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My Martinsville Rant: Lament For The Short Track

I managed to get home in time to watch the last 30 laps or so of the Martinsville race live and then went back and watched the rest of the race from my DVR.  Why would I go back and watch a race that I already know the results to?  Simply put, I like that track.

I wish there were more tracks like Martinsville on the circuit.  Bristol comes to mind, but name another one - can you even do so?

You're going to say Richmond aren't you?  Nope I wouldn't go there - too long for a short track in my opinion.  Not to take anything from Richmond I like that track too, but it isn't a 1/2 mile.

In the search for the mighty buck NASCAR seemingly has abandoned their heritage by leaving in their wake tracks like Hickory, The Rock and North Wilkesboro (unused since 1996) to be swollowed up by the sea of NASCAR obscurity.


It seems that NASCAR has abonded these unique individual tracks in favour of the formula 'cookie cutter' D-shaped ovals.  When you turn on the TV on any given Sunday you can't tell which track they are racing at because they all look the same.

But who is really to blame?  Why has NASCAR left these tracks behind?

Certainly NASCAR has to share in the blame, after all "The Great American Race", the Daytona 500 is NASCAR's greatest spectacle and is run on a 2.5 mile D- shaped oval with cars that race close to 200 mph each and every lap.  It has speed, it has danger, it has drafting, and so on.  Can't find these on a 1/2 mile can we?

Now that the bar has been set by Daytona each race there-after has to be 'The Daytona 500' or close to it with the speed and drama.  NASCAR's solution: build smaller versions of Daytona and thus we now have 'the cookie cutter' track.

Track owners are also to blame.  You can have more seats at a 2 mile oval than a 1/2mile one.  You can have a bigger camp ground in the infield - you can have a bigger compground outside of the track.  You can buy a smaller track, close it and move it's date to a larger track to minimize your operating costs and maximize you profit margin.  It's cheaper to run two races at one track than to run one race at each track.

Finally, we the fans are to blame.  Following the "if you build it, they will come" philosphy to a tee we have flocked in droves to these temples of speed in order to see a good race and be entertained by the little speedway towns/villages that spring up at these events.

The demise of these storied race tracks can't rest directly on one cause, we all have a share in it.  If we as fans speak up more maybe someone will listen - look at what they have done with Darlington for example, they have even brought the race name "The Southern 500" back.

We need to support our smaller independent track owners so they can afford to maintain their facilities to meet the needs of NASACR (i.e. enclosed garage areas) so that they won't get obsorbed into the big race track conglomerates like Speedway Motorsports (who ironically own Bristol) and then later dumped so their race date can go to one of their other larger "cookie cutter" tracks.

Photo Credit: North Wilkesboro -