Should SJ track be moved?

UPDATE Another reader writes, Should the SJ track be moved? I say no, the railroad tracks were the coolest part of the race. "Holy shit" is an understatement for what the cars were doing over the tracks and I definitely would want my seats right in front of that action. It also made for one hell of a sound effect at full speed. Tim Fregeau, Plainfield, IL 08/02/05 A reader writes, Dear, I have read your comments before this past weekend calling the San Jose track Mickey Mouse. Boy were you right. I have since read articles suggesting the track should be relocated elsewhere in the city. Now that you have been there, what is your opinion, what is needed to fix it? Doug Bartlett, San Francisco, CA

Dear Doug, We believe that the track is in the best part of the city, i.e. right in the heart of downtown. The railroad track issue is quite fixable, something any Civil Engineer can regrade to smooth out the bumps, but I must tell you the fans there got quite a thrill watching the cars fly over those bumps. We heard many a "wow" and "holy shit." In some ways it brought memories of the glory days of racing when drivers flew through the air at places like the great 14-mile Nurburgring. On the no-passing-allowed San Jose track, it was something for the fans to get excited about and we would NOT relocate the track for that reason. Dumb idea. Also, having it in the Central Business District gets the corporate community involved, an important element.

What needs to be done is to keep the track where it is but make it longer by using more of the surrounding streets and eliminating the narrow ones. Either the backstraight, or frontstraight, needs to be lengthened to create passing opportunities. There must be a heavy braking zone at the end of the straight, not a fast chicane. More people are going to be inconvenienced by the longer track. They are going to have to be compensated fairly. But the city has to bite the bullet and do this. Additional revenues will be collected by the additional grandstands that can be built.

Of course they need more bridges, and another issue are the grandstands themselves. They can sell more tickets and give the fans better sight lines by having steep grandstands. Steep grandstands seat more people in the same footprint. And the seats need to have backrests and a contoured seat bottom. Do educated white collar employees in Silicon Valley deserve to sit on a hard wooded plank with their knees jammed into the back of the person in front of them under the hot sun? We think not.

Despite the criticism, Bob Singleton, his staff, the City of San Jose, and Champ Car officials should be congratulated on a spectacular first-time event given the circumstances they were presented with. Next year will be even better. Mark C.

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