Atlanta deserves a better date for race weekend

By Jared Turner



The rain kept falling and the fans kept shivering. Finally, the rain stopped and we had a race. But the shivering continued.


What else can we expect from a March 1 event at Atlanta Motor Speedway?


This isn’t Hawaii, mind you. It’s not Daytona Beach, either.


Remember 1993 when that huge blizzard hit the Atlanta area and the race had to be postponed an entire week? That year, the race was actually – get this – two weeks later on the schedule than it was this year.


In other words, winter weather could have plausibly forced the postponement of this past weekend’s race. And, given enough late February/each March race weekends at AMS in the future, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that it could again.


But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It didn’t snow at Atlanta this year, and that’s a good thing.


Then, again, why in the world should any track promoter have to even entertain the possibility of such a disaster?


Moving Atlanta’s Sprint Cup Series race from Labor Day weekend – the track’s lone spot on the calendar from 2011-2014 – all the way up to Race No. 2 on the schedule makes about as much sense as giving the Daytona 500 a 3 a.m. start time.


Are you kidding me? Why would any fan – old, young or in between – sit in 30-something degree temperatures to watch a race?


Talk about testing to see if one is a “true” fan. Heck, the people who sat out and there in overcoats and long johns for three-plus hours on Sunday afternoon should get a full refund for their ticket.


Better yet, let NASCAR pay them to come – instead of vice versa. This is insanity in its purest form.


Oh, don’t misunderstand: I’m all for Darlington returning to its traditional Labor Day weekend date later this year. In fact, Darlington should have never lost its Labor Day weekend race in the first place.


But neither should Atlanta have gotten the short end of the stick in the deal. Rather than running at Atlanta in late February or early March, kick off the Sprint Cup Series’ new “West Coast Swing” a week early with a trip to Sonoma.


Then give Sonoma’s late June date to Atlanta.


It seems like common sense, right?


Unfortunately, though, this is NASCAR – where common sense often can’t compete with corporate dollars and demands.