Yesterday’s NASCAR Victory Lap parade down the Las Vegas Strip is always a fun part of Champion’s Week in Sin City.
All 16 of this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders cruised the Strip in their loud, bright, 3,400-pound machines and performed burnouts to the delight of onlookers both on the sidewalks and perched above on walkways.
The sight was as far away from the whole “turn left for 500 miles on some Southern-fried oval” image that the casual fan often has of the sport.
And it’s that casual fan that NASCAR is clearly aiming for at this point in time. The way that the new Chase format played out this fall was a good start, but if the sport wants to augment its loyal, longtime boosters with new ones, it’s gonna have to think outside the box a bit.
At this point, we’ve pondered the pros and cons of condensing race weekends, cutting race lengths, and staging mid-week races. And all of those options should be considered.
But allow me to throw another option on the table: A Sprint Cup street race.
Now, perhaps you are different from me. Perhaps you look at all the pictures and videos from yesterday’s parade down the Strip, and you don’t start dreaming of what would happen if new Cup champion Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, and the gang raced in anger through the streets of some urban metropolis.
But I do. And in my opinion, it would be an absolute blast.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The best racing in NASCAR either involves short tracks or the two road courses at Watkins Glen and Sonoma. In regards to the style of racing on those latter tracks, NASCAR’s road racing product stacks up very well now against those from other series.
But why not take that product directly to the people? For example, the Glen is in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, which is absolutely beautiful but not particularly near a major city.
How cool would it be to see an A.J. Allmendinger vs. Marcos Ambrose-style battle for the win in a city setting with fans jamming grandstands and walking all along the course? With as good as NASCAR road racing is, a sizable number of the curious newbies in the crowd are going to be impressed – and hooked.
The only big stipulation I’d have to impose on such a prospect would be that it has to be a day race. In other words, don’t try to be like Singapore in Formula One.
That race is the only night-time street race in F1 and in that series, the novelty still works. Here in the U.S., we’ve overdone the night races to the point where their uniqueness has long faded away. Sunlight, not portable lights, please.
Let’s hear what you have to say about this idea. Would you be fine with a Sprint Cup street race, and if so, which city do you think would be best suited for such an event? Leave your comments below, just keep ’em clean.