Those of us who
believe exciting races at North Carolina Speedway and
Darlington Raceway will be enough to keep NASCAR from moving
their respective spring dates to other facilities are
not about the product. Itís about location Ė be that on the
calendar or the atlas. Like every good business model the
key to success is location, location and location.
The question we should all be asking of Bill France should
deal with that one key item. Is NASCAR willing to move the
schedule about in a manner to give both North Carolina
Speedway and Darlington Raceway a better position on the
If the answer is no, then the decision to move a spring date
from both of those facilities is moot.
Chris Browning, General Manager North Carolina Speedway, is
helpless to change the economic landscape of the surrounding
counties enough to make both sponsor and television
executives happy. He canít build hotels and restaurants.
Moreover, he canít change the fact that the major attraction
to the area is golf and only golf.
Darlingtonís president, Andrew Gurss, is probably in a
slightly better position than Browning, with a single
exception. Browning has a facility that has been heavily
modernized over the past decade. Gurss lacks the VIP Suites
and other corporate amenities needed to keep sponsors happy.
What Gurss does have is Myrtle Beach, a tourist-trap style
beachfront community that would be a favorite for the
sponsors if his spring race date were a little further in
the year. Very few people head to the beach when
temperatures are unlikely to break the 70-degree mark.
What does it all mean?
It means the drivers arenít telling us anything new when
they tell us how great the racing is at both facilities. The
communities surrounded the two facilities arenít making
breaking news by saying they donít want to lose the events
that pump millions of dollars into their economies.
Unless someone is willing to realign the schedule, first by
date, the fates of both tracks have been sealed. The only
problem, its far harder to move dates around the schedule.
The easy way out is to just take a date and move it to
The futures of North Carolina Speedway and Darlington
Raceway lay with the mindset of Bill France, Mike Helton and
the rest of the brain trust in Daytona. Are they willing to
take the easy path or hunker down and give both tracks every
opportunity to keep both dates.
The author can be contacted
to discuss this article