Q: I know NASCAR isn’t your cup of tea but I wanted to ask you a question about it. Watkins Glen and Bristol had a killer turnout and great ratings. People on social media were saying how great the racing was, so why hasn’t NASCAR read the writing on the wall? Why not more road courses (hell, why not try a street circuit) and short ovals? When I came for the IndyCar at Watkins Glen in 2017, I asked the owner of my B&B what the turnout is like for the NASCAR, and he said he is booked up months in advance. When I watched Vegas and looked at the stands, it’s a ghost town. Apparently it was also the worst attendance for a NASCAR race at Las Vegas (I’m guessing the heat helped that one).
I just came back to NASCAR after a 21-year break (minus a few road course races through the years). Every broadcast I watch, it’s clear they are hunting for some kind of change that will bring in more fans and sponsors. Could a massive shake up of the schedule help? Thanks for you passion and coverage of the sport. I’ve been a big fan for a long time. I went to shake your hand at Watkins Glen in 2017, but I think you were about to go live. Just don’t cuss on live TV so I can have a chance next time around.
Hunter in Ottawa
RM: I try to never miss NASCAR at The Glen or Sonoma because it’s two of their best races, and I’m amazed they aren’t trying more (except Charlotte’s Roval may be a stretch his weekend). How about an IndyCar/NASCAR doubleheader at COTA? I think that would create a lot of interest and be good races. Vegas drew real well when it only had one race, but now that it’s got two… I think that’s why NASCAR is looking at cutting back to one race and one track only, except maybe Daytona.
Q: I’ve been thinking a lot since your last Mailbag about people who have a problem with racers doing donuts at Indy. I can’t imagine anyone who ever risked their life lapping the place being against it, which settles the matter for me. But can you help me understand people who are offended by it?
Steve, New Hope, Minnesota
RM: I don’t think anyone was offended until Keselowski did his on the yard of bricks. I know IMS wasn’t happy.
Q: So, I know you’re not a huge fan of winged sprint cars, but surely you’ve heard the news that we lost another. We all knew BC and what he brought to the table in the racing world, but how about doing a small piece on the Greg Hodnetts, Jason Johnsons, etc. who go out there night after night nearly 100 times a year just to make ends meet because it’s all they know, and what they love, and pay the ultimate price. To me, these guys are a real throwback to the A.J. Foyt era.
RM:I only met Greg a couple times, but Dave Argabright, Bones Bourcier and Doug Ault all raved about what a great person he was, and a helluva driver with old-school roots. It’s been a tough summer for sprinters.
Q: This month, it’s Greg Hodnett. I understand that the sprint car world is a mix of many sanctioning bodies and local tracks with their own rules. So who is going to step up and try to make the sport safer? When Wickens was injured, the talk for weeks was of nothing but how to make IndyCars and or tracks safer. Another sprint car driver dies, and it’s condolences to his family, a shrug of the shoulders, and back to racing. Please tell me there’s more going on behind the scenes that I don’t know about. I love watching sprint cars, but I hate the apparent acceptance of drivers dying.
Tobey Taylor, Houston, TX
RM: Winged sprint cars are safer than ever before from the seats to the suspensions to the tracks, but they’re still rocket ships on quarter and half-mile tracks and it’s a dangerous game. There is no way to make it bulletproof, and that’s the reality of a sport that isn’t going to change.