Lights or no lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway?

NASCAR is marketed as a family-friendly sport. Drivers, teams, and tracks are involved with children's charities and many tracks offer a family-seating section where parents and children can view the events without the alcohol and tobacco use that is prevalent among race fans.

I bring this up because on Monday, the newly renamed Charlotte Motor Speedway announced it would be moving the start time of its May Nationwide Series race up to 2:30. In the past, the race has begun after 7 p.m.

In making the announcement during the Media Tour, CMS President Marcus Smith said, "We’ve enjoyed running our May Nationwide Series race under the lights in recent years, but many of our fans and parents with young children have asked us to consider an earlier start time. Charlotte Motor Speedway has always been a family-friendly place, and this will make the race even more convenient for fans of all ages, as well as hundreds of boy and girl scouts who make this race an annual outing.”

As a lover of Charlotte Motor Speedway and what it represents to our sport, I have to say this is a bad idea.

I admit it. I prefer night races to afternoon races. Something about racing under the lights makes the whole experience more exciting for me. I've attended both night and day races, and for my buck, a night race is always going to win. I'd trade an afternoon at Indianapolis for a night race at any track on the circuit in a heartbeat. I'd trade the bright sunlight for the glisten of the cars under the lights without hesitation. You wouldn't even have to ask me twice.

You can argue all you want that the fans' input was largely taken into consideration, and that most of the other Nationwide Series races are run at night. That's a good point, but for the sake of the speedway and its die-hard fans who travel from all over to attend events in the heart of NASCAR country, shouldn't they want to provide the biggest and brightest spectacle possible? Isn't CMS the center of NASCAR? The home track for the series? I'm sorry, but by taking the Nationwide Series race and moving it, you aren't enhancing the experience at all. In my opinion, you are diminishing what CMS is known for: Night racing under the lights.

The track is perfectly designed for night racing, and teams spend weeks preparing their cars to race under the lights. Specialty paint schemes and drivers who don't always race in the Nationwide Series come out for these events. Come on Dale Jr. fans, you can't tell me Jr. winning under the lights in the Nationwide event wouldn't be more exciting than him winning in the middle of the afternoon. (Granted, you all would be ecstatic if he won either).

I guess what I am trying to say is that CMS isn't capitalizing on one of the things that bring fans to the track. In a time of economic downturn and poor ratings across the board, shouldn't they be looking into what draws the crowds?

What's next the Coca-Cola 600 at noon?

It's time for your input on the situation. Have I gone completely off my rocker? Am I just complaining to complain or is this something you agree with? Are you reading this and thinking, "It's just a Nationwide Race! Calm down!" Let me know in the comments below.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the writer and do not reflect those of Skirts and Scuffs or the sites other contributors
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Eblin - May Nationwide Series race at the then Lowe's Motor Speedway

Lights or no lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway? Lights or no lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway? Reviewed by Katy Lindamood on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 Rating: 5