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Lazenby: The Short Track Swing


NASCAR may have finished up its west coast swing last Sunday at Auto Club speedway but a new swing is looming. While not as logistically intensive the short track swing is a three weekend endeavor over the course of a month. Three short tracks with a newly repaved and banked Texas Motor Speedway placed in the middle for good measure. If you’re a NASCAR fan in the lower middle atlantic this is your time to see some racing, as well as a fair share of rubbing; however, are you prepared to do that for three out of five early spring weekends?

To be clear, it’s not the short tracks that are an issue, it’s locations.

According to Map Quest it’s 171 miles from Martinsville Speedway to Bristol Motor Speedway, 330 miles from BMS to Richmond International Raceway, and 182 miles from RIR to Martinsville. It’s also only 114 miles by road from the paperclip to Charlotte Motor Speedway.

From the first weekend of April through Memorial day these tracks will host five race weekends, for a national sport this is quite the contained slate of races. Are teams reeling from the logistic heavy west coast swing? Perhaps the plethora of nearby races helps teams monetarily more than the average fan could fathom, but at the end of these two months NASCAR’S base will not see a home track race until late August for the Bristol night race.

Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones tangle last August in the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Photo by Jonathan McCoy.

In largely rural southern Virginia these aren’t considered huge distances. This swing of races, unlike the western weekends, does nothing to help logistics or, at the very least, it’s not necessary.  It dilutes the market for racing in the old dominion state, western Tennessee, and North Carolina.

Hoping fans will, or can, shell out money for five race weekends within two billing cycles is the best example of how out of touch nascar is with their base.

This is also not an area that has boomed over the last decade the way the suburbs of Charlotte have. The counties surrounding these tracks aren’t exactly blossoming, it’s unfair to ask Virginian fans to pick what race they can afford. One race within a bill cycle is plenty for many of us, three is off the table for most.

It’s easy to imagine these tracks having larger crowds in the typically dismally attended spring races if there was only one, perhaps two, races inside this market within a month. Spread the events out, don’t choke us with two months of racing and then leave.

Three short tracks in five weeks makes for a compelling month of racing – too bad NASCAR won’t go to true short tracks away from the southern Virginian border.


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About Camden Lazenby

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