From The Marbles

Happy Hour: NASCAR vs. F1, attending races in person and qualifying changes

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

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TRAFFIC JAM! (Getty Images)

Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com or @NickBromberg. We'll post them here, have a good time and everyone's happy. Right? Oh who are we kidding, this is NASCAR. No one is ever happy.

This is quite the packed mailbag this week. Big response to last week's column. Must have been something I said? Or were you all just inspired by Carl Edwards' music video appearance? I'm betting it's the latter.

[Watch: Kyle Busch trivia]

Anyway, let's stop wasting time and get to it.

Greetings. I happened to bump into some of that race yesterday (at Martinsville). Rubbish. I believe the fans have begun to figure out this lapping exhibition as witnessed by the growing number of empty seats and increasing conversion of seating sections to race day billboards. This sport has long lost its appeal. Last month I attended the Singapore F1 event. The entire weekend was a blast. First rate entertainment, plenty of food and beverage, no lines and exciting backdrop. Nascar, and while I'm at it horse racing, need to take a look at what's going on in Asia to revive these sports. Otherwise lights out.
- Cowboy Bob.

Oh fun, we haven't had some F1 attitude in the mailbag in a while. Are you saying that you don't want to pay a bunch of money to listen to Hank Williams Jr. perform before Bristol? What type of race fan are you?

I also think it's a tad crazy to compare an F1 street race in Singapore to a NASCAR race at Martinsville. Apples to toboggans. And I'll leave it at that.

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If I had a dime for every time I've heard the statement "Hotel prices are the biggest factor keeping fans away from the tracks". I would've burned out an industrial strength coin roller at this point. My question is "if that's the biggest issue. Why are the local fans not showing up?"

TV ratings for Martinsville are a perfect example. Here's some of the the top 10 areas for ratings. Greensboro (1), Greenville S.C. (2), Norfolk (3), Charlotte (5), Richmond (6), and Raleigh-Durham (10). Those 6 cities are less than an 8 hour round trip from Martinsville, heck, #1 is practically walking distance! These are people that don't need to worry themselves with room prices.

What is it that NASCAR isn't doing (or IS doing) that is keeping even the locals away on Sundays?
- Darrell

Some good points here, and on that note, I think it's important to mention that ISC announced that it was going to take steps to start upgrading WiFi capacity and HD screens at some tracks. And that's why you've seen tracks like Texas and Charlotte go with the big screens as well.

Look, let's not be naive. Attending a race, hotel prices or not, can be expensive, especially if you want the access that NASCAR is known for. Hot passes, unless you have a hookup, aren't cheap and neither is grandstand seating for that matter. Then you add in the cost of a scanner or FanView and souvenirs, concessions and anything else you want to think of and it's an absurdly pricy weekend at the track alone.

Or, you could stay at home, get things accomplished before the race, crack a beverage that you've paid for at 10% of the track cost at the grocery store and watch from your couch on your big screen. And you'll get radio access at a minimal cost per year if you paid for RaceView and all the other info you don't get via TV on Twitter. I think every NASCAR fan should have the opportunity to experience at least one race live and take it all in. But I can't blame someone for preferring to watch from his or her living room.

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Why don't they give out points for qualifying, 3-2-1 Would make it interesting. Having more cars on track would be viable as well.
-John

I like this idea to spice up qualifying, and I'm also glad that NASCAR is looking at different qualifying formats for next year. I think in the car count era we're in with minimal cars missing the race every week, qualifying not only needs a shakeup in terms of format but in terms of emphasis. An extra few points for the top qualifiers would help significantly, especially in the Chase.

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What is wrong with the know it alls at Nascar? Leave qualifying alone. We are not Indy Cars or Formular One. I for one, and I hope others want to watch single car qualifying. Shortening the times Nascar is on TV, has already been started with Speed becoming Fox Sport 1. Which I hate!
- Betty

And here we are with the opposite opinion. Betty seems to speak for a vocal minority of fans who are disappointed about the Speed to Fox Sports 1 transition and if you're included in that group, please email me with the answer to this simple question. Why?

[Watch: Jimmie Johnson trivia]

I can understand if you're that disappointed about the loss of WindTunnel or SpeedCenter, but outside of those programs, it's simply been a void of cheap reality content that was meh. The live coverage of racing hasn't been affected and with the launch of Fox Sports 2 there's a backup channel for it. Not every NASCAR test session or truck practice was televised in the Speed era, and it's not going to be in the FS1 era either.

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First, start a new series of oval track racing where the cars must be STOCK cars. Either remove the interiors or have the manufacturers build them special without interior, insulation and sound deadening. Then add safety equipment and racing wheels and tires. No other changes from factory specification.

It's been done many times for road racing, remember the Corvette Showroom Stock series that was started when the 'Vetts of the 90's got so good they were kicked out of other classes? Remember when Dodge sold Neons minus interiors etc strictly for racing use? Do the same for oval racing. I bet if given decent TV coverage it would soon be as or more popular than the fake cars NASCAR has been running.

Second, adding up all the times the Daytona 500 has been shortened, there's more than enough missing laps to make up another 500.
Put all those laps into one race and limit entries to only drivers who have never won a race or even placed in the top ten in any level of NASCAR competition. NO TEAMS! Every driver on his or her own with their crew.

That would put the attention on the up and comers without having to be overshadowed by the teams with practically unlimited funds.

Call it a make-up race for all the Daytona 500 action we've missed over the years. Could even have a company like Mary Kay or Maybeline sponsor it. Would the "Mary Kay Makeup 500" attract more women drivers to racing?
- Gregg

There's a series that involves stock cars and it's called the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. If "stock" car racing was such the draw that the loyalists say it is, why isn't the CTSCC more of a draw than it is? Hell, the races aren't even televised live. They're usually shown on delay a few days after the race airs.

And I'm not sure where you're going with the final few graphs of your letter, Gregg, nor am I sure that I want to.

When I purchase a ticket to see a 300 lap race, I expect to see 300 laps of racing, not 20% of the race as caution laps. NASCAR needs to not count caution laps as "race" laps.
- Vance

Raise your hand, do you want caution laps to count? Sunday's race at Martinsville took a cool 3:45 to run and featured 111 laps of caution. At 20 seconds per lap at Martinsville under green flag conditions, that's more than 30 minutes of green flag racing that would be tacked on to that race. No. No. No. No. No. NASCAR races should only go over four hours on the rarest of occasions, namely the Southern 500 and the Coca-Cola 600.

Besides, that's counter to the argument that NASCAR races need to be shortened in this era of shortening time spans. While I understand that, I think that's significantly muted if the racing in the early and middle stages is remotely compelling. I certainly don't hear the cries about football games, namely college football games, going over 3.5 hours. And I think that's a significant issue. With the overtime exceptions, football games shouldn't take that long to complete. And the same goes for NASCAR.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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