A Voice for the Fans ~ Some Things You Might Not Know About ROVALS
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and our usual warm greeting to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR on this soggy, wet day in the North Georgia hills. It is Tuesday morning as I pull up to the keyboard and begin to depress them in what I hope will turn out to be some semblance of order. As much as I’d like to give it a miss, there is a race on Sunday and it seems to just beg conversation. There has been much of that already, but this old gal tends to notice tiny points of interest that others miss while complaining about the obvious. Let’s begin with a diagram of the now famous… or infamous, depending on who’s speaking… “ROVAL™!”
There it is folks! This is a diagram of what all the noise is about. It doesn’t look all that scary, yet a driver as accomplished and experienced as Kevin Harvick uses the word “Terrified” to describe his feelings on the upcoming “sort-of” road race. To that I say “Pooh!” These guys are constantly billed by our all-knowing and caring sanctioning body as “The best drivers in the world.” With that in mind, I’m tempted to invest in one of those Eddie Gossage T-shirts that boasted the sentiment, “Shut up and drive!”
Before embarking on this missive, I started my Tuesday in the usual way, by reading . Leave it to Matt to describe the ROVAL™ as resembling a wine glass. Until then, I hadn’t seen it that way; now I can’t “unsee” it and neither can you! You’re welcome! (Dang, I forgot to ask if the glass is half-full or half-empty. Either way, there’s room for more wine!)
One of those tiny things I noticed is driving me bonkers… like an itch I can’t reach to scratch. We keep seeing the generally accepted little Trademark sign (™) following the word ROVAL. Well, maybe yes but maybe no. Items marked in that way are really not protected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. When that office awards a Trademark to a product, it is then marked with the little circled R (®) denoting “Registered Trademark.”
That’s not the part that bothers me. My question is not what or why, but who? Who is claiming ownership of that little coined word? NASCAR? Charlotte Motor Speedway? Right up front, I’ll tell you that neither one of those coined the word originally. It came into use years ago when Darrell Waltrip, in conversation with Larry McReynolds, used it to describe not a road course at all, but Pocono Raceway, which he always maintained drove like a road course with all left turns… but only three of them. I get that, as all three of those turns were fashioned after open-wheel tracks… Trenton, Indianapolis and Milwaukee. Following that conversation, Darrell, and Larry as well, have used the word Roval whenever Pocono is mentioned. If that Trademark is being claimed by anyone other than DW, or possibly FOX, for whom he broadcasts, there could be trouble in store with regards to getting it registered.
As for the concept of using an interior road course and part of the surrounding oval course, it’s far from new. The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona has been doing that since 1998 and still going strong, though no one has ever called it a “ROVAL™” to my knowledge. It’s just Daytona, and the name says it all. Much of what we see of that one is done under the lights and gives the viewer the impression that the cars are making far more turns than they actually are. In reality, it’s not that different from the ROVAL™, it’s just a flatter wine glass, perhaps like an old Champagne saucer. Daytona has only one chicane, located before the entrance to turn 3 on the oval. Charlotte has a similar one in a similar place. The biggest difference between the two is that Charlotte has a second one coming out of turn 4 on the oval. Short of that, the two are quite similar.
And then there is that true Granddaddy of them all, Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This one is closer to a traditional road course, but Indy, ever the status seeker, calls it their Grand Prix Course.
Indy uses less of the oval track and spends a good deal of time twisting and turning through the infield. The one thing very different from the other two is that Indy races in the reverse direction… a hangover from European racing. In the upstart “new world” we make left turns… and sometimes rights as well.
NASCAR has other road courses built into their ovals, utilized by various sports car series and IndyCar as well. Auto Club, Michigan, Las Vegas and Pocono lead the pack.
Las Vegas actually has two. There is another stand-alone configuration outside the oval track, and Pocono offers the possibility of several different configurations. There are possibles at Kentucky and Texas. Talladega had one mega years ago, but it hasn’t been used since circa 1983 and would doubtless be costly to revive. Even little New Hampshire has one used for motorcycles, but that one runs both inside and outside the oval and I’m not at all sure that would work for stock cars. Heck, I’m not positive that one is paved, as motorcycles run on many different surfaces.
At this juncture, I’d like to point out again for those that didn’t understand the first 20 or 30 times, that just like road courses, many of our current oval tracks also sport smaller “short tracks” utilizing part of the existing oval. This would lessen the cost of building or moving by an impressive amount, and Voila! NASCAR saves money, current track owners remain intact and fans are happier, just like that! Tracks that don’t currently have a built in anything can do so for a fraction of the cost of building a new track at a new facility, simply by employing parts of the existing oval track. Yes, I realize that we fans might have to cool our love affairs with Iowa, Road America and others, but hey! Our show is not exactly setting the woods on fire right now. If we can save money and put on good races, we might be able to recover at least a percentage of the harm that was done over the past 15 years.
NASCAR, on your part, it wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings to see the Chase/Playoff/Whatever fade into the distant past and become nothing more than an unpleasant memory. The Latford point system still exists. Might even still be written on a napkin for all we know, but it served us well for over 30 years and no one questioned it… until Brian.
Once again, for the “best drivers in the world”, just suck it up and race as though the Championship depends on it… because it does. In better times, one race could seldom dethrone a great racer. Go out there on Sunday and just finish because in order to finish first, you must first finish. (Dick Trickle)The 1980s are way behind us. Every one of you knows how to turn in both directions. Keep your car on the asphalt and you’ll be just fine. We fans are looking forward to a great race on Sunday. Please make sure we get one.
Time now for our Classic Country Closeout and this week we’ll be hearing Part 2 of the All-Star Salute to Ralph Emery. Please enjoy!
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!