• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Monday, March 30, 2009

SUPER SCHEDULING

MANZANITA HISTORY: Three-time World of Outlaws' champion Donny Schatz accepted his 2008 AARWBA All-America Team Horsepower Trophy Saturday night from Arizona Republic contributor Mark Armijo (right). Jamie Reynolds (left) of Racing Roundup Arizona radio joined in the front-straightaway ceremony. Schatz was racing in Australia at the time of the AARWBA dinner. It was WoO's last appearance at legendary Manzy, scheduled to close April 11. I'd say the grandstands were about 90 percent full and I was glad for the chance to be there one more time. Thanks to hard-working Outlaws' PR director Tony Veneziano for his help in coordinating this presentation. (Photo courtesy of Terry Shaw.)


(There were two blogs last week. If you missed last Thursday's special posting, on the Bill York outrage, please scroll down.)

My first thought, upon receiving word that NFL owners were considering adding regular-season games that could push the Super Bowl to the Daytona 500's traditional mid-February date, was:
Maybe NASCAR and Fox could turn back the clock and take a page from the Indianapolis 500's better era -- Start the race at 11 a.m. That would be far-more respectful to fans than last month's 3:42 p.m. green flag, which was a key factor in stock car racing's Super Bowl only going a rain-shortened 380 miles.

That would be sweetly ironic. But it still wouldn't work. There are too many corporate conflicts. If forced to choose, I bet I can guess where sponsors would focus their attention -- and money. And it would be a media coverage Titanic for NASCAR.

If the NFL acts, NASCAR will be forced to adjust. It would not only throw off NASCAR's schedule, though. The ripple effect on race dates would be felt throughout motorsports. And, come to think of it, a large segment of the overall Florida travel/hospitality industry.

Actually, the best idea would be to use the NFL's move as a convenient excuse to delete the NASCAR All-Star race. It has outlived its usefulness. Remember, this event was originally created in the 1980s to generate publicity for NASCAR in May vs. the Indianapolis 500. That's no longer an issue. That date could be used for a regular Cup race or help provide for an off-weekend somewhere else on the schedule. The levels of desperation being used to hype the All-Star spectacle just proves my point: It has outlived its purpose.
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I just finished reading No Time to Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle. (Continuum, 2008.) The co-authors are Howard Rosenberg, former Los Angeles Times TV critic, and Charles S. Feldman, former CNN correspondent. The title is self-explanatory. It's a warning about the dangers present in our standards-challenged, instant-communications era.

I don't agree with all their points, but this book is worthwhile even if you just read Chapter 6 ("In-Depth Instant Results") and Chapter 7 ("Desperate Newspapers Play Catch-Up").
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All the best to Jim Pedley, laid off from the Kansas City Star, and my other friends now involved with the new Racin’ Today. Pedley, et al say the site "is our response to the decision of major newspapers to exit motorsports coverage.

"Here you will find entertaining and insightful features on drivers, crew chiefs, owners and teams from a staff of award-winning writers. Here you will find educated opinion from highly experienced racing journalists who have roamed the teams’ garages and shops, who have spent as much time in haulers as some crew members. Here you will get news and notes from reporters whom drivers, crew members and team owners know and respect and trust."

Bill Fleischman, John Sturbin, Larry Woody and Rick Minter also are involved. It's http://racintoday.com/
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Here's a link to my Arizona Republic story last Friday on the last Outlaws' race at Manzanita Speedway:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2009/03/26/20090326outlaws0327.html

I'll be in Las Vegas this weekend to see what happening in the NHRA Full Throttle series.

[ more next Tuesday . . . ]