There has been a lot of announcements about the 2022 schedule, and most of them have been major changes to the layout of NASCAR. In the coming years, we can expect to see a major drop in intermediate tracks replaced by short tracks. Any intermediate tracks that remain will more than likely have overhauls to the style of racing.
Recently we’ve had two big nuggets of news dropped on us. One that the LA Coliseum is more than likely going to be the new home for the Busch Clash, and that St. Louis is expected to replace one of the Pocono dates.
Starting with the LA Coliseum, I think this is a good idea, with poor execution. The thought of having a super short track in a football stadium is a cool idea, but when you have a historic one a couple of hours from NASCAR headquarters, it makes you question why travel across the country?
Bowman Gray Stadium located in Winston-Salem, NC is home to some of the best racing you’ll see on a weekly basis in America. The track offers hard bumping and close racing that is on par with what NASCAR is hoping to get out of the LA Coliseum, just in a smaller market.
While Winston-Salem is not a big market, it is a home market, an integral part of NASCAR’s history. The track used to be a yearly event for the top drivers in NASCAR, but like most small tracks, it was fazed out in order to make room for premium markets; exactly what’s happening now.
Los Angeles is a market that every sport in America has attempted to get a piece of. The NFL was desperate to get back to it for decades and now finds itself in the same issue of attempting to draw fans in as it was in the 80’s and 90’s.
NASCAR has been in a pseudo-LA market in Fontana at Auto Club Speedway. This has resulted in a long relationship that has brought decent racing, but not a lot of fan support. When I say decent racing, I mean usually a toss-up of whether you’ll see a good race or a snooze fest. This is why Auto Club is being reconfigured into a short track. So, it begs the question why is NASCAR trying to introduce another short track in the LA area?
Maybe they hope if they can introduce an amazing race to the LA market next year it will get the hype going by the time the new Auto Club opens up? I’m not sure, what I do know is that LA will never be a market that NASCAR thrives in.
It’s no secret that LA is not home to NASCAR’s target demographic, but this is more than just about NASCAR. Basketball and Baseball are the only sports that have been able to sustain success in the market. Football has and continues to struggle, and NASCAR will not get any love no matter how good the racing is.
Basketball survives because Lakers games are a social event that even people who do not like basketball go to. After all, the Lakers are a way of life in LA. The Clippers survive, but only when they are relevant. It’s the same thing with the Dodgers, baseball is so ingrained in American society, that it can survive almost anywhere. However, the Angles struggle due to the market being unable to sustain two teams despite it having 4 million in its population. NHL’s LA Kings also struggle mightily.
NASCAR races are not social events on that level and LA will never embrace the “redneck sport” that they’ve been fed preconceived notions to dislike their whole lives. No matter how bad they try, LA will never embrace this sport.
As far as NASCAR replacing one of the Pocono dates with World Wide Technology Raceway (St. Louis) I’m indifferent to it. I generally dislike Pocono, but this season with the doubleheader weekend it has skewed my opinion. There was solid racing out of that Pocono weekend, but I don’t think it’s sustainably good racing. The first race was average but the second race was amazing, but only because of the fuel mileage aspect of it.
Fuel mileage is not a guarantee at every race though. So, it’s important not to be a prisoner of the moment with these last two Pocono races, and remember what the average expectations at this track are. Pocono never produced good enough racing to be worth giving two dates to. Hopefully, NASCAR will make format adjustments to the race in an attempt to make the fuel mileage strategies more prevalent there for the one race we have.