Saturday, August 02, 2008

Nationwide drivers racing blind is inexcusable

LONG POND, Pa. - OK, I have to tell you that NASCAR now has me completely confused.

Let's go back a week to Indianapolis. Tires were wearing out in eight to 10 laps and NASCAR took the correct action to continue throwing cautions to maintain what could have become a dangerous situation.

Make no mistake, if NASCAR had let the Cup teams manage the tire issues themselves at Indy somebody would have pushed it beyond all sense of logic and reason. I can't say for sure somebody would have been hurt, but it's almost a certainty that the safety of the new race car would have been tested in at least a handful of tire-related crashes.

NASCAR chose to come down on the side of safety and took the race down to seven laps to go before turning the guys loose to race. Some fans complained about that, but it was absolutely the right thing to do.

OK, we fast forward six days.

The Nationwide Series goes to Montreal for a race on the road course there. It rains. Hard. And NASCAR turns the cars loose on rain tires, using them in a race in the Nationwide or Cup series for the first time ever.

By the time NASCAR finally called the race, it was raining so hard that people were wrecking under caution. Marcos Ambrose dominated the race but got a speeding penalty because he couldn't see the lines that told him where he had to adhere to the speed limit. Some of the cars had a windshield wiper, but other drivers had to reach outside their cars with squeegies to clean them when they could. Even if the outside was clear, many drivers couldn't see because the interior side of the windshield was fogging up.

So let me see if I understand this. It's OK to race when the people driving the cars CAN'T SEE?

You're kidding me, right?

I've never been able to understand why fans wanted to see stock cars race in the rain, especially on a road course. These cars can barely race on a dry road course, let alone one with pools of water all over it.

I tried to watch some of Saturday's Nationwide race, but I just couldn't bring myself to participate in that lunacy.

I guess it has the same kind of appeal that golf fans get when they see the pros playing in the British Open trying to hit shots into a 50 mph headwind through rain that's falling sideways. That's never appealed to me either. I know what it's like to play golf poorly - I can do that myself. I want to see these guys hitting great shots and making long putts.

When it comes to racing, I want to see guys going as fast as they can go and still stay headed in the right direction, but that has to be done within the bounds of reason. There are some fans out there who keep e-mailing me telling me that part of racing's appeal is seeing drivers risk wrecking and getting hurt, but that just seems bloodthirsty to me. Racing can be exciting and entertaining without being unnecessarily perilous.

I just think it's lunacy to put people on the race track when they have no traction with their tires and limited to no visibility. Maybe that makes me a weenie, but if it does then so be it.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Canada race in my option was a joke. I watched ten minutes of the race and couldn't tell if this was a Nationwide race or ESPN showing clips from " The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift".
Great job focusing on the racing there, Mr.France. Way to keep the core fan.

Mike Hutton said...

What got me was the information that the actual tires used in the race were manufactured in 2001...7 years ago!

What genious, only one week removed from the biggest tire issue in this sport's modern era, thought continuing today's race with that type of equipment was a good idea?

Stu Grant still hasn't uttered the two words he needs to from last weekend, now he's got another one...

Anonymous said...

The rain race in Canada sifted out the racers from the pretenders. Some fine-tuning is still needed but it did bring attention to a diminishing fan base.
Why not require windshield wipers, defrosters, and running lights in the back glass. I am astonished that at least ten field-filler strokers withdrawing when the rain came. Were they saving their cars for the next race? Does NASCAR still pay them for their unfulfilled effort?
Too bad the race ended early however the rain enhanced NASCAR road racing.

Anonymous said...

It was a boring race. And hard to see as well.

At one point my husband came into the room, looked to see what was going on, and asked why they were racing in slow motion.

Then the end, when good cars with good drivers started wrecking under caution, was simply ridiculous. Worse than that Loudon truck race when they pushed the edge of twilight until the drivers couldn't see.

Its quite exciting to see cars with the appropriate equipment race in the rain and in the dark -- added difficulty usualy makes for better racing. But rain tires and maybe a windshield wiper don't magically add up to "appropriate equipment" when bolted onto a Nascar car.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR is seriously dropping the ball... Little Bill is losing touch with his father's ideas!

Anonymous said...

David,why does everything have to be perfect?I loved watching those guys running in the rain...

controlboy said...

