Time to put the race fans in the stands first!

(Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images) For a second consecutive weekend, Nascar has had it’s Sprint Cup race rained out on Sunday and moved to Monday.  It’s true Nascar can’t control Mother Nature but they can control start times for races which are getting later and later to accommodate television.

(Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

It use to be that Nascar Sprint Cup races started at either 12:30 or 1PM local time.  Now, they are pushing race starts until 3PM or later even at tracks that have no lights because television wants that west coast audience they might not have at 10AM Pacific time.

Now I’m not a rocket scientist but most summer storms happen mid-afternoon after the heat has bubbled up throughout the day.  Have a start at 3PM, you’ve got a pretty good chance of rain occurring.  If rain occurs that late in the day at a track with no lights, there’s not enough time usually for the rain to stop and the track to be dried to race.  That then moves the race to Monday and screws the paying racing fans who need to get back home to actually work so they can buy those tickets!

Sunday, the race at Watkins Glen wasn’t scheduled to start until after 2PM.  If it started at 12:30P..most of it would have been completed before rain came.

This coming weekend, the Nascar Nationwide race at Michigan on Saturday isn’t scheduled to start until 3:30PM.  Yes it’s only 125 laps, but if there’s rain..it’s takes two hours to dry the track..and you are looking at 5:30 at the earliest!  Sunday’s Cup race rolls about 2:15PM. Why?  Television!

Not only do all these late starts challenge Mother Nature, but also race fans who need to get home for those jobs mentioned earlier.  It’s not easy getting out of a Pocono, a Watkins Glen, or many other race tracks. Late starts mean the ticket buying fans are winding their way down roads in the dark, many of which they do not know.

Considering attendance is down across all Nascar events, shouldn’t the paying fan be priority number one in all aspects of a race weekend, including start time?  If not, there may come the day when it’s just not worth the effort and sacrifice for race fans to put their butts in the seats but instead just sit at home in front of the big plasma screen.

To re-phrase the old slogan from Ford, “Think Fans First!”

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