Oct 1, 2001
Re-Scheduled NASCAR Race Draws FireBy JR Nerad
It'll be a cold day, not in Hell, but in New Hampshire, when the NASCAR race initially planned for the weekend following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., finally takes place. NASCAR officials have announced that November 23, which happens to be the day after Thanksgiving, will be the date for the makeup of the New Hampshire 300. Our advice to race fans is to stock up on down-filled garments at L.L. Bean, because not only will there be frost on the pumpkin, there might be a foot of snow on it, too.
Last year, according to a report from the Associated Press, the high temperature in greater Loudon, New Hampshire, site of the race, was a toasty 30 degrees. Sure, New England might be blessed with a bit of Indian (sorry, I mean Native American) summer this year, and race-time temperatures could be livable, but if they are frigid it means more than several thousand uncomfortable fans (and several thousand empty seats.) Cold weather and racing tires don't usually mix together too well, so the outcome of the race and even the safety of the drivers could swing wildly based on the temperature when the checkered flag drops.
NASCAR drivers, who normally follow the party line in the same lockstep as Pravda editorial writers, were notably lukewarm about the rescheduled date, which pulls virtually all of them from their homes on Thanksgiving.
"That's not promoting the family image," Dale Earnhardt told the Associated Press. Other racers were a little less strident in their criticism, but the subtext of their comments suggested none of the drivers is exactly thrilled with the idea. Traditionally, NASCAR has put its money where its mouth is about being a "family sport" by refusing to run races on Mother's Day and Easter even though they would likely draw huge in-person and TV audiences. Even Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president, admitted that if a poll of the drivers were taken, none of them would want to race in Loudon in late November.
This unusual racing year has been filled with driver criticism of venues, event cancellations and other oddities. The CART season got off to a faltering start with the abrupt cancellation of a race in Brazil, and in April a near-mutiny by the drivers caused the cancellation of a CART event at Texas Motor Speedway outside Ft. Worth, Texas. In the past two weeks, several Formula One drivers openly expressed the feeling the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway should be cancelled because of potential terrorist action, and now NASCAR drivers have dragged their feet on the re-slated New Hampshire 300. Perhaps in these trying times it is too much to expect things to go off as scheduled.
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