For the umpteenth year
in a row, the issues going into Daytona have nothing to do with the
ability of the driver or the quality of the team working behind him.
This year those important values have been replaced by ďaero
matching, schedule realignment and carbon monoxide poisoning.Ē Of
those the most important is the long-term effects of carbon monoxide
Both the manufacturers and NASCAR have been involved in aero
matching for decades now. This season just happens to be the first
where the ability to complain about the possibility of aero
superiority has been taken away from the manufacturers. With every
car built within the same aero box it is practically impossible for
one manufacturer to possess a hidden advantage. Thatís not to say an
individual race team hasnít discovered some minor detail that will
have a major impact on their performance.
But, isnít that the way itís suppose to be? The team that works the
smartest will have an advantage on the racetrack. The car with more
horsepower, a better chassis set-up and whatever slight aero
advantage they can muster should be able to excel so long as the
driver has the ability to utilize the advantages put at his
The impending schedule realignment put so artfully before the media
by Bill France is an issue between the sanctioning body and itís
track operators. It isnít the place of the media, myself included,
to suggest how the schedule should be realigned. That process will
fall to those that own the tracks and those that control who gets
what races. Both will make their decisions based on the demands of
television. If the television executives believe we need more night
races then we will have more night races. Tracks will install the
lights, end of story. If those same executives suggest it would be
better to end the season in Las Vegas you can bet your last paycheck
the season will end in Las Vegas.
And, if ISC believes they can improve the return on investment by
taking races from North Carolina Speedway and Darlington Raceway
then those tracks will lose a date, maybe even both dates. The same
can be said for SMI. If Bruton Smith thinks he can make more money
racing twice in Las Vegas versus twice in Atlanta then NASCAR has
opened the door for a switch to be made.
However, there are a couple things you can bet on. Infineon Raceway
will not be a loser in the shuffle. Bruton Smith says Infineon
Raceway is a major profit center for SMI.
ďWe have something going on at Infineon Raceway every clear day of
the year,Ē said Smith, then adding that Las Vegas is another stellar
property in the SMI lineup.
ďI am going to build a road course at Las Vegas. It should be done
by the time you get there in March.Ē
Enough said about aero matching and schedule realignments. The race
teams will go where the racing is and will race what NASCAR allows
them to race.
What should be important is identifying the dangers of carbon
monoxide poisoning and doing everything possible to keep the drivers
safe from suffering the irreversible effects of long term exposure.
Rick Mastís career is finished. To hear him speak it was really over
five years ago.
Letís say that again. Rick Mast should have quit driving five years
Five years ago Mast was told he had toxic levels of carbon monoxide
in his system. Five years ago he knew the damage was done and with
continued exposure would only get worse.
NASCAR preaches to the world about the importance of safety. Every
rule change, every part approval, every step made every day must
promote the safety of racing above all else. That is the way it
should be. However, NASCAR is helpless in itís efforts if the
drivers fail to take their own safety seriously.
Rick Mast should have gotten out of a car five years ago. Instead he
risked his own safety and the safety of his competitors because,
like most athletes, ignorance is easier to swallow than reality.
Hopefully, the issues of aero matching and schedule realignment will
take a back seat to safety. The fans, who have long thrashed NASCAR
for their safety record, have an obligation to encourage their
favorite driver to be safe, not stupid, because safe racing is the
good competitive racing we all desire in the first place.
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