Race Weekend Central

Happiness Is… Speeding, Parking & Thoughtfulness

Apparently this weekend is a bit of a quiet one.  The Cup Series is taking its last break of the year, allowing everyone to catch a breath before jumping into the pressure and difficulties of closing out the season – be it as a Chase driver or one getting ready for next year.  The Truck Series is enjoying a break this weekend in preparation for the Wednesday night race next week at Bristol.  

Then there’s IndyCar and Formula 1, both with the weekend off.  For IndyCar, few races remain and the break might help ramp up the expectations as the series heads toward its finale.  As for F1, well, they’re just doing what they do, which is to shut down for a few weeks in summer so that those involved appreciate a bit of a summer break.  

So where does that leave things?  Other than the XFINITY Series, everyone is taking a well-deserved, and probably much needed, break.  That seems like a good idea.  Everyone should be following suit.  

If you’re able to take a break for a moment, good deal.  With schools starting, the election cycle coming into full bloom and the Olympics playing as a distraction, it’s a good time to refresh and recharge.  But motorsports, even while sitting in park, is never at rest, ready with revving engines and set to lay down fast laps.  

As we get set for the final months of some fun competition, here are a few quick tidbits of happiness going forward.

Happiness Is… Speeding.  The race this past weekend at Watkins Glen International seemed to bring about an exceptionally high number of pit road speeding penalties.  Fantastic!  Sure, no one wants to see their favorite driver pushed to back and have a race ruined owing to a heavy foot on pit road, but this aspect of racing has been a joke for quite a long time.

That NASCAR advertises the timing markers to allow drivers to know how they might be able to manipulate the system has always been laughable.  With the introduction of more of these markers, however, drivers aren’t able to game the rules the way they once were.  Finally.  Let’s realize that pit road is the place where safety should be of the utmost concern, where there’s no safety barriers, where crews are at work but bystanders, be they media, fans, or executives, are all present.  

The question is why has it taken so long to do a better job in mandating pit road speeds.  If one looks to IndyCar or F1, neither of those series seem to have any problems.  In this case, it’s great to see so many drivers suffer because it means that, as a whole, all of the drivers will recognize the necessity of managing a safe pit road speed in the future.  Until then, the more speeding penalties the better.  

Happiness Is… Parc Ferme.  Earlier this year, I brought up the issue of race-winning drivers burning down their race-winning cars and how it may be a something worth investigating.  In racing, F1 may be the standard bearer for how they regulate winning cars, with little in the way of celebratory burnouts or the like being deemed acceptable.  Basically, the driver wins, does a celebratory lap, then parks the car and gets ready to celebrate.  In IndyCar, the situation isn’t too much different, though some of that is due to the fact that the cars don’t lend themselves to NASCAR-style silly celebrations.  

Well Steve O’Donnell, one of those NASCAR higher-ups with a title that is about two sentences long (NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer), has stated that the way drivers are celebrating may be going over the top, after Denny Hamlin’s goofiness at Watkins Glen.  But really this kind of mention should have been espoused after Chad Knaus told Jimmie Johnson to make sure that his race-winning car came back as a pretzel a couple years ago.  

As previously stated, NASCAR should be able to look at the race-winning car in a way that allows them to scrutinize it without any celebratory funny business.  Such a move provides a level of transparency that is good for the sport and sells it as one without deviousness.  Mr. O’Donnell, you’ve got your work cut out for you, but go for it.  

(Photo: NASCARMedia.com)
Bryan Clauson (Photo: NASCARMedia.com)

Happiness Is… Thoughtfulness.  This weekend, while everyone else may be taking a vacation, the XFINITY Series will race at Mid-Ohio, just a few weeks prior to Ohio facing its first snowfall of the year.  (Kidding.)  

Any joking aside, the cars in this race will feature stickers to honor Bryan Clauson, a former XFINITY/Busch series driver who passed away after injuries earlier this week.  Though Clauson never managed to become a champion or accumulated stats to make him a NASCAR phenom, the fact that NASCAR will be paying homage to one of their own is a great gesture and displays the connectedness that drivers have regardless of the racing series.  

Good move NASCAR.  R.I.P.  Bryan Clauson.  

About the author

Ava Lader headshot photo

As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.

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It has always puzzled me why they tell teams where timing lines are on pit road, yet can’t make the scoring lines on the track visible.

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