Here’s why I was hoping Road America would produce a great race

The racing was good at Road America but not really great (Getty Images)

I am not foolish enough to believe that whatever I write here will have any influence on the powers that be in the decision making process for NASCAR. I also know that the decision regarding the subject at hand has most likely already been made. Still, I write anyway.

I was really hoping that this past Sunday’s Kwik Trip 250 at Road America would turn out to be one of the best races of the season on the NASCAR Cup Series. Certainly, I want every race on the schedule to be a great one simply because I love racing and enjoy watching skilled drivers and crew members perform at their best. But I had an ulterior motive for this particular event.

Rumor has it that the race held on the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin road course might have been it’s last on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, at least for a while. And if the circulating reports prove to be true, the date surrendered by the four-mile venue will be awarded to a street circuit somewhere in the Chicago area.

I could not be any less enthused about this possibility. My hope was that the Road America event would be so good that those who make these kinds of decisions might be dissuaded from a move that would put NASCAR on a temporary street course in a major city that feels foreign to this sport.

I know I am going to sound like some old timer who longs for the good ole days but that is not really the case at all. I actually thought the move to hold the Busch Light Clash inside the L.A. Coliseum was a good one because the Los Angeles area has a strong car culture sort of vibe and is a place where NASCAR can potentially grow. I just don’t think Chicago has that same sort of feel about it.

I understand the need to grow the sport but I just don’t think this is a place where that can happen. Further, a street circuit may not be the best option.

And while there are good street courses in the world, it seems as if those types of circuits tend to be hit or miss with more misses than hits. With that comes the possibility of a bad race which would, in turn, create an embarrassing situation in which no one would show up for the second annual event. I do not envision any sort of sustainability in Chicago.

Besides, this is a locale that had its chance with the Chicagoland Speedway, located in Joliet, Illinois and that facility did so poorly that it is no longer on the NASCAR cup Series schedule.

If the July 4th date is in fact moved from Road America to a Chicago street circuit it will serve to take a race away from a real track and in favor of a gimmick. And more, the Elkhart Lake area just seems like a place that would be much more aligned with NASCAR than a large city like Chicago. Stick-and-ball sports tend to thrive in the more urban areas where NASCAR has more of a small town type of following.

Yes, the LA Coliseum worked for this year’s Clash. Time will tell whether or not that was sustainable or if it was a flash in the pan. Road America feels more sustainable to me. As stated before, I have my doubts about Chicago.

If the thought is to give Chicago a try and if it doesn’t work out we can always go back to Elkhart Lake then NASCAR might find that bridge was irreparably burned when it went out seeking something that was never really doable anyway. That’s the mentality this sport’s previous administration used and it caused a great deal of damage with the core fan base. This feels like one of those types of moves.

I had hoped NASCAR was finished with grasping for the gold ring.

This year’s Road America race was good, especially when the element of a first time Cup Series winner having to fight off the most popular driver in NASCAR is considered. But it wasn’t really a great race and if there was to be any hope of dissuading the idea of taking that date and moving it to a big city street course, the race needed to be better.

As I said earlier, the decision has most likely already been made. For NASCAR’s sake, I hope it works out.

Richard Allen has been covering NASCAR and other forms of motorsports since 2008.

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