A Voice for the Fans ~ Word Games
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and a heartfelt “Hey there” to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR on this bright, sunny and already too warm day in the North Georgia hills.
So… did everyone enjoy the Roval race at Charlotte this past weekend? Your scribe enjoyed it immensely. I’ve always loved a good mystery, and the Roval presented many of them throughout its 109 laps on a circuit never traversed before the weekend by any of the drivers in the race. As a point of interest, the odd number of laps has a purpose. They billed the race as the Roval 400. Well, it just so happens that 400k = 248.5 miles, and on the 2.28-mile course, it takes 109 trips around to get to 400k. (Also, please note that the all-caps “ROVAL” and the little trademark sign (™) have magically disappeared from view. I so hope that’s because I sent DW a copy of .) It’s always fun when something… anything lives up to the hype that comes from Daytona Beach and/or Charlotte in the name of NASCAR, and the Roval did all of that and more. As Oliver Twist once queried, “Please Sir, could I have some more?”
And speaking of hype, the 2019 rules “package” has been announced. Apparently we are now adopting the old adage of “Less is more” in reference to the race cars. Well, not actually. At all tracks a mile or more in length, we’ll be “aiming” for circa 550HP, down from a maximum of circa 750 as I type. Daytona and Talladega will actually increase from circa 410HP to circa 550HP like all the others. Huge “Click bait” headlines announce that those tracks will run “without restrictor plates!” Right! Nice try, but it’s just another word game at work. Much as they buried the word “encumbered” and never wanted to hear it again, or “Chase” was supposed to become “Playoffs” with a snap of a finger, now what used to be restrictor plates will henceforth be known as “tapered spacers” somehow allowing them to claim that cars will run unrestricted at the giant Superspeedways. This scribe put the lie to that several years back, but see what you think…
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet… and you can call a skunk a kitty, but it will still stink. What it boils down to is that the cars will be “Encumbered” at a lot more tracks next year. Will it work? I’ve no clue. We’ll all be finding out together, but not until Atlanta. They’ll be racing with the same old, same old in the Daytona 500. Reason given is that teams have already started working on their Daytona cars, so NASCAR, out of generosity, will save them some money and leave the plates intact at Daytona. Those would be the plates that are carefully doled out in the correct tolerance down to a thousandth of an inch AT THE TRACK IN FEBRUARY! Methinks the reason is, if this package falls far short of expectations, Daytona doesn’t suffer the consequences. Atlanta, you’re on your own baby! Ed Clark, can’t you convince NASCAR of the difference in latitude between Daytona and Atlanta? February 24 is NOT warm and cozy in Atlanta and there is every possibility of being greeted by a snow storm… something during which no one wants to brave the expressways. Folks down here don’t know how to drive in snow! A nice April date would be just fine. Come see the dogwoods and azaleas in bloom!
What will be will be, and we shall see what will be when it happens… from Atlanta forward. This new “package” will not be extended to road courses or tracks less than a mile in length. (We call ‘em short tracks!)So, what else is in the works?
Lurking near the end of the announcement on the new package and all the billowing praise for it all coming together, mention was made of the advent of a “Gen-7” car, said to be at least a year away. My math makes that 2020, the year we’ve been promised many changes, even though the track contracts are supposed to be in place through that year. I remember being excited about the Gen-6 and defending it simply on the basis that it was NOT the COT! That one basically got some new decals for headlights and such, and eventually had to be retuned a bit, as the factories were very unhappy that it still bore little if any resemblance to their actual product. Now we’re hearing the same song, being sung in a different key.
This one will be closer to “stock”, a word we’re all fond of smiling over, since these cars have never been true “stock”, even in the “Strictly Stock” days. Given the general sameness of the cars on the street today, I’m not going to hazard a guess as to the eventual unveiling of the Gen-7. Oh, and have you figured out that what for 70 years we’ve called “Factories” have now become O.E.M.s? Original Equipment Manufacturers. Yet another game with names, instituted I would guess to confuse and befuddle the dumb masses often referred to as “fans.” (Yes, sometimes that second “m” is silent)
Just a few words here NASCAR, on behalf of those fans… I’m sorely afraid that your idea of “stock” and ours could be vastly different. All of the fixing, adjusting and otherwise playing with the engines will not fix the inherent problem with the cars. This isn’t IndyCar and our big heavy sluggers with fenders need to be up off the ground, not nose-planted into the asphalt. Instead of tapering the oil pan behind whatever splitter is your choice du jour, the splitters need to be gone! Hike up the sides of the cars, and the rear end too. That’s what cars on the street look like! Show me a street car with a splitter and I’ll show you a car that wouldn’t live 3 weeks on most of our expressways! Will it slow them down? I’d fervently hope so! They have long since outrun the tracks that were built for much different cars… those of the 60s and 70s. Good racing isn’t all about speed. It’s all visual and relative. If the cars are circling an oval at relatively close speeds, the fans really can’t tell if the cars are going 200 mph or 150 mph. Truth! Yes, side by side racing is desirable, but not in the context of restricted engines where the fast cars are forced to run in packs with the back markers because there is no throttle response and they simply can’t use what they have. This past weekend, we saw good racing. Great racing in many instances, and it was on a street course of all places. Call it a Roval if you like, but there are no escapes into the grass and no run-off areas. Just walls and temporary walls. “Stroval” would be the correct term I suppose, but the point is, the racing was FUN!
We’ll all keep our fingers crossed while waiting to see the new 2019 “package” up close and personal, hoping all the while that this time, someone that matters has heard the fans and understands what we’re saying. The “product” is “encumbered!” Fix the cars… not just the engines… and you will fix what’s missing in racing.
This is where we ordinarily move on to our Classic Country Closeout, but today I have something different to share with you. Harkening back to I gave my gentle readers the words to a song called “One Last Ride”, written by a friend of mine named Dale Shannon. Well, the song now has music and Dale has put it on YouTube where everyone can enjoy it free of charge. I think the way he described this was “a rough cut” with only Dale and his guitar. Heck, back in my day, that WAS Country. If you are a fan of either Dale Earnhardt, have a tissue handy and listen to “One Last Ride.”
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!