Saturday, September 12, 2009

What is Labor Day Weekend to NASCAR fans? Darlington, California, Atlanta or somewhere else.

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, as I watch the final race to the chase race at Richmond, I was just thinking about last weekend, Labor Day weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway and what Labor Day weekend means in terms of NASCAR.

As a NASCAR fan, Labor Day Weekend several years ago meant to me the fourth most famous race of the NASCAR Cup Series season, one that was worth looking forward to, the famous Southern 500 at the “track too tough to tame” or “the lady in black”, Darlington Raceway.

In watching last weekend’s racing on Labor Day weekend on television from Atlanta Motor Speedway, I began to think about what Labor Day weekend was years ago, the roar of the engines on one of the famous tracks, Darlington. Now Labor Day weekend’s racing is more of at least racing in the south, although I am not from the south, I’m from New England – Massachusetts.

Back in 2004 when NASCAR moved the famous Labor Day weekend race from Darlington to California Speedway that really set a lot of NASCAR fans off including me. At that point, there was no Southern 500 anymore on the NASCAR schedule, that race at California Speedway was just another race and a boring race at that. I know that NASCAR is a business, but removing one of the most historical races from the schedule partly due to money was just hard to understand.

For 2009, three racetracks with the approval of NASCAR decided to make a huge change (at least the way I understand it and remember it), the California Speedway, the Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Talladega Superspeedway swapped dates. California Speedway got themselves a fall race in the chase, Talladega Speedway received a November date, but Atlanta Motor Speedway in my opinion came out of the swap with the best date, Labor Day Weekend.

I had mixed thoughts on NASCAR once again moving the Labor Day race to Atlanta, but considering Darlington will not be in my opinion an option again for Labor Day again, one because Mothers Day weekend has worked out for them. And the other that NASCAR can’t make as much money off the date at Darlington. The concept of Atlanta getting the famous date, but not the famous name worked for and hopefully better racing.

In watching the racing on last Sunday night, it kind of bothered me that the race itself wouldn’t end until sometime after 11pm on the east coast. Keep in mind, several people had to go to work the next morning regardless of the fact that Monday was Labor Day, so those fans couldn’t watch the race at all, my brother in-law was one of them.

Earlier that day before the race, I actually spent the day at a family cookout at my sisters. My new brother in-law cooked on the grill (of course my sister prepared the food ahead of time), we had chicken or Pork with vegetables on a stick (you pick) and corn on the cob. What a BBQ.

While at the BBQ, my sister in-law brought with her, her two dogs. Damn, I wish I had that kind of energy. These two were chasing each other around the yard and playing hard in a oval track look and then switching it up into a figure 8 track and then into a road course type track. At one point during it, there looked to be more action between these two dogs then in the past night’s Nationwide Series race that was funny, I wish I had some photos.

Anyway, for the Labor Day Classic 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, what a good Labor Day race under the lights. The racing was much better than in years past at California Speedway hands down. I thought for sure that Kevin Harvick would finally break though to victory lane for his first victory since the 2007 Daytona 500, but it wasn’t meant to be. Kasey Kahne just had the better car at the end of that run, passed Harvick to claim his second victory of the season and Richard Petty would once again go to victory lane.

So after that race, do NASCAR fans like the idea that NASCAR now races at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day Weekend?

For this NASCAR fans, like I said above, since the Southern 500 at Darlington will not in my opinion return to Labor Day Weekend and California Speedway races are boring, this is a good start, it worked, but where should the race be besides Darlington Raceway? I don’t know on that second question.