Night NASCAR on a holiday weekend: A hit or a miss?

A night race at venerable Bristol. Looks pretty swell, doesn't it?

A night race at Bristol. Looks pretty swell, huh? (Photo from CaptainThunderRacing.com)

Our geographic clocks — we do live in the South — are synchronized to Sept. 5, which is the first big Saturday of the college football season. Georgia’s at Oklahoma State that day for a game the Bulldogs may or may not lose 387-24. Georgia Tech opens at home against Jacksonville State at 1 p.m. and seven hours later Alabama plays Virginia Tech underneath the Dome. But you know all this already.

What I’m wondering now is if we Atlantans know, or care, that a major NASCAR development will be held at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sept. 6. This installment of the Pep Boys 500 will be the first night Cup race in track history, and Ed Clark and the AMS folks have huge hopes for this event.

You know me: I’d rather be wrong than wishy-washy. (Explains a lot, huh?) But I could see this one going either way. I could see it become a holiday weekend staple — night racing in the A-T-L on Labor Day eve — and I could also see it getting lost amid the Saturday tailgating and the Monday cookouts. So I’m asking: What do you folks think?

Will you go? Do you have your tickets already? Is this something you’ve circled on the ol’ calendar? Are you pumped to see three-wide racin’ not on a sunny afternoon but in the slightly spooky darkness? (I know: AMS will turn the lights on. I’m just trying to raise an evocative image here.)

The night NASCAR race at AMS will be:

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Or will football distract you? (The NFL doesn’t open full-force until the next weekend, FYI.) Will baseball? (The Braves play an afternoon game at Turner Field on Sept. 6.) Is there just too much going on in the big city for NASCAR to stand out?

This is uncharted territory for NASCAR in Atlanta. We’re used to having our two races — one in the spring and one in the fall. But Clark was more than willing to yield his track’s spot in the Chase for a chance to build something big on a holiday weekend. I hope it happens that way, but I’m a bit skeptical.

Maybe that’s just me, though. I’m interested in your thoughts. Thanks in advance.

65 comments Add your comment

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Yunel's Frosted Tips

August 21st, 2009
3:19 pm

I told my friends when they announced this date it was a mistake. Racing under the lights is great, but they will get swallowed up by College Football opening day, they would have been better off next Saturday Night.

Heckler

August 21st, 2009
3:23 pm

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

YOUR ARTICLE SUCKS BRADLEY!!!!

midnite

August 21st, 2009
3:26 pm

I think the night race will be success. I do not believe college football will have much effect if any since the race is Sunday night.

Khigh Dhiegh as Wo Fat

August 21st, 2009
3:27 pm

Man, they get a lot of people to go to those races, don’t they? I’ve never been to one, or had a desire to go, or watch on TV. I may go write a very similar comment on Schultz’s current Thrashers blog. So, really, I don’t know why I’m commenting here. Pardon the intrusion.

bali

August 21st, 2009
3:33 pm

who cares……….. let the big dogs race at the ATL

Brenda

August 21st, 2009
3:33 pm

Can’t WAIT! Big HIT!!!

Heckler

August 21st, 2009
3:36 pm

YOU’RE PROOF THAT KENTUCKY’S JOURNALISM SCHOOL WILL GIVE A DEGREE TO ANYONE WHO CAN BREATHE AND WALK UPRIGHT!

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

Mark Bradley

August 21st, 2009
3:40 pm

Sorry to say, I didn’t major in journalism. (Supply your own punch line.)

Sting 'em Buzz

August 21st, 2009
3:45 pm

I love the idea of racing at night down in Hampton. College football will hurt the Saturday race but the NASCAR brigade will be out in force on Sunday.

Mark Bradley

August 21st, 2009
3:47 pm

I hope it is a hit, Sting ‘em. (Surprising myself most of all, I’ve grown to like NASCAR.) But I just drove by a billboard advertising Sunday tickets for $39.

MattyB

August 21st, 2009
3:47 pm

It may take a few years, but eventually I think it will be one of the premier races of the season. The old Southern 500 used to be and I, for one, am glad it has returned to the south. Although not part of the 10 race chase, it’s actually a racier event, as it is very near the cutoff for those teams vying for for a spot in the chase. Nice move, AMS! And nice job on actually covering some NASACR news, Bradley!!!

MightyQuinn

August 21st, 2009
3:48 pm

Really? Seriously, what did you major in? Inquiring minds want to know!

Khigh Dhiegh as Wo Fat

August 21st, 2009
3:48 pm

Sorry to say, I didn’t major in journalism. (That explains a lot.)

