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 Columns & Editorials

February 15, 2000

NASCAR vs It's Own Grass Roots

I could really get my hand slipped for this but it is the
truth. NASCAR is not the "real" racing of motorsports.
NASCAR was formed from the simple form of racing
that we enjoy every weekend not only here in Florida
but all over this country at our local dirt and asphalt
racing tracks. That is the "real" racing and I will
argue that point with any NASCAR fan.

My mother lived here when the Daytona 500 was run on
the beach. That was a time when it did not cost an arm
and a leg to attend a race and some drivers came and
went home in their race cars. That was a time when
cars were really stock cars and had no special anything
in them. We don't drive our race cars to and from the
track anymore, they are usually towed, but it is a little
more affordable for the average family to attend a local
track race than any NASCAR event.

The first NASCAR event that my family and I ever attended
was the first Craftsman Truck race held at Disney World. We
were use to our local track and the policy of kids 11 and under
getting in free. We knew that they probably would not let our
3 year old in free but have some kind of discount for a child that
would not occupy a seat since he was a "still in the lap" boy.
But we were informed "full price" or don't go. That is when
the hard fact hit us right square in the face, NASCAR was not
a family sport. Family sports have considerations especially for
small children, NASCAR had none.

Whether fans will stop buying NASCAR shirts and hats, who knows.
But NASCAR has to eventually listen to the fans because without
fans, they go broke. As we all know, any track - local or not, has to
have fans to pay for the cars that come and race at a track. No
fans, no purse. NASCAR has forgotten it's roots and why they
even formed NASCAR, the only goal now is more money in their
pockets. The name of the game is racing not money. But
according to Dale Earnhardt Sr., "the tracks that they now race
on must hold at least 80,000 fans or it is not worth them going to
that track." So, we watch with much sadness to see some of
the original NASCAR tracks fall out of the schedule that once
was their's.

Racing started out a family sport with ordinary cars and ordinary
people. At your local track, you still find families racing together
and track owners that realize families have limits to how much
they can afford to spend to see a race and they keep prices down
so they will have fans. This may cause low purses true but very
few local track drivers race locally strictly for a living. They race
because they love racing and they know that they may break even
at the end of the year, they may even have a little to spend on a
new car for the following year, but local racing is not a money
winning sport.

I think if you ask Richard Petty or Dave Marcis or Dick Trickle
if they honestly like how NASCAR has grown, fans wise they would
say yes. But as to the cost of owning and running a NASCAR car
and what it use to mean to race, the changes are not always good.
The more money tracks and sponsors make, the more they
want and slowly but surely, they will loose their fans.

If you truly love racing, go to your local track just once and you
will be hooked. And you will find the "real" racing in stockcar
racing. You can see the race, you can talk to the drivers, and
you will meet some great people.


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