More Desk Clearing

2000?- NASCAR is about to hold their 2000th event in their top series (Called Strictly Stock in 1949, Grand National from 1950 to 1971 and Winston Cup since) but no one can quite figure out which race will be the 2000th.

David Poole of the Charlotte Observer has been doing a retrospective series looking back on the first 2000 races in one hundred race increments. He’s using the numbers compiled by NASCAR master-historian Greg Fielden to declare next week’s Bristol race the 2000th event.

The confusion results from two races run at Martinsville on April 9th and 30th, 1961. (Listed in Feilden’s books as races 482 and 487.) The original date for the race was April 9th but bad weather caused the race to be halted at 74.5 miles, well short of the halfway distance, 125 miles, that would have made the race official. Because more bad weather was predicted the next day, the Martinsville promoters chose to schedule a make up race on April 30th. That race was run to full distance. Fred Lorenzen almost swept both races. He won the unofficially official race on the 9th and was leading the race on the 30th by a goodly distance when he lost an engine and handed the win to Junior Johnson whose team owner had used a sledge hammer to threaten Johnson to ease up on the car during the final pit stop.

To add to the confusion, if you go along with the record books that state somehow a race that never made it to the halfway point (as the rules required even back then) official then you have to look at another race run on August 4th, 1956 in Tulsa Oklahoma. The race was started but the dust was so bad drivers couldn’t see where they were going. An irritated Lee Petty parked his race car, climbed the starters stand and red flagged the race. The event was never restarted. So if races that begin then are ended prior to halfway and the rest of the race is never run count as official (like the April 9th race at Martinsville) one would then conclude that the Tulsa race was also “official” and should be listed as race number 258. In that case, this weekend’s Darlington event is race number 2000. If neither race is counted as official, which seems proper according to the rules, the 2000th race is at Texas next week and you know Eddie Gossage and his boys would throw a grand little shindig to celebrate the milestone. If you go by official statistics with Martinsville counting as a race and Tulsa not counting, then race number 2000 is at Bristol next week as Poole states in his articles.

Cooler Rain and Snow- Has anyone ever done a survey to find out if the reason Darlington and Rockingham don’t sell a lot of tickets to their February dates has anything to do with the fact fans are no longer allowed to bring along a full size cooler? When the cooler ban was announced for “security” reasons (to protect the job security of concession stand workers one presumes) a lot of fans said that was the final straw and they’d stop attending races. It seems at least some portion of those fans are voting with their wallets on the issue and staying home.

So why do races at two such great tracks not sell out? The short answer is it tends to be cold and wet in that area this time of year. The first Darlington race used to be 300 miles in length and run in May. (And the race went by the decidedly non-politically correct name “the Rebel 300” which was ended with the waving of a Confederate flag not the traditional checkered flag.) The slightly more detailed answer has to do with marketing. You’ll note during race broadcasts there are frequent ads for tracks like Dover and Pocono which have races in the months ahead. Rockingham has only the Daytona 500 broadcast to buy ad time unless they want to run ads at the end of the previous season right when people are beginning to put aside money for the holidays.

It’s a Matter of ‘Tegrity- When Darrell Waltrip rambles on about the Aaron’s Dream machine in the booth racking up the Joyce Julius minutes, shouldn’t FOX have to put up one of those “Compensated Endorser-Not an actual client” graphics? It’s funny you don’t hear John Madden discussing the Rent-a-Center during football games but perhaps the NFL producers have different standards.

Would You Have Believed Prior to Daytona-

That four races into the season Jimmy Spencer would be ahead of Mark Martin in the points, Robby Gordon would be ahead of Ricky Rudd, Steve Park would be ahead of Rusty Wallace and Jack Sprague would be ahead of Bill Elliott?

No one under 30 would have won any of the first four races despite all that young gun hype?

That a Roush Racing entry would fail to qualify for a race? (At Las Vegas of all places.)

That Jeff Gordon would only qualify in the top 10 once (Vegas) and that same race would produce his worst finish of the season.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2003

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