday at Infineon Raceway entertaining? You may not want to call it racing, especially of the NASCAR variety. But as entertainment, it got an 7.3 on the hoot-o-meter.
Sprint Cup cars weigh 3,450 pounds. That’s without the driver, so, with Tony Stewart on board that brings the weight to…never mind. And, seriously, a lot of the car’s weight comes from a big V-8 engine sitting right over the front wheels.
The cars have these very high centers of gravity. They have relatively thin tires and their brakes are in no way up to the stresses put on them at an 11-turn road course that features significant elevation changes.
Then there is the fact that there are 43 of those cars on the track at the same time and they are being guided by drivers of varying road-racing abilities.
Add it all up and, that’s entertainment.
Watching Sunday’s race was like watching one of those schticks they feature during the halftime shows of basketball games. The ones where they make little kids put on, like, size-23 untied shoes and have the tykes attempt to dribble basketballs the length of the court.
Or how about dizzy bat?: That thing where people place their foreheads on the butt end of a baseball bat, pivot around it in circles for 30 seconds and then attempt to walk. Except in NASCAR road racing, the pivot goes on for a couple hours.
Slap your knee raw, man.
This is not a rip on the drivers. Nor is it a rip on NASCAR or stock-car racing or road racing.
What it is is a statement on racing those big old iron cars on road courses.
There is a certain beauty to racing a Formula One car, IndyCar, a prototype or even a GT sports car around a place like Infineon. They flow through the curves and power up the inclines, engines emitting joyous sounds the whole time. There is a sense of poetry in all of that.
But the fact is, it is virtually impossible to exhibit style and/or grace when muscling a NASCAR Car of Tomorrow, Car of Yesterday, Car of Today around Infineon or any other road-racing circuit.
My gosh, Juan Pablo Montoya, one of the great road racers of our time, can’t do it. And if JPM can’t, and Robby Gordon can’t and Ron Fellows can’t, nobody can. The great Ayrton Senna could not have done it.
But entertaining watching them try? You bet it is.
Granted, it could get tedious if done every week. But twice a year is perfect.
Then again, that television program which shows home videos of people falling down, babies puking, and guys getting hit in the groin with sticks and golf balls is on five times a day, it seems, every day and it is still gets classic laughs.
Yes, keep racing the twisties, NASCAR.
Memo to self: Call NHRA about racing on road courses.
* Richard was not the only Petty to be proud of on Sunday. Kyle Petty has quickly become the best in the glass-booth biz.
His color commentary is both witty and insightful. He is Darrell Waltrip on decaf. Love the subtle way he puts his fellow homework-adverse broadcasters in their place.
Memo to self: Invite Kyle Petty to write column for website at usual rate.
*NASCAR may want to give the Milwaukee Mile a look-see when it comes to redistributing its Sprint Cup races.
Saturday’s Nationwide Series event there was quite good. There just seems to be something about the geometry of that wide, flat oval that promotes side-by-side racing. The Camping World Trucks race there was a dog on Saturday, but that can be traced more to the problems the series is having than the track.
Drivers have always liked the place. That goes for IndyCars as well as stock cars.
It has a nice northern Richmond feel to it as well. It’s old. Classy old. It has been hosting racing since the early 1900s but has aged wonderfully.
The fan base is very saavy up there, too. People in that part of the country love racing. Always have. Just ask Matt Kenseth. Or Scott Wimmer. Or a Sauter, any old Sauter. It’s the land of Dick Trickle and Dave Marcis and Alan Kulwicki. Because the season is short, the local tracks run about five days a week.
Of course, most of the older fans there still call the place State Fair Park.
Memo to self: Send marketing at Milwaukee Mile the standard advertising contract.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments