We need to get rid of the hooligans

Remember the old John Wayne movie, when he said, "I ain't gonna hit ya; I ain't gonna hit ya; the hell I ain't!" and then decked the guy?

Well, that's kind of the way I feel about NASCAR this week. I mean, every Motorsports writer and fan in the known universe has been complaining about the sanctioning body's poor performance in the last several races. I mentioned it last weekend, fondly hoping that it was the last time I would be writing about that particular subject for a while.

Then Pocono happened.

Folks, in my career as a race announcer I've spent a lot of time with the race stewards and operations people in the same booth or the one next door. They don't have an easy job in the best of circumstances, but when they have to deal with rules and procedures that seem calculated to induce errors, it becomes impossible.

If you caught Darrell Waltrip's comments on Wind Tunnel (Dave Despain's show on SPEED) on Monday, you probably found yourself agreeing with ol' "Jaws." NASCAR has made this whole deal way too complicated. Eliminating racing back to the yellow was a good thing, it greatly improved racing safety. But why not do what hundreds, maybe thousands of local tracks do (including our own Champion Speedway) and revert to the last scored lap to line the field up for the restart? This would eliminate "freezing" the field at the instant the yellow flag waves, which leads to scoring ambiguities and dozens of caution laps to straighten it out.

Can you imagine what next week's race at Sears Point (OK, Infineon) Raceway will be like with caution laps taking between three and four minutes? And if you and I are smart enough to figure this out, why aren't we getting paid the big bucks like NASCAR President Mike Helton, who had to go before the Motorsports press and apologize AGAIN this week?

OK, I couldn't help myself. Like The Duke, I just had to take that swing.

Of course, by far a worse problem is the hooliganism that is beginning to rear its ugly head in the stands, seemingly every week. At Pocono, some moron hit backup flagman Jimmy Howell with a cooler in a fit of anger because the race was ending under yellow.

Years ago I used to man the flag stand at a couple of race tracks, and it is NOT the flagman's fault, folks! He takes his orders from race control, so don't take your frustration out on him. Don't take it out on the drivers, either. Fortunately, there were a number of better-behaved fans who pointed this yahoo out to security, and he was removed from the facility - for eternity, I hope!

And then there was the hooliganism on the track, the shoving match between Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth. Both drivers were fined $25,000 and put on probation until Aug. 11, which seems like a slap on the wrist. NASCAR needs to take a firm stand and dole out serious punishment to drivers who engage in that sort of activity. They also should prosecute fans who perpetrate vandalism and assault. Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Motorsports fans in this area are truly blessed. We have racing every Saturday night here in town on Champion Speedway's asphalt oval. Next weekend Champion hosts the third round of the Desert Rose series of 100-lap races for Super Late Models. For dirt fans, there is the Reno-Fernley Raceway oval, featuring Western Extreme Dirt Late Models the same night. In between is Thunder Bowl Speedway in Mound House, with Outlaw Karts every other Saturday night.

Reno-Fernley also boasts a 2.4 mile asphalt road course as well as a quad track and other venues. Motocross racing is also on the program at Champion and there will be a Fall motocross series at Thunder Bowl starting in late August or September.

Then we have events like the Stars of Karting race that ran here two weekends ago, and the Virginia City Grand Prix and Virginia City Hill climbs. For the avid racer, fan, or Motorsports writer, Northern Nevada is definitely the place to be during racing season!

Roger Diez is the Nevada Appeal motorsports columnist. He can be reached at Racytalker@aol.com.


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