Tuesday Brainstorm: Adding more short tracks

Last week’s brainstorm thread seemed to get a good response, so I’ll try again today with another crack at improving the sport so many of us love.

With Martinsville fresh in our minds, everyone is back at it with the: “MORE SHORT TRACKS!” thing. Me, too! It seems so obvious that if the schedule was mostly short tracks instead of mostly intermediate tracks, NASCAR would be in far better shape.

Short tracks currently make up only 17% of the schedule (Martinsville, Bristol and Richmond have two races each), so it seems like there’s room to expand.

But the question is: How? And more important: How in a realistic way?

It’s not as simple as saying, “Bring back North Wilkesboro!” That’s not feasible, since the track facilities are crumbling. The whole thing would have to be rebuilt, so that doesn’t count as realistic if you take money into account.

Also, NASCAR can’t just go to your favorite local short track and bring 30,000 fans, a television compound, dozens of media members, etc., if some infrastructure isn’t there. It has to be a track that can at least be upgraded at a relatively low cost or has hosted a national series race of some kind before.

If you want to play along, please provide:

— Short track(s) you want to add;

— Track(s) you would take OFF the schedule in order to accomplish that;

— How you’d get around anti-trust scrutiny (i.e., how you’d move a race from one track to another without risking a lawsuit. Hint: Either move it within the same track company or, if necessary, you can propose a sale).

OK, let’s hear what you’ve got.


Tuesday Brainstorm: Fixing the stage breaks

In an attempt to find someone common ground, let’s have a little Tuesday afternoon brainstorming session.

Here’s the issue: I like the stages and the new format. The stages produce playoff bonus points for the winners (like it), give regular season points that reward consistently good drivers (like it), offer snack and bathroom breaks (like it) and bunch up the field to set up restarts at a point when the races are sometimes blah (LOVE IT).

Those are all great changes, and even the stage-haters seem to concede they like those things.

But the anti-stage people seem to be most upset about something else: Counting the caution laps during the breaks.

It’s important to hear these people. As customers and viewers, they feel ripped off. They feel cheated because by the time the next stage starts, it’s already six or seven laps into it at many tracks (and will be A LOT more this weekend at Martinsville Speedway).

The counter argument to this is the races would be a lot longer if these laps did not count. But the people who feel shorted by caution laps don’t want to hear that.

So this seems like a perception issue, and that means there’s a solution. Let’s figure it out together; we don’t have to fight about the stages!

Here’s one idea: Let’s say there were a set number of caution laps built into a stage break and THEN the next stage would start.

For example: At Fontana, the stages on Sunday were 60 laps/60 laps/80 laps.

Perhaps NASCAR could change it up to something like 55 laps/five-lap caution for stage break/55 laps/five-lap caution for stage break/80 laps.

That might make fans feel better, because the stages would start fresh — with the lap counter at zero. The only problem would be if there was a crash toward the end of a stage and NASCAR needed more time for cleanup, but fans would probably understand those rare circumstances.

Anyway, a small tweak might erase some of the negativity around the stage breaks (which is overshadowing what seems to be a very positive change overall).

Aside from this suggestion, what are some of your ideas to make the stage breaks better?