After the inaugural race at The Roval I have to ask, were you not entertained?! It was new, exciting, and entertaining. I’ll admit, I had my doubts, but I was happy to be proven wrong as it was the shot in the arm NASCAR needed. It was a break from the mundane cookie cutter 1.5 milers and the consistent rotation of the same tracks I’ve watched since I was six years old.
The Roval reminded me of Watkins Glen as the track was fast and the track was technical. The breaking zones provided apt places to pass if you garnered the testicular fortitude. The 35 feet of elevation change through the infield was enough to provide blind and off-camber corners that needed a technical finesse to carry maximum speed onto the oval part of the racetrack. I give everyone who had a hand in building the Roval a massive round of applause. What seemed like a gimmick, turned into a successful race.
So why not more road courses? A question I always ask myself when it comes to NASCAR. I want to see a 3400-pound stock car weave through the downhill esses of Road Atlanta. I want to hear them roar though the trees of VIRginia International Raceway, and why not substitute a race at Talladega with a race at Barber Motorsports Park? Blasphemy? Crazy? Have I lost my mind? No, far from the contrary. I understand that NASCAR was about the short tracks of the south. WAS, as in used to be. NASCAR needs a future, a path that will garner growth, and turning right could be the key.
Road-course racing could hugely revitalize NASCAR. It could eliminate the doubles in the schedule by adding new tracks, incorporate a new group of fans into NASCAR racing, and more importantly, attract fresh manufacturers. Road racing has been a high point of emphasis in getting manufacturers to test technology and design parts for their production cars. Something NASCAR has shied away from in recent years. Embracing this kind of technological thinking could be beneficial in attracting the fourth or fifth manufacture. NASCAR needs to think beyond their race cars and toward what it can produce for your vehicle. Bring back some of the importance to the phrase of “win on Sunday and buy on Monday.”
These cars will never be stock again, and if we are honest, they never really were. But embracing this technology wave would steer NASCAR to a path other race series are a success with. Hybrid systems, suspension performance parts, and ERS (Energy Recovery Systems) are technologies that many manufacturers have been openly pursuing to put into your road car. So why not give outside manufacturers another series to test their technology?
We don’t have to abandon what makes NASCAR unique, but The Roval proved that adding to the schedule can make their product unique. Road courses have held amazing finishes, heartbreak, and jaw-dropping moments in their time with NASCAR. Sonoma, Watkins Glen, and now the new Charlotte Roval have all had these moments, so why not include a few more?