When September 2009 rolls around Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) will host its first Labor Day weekend race, which will also be the first night race for the Cup series there.
The schedule change reflects the longstanding stigma associated with any Labor Day race since that date was taken from Darlington and ended the historic Southern 500.
As a proud lifetime resident of Georgia, I hold a strong affection for AMS. It was home to the first race I attended in what was then the Winston Cup Series.
I have since attended numerous races there, including a couple where I had to suffer through day long rain delays in a damp tent just to attend a Monday showdown. I was also there to see Kevin Harvick win his first race in 2001, and was overjoyed to be one of thousands holding up three fingers in a salute to the Intimidator.
With that I continue to express my support for Atlanta continuing to host two races. I fear however that the years of two races in Georgia are now numbered.
Allow me to explain;
Speedway Motorsports Incorporated, with Bruton Smith at the helm, has started buying some of the bigger tracks across the country. Most recently New Hampshire and Kansas Speedways fell victim to the track buying juggernaut. With a widespread desire to get a race date in Kansas, and Smith controlling each, I look for Atlanta to lose a date to Kansas in the next few years.
Adding to my concern and supporting my prediction is the fact that Atlanta gives up a date inside the Chase. These choice 10 or 11 dates (Richmond is important too) are revered by all tracks as adding to the appeal to race fans.
By removing Atlanta’s Chase date next year, it lessens the sting of losing the date in the future.
So what happens when this goes down?
1. Darlington remains at one race but shifts back to Labor Day, reviving the lost Southern 500 amid cheers from all around. With so much hype created by the date returning to Darlington, the core fan base decides not to complain too much about losing a AMS race.
2. Atlanta shifts from two races held in March and September to one race held in May. The date given up by Darlington goes to Atlanta and remains a night race.
The whole month of May becomes night races on the East side of the US. Richmond, Atlanta, and Charlotte.
3. Last but not least, Kansas gets stuck in there in March. Lawsuits go away, a lot of folks out in Kansas smile and sing and cheer.
It will hurt to see Atlanta lose a race, just like it hurt to see so many other tracks lose dates but for the men who own them it is natural to try to find more money elsewhere… its business.
All we can do as fans is hope that one day it all settles down and comes back home to the south. Until then, we will see fewer and fewer tracks with more than one race per year, except for the few that are controlled by ISC of course.
Tonight is the Bristol Truck Race and I would be willing to put a little money on it being the best race of the weekend. If you don’t tune into many truck races, tonight's would be a good one to try!
Those commercials don’t lie, they race a lot harder a lot more often than the other series.
As for me, I will be heading out Saturday morning bright and early heading to Bristol for the Cup race. I for one am looking forward to it!
It's been a couple of years since I have been to a race, and I am excited about smelling the smells and hearing the sounds of NASCAR!!!
I have to do something I never thought I would do… buy a Jeff Gordon Souvenir. My niece likes Gordon so I have to buy her something… it will hurt!
Go Kyle! Go Dawgs!
Y'all have a great week and weekend!