Mac

August 21st, 2009
3:49 pm

I’m guessing political science or English.

MightyQuinn

August 21st, 2009
3:51 pm

And I, surprising myself also, have become a fan of the Left Hand Turn. Started when I met my wife to be in 2000 (first date: Braves game. Match in heaven.) She was already a fan. Watched first race green to checkered flag in Feb 2001. Y’all might remember the crash on the last lap.

David

August 21st, 2009
3:54 pm

The only CFB game on TV at that time is Colorado State at Colorado. I doubt any in this area will care about it.

Saban Clause

August 21st, 2009
3:58 pm

This idea is the CLAYTON COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM of automobile race scheduling.

ROLL TIDE!

observor

August 21st, 2009
4:00 pm

I would rather watch Colorado vs. Colorado State any day then spend a minute watching NASCAR.

Nativebird

August 21st, 2009
4:08 pm

NASCAR? What’s NASCAR?

Lowcountry Bulldawg

August 21st, 2009
4:13 pm

Friday night AMS—Truck Racing

Saturday Night—Ga. Dome Tech vs. Bammer

Sunday Night—AMS to watch Mark Martin clinch a spot in the chase

Monday—Drive home

Now only if the economy would allow me to make that a Labor Day Weekend annual event. Especially if the Braves are in town and go to the Ted on Friday as opposed to the Truck Race.

Thats what I’m talkin about!

Evil Richt 2009 S.E.C. World Tour: "Banned in Columbus"

August 21st, 2009
4:23 pm

I think it will work because it is on a Sunday night. The UGA game won’t be as much of a factor because its an away game. The people who go to the UA-VT and GT games are most likely not the same people who will be going to this race. Also, don’t worry, they will be making money on those $39 tickets.

JAG

August 21st, 2009
4:29 pm

It will be good. Don’t have tickets, but know the date and thinking about going. Football already interfered with the previous later October date – Sunday afternoon race. Sunday night on Labor Day weekend is a great fall football time date. The NASCAR fans will be at AMS tailgating and watching the college football on their TV’s from their RV’s on Saturday and at the race on Sunday night.

Bat Masterson

August 21st, 2009
4:52 pm

Nascar, haha. As soon as they start running half the cars clockwise, I’ll start watching.

reebok

August 21st, 2009
4:54 pm

once college football starts, everything else is jockeying for second place among southern sports fans. i’ve been to a bunch of cup races, but there’s no way i’d kill most of a day of a holiday weekend to go watch a race i can watch on the big screen at home w/ friends.

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 21st, 2009
4:55 pm

As a purist, I still think the Labor Day weekend race should be the Southern 500 at Darlington on a Monday afternoon. And speaking of Darlington, they should switch the start finish line back to the other straightaway like it used to be. I haven’t been to a race in many years and don’t plan on going. The sport has lost it’s soul in my opinion.

As for the Atlanta race, it could go either way. Racing under the lights should help them for at least a year or two. Back in the day (until the mid 70’s) the 2nd race at Atlanta was always run in late July. They moved it to November because of poor attendence in July. The economy is tight so going head to head with other sports might hurt the gate and Atlanta has never really drawn the crowds you would think in comparision to some race at tracks with a smaller population to draw from.

I never get to see a dead tree edition of the AJC; is Rick Minter still y’alls racing writer? He’s a good one.

Mark Bradley

August 21st, 2009
5:05 pm

Rick Minter still covers racing for us, but I believe on a freelance basis now. He’s a fine fellow.

Grand PRIX

August 21st, 2009
5:44 pm

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Observer (the 4:00 guy can't spell)

August 21st, 2009
6:22 pm

“Observor” aside, I must say the level of discourse here is a step or two up from that on columns pertaining to UGA football. Now THERE’S an indictment of all things DAWG, don’cha think ?

Smarty

August 21st, 2009
6:25 pm

Ya gotta love a good, lusty BOOO, Mark. Thanks, Heckler.

Cuz

August 21st, 2009
6:33 pm

I’ll watch the Nascar event under the lights of my living room ceiling fan.

Matt Bastardson

August 21st, 2009
6:37 pm

Whaddya bet “Heckler” is Jeff Shultz ? He always was envious of Mark B.

Dawgs2009

August 21st, 2009
6:44 pm

I have lost interest in NASCAR the past couple of years. It has become extremely dull and boring. I would have went a few years ago, but now I will save my money go to a couple of Falcon games. It has become the Jimmie Johnson show the past three years and I am done with the race for the chase.

NASCAR is on the back burner after everything else. I kind of glance at the coverage….if I even get to it after College football, NFL, the Braves,and the Hawks off-season moves.

Jim

August 21st, 2009
7:17 pm

Are you kidding? All the UGA rednecks that would have been in Athens will drive their RV’s to Hampton and watch the game there while guzzling beer!

Dawgs2009

August 21st, 2009
7:26 pm

Is that an attempt at humor Jim? We have better things to do than to drive to Hampton. Auburn is closer.

DawgNation

August 21st, 2009
9:11 pm

I work across from the track and have to work that weekend. God the traffic going home is going to be horrendous. Once home however I will watch it on the big screen. Thank God though I will be home in time for the Georgia game though on Saturday.

buzz29

August 21st, 2009
9:17 pm

I’ll be camping at AMS all weekend and going to the Jackets game on Saturday. We’ll have the BAMA-VPI game on the big screen by the fire Saturday night. Stop by and have a drink. I just ask that the UGAly fans don’t get drunk and fall in the fire this year.

buzz29

August 21st, 2009
9:23 pm

We had a helluva time pissing that fire off that dude last year.

Pinball34

August 21st, 2009
10:35 pm

By the way…Hey Teresa, how’s that 8 car doing?
Stupid is forever.

NRBQ

August 21st, 2009
11:10 pm

That picture of the crowd at Richmond is amazing.

Only two other venues in sport commands such a crowd: American college football and soccer.

Nascar is a blast. Unfortunately, network coverage has become abysmal pandering.

Somebody please put a yard of dirt in Darrell Waltrip’s mouth.

Sid

August 22nd, 2009
8:35 am

A friend of ours had the audacity to schedule her wedding for 6pm on Saturday, yes….THAT Saturday…….!! Ticket prices have been reduced at many NASCAR venues with the recognition that they have to put some butts in the seats in a down economy. Sunday’s AMS race will be fine but I will be watching on the DISH.

bug

August 22nd, 2009
10:00 am

nascar has become a convoy—no passing and they all look alike!

Smokey

August 22nd, 2009
10:22 am

I went to 7 races in a row from 1999 – 2002 but finally got fed up with the traffic. Has that improved any? I would be tempted to go to this one but I don’t want to relive the traffic nightmare again!!!

nocar

August 22nd, 2009
10:38 am

It’s been a while since I’ve been to the race. Last time, getting out was a nightmare. Night games/events lead to more drinking. So…if NASCAR has decided this, they’re targeting rowdy drunken fans. Forget families, older folks, non-drinkers. Are there enough drunken rednecks to fill the stadium? Hell, yeah! Don’t forget your guns for the fight out.

Timboy6

August 22nd, 2009
10:40 am

Will there be college football on Sunday night? I think they’ll get a lot of walk up business.

Benjamin

August 22nd, 2009
11:26 am

Night racing in Atlanta on Labor Day weekend?

Yes, please…

Benjamin

August 22nd, 2009
11:27 am

lol @ the interaction between you and Heckler, btw. I have to admit that I had a little Heckler in me last year when you wrote in June that we would be pulling ahead in the division by Labor Day…. :)

I love your blogs, though. Keep up the good work.

CCjacket

August 22nd, 2009
11:28 am

Pinball 34:

I guess it’s still Teresa’s fault that Jr. sucks way worse now that he’s at Hendrick than he ever did when he was at DEI ??

oh, and BTW; can’t even blame in on TE Jr. anymore, either.

Billy Bob from cobb

August 22nd, 2009
11:34 am

Nascar is dieing a slow death. The only race with the car of tomarrow is in the pits. Not sure why they even go on the track any more. they should just do the best 6 pit stops to decide the winner. How about the robo driver devoid or neurtered of their personality? what do you think about these cookie cutter tracks? All this makes for very boring raceing. i would bet they don”t sell 70% of the seats

Brad

August 22nd, 2009
11:35 am

It was a good move to a night race..but they should have done it while the race was in the Chase. The benefit though is it gives people traveling to the race an extra day of travel which could help attendance as well. The biggest thing that will help attendance is ticket prices that are reasonable for a family – case in point in spring race East Turn Grandstand was $50/$60 and almost completely full….the front stretch..mostly $90 and higher was about 60% to 70% full.

The took out the cheap seats on back stretch for camping spaces that cost thousands. Added seats on front stretch that exceed $100…the family and core NASCAR fan have been squeezed out.

Night race on Labor Day..I like it…but ticket prices on front stretch need to right size to the economy. Their greed will end up causing them to lose a race.