The Chrome Horn News

5/10/2007

OUTSIDE THE WALL: by Ted Baxter
WMT'S 1st FLASH EVENT: THE 1st 50 LAPS

    Ok, Ok, this has been discussed ad nauseum, and I donít think this topic is going to go away any time soon. Thereís a pretty big line drawn in the sand on this one. If you are on a team, either as owner, crew member, driver, or sponsor, it seems that you hate the format, and want it to go away. If you are a fan of the sport, you are tickled pink to get more value from your money. What will happen? Who knows, but Iíd like to speak out a little here, so hereís my point of view.
    So many teams hate the format. So many teams prefer the time trials and 150 lap races that have become common in our wonderful world of Modifieds. Letís not forget about our wonderful history of modified racing. Back in the 70ís and 80ís (Fitch or Howie will have to write a piece if you want something from the 50ís and 60ís, cuz I ainít that old.) We had a ton of short races, and just a few long distance races. Stafford had 30 lappers every week, with a weekly field of quality cars to rival the competition on the Tour of today. Staffordís big race, the Sizzler, was 80 laps. Thompsonís big race was the 300, and man do I miss that event, but thatís a different piece, for a different time. Thompsonís other big events of the era were 40 lappers for the World Series. 75 Lappers for the Icebreaker, and a mix of other distances for Pole Qualifiers and Outside Pole Qualifiers for the 300. All these races included Heats, Consi's and Features. Back then, most of the longer races were in the fall. The unofficial triple crown of Modified racing all were in September. You had the Bud 200 at Oswego, The Thompson 300, and The Race of Champions. These were the Grandest races of the day, as they were nothing like the other races all year. 34-54 cars started. Pit stops were the order of the day, and fans got to see something different. If fact, if you look at the 85-87 seasons on the Tour, the only 200 lap races before late August were the early season races at Martinsville. The rest were of a shorter variety. A little Variety is good.
    Now, the drivers who prefer the TT and 150ís to the Flash Races, lets examine what we have here. In todayís world, for arguments sake, Iíll compare a 150 lap TT race at Wall to a Flash Type race at Wall. In the 150 lapper, yes, you would have had no Heats, so that makes you happy. In the Flash Race, you would have had 100 laps of racing as opposed to 150 in the Regular format. You know what, after all the Cautions on Sunday, did you really want another 50 laps of potential carnage. And donít hide behind the fact that Caution Laps would have counted, because then we would have potentially had a 150 lap race, with 25 laps of green. You should be glad the format was what it was, because a 150 lap race with 25 green flag laps would have set the Mods back to the stone age. Fans would have gone ballistic. Itís the Drivers responsibility to put on a good show. The drivers do need to realize if they are on a tight race track, there needs to be a little, ok, a LOT of Give and Take. Something that obviously wasnít in great supply this past weekend. No matter what the Format, if you guys can only go 3 laps between cautions, it is going to cost money to fix the cars. You can gripe about heats, You can Gripe about purses, but if you really wanted to make Modified racing more affordable, stop running into each other. Thereís an idea. The track isnít causing wrecks. The Purse isnít causing wrecks. I am pretty sure that 100 % of the wrecks, was caused by some driver or another. We still admire and respect you guys as much as any drivers in the world, and thereís nothing weíd rather do on a sunny weekend day that watch you drive around in circles, but please stop making that yellow flag wave. It really puts a damper on our fun.
    OK, now that I have your attention, I will go over why the flash format works, and what needs to be changed about it for it to succeed. The Flash Format really works. It does. Here is what the teams need to do to accept it. Donít think of the Heats, as well, heats. Just think of them as the 1st 50 laps of the feature. Yeah, but the Heats Donít pay Money. Ya know what, the 1st 50 laps of a 100 lap feature doesnít pay a nickel either. You race the 1st 50 laps to get to the last 50 laps. You wreck on lap 25 of the race, you donít get to see laps 51-100, or 150 or whatever the length of the race is. The 1st 50 laps of a Flash event is VERY important. Every car you do pass, is 2 cars you donít have to pass in the feature. That does not mean go wild like a bull in a china shop. Some drivers will chose to do that, and because some drivers choose to do that, many other drivers who are patient, can pick up numerous spots. Yes, you might get caught up in somebody elseís wreck, but that can happen in the final 50 laps too. They do need to structure the purse so that everybody who shows up and RACES gets at least enough to cover a set of tires, and not just the cars that qualify for the final 50 laps.
