March 14, 2003 | 12:55 A.M. EST
Can it really be Spring? The weather around the country is finally breaking and it's a perfect time to shake off the cobwebs and tackle a little seasonal cleaning. There's a bunch of items that have been cluttering up my desk:
The CART schedule continues to change as much as Oprah's weight. Just a couple months ago race dates were shuffled and two events were added in Europe. Now this week comes word Road America has been taken off the schedule because the promoter failed to meet financial obligations of the sanctioning fee. The promoter denies this and we have another game of "he said, she said." But the big losers, as is always the case, are the fans. Droping Road America from the calendar, one of the most beautiful and popular natural road courses in the country if not the world, puts another dent in CART's credibility. Every time Chris Pook and company take positive steps forward, something like this seems to rear it's head. Some say Tony George and the IRL are waiting in the wings to take over the Elkhart Lake date, which wouldn't be the worse thing. But as the days go by, it's very apparent that the IRL is really CART of ten years ago while the Champ Car World Series is destined to be Formula One light.
Anyone catch Terry Bradshaw's comments during the Busch Series rain delay a few weeks ago in Las Vegas? The former Steeler and FOX NFL analyst, who owns the Busch ride piloted by Kerry Earnhardt, was very critical of the Winston Cup "Buschwhackers" coming into NASCAR's number two series every week and stealing money. Bradshaw said that anytime he asks one of the Cup guys why they race on Saturday they reply it's only for fun. But good old number 12, and all of us, know the Saturday outings provide valuable track time for Sunday as well as a tidy payday. Like it or now, NASCAR has to address this situation, whether it's a limit of the number of BGN starts a Cup regular can make a season or something similar. The Busch Series is in trouble folks and unless NASCAR does something to encourage car owners to participate in the series and not worry about high-financed carpetbaggers coming in and stealing their money every week, things will get worse.
As long as we're on the subject of comments made on the tube, how about Michael Waltrip? He asked everyone to "stand behind our president" after his usual run of sponsor mentions in his post-Vegas race interview. I personally don't have a problem with Waltrip or any driver voicing their opinion on something, although in Michael's case I don't agree with his stance. But in this politically correct world of NASCAR robots, it is nice to hear someone speak their mind. I just wish I could hear someone without the last name of Waltrip speak once in awhile on Sunday's, if you know what I mean.
Hearing the World of Outlaws is off to an up and down start to the season. The racing action has been good and crowds at the first few weekends are strong, but there are concerns that the number of travelling Outlaws is dwindling. The reasons are the usual excuses - the high costs of equipment and lack of sponsorship. The Outlaws need television - of the live variety - badly. It's the only way teams will be able to attract sponsors. Time buys on SPEED Channel that are delayed four weeks won't cut it. Here's hoping the series lands a live package ASAP.
Open the windows and air out the house this weekend.