Racing could learn a thing or two from other major sports
Innovation comes less often from Eureka! moments than from borrowing a bit here, and a bit there. The Vikings were actually quite helpful, once all the pillaging stopped. Rock n' Roll didn't just steal itself from the blues. Someone had to do it for
The NHL got back to basics with the wildly successful outdoor Winter Classic. NASCAR should follow that lead by taking its non-points all-star event back to the short tracks that laid the sport's foundation.Yes, NASCAR chairman
NASCAR should follow its own supposed lead and bring the sport back to its origins. It should move the annual race out of Charlotte and onto an unglamorous, unsophisticated, grubby little short track with woefully little motor coach space.
NASCAR has attempted to grow itself in Southern California by providing first one, then two, then two -- including one extremely important race -- races to California Speedway in Fontana. But even an incredible amount of nurturing has failed to foster growth. Track president
This season, California hosts the fourth race in the Chase for the Championship in what should be -- but is not admitted by NASCAR officials to be -- its last, final attempt to make the market bloom. France, who helped open NASCAR's lucrative Los Angeles office, exposing the sport to Hollywood crossover, mass-market media and celebrity hob-knobbing, very much wants the SoCal experiment to work. But if it doesn't, so what? The NFL -- the only league to which NASCAR aspires -- has not had a team in Los Angeles since 1995, and remains the most popular sport in the country. If L.A. fans want NASCAR, they can watch it on television. Put a race someplace where fans will come, like maybe Darlington, S.C.?
Based on the size of the city, there shouldn't really be an NFL team in Green Bay, Wisc. And although small-market franchises like the Buffalo Sabres and Kansas City Royals sometimes struggle to compete, they are guaranteed a certain number of games each season and therefore a certain viability.
Motorsports team owners buy extravagant parts and pieces, hold them together with stickers and body wrap and call it a race team. There is virtually no guarantee of competition aside from the top-35 rule in Sprint Cup, and those parts and pieces sell for a fraction of their value if the owner wishes to sell and move on.
If a team is sunk because of sponsor shortfalls, that's another issue, but the certainty of making the show would likely alleviate some of that problem. The legendary Wood Brothers should have something to hold on to, but instead are struggling to cobble together a schedule this season. And
Certainly, the rules of baseball have metamorphosed since
World Series, Stanley Cup, "the Finals," Super Bowl. They ring, they put the period on a season. But NASCAR begins its season with its biggest race -- the Daytona 500 -- and the Indy Racing League contests the Indianapolis 500 four races into its season at the end of a long May run-up. NASCAR abates a post-Daytona lull with a long schedule and a culminating playoff format. The IRL clambers for mainstream attention after the ceremonial swig of milk in Victory Lane. Neither series is likely to surrender its signature moment, but those other sports might just be on to something.
Of course, those other guys don't have a monopoly on the good ideas. There are a few things they could learn from racing.
NFL coaches are so paranoid over the prospect of their signals and calls being compromised by opponents that they press a laminated play chart to their lips when speaking to assistants in the booths above. Seems absurd. As if an opponent has lip-readers with binoculars, staring across the field like a North Korean DMZ patrol, gleaning clues. Actually,
Anyway, let's eliminate the subterfuge. Let fans in on inter-team communication. Eventually the verbiage will become clever enough that Red-47-vector-vector-Foxtrot does not immediately give away an entire play call. Coaches spend 20 hours a day at the complex anyway, so let them spend a little more time on nomenclature. Play-call dialogue won't approach the drama of a
Much of the field wrecked at Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Talladega, a cyclotron of a racetrack where the imminence of calamity is both titillating and realistic.
Baseball is different. Prized, generally unencumbered (read, unprotected) box seats offer superb sight lines and a sense of envelopment without the need for earplugs. They also make fans targets. Sharp line drives are part of the accepted risk for fans when they shed the protection of a backstop screen. Shards of maple bats are not acceptable, and they penetrate the seating area with great frequency. Any projectile -- whether it's car parts or bats and balls -- is dangerous. The NHL got it right by erecting high netting behind goals when 13-year-old
We understand what you do is the hardest, most important thing in the whole wide world, but act like you enjoy your high-paying job a little more.
The Chase for the Championship has created late-Fall drama since its inception in 2004, especially as