    What I do not like is the way they line up the drivers for the 1st 50 laps (see, I ainít calling them heats). The regular drivers on the Tour have way too much of an advantage in getting the top 10 spots in each race. Either pick out of a hat for everything, or use Time Trials (Yes, I Said Time Trials) to line up the heat, er, 1st 50 Laps. When the Tour Comes to Riverhead per se, Bill Park, Chuck Steuer, JR Bertuccio, Wayne Anderson and the Gang are at a distinct disadvantage, having to start in the back. Donít get me wrong, the thought of my Long Island favorites coming up through the field makes my blood race. There is no bigger fan of Mike Ewanitsko than I am, but whenever he started on the pole at Riverhead, I was always disappointed. I wanted to see some passing. I wanted to see Mike, or anybody go from the back going to the front, and make it look easy. So if that happens at Riverhead, and one of the Locals comes from the back to the front, it will be one of the best races ever at the Head, Tour, or otherwise. But it really isnít fair to them. Now before somebody starts screaming on the message boards, this is a TOUR RACE, why shouldnít the Regulars get that perk. Hereís why. They are the best Modified drivers in the World, they donít need it. The Best Driver on a given night should win that nights race. If Juan Pablo Montoya wants to strap himself in at Riverhead, why shouldnít he have the same equal opportunity as every other driver in the field. I guess the only fair thing to all drivers is to use Time Trials to line up the 1st 50 Laps. This way the faster cars are together, the slower cars are together, and maybe with this formula, and a little luck and patience from the drivers, the Flash Format will be a big success.
    One other thing that I would change is the amount of cars starting the feature. You donít need 31 cars on the track at Wall. 24 would have been fine. Take the top 10 from each 1st 50 lapper, and 4 provisionals, or better yet, GET RID of those provisionals in the flash races and just take the top 12 from each 50 lapper. Cars that finish 13th or worse would be scored 25th on back in the final standings for the day, earning points and money. Everybody gets points, because everybody raced. No need to have that many cars on the track, and lets face it, the likely hood of someone starting 25th or worse not named Blewett at Wall getting anywhereís near the front of the pack was small at best. Less cars will equal less cautions. Less cautions equal less damage. Less Cautions and Damage make EVERYBODY happy. Fans, Car Owners, Drivers, EVERYBODY.
    Drivers, Car Owners, Sponsors, etc, I know this isnít very popular with you right now. Itís only 3 races this year, and really the Wall event is a hard one to measure by. You need to look at all 3 races this year as a whole, and even that may not supply enough data on whether itís been a success or not. To compare, it would be GREAT if we could get one of these Flash events at Stafford, or Thompson, or IMAGINE one at NHIS. How many people would attend a 1 day event at NHIS with Heats, Ok I said Heats, Consiís and Feature? The Track could afford to put a full purse up for that one, and who would possibly complain? Sounds like a MONEY MAKER.
    No, we are not going to all agree on this one. There are as many opinions as there are people. Not everybody is going to be happy. If Tony Hirschman, or anybody else wants to skip a Flash event, that is their choice. It really only hurts them in the standings. You look at the 1st 3 years of the Tour, and only a handful of drivers raced in every event. Drivers skipping Riverhead for instance over the years was fairly common, unless they were high in the points, and had to come. If 1, or 2, or 5 drivers want to skip an event because of the qualifying procedure or reduced purse, the Tour will live. NASCAR is trying something here. It may not be popular, but unless you want a Tour of 10-12 Races, mostly in Connecticut, itís something you are just going to have to accept. How many tracks that once ran a Tour event, and are still open, do not have Tour events scheduled in 2007. Lee, Star, Seekonk, Holland, IRP, Richmond, Waterford, Erie, Jennerstown, Spencer, Adirondack, Oxford Plains, Beech Ridge, Monadnock, South Boston, Orange County, and Chemung. You could make a pretty good Tour on those tracks alone, and Iím pretty sure I forgot some too. Without the Flash Events, you would have added Riverhead and Wall to that list too. Maybe we need to try and schedule some COMBO FLASH WEEKENDS. Friday at Lake Erie, Saturday at Jennerstown. Saturday at South Boston, Sunday at Hickory. Friday Lee, Saturday All Star. Something where you could get 2 races in for the price of 1 weekends fuel and hotel. I am not always a big supporter of NASCARís decisions, but I really think they are trying this to keep some of the borderline tracks on the Tour.
    Now I am sure many of you are going to disagree with everything I say, and well, thatís your choice. Iíll still be happy to sit with you at the next event, and watch the Greatest Racing in the World, The NASCAR MODIFIEDS!!!
    See ya Outside the Wall!!!

THE END

Source: Ted Baxter/Independent Thoughts
Posted:  May 10, 2007

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