So I read this article by Bob Pockrass, ESPN's NASCAR writer. It basically says that NASCAR has chased money and left smaller tracks that have a history in NASCAR feel disconnected from the NASCAR world with their local short track series. He talks about how Winston did a lot for the small tracks and you still see Winston logos around these tracks, 15 years after they left the sport.
It's a good article, and brings up a good point. Every time they run a short track race, just like this weekend at Bristol, the drivers and fans love it and want more gritty short track racing. The truck series runs at Tony Stewart's dirt track Eldora every summer, and it's a fun event and when that gets ran, people say that a weeknight race would be very cool to see in the top series. Brad Keselowski is a big proponent of this, and would be considered the poster boy of the weeknight race movement.
So in my typical fashion, I ran with an idea. I had huge plans, but couldn't come up with much graphics outside of a logo. Think of this as a big connected series with my race track restoration concepts. Did you know the day after the MLB All Star game is the only day of the year there isn't any scheduled game of the big 4 sports? I would want to take advantage of that.
Introducing the Roots Derby.
So this is a mix of the Winter Classic and the Kraft Hockeytown events. The tracks listed above hosted the Cup series at one point, near .5 miles long, and all are in the Southeastern USA, or close to Kentucky, a trip that would be manageable on a short week. Each year, the host track would be announced and on a rotating basis would host a single cup race for the first time in decades. The idea would be that renovations up to spec to give these tracks as close to a cup facilities they can, and letting the track keep most of those things. That includes fences, SAFER barriers in the turns, and pit walls when needed. No repaving or anything, just the simple fixes and a fresh coat of paint. NBC Sports could broadcast out of a mobile studio, instead of the equivalent of a high school football media center. Put up some port o potties, have food trucks to help concession lines, and use some of the space around the track for merchandise.
Also split the cost of a new leaderboard branded with Monster logos.
(This is Talladega, but very similar to what most tracks have)
Well what about seating? I've looked at the capacities, and most of these are around 10,000. I propose decent sized temporary grandstands, like a street circuit. Why? Well there's a few reasons. A track like Gresham Motorsports Park doesn't need 40,000 seats permanently, but would take a small expansion. NASCAR tracks also make more TV money than ticket money, something there would be an explosion of when you only have to compete against the WNBA and the AAA baseball All Star Game. Most, if not all of these tracks are in big spaces of land, so temporary seats would be easy to accommodate. Not to mention, these tracks don't have the amenities to host much more fans than they can already. Lastly, you won't have people driving from out of town for a Wednesday night race, so mostly locals would be at this event.
That brings me to another point, this race would be 300 laps. Segment wise, 75-75-150. Bristol and Martinsville run 500 laps, which is great but just so long. More and more people are advocates of shortening races, and this would be a good platform to do this. A 500 lap race on a weeknight would take forever, especially if there is a delay.
Cup would take up the whole day on the track. Do practice during the day, qualifying at about 6, and race at 7:30. The day before would be all to the local promoters. Asphalt racing pales in comparison to dirt tracks on a weekly basis. My idea is to have a Stock Showcase, a televised appetizer to the event the next day. This would be where the track makes most of it's money. Have locals get some spotlight and possibly a doorway to the better series. The main event purse would be significant, something a lot of small time racers would value. I don't imagine a back marker NASCAR team offering a ride in the Roots Derby due to NASCAR licensing, but hey maybe a streamlined process could get these guys in.
Finally, financials. Split the Roots Derby cash between the promoters, NBC Sports, and whoever else gets a cut(me, it was my idea after all). Ideally, this should offset the couple million it'd take to renovate the track. The track would have a decent nest egg to possibly renovate media centers to get a legit shot at hosting some form of NASCAR on the regular.
I think that's it! A lot to take in after about 3 weeks of planning. If you're somehow brought here from twitter or whatever, check out this big thread where I have a fictional track company and I renovate tracks.