There is always a first time . . .

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I did something I NEVER dreamed I would ever do. I changed the channel from an ARCA race to watch Canada Vs. Sweden Women's Olympic Curling match.  I live near Detroit, MI which means I have a few choices in my TV viewing. I get CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) and Global Network out of Ontario. I like curling. It's play is similar to horseshoes, bocci, shuffleboard, all those type games, except on ice. You could have slid five "rocks" in a scoring position just to have all those points go away, because the other team put their last rock closest to the center of the target-like "house". Like tossing a "ringer" over a "leaner". It has all the strategy of chess, but a faster tempo than baseball. Really. It's a faster game than baseball. (75 minute time limit helps.) But, as usual, I digress.

When having conversations with other racing fans, especially the newer ones, It gets so frustrating having to defend ARCA and it's competitors. But Saturday, I just hung my head in a private shame in my own home. I really intended to go back to the race after that early wreck. Honest, I did. But "faster" pace of the curling got me.

Besides the fact that the "entitled" in the race, have no respect for the "regulars", no matter what age they may be, they seem very often to be right in the middle of the "you started it" controversies. I never, in all my years of being around ARCA racing at all levels, could figure out why, for example, a 10 or 15 car ARCA wreck at a speedway takes so much longer to clean up than a 20-25 car NASCAR melee at the same type of track? Cut the number of cars in each scenario in half, they're still quicker during the NASCAR race.

I'm not one to bash a Safety Crew. If I wasn't driving, or crewing for someone else around my home track, I was on the safety crew. I've always recognized the hard work and dedication to the sport these guys and gals have. I have also tried to express that respect when I could. It wasn't as easy as you think it would be. When I worked as an official, when the race ended, both groups had packing and/or inspections to do. As soon as we were done, we were on the road home. No time to hang out, give them their pat on the back they deserve, and have a beverage or two with them afterwards. When I worked pit road, I always made sure to thank the fire person stationed at the pit boxes I was working for watching my back. But there was always that one question in my mind I could never answer for myself. They are doing all the right things. ARCA's pace car speed isn't any faster than anyone else's events. I AM awfully glad they do the thorough job they do.

But why so many yellow flag laps, that could cause someone to rather watch curling?

I can easily see where at times certain people COULD request ARCA to do certain things, that MAY make their races appear not as entertaining as maybe they could be. (Call off the dogs. I said, could, may, and never named any names. No specific accusations here.) And of course the sun HAS to set sometime. And in February, it sets at a certain spot, at certain times, which could be annoying to some people at some sporting venues.

I know when I worked on the flagstand at certain tracks, in certain months, at certain times of the day, it was really difficult for me to keep my eye on the condition of the the track, and if something is out there which could cause difficulty to, say, a race driver staring into that same sun, with an oiled up windshield and traveling at over 185mph, in traffic. And I guess it would be difficult to see oil, water, and debris should a car or two make hard contact with something ahead of other cars trying to slow down (at different rates), and try to turn the car on an oily track, with debris flattened tires, in directions that someone on a radio may or may not be correct in saying. (I know, I've spotted, too.) But you see, for some reason when you are the preliminary event to the main attraction, you have to go out and perform when you are told to, prior to the main event, no matter how the stars align. (And what's with the Friday thing at other events? Do they really want that many empty seats on national TV, over and above the ones you see on Sundays? Do they like making normal working guys use up more of their vacation time from work, which I'm sure they would like to have with their family. ARCA does have a few off weekends that those days could be put to good use. I digress, again. Bad habit, I know.)

But sometimes, even though everyone else around you doesn't understand who is who (whom?). The "regulars", who in most cases have to earn a living while trying to maintain a race team, without complaining, because they chose to do it, they DO get the last laugh over the "entitled". Like when the entitled don't crack the top five at the finish.

But . . . that still doesn't explain to my little mind why women's curling seemed to be the better watch on a cold, winter's Saturday afternoon.

I wonder what's happening in Sochi next Sunday . . . ?

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Comment by Tim Leeming on February 21, 2014 at 8:54am

I sincerely enjoyed this read.  Great job.

Comment by Dennis Schalm on February 19, 2014 at 4:13pm

Thanks Russell. Be careful of the compliments. I may really get on a roll.  <LOL>

Comment by Russell Rector on February 19, 2014 at 2:13pm

A well written article that asks some very thoughtful questions.

Comment by Dennis Schalm on February 19, 2014 at 11:34am

I miss the old days, 60's to early 70's, when my home track would have Sprint cars on Monday nights, Super Stocks and Sportsman cars on Thursday, and Sportsman and Modified 6's and 8's on Saturday.  When the Sprints and Mods faded around here, the track did quite well with Super Stocks and Sportsman cars on Monday and Thursday nights, and just sportsman cars on Saturday. On Saturdays we had a Figure 8 feature for the Sportsman, for those who chose to run it, with a separate points standings. Also the "regular" Sat. feature was a race we called the Double "0". Like most places that had two tracks, the half mile and quarter mile used the same front straight. The way you ran a Double "0" was to run a lap on the 1/2, dive down into the 1/4 and run a lap there merge through traffic, and back on to the 1/2, and keep doing that until you've run 15 "laps". A full lap was started on the 1/2 and considered finished when you came off the 1/4. A road race, with a touch of Figure 8 attitude thrown in. By the way, a typical starting field was about 60+ cars. And it ALSO had it's own points standings. The regular Sportsman points were the standard 1/4 mile features they ran on Mon. and Thurs. nights. One sportsman car, three season championships to run for. How cool was that. The Double "0" was a "gimmick" race you could still call a race. Not the really weird stuff they run nowadays.

Because a lot of guys chose to race only on the weekend, the Sportsman car field was "down" to only 40 or so cars on Mon. and Thurs.

Comment by Dave Fulton on February 18, 2014 at 5:43pm

YES YES YES... Dennis.... 3 Divisions Max... I have preached that for years.... too many short tracks have killed themselves running 4+ divisions with short car counts and races that don't have as many cars as a good heat race should.

Comment by Dennis Schalm on February 18, 2014 at 4:37pm

We need a "grass roots" uprising for grass roots racing. Let those who got too big of and for themselves end up with billion dollar landfill projects.  Drag these "new" fans to a short track and show them how much fun racing REALLY is.  (Except avoid tracks with 6 divisions with about 5-10 cars each. Three divisions max, with a lot of cars. Two would be even better.)

Comment by Dave Fulton on February 18, 2014 at 3:08pm

I'm afraid a lot of us have found ourselves switching channels the past few years from a number of different stock car events in differeing sanctioning bodies. Let's hope things come back together.

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