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Amenities
by Sally Baker
December 21, 2003

I'm beginning to hate that word almost as much as the word "shootout" lately. On Thursday, I read an article by Derek Samson of the Kansas City Star. In it, he was talking about how Nascar is moving away from the older tracks in the southeast because of "market saturation", and a lack of "amenities". He went on for quite some time about how much better the new tracks are, with lots of suites, "fan access areas", and all the shiny, new paint.

Whenever I read articles like this, I find myself speculating just how long the author has been following Nascar. I always assume (right or wrong), that they discovered Nascar around 2001, when a 2 billion dollar TV contract and the Daytona 500 made national headlines, putting racing in more living rooms on Sunday afternoons. I say that, because I believe it's the newer fans that put flash ahead of substance.

I will never understand how anyone could think the number of corporate suites is more important than the racing on the track, unless they started following Nascar after all those cook…er, similarly designed, low banked tracks started popping up on the schedule. I've been a Nascar fan for more years than I care to admit, and there are only a few tracks where I will spend my hard earned dollars, and none of them are nouth of the Mason-Dixon line, or west of the Mississippi. That's because I want to see a race, not a parade. I don't care how many suites they have, since that will never be in my budget. I'm also not thrilled at the thought of standing behind a cyclone fence, either a "safe" distance from the drivers, or with slots for pushing things through for drivers to autograph. Sounds like an arrangement more appropriate for a jail, not a racetrack. And definitely NOT friendly, for fans or anyone else.

I can't help but think that, if suites and paint are more important to you than the racing, you should probably be watching from your living room couch. You can bring all the beer you want, and the line for the bathroom will definitely be shorter.

I feel sorry for all those people who can't get to a track that gives the good old, "rubbin is racin", fight for every inch on the track action that made Nascar so unique. I have driven 11 hours to go to Bristol or Martinsville, rather than the two hours it would take me to go to Michigan. Michigan might be bigger, it might be newer, it might have more suites, but what passes for racing there puts me to sleep. Better from my couch, and I don't have to use binoculars to see the whole track!

It's like losing the Southern 500 at Darlington. Does anyone really think that the racing at California can ever be as good as the racing at The Lady In Black? Maybe hard core fans could deal with this "realignment" business more easily if races were being moved to tracks that had actual racing, not a "show".

But then, "The Show" seems to be what it's all about these days, isn't it? "Realignment, Amenities, Shootouts", lots of flash, but less racing.

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