There was an interesting story on the Associated Press newswire this past week concerning the altercation between Casey Mears and Marcus Ambrose following the Sprint Cup race at Richmond.
The piece started out noting how back in 1979 when the Daytona 500 was first telecast live people don’t remember that Richard Petty won his sixth Daytona 500.
What fans remembered was the last-lap crash involving Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison then ended in a fist fight of sorts with Bobby Allison joining the fray. It put NASCAR on the radar screens of fans across the U.S.
What forgotten is the battle for the lead involving Yarbrough and Donnie Allison before the last lap crash, allowing Petty to win.
The writer implied that fans won’t remember that Joey Logano won at Richmond, but will recall the Mears-Ambrose altercation.
The implication is that fans want to see the fights that take place in the garage area or on the track, rather than exciting racing.
It was noted that Mears or Ambrose should not be punished by NASCAR officials. On Tuesday NASCAR fined both drivers and put them on probation until May 28.
Most sanctioning bodies, except for hockey, don’t encourage or condone fighting among participants. Why would NASCAR want to promote it as a way to attract attention?
I can see the television promotional ads in a few years; tune it to watch two drivers fight it out on the front straight before the start of the race, or better yet after the event. A straw poll can be conducted to let the fans determine the combatants.
Most fans grew up watching racing on the short tracks that dot the American landscape. NASCAR has gotten away from their short track venues in favor of the 1.5 mile cookie cutter tracks.
The only short tracks left in NASCAR’s highest levels are the half-mile Bristol and Martinsville tracks and the .750-mile Richmond facility.