I consider myself a pretty open-minded person, especially when it comes to sports. If I’m in love with a sport, then there aren’t many changes that can upset me to the point of disgust. The excessive amount of road courses that have been added to the schedule does not bother me. What I don’t like is getting too comfortable with replacing loved races with road course variants.
When the Clash at Daytona was replaced by the new road course, it wasn’t a big deal because it was an exhibition race. I also understand that restrictor plate racing adds an extra safety concern and extra expenses to owners when wrecks occur, so it’s an unnecessary expense for a race that doesn’t count.
The only major change to the schedule that I am 100% against is this week’s race at Indianapolis. The Brickyard 400 has always been a staple on the schedule and a crown jewel event that drivers coveted to have on their resumes. Now, we have a road course race that completely forgoes the original pageantry of the event.
Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that sometimes the Brickyard race can be super boring, but no more boring than the Coke 600 can be. I enjoy watching legendary races that are highlighted on a drivers’ win list because it’s history. The outcome and racing itself are important, but there’s something about watching historic moments.
Is this still considered a crown jewel race? Well, it sure doesn’t seem like it. A crown jewel race isn’t anything defined by any specific parameters from NASCAR. They are races that have naturally developed a reputation of being hard to win and come with an added acclaim. It’s second nature to know what a crown jewel event is, which is why it’s puzzling that NASCAR would make such a drastic change to one.
It is either one of two things: NASCAR may just want to fully embrace this new diverse schedule we have and make one of their crown jewel events a road course. Or NASCAR does not view the yearly Brickyard race as I and a plethora of other fans do. I’m leaning more towards the first, but I still am not a fan.
I understand the logic, but I feel like a crown jewel event is something that must be earned. You can’t just place a race on the schedule and tell everyone, “okay, this one is more important than the other races.” It has to be organic. You can’t just change the track and layout of a race and say it’s the same race because it’s not.
This race may carry the name Brickyard, but it does not carry the same weight.