Monday, April 10, 2017

Musing From the Weekend: An Easter Egg

James Hinchcliffe won at Long Beach. Everything is back to usual in Formula One. There was a pattern at the MotoGP weekend in Argentina. World Rally made history as something occurred this weekend that had not happened since 1986. Slower traffic and an accident at the hairpin caused havoc in the IMSA race at Long Beach. Rain wasn't kind to the Supercars Championship in Tasmania. Super GT started its season at Okayama, as did the World Touring Car Championship in Morocco. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

An Easter Egg
After a very busy weekend in the motorsports world, most are taking the week off, notably for Easter. 

This is a dead weekend, especially in the United States. Most people are busy with family and going to church or Easter egg hunts or whatever it may be. Most events on Easter struggles. It isn't uncommon to see mostly empty baseball stadiums even for the top teams. People are busy and family wins out over favorite sports teams or other events. However, there is a void that needs to be filled. 

Even if you are spending time with family on Sunday the TV will likely be on at some point and you need some type of diversion. We all love our families but I bet we all have a point where we got to turn on the television as an escape from in-laws, aunts and crying nieces and nephews. Any baseball game becomes an oasis. Last year, the Elite Eight of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament fell on Easter and it was on at my cousin's place while you had other family members chatting in the dining room and kids running from room to room. It eventually became a gathering point, especially as Syracuse clawed back against Virginia and won a spot in the Final Four. 

We need sports even on days with family. Football is as associated with Thanksgiving as turkey. This most recent Christmas Day had a full slate of NBA games and two NFL games. New Years' Day belongs to college football. The Indianapolis 500 is what it is partly because it is on Memorial Day weekend. Easter is tricky. No sport wants to associate with it in the United States. It is a fluid holiday. Last year, Easter was March 27th. This year it is April 16th. Next year is April 1st and the year after that it is April 21st. You can't pin it down. Sometimes it falls during the NCAA tournament. Sometimes it falls on the opening weekend for Major League Baseball. Sometimes The Masters are that weekend but no event can attach to a holiday that drifts anytime over a month. The temperature from late-March to mid-April could increase by 40 degrees. 

But why couldn't motorsports have an Easter weekend race in the United States? The season opener for the 2007 Champ Car season was held on Easter Sunday on the streets of Las Vegas but that race died before the series did. The crowd wasn't great by any measure but one failure doesn't mean success is impossible. 

Formula One and the FIA World Endurance Championship both have races this upcoming weekend but both are different. Formula One is Formula One and stops for no holiday and Easter isn't a big holiday in countries such as Bahrain and China and as for the WEC, Easter is different in British culture and in Europe in general as most get Easter Monday off and the British GT Championship race at Oulton Park on Easter Monday. The Blancpain Sprint Series opened a few seasons on Easter Monday at Nogaro. 

We don't have that luxury of Easter Monday in the United States but even if we did I still think family would win out and keep a race from being held on Easter Sunday but what about the Saturday? NASCAR held a Grand National Series race at Nashville Superspeedway the day before Easter for over a decade until the track closed after the 2011 season. One down side was that teams had to travel long distances and being away most of the holiday weekend. The race ended Saturday but Nashville isn't a hop, skip and a jump from where most of the teams are located in North Carolina.

But there are plenty of tracks in NASCAR's backyard. I don't think the series would want a Cup race on Easter weekend, for a long time the series avoided racing on Mothers' Day weekend, but a Grand National Series or Truck series race could work. Rockingham would have been perfect for this situation but that track once again has closed its doors. Maybe a race could be held at Hickory Speedway or maybe the trucks could run on the dirt track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  

What about IndyCar? Could IndyCar hold a race on Holy Saturday in its backyard? The Indianapolis Motor Speedway already holds two races in May and maybe you could move the Grand Prix of Indianapolis to Easter Saturday but I think the buildup during the month of May works for the track and they won't want to ruin a good thing. What about a race at Indianapolis Raceway Park? I know people say it is too small but I don't buy it. Why not run a 250-lap race? Have a one-day show, practice at 11 a.m., qualify at noon and race at 1:00 p.m. and everyone would be home well before dinner is ready that night and have all of Easter to spend with family. Outside of that, there aren't any other options at IndyCar's base. Maybe Kentucky Speedway but that is over two hours away from Indianapolis.

Easter weekend isn't changing any time soon for motorsports fans in the United States and maybe that is a good thing. It isn't a bad thing to have one weekend without something we love. There are more important things than races, baseball games, basketball games and golf. One weekend with the family isn't much to ask and racing will be back the following weekend. 

Winners From the Weekend
You know about James Hinchcliffe but did you know...

Lewis Hamilton won the Chinese Grand Prix.

Maverick Viñales won MotoGP's Argentine Grand Prix, his second consecutive victory. Franco Morbidelli won in Moto2, making the Italian two-for-two this season. Joan Mir won in Moto3, his second consecutive victory.

The #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac of Jordan and Ricky Taylor won the IMSA race at Long Beach. The #4 Corvette of Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin won in GTLM. The #50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes of Gunnar Jeannette and Cooper MacNeil won in GTD. 

Álvaro Parente won the Pirelli World Challenge race at Long Beach. 

Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR race at Texas. Erik Jones won the Grand National Series race. 

Shane Van Gisbergen and Fabian Coulthard split the Supercars races at Symmons Plains and both races were shortened but Van Gisbergen's race did not award points as only four laps were completed. 

Thierry Neuville won Tour de Corse and the last four WRC races have been won by four different manufactures (Ford, Toyota, Citroën and Hyundai). 

The #37 KeePer TOM's Lexus of Ryō Hirakawa and Nick Cassidy won the Super GT season opener at Okayama. The #4 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU Mercedes of Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka won in GT300.

Esteban Guerrieri and Tiago Monteiro split the WTCC season opener at Marrakech. 

Coming Up This Weekend
The Bahrain Grand Prix. 
The 6 Hours of Silverstone. 
Formula Two is back! Kind of. The renamed GP2 Series will be in Bahrain.
TCR International runs a doubleheader at Bahrain.