ROGER DIEZ: Big things happening at Reno-Fernley Raceway
For the Nevada Appeal
I spoke with Rich Cable of Reno-Fernley Raceway on Friday about the re-opening of the 3/8 mile clay oval on the property that has been closed since last summer. Rich is having a huge opening party on Friday with exhibition racing on the oval, and a live concert by country music star Lacy J. Dalton with guest announcer Gary Busey. Local heroes will be honored, with participation from Veterans organizations, local businesses, and government agencies. BBQ chefs and plenty of Dust Devil Beer will be on hand as well. General admission is only $5.
Rich will be running a partial season Outlaw Rules race program, IMCA Modifieds, Pro Stocks, and Hobby Stocks racing on three Fridays (Aug. 13 and 27, Sept. 10) and one Saturday (Aug. 21). A demolition derby is slated for Sept. 4. A special bull-riding event on Sept. 18; truck racing on Sept. 28; and figure 8 plus chain racing on Oct. 1. Rich plans a full racing season for 2011. You can get detailed info at http://www.reno-fernleyraceway.com or call the office at 575-7217.
The big topic of discussion among NASCAR fans this past week has been the rivalry between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, which boiled over again on the last lap of the Nationwide race in St. Louis on Saturday night. A bump from Brad in turn one was returned in spades by Carl on the front straight, resulting in a lot of wrecked cars and penalties for both drivers. Edwards was fined $25,000 and docked 60 points (not coincidentally one more than the spread between his first place finish and Brad’s 14th place). Both drivers were placed on probation until 2011.
This sort of activity is the logical extension of NASCAR’s new “have at it, boys” policy taken to the extreme. I think that perhaps NASCAR has just drawn another line in the sand and told the participants, “have at it, but not past this point.” I’m reminded of a former Supreme Court justice speaking about pornography, saying, “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.” That pretty much sums up what Carl did last Saturday night.
I was invited to participate in a conference call last week with the ESPN announce crew of Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. The crew will be taking over the Sprint Cup broadcasts starting this weekend with the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. The Edwards/Keselowski feud came up during the question and answer period, and Jarrett had an interesting take on it. He feels that driving in both the Nationwide and Cup series has become much more aggressive recently, more so than at any time he can remember in the sport. And he attributes that to the great strides in safety that NASCAR has made since Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001 at Daytona. “I think they understand the cars and all the equipment that they have there that helps them survive these impacts and say, you know, I can be a little more aggressive here now. And I think that’s exactly what we’re seeing,” said Jarrett. Petree also weighed in on the safety aspect, noting everything that had been learned and implemented since 2001 – better seats, safer belt mounting, the HANS device, the new car design, SAFER barriers, etc.
All of these things combine to make a driver feel more bulletproof, like he can get away with riskier behavior. And when you see drivers walking away pretty much unhurt from horrendous wrecks, it just reinforces that feeling of invulnerability. Like my mom used to say when we got a little rambunctious, “It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.” Hopefully, NASCAR will rein the boys in a bit before a car lands in the stands and ends all the fun.
I asked Petree if he anticipated any real problems this weekend, like the Goodyear tire fiasco of a couple of years back. He said that Goodyear had learned a lot from that experience and as a result were now building a better tire not only for Indy, but for other tracks as well.