A two-month Lockdown ‘break’ from racing forced NASCAR to reassess how they would fit in their normal schedule of 36 races. So far to date, since racing resumed mid-May, the US stock car series has run 15 Cup races in the course of ten weeks and are on track to run another 10 by the end of August. It raises some questions for other series and especially for our NZ domestic scene, whether there is a better and more efficient way to run race meetings.
I still feel that there is an underlying ‘given’ that life will return to normal (pre-Covid-19), yet there is still a lot to unfold throughout the global community, especially in the USA, Brazil, parts of Europe and across the Tasman. Meanwhile, other than overseas travel, life does appear reasonably back to ‘normal’ in NZ.
At the moment there has been no release of dates for the summer of racing from MotorSport New Zealand. Word is that this is reliant on Toyota GAZOO Racing New Zealand confirming their program, which in turn is heavily reliant on their ability to gain permission for international drivers and technicians to come into NZ and quarantine. TGRNZ will no doubt be working with a number of different scenarios so, best to expect the unexpected.
This is where the likes of NASCAR are arguably paving the way forward with one-day race meetings.
Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition is reported to have commented, “NASCAR will continue to conduct its race weekends without practice and qualifying for the remainder of the 2020 season in all three-national series.
“The current format has worked well in addressing several challenges during our return to racing. Most importantly, we have seen competitive racing week-to-week. NASCAR will adjust the starting line-up draw procedure for the Playoff races and will announce the new process at a later date.”
This type of race meeting is not foreign to our domestic club racing with a short practice, qualifying and up to three races all within one day.
NASCAR even goes a step further with the starting order determined by drawing lots with the selections being made by different tiers, with the top 12 drivers in the championship in one draw and the second and third 12s having a similar arrangement.
So, is this a blueprint for others to follow?
Personally, I am a traditionalist, growing up with five-day cricket test matches as the norm and still struggling to get my head around the modern 20-over smash ‘n’ bash. Where is the strategy, the intrigue and the crescendo? Same with racing. Friday practice, Saturday qualifying and race one with two races on Sunday. Enough time to change setups, for weekend weather variables to come into play and for rebuilding anything that gets bent.
However, times have changed dramatically, and adaption is the key to future success. If it is good enough for NASCAR then maybe it is a blueprint for others to follow.