David, I respect your opinion more than any other journalist writing about NASCAR for a living, but you have openly acknowledged your disdain for road course racing by any NASCAR series. Racing in the rain is part of road course racing, period. I think it's a joke when the cup series can't go at Watkins or Sonoma because of rain. Yes, it may have been painful for some to watch, but that is what you get in the wet. Anybody see the British Grand Prix a few weeks ago?

kiteman11@yahoo.com said...

Hi Dave,
Do you think the reason that Nascar turned the NW cars loose on rain tires was because of the Indy race? My thoughts are that they were so embarrassed in front of the world racing community at an important race, that they need to make amends as a world class racing organization and say that they can indeed hold their own in a road racing situation. No black helicopters but why else bring this issue up now and so sudden? Just my .02
BTW, being a huge fan of Rolex and ALMS as well as Nascar, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I've been at Road Atlanta for 4 days straight in the rain and watched racing the entire time. I know this is not your cup of tea. I really enjoy your morning radio show and look forward to hearing you comment on my theory if you think it has merit.

James said...

Wow, after reading this article at Yahoo Sports, I'm not sure if the two of you watched the same race:
http://sports.yahoo.com/nascar/news;_ylt=Ar07Vy_03Z1fy86CYAko_Avov7YF?slug=bm-montreal080208&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

marc said...

Poole - "So let me see if I understand this. It's OK to race when the people driving the cars CAN'T SEE?"

Guess you missed the part when the Red Flag came out when the real deluge hit the track.

'Til then not that many had problems up to and including a rank rookie who had never raced on a road course, or the rain and passed a former F1 world champion in doing so.

Poole, you're letting your anti-road course bias over rule common sense.

And BTW Poole, did you see anyone use a squeegee beside Edwards and not while under yellow flag conditions?

If not you might have to clarify that statement.

Anonymous said...

As long as Nascar made money on the race, the rain is a non-issue.

Jen said...

Regardless of the safety concerns it was just bad racing that no one could even see. This is Nascar not the Grand Prix or IRL or any other racing organization. The people I feel bad for are the fans in the stands. How outraged they must have been to have to get poured on while trying to see through the fog and rain and try and watch a race. I would have been very upset if I'd paid for that ticket and I got lousy rain soaked racing.

Monkeesfan said...

It was a ridiculous decision by NASCAR in a decade of seemingly nothing but ridiculous decisions - I can't recall a single competent decision made by NASCAR this decade.

Monkeesfan said...

anonymous #3, sifted out the racers from the pretenders? Making them fight for the win for the duration of the race is what does that, not degrading the raceability of the competition. To say the rain enhanced NASCAR road racing is as preposterous as even having NASCAR road racing.

Kenorv said...

I liked to see them racing in the rain. Anyone that's seen F1 races in the rain know they're much more exciting to watch than seeing them race in dry conditions.

And let's give Goodyear some credit. The rain tires they used were excellent. There wasn't a single problem at all with the rain tires from what I saw. The tires may have been built in 01 but that same tire compound and design have been tested in race conditions in the rain in the sports car series so, unlike last week at Indy, at least the rain tires had already passed a test in race conditions prior to Saturday's race.

Now obviously NASCAR kept the cars out there a few laps too long. They should have red flagged the race as soon as the rain started coming down hard but I had no problem seeing them race in a light and intermediate rain.

As long as the conditions are safe, and they were for a while, then I enjoy seeing them race in the rain. The only problem with the race was that NASCAR continued to let them race once the conditions became hazardous. If they had just stopped the race about 3 laps earlier than they did then everything would have been ok.

Anonymous said...

If safety were the utmost concern wouldn't the CoT be required in the Nationwide Series as well? NASCAR will drag their feet until a serious injury happens in the NNS. Outside accountability is long overdue...

marc said...

Jen - "How outraged they must have been to have to get poured on while trying to see through the fog and rain and try and watch a race. I would have been very upset if I'd paid for that ticket and I got lousy rain soaked racing."

Not as outraged I bet if the event had been called early and you had to miss the Sunday rerun because of other commitments or Monday running of the event due to work and you got nothing for 8 laps of racing you actually were there for.

Richard in N.C. said...

DAVID- I think I have a problem with your writing about something that was not worth your time to watch and then expecting readers to spend their time reading your writing about something not worth your time to watch. Is there a time management problem here that I am missing?

Besides, I bet rush hour traffic on I-77 is still going 60 to 70 MPH in a heavy rain - and with cellphones in place of Hans devices.

marc said...

anon (the guttless and nameless one) - "If safety were the utmost concern wouldn't the CoT be required in the Nationwide Series as well? NASCAR will drag their feet until a serious injury happens in the NNS."

