If It Rains During A NASCAR Oval, Just Throw On Rain Tires And Race The Road Course

Illustration for article titled If It Rains During A NASCAR Oval, Just Throw On Rain Tires And Race The Road Course
Photo: Brian Lawdermilk (Getty Images)

This weekend, we celebrate a beautiful thing: NASCAR competing at the Daytona International Speedway road course. And it’s got me thinking about how we can solve the whole “rained out NASCAR race” thing.

Last weekend’s Daytona 500 was… a thing. The field didn’t even make it 20 laps before demolishing a good portion of the field in a massive wreck, and then the race was delayed for hours due to rain. Because of that, ratings suffered. You’re not going to hold anyone’s interest if it takes almost 12 hours to complete an event. You’re not going to convince me to watch the Days of Thunder documentary again.

Some folks argue that NASCAR should just throw on rain tires and hit the oval again, but I’m not one of those people. Doing so is an egregious risk, and I’m not about to advocate for anything that will unnecessarily hurt people.

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But I will advocate for race teams slapping on those rain tires and competing on a road course instead.

Nowadays, plenty of oval circuits have well-maintained internal road courses because it opens up way more opportunities to host events. Not all of them are as gorgeous as, say, Daytona’s, but hell. If an oval track has a raceable road course, why shouldn’t it get used in an emergency? Why not get the racing action kicked off again?

Now, I know that an oval car is set up to perform much differently than a road course car, but y’know what? I don’t care. It’s already raining. You can take 45 minutes of this rain delay to re-set up the cars, or you can sit for six hours and hope the rain dries up. I know what option I’d pick—and it would make for a fascinating show just watching the crews scramble to get cars prepped for a totally different adventure than they were expecting.

It’s definitely not the conventional way to do things, but it makes more sense than just sitting around twiddling your thumbs and hoping to keep your audience interested. During the Daytona 500 rain delay, I finished Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel and started The Queen’s Gambit, and it was hard for me to drag myself away. A more casual viewer probably won’t bother.

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So, there it is. If we all start talking about it, maybe it’ll be like the Bristol dirt race and we can speak it into existence.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

shanemorris
Shane Morris

I haven’t been to many NASCAR races in person, but the ones I have been to are filled up on the infield on race day. It’s a lot of car trailers, semis, team buses, support trucks, etc.

My guess here is that they couldn’t quickly convert to a road course, simply because all of the typical places a car might go off the track are occupied by support vehicles.

Quick Edit: I totally forgot the RV’s and people camping too.

https://www.talladegasuperspeedway.com/camping/