NASCAR Cup: not crazy about move from New Hampshire to Las Vegas but understand it
Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in conjuction with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, announced Wednesday that LVMs would get a second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series date, beginning in 2018, at the expense of New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. As a result of that and Vegas also getting Kentucky Speedway’s stand-alone Xfinity Series date, LVMS will play host to two NASCAR tripleheaders next season, once early in the season and again in the playoffs for all three series (Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck).
The move of the New Hampshire fall date to LVMS is a move I hate to see, and that’s not meant to be a criticism, at all, of Las Vegas Motor Speedway or a ringing endorsement of NHMS, either, for that matter.
I get it. Speedway Motorsports Inc.’s motivation for the move, though. SMI is the parent company of Las Vegas, New Hampshire, Kentucky and several other tracks. Beyond that, SMI also is a business. Like it or not, one of the primary functions of business is to make money and Speedway Motorsports Inc. is no different.
That being said, LVMS came to the proverbial table, already with sponsorship in hand for a second Cup race, before that second Cup race was even received — or at least that’s how things look based on when news broke of various pieces of this puzzle. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority had already committed $2.5 million/year for two annual race weekends featuring NASCAR’s Cup Series ($1 million in sponsorship for each race, plus a $500,000 marketing allowance). Meanwhile, it seems there’s been a struggle to get two yearly Cup races at NHMS sponsored. From what I’m hearing sponsorship hasn’t been found for both New Hampshire races this year. If my memory serves me right, one of the Loudon races went unsponsored last year.
When one looks at the financial numbers, the move makes sense, at least from a business standpoint, and like it or not, SMI is a business, and so is NASCAR, for that matter.
The move still saddens me as a race fan, though, and here’s why:
Aren’t there already enough 1.5-mile races on the schedule? Or maybe an even better question is, “Are there too many 1.5-mile races on the circuit?” Anymore, it seems like most of the races are at 1.5-mile tracks, or at least at tracks in that ballpark in terms of length.
NASCAR has its diversity program. I’m all for diversity in race tracks. Drivers at the NASCAR Cup level are, after all, touted as the best race car drivers in the US. Well, then, they should be tested at all kinds of tracks.
Okay, so there are different kinds of race tracks on the schedule — short tracks, milers, intermediates (1.5 miles), superspeedways and some in between. But is there enough variety? Seems like the schedule’s overrun by 1.5 milers. I get that maybe running a lot of races on each track type (other than a 1.5-miler) may not be feasible. But taking a race away from a mile track and making it, yet, another 1.5-mile race is taking away from the track diversity that’s already there. As far as diversity goes, that’s just going backwards.
While I hate to see the move, I’m not going to be bitter about it. It was a business decision, and after all, this is a business. For that reason, I urge fans to not be bitter over this decision, either. Specifically, don’t blame individuals — Bruton Smith for example. I’ve heard gripes along the lines of Smith being a millionaire several times early, so he doesn’t need the money. That’s right Smith is extremely well off financially. But this isn’t all about Bruton making money. SMI is a publicly traded company. Bruton may come across as this big boss man, and to an extent, he is. Besides, Bruton didn’t get to his financial stats by ignoring the figures. Anyway, he has shareholders to answer to. Those shareholders want to make money, too. After all, that’s why they bought shares. Bruton answers to them. If SMI passed on the money being thrown at it by the folks in Las Vegas in favor of a, possibly, unsponsored race in Loudon, they’d be screwing their shareholders, I guess.
And blame shouldn’t be placed at NASCAR’s doorstep, either. I’m pretty sure this move was made by request from SMI, not because the move was what NASCAR WANTED. Sure, NASCAR has the final word, since it has to approve moves made by a track owner from one track to another, even if the same entity owns both tracks involved, but I don’t think it would be in NASCAR’s best interest to refuse to work with its track owners.
It’s probably easy for me to have the opinion I do, because I’m not an SMI shareholder. If held SMI stock, I may have been cheering this move. Either way, it has been made — or will be made in 2018. I’ll continue to support the sport I love, whenever and wherever it races.