A little behind the news cycle aren't you.

The NNS CoT version is scheduled to be introduced in the second half of 2009.

What would your "safer" idea be? To Run both series with brand new cars?

Somehow if that is what you're thinking it frankly... smells of bovine excrement.

marc said...

richard in NC - "Besides, I bet rush hour traffic on I-77 is still going 60 to 70 MPH in a heavy rain - and with cellphones in place of Hans devices."

And I bet the Aussie V8's can run in hot humid rain a couple times a year with no fogged windows at speeds approaching 180mph with zero problems.

What makes that interesting is the V8's run with completely enclosed cockpits as opposed to the NNS cars having no side windows in Montreal.

marc said...

monkeesfan - "To say the rain enhanced NASCAR road racing is as preposterous as even having NASCAR road racing."

To hell with tradition right "Mr. its still Winston Cup?"

I guess your support for NASCAR tradition only goes as far as your agenda of being a contrarian on every subject.

Anonymous said...

Nascar should be ashamed of itself for running this race on Saturday. Why not on Sunday? Oh that's right the cup boys would not be able to run. My thoughts are that if you can't stay an extra day don't run the series. I noticed one more thing. How was Marcos Ambrose speeding onto Pit Road where when each car has 2 turns on the entrance? If he was speeding so then was everyone else. It seems to me that NASCAR does not want anyone, but a Canadian to win this race. That's a shame. I have been a fan for 30 years and have never seen so much political bull crap as in the past few years. I am slowly losing interest in a sport I help build.

marc said...

anon - "How was Marcos Ambrose speeding onto Pit Road where when each car has 2 turns on the entrance? If he was speeding so then was everyone else."

Well D'OH!

Maybe because the pit road limit was only 30 mph. Maybe if you can't pay a bit more attention it IS time for you to move on.

I suggest the PFL maybe that "sport" will keep you awake.

But I have my doubts.

Monkeesfan said...

marc, your answer was stupid even by your level of derangement. Road racing does not belong in NASCAR because it is not competitive. Real NASCAR tradition is superspeedways.

And it is Winston Cup indeed, no matter what the caretaker sponsor of the moment is.

Monkeesfan said...

marc, here's the idea of safety - to run both series with horsepower cut in half. And given the failure of the COT it's not a given it will be integrated into BGN.

Anonymous said...

Marc, I wasn't aware my anon signature was so gutless, I was lazy and didn't want to sign up for a google account and anon seemed to be the quickest way to post but the issue is safety and Nascar(or their lack of it). I was not aware the NNS would have the safer car a year from now(I have a life, something you couldn't find with a Sherpa and a GPS). I'll bet the delay is because of money and not because the car hasn't proven to be safer. So yes I would run both series with a safer car, what a concept. Just like the SAFER barriers, a great concept but it seems they can only afford to place them near the turns. Just like the tires at Indy-safety and Nascar is a joke-something you should be able to see if not for your home schooled edjumacation. It's obvious you are a troll, only an idiot could drivel as much and still say nothing.

Josh said...

I can't say that I enjoyed the race, but I love NASCAR. So watching a race, regardless of how they run it makes me happy. However,I do agree with Poole. They should have stopped the race much earlier then they did. It's almost like NASCAR is infactuated with doing crazy things to keep them in the sports spotlight.

marc said...

anon (amended from "gutless" to just frigin' "lazy") - "I'll bet the delay is because of money and not because the car hasn't proven to be safer. So yes I would run both series with a safer car, what a concept.

I agree what a concept.... just think with the problems now seen in the Sprint Cup series you could double the "fun" by running the new car in both series at once.

And BTW, who said anything about money, it certainly is about money when your talking NNS and for the most port smaller teams with smaller budgets.

More from anon "lazy" - "Just like the SAFER barriers, a great concept but it seems they can only afford to place them near the turns."

Better check the upgrade ISC did at Darlington that was approved, funded and construction started prior to Gordons accident.

And more from the same "lazy" source - "Just like the tires at Indy-safety and Nascar is a joke-something you should be able to see if not for your home schooled edjumacation. It's obvious you are a troll, only an idiot could drivel as much and still say nothing.

Funny, given so much uneducated points given the same can be said of you.

And BTW, I'm dumb as a box of rocks, a dumb troll if you like, but one thing... I'm smart enough to know what I write and how valid it is. Something you haven't come close to in two comments.

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