It’s become a social media phenomena that happens seemingly each time the Bowman Gray Stadium ringmaster announces that the clowns will be the spotlight act.
Yes, each time another goofy incident of one driver chasing down another driver, or purposely wrecking a competitor, or competitors trading fists or getting arrested on track, the videos populate the timelines of those around short track racing like a plague.
Nothing wrong with that. Look at the schedule guide on your TV and you’ll see America’s Funniest Home Videos, Tosh.0, Ridiculousness, World’s Dumbest … . All televisions shows dedicated to spreading the hilarity of people being idiots on video.
Though invariably with the Bowman Gray Stadium footage comes the herd of folks around short track racing exclaiming that short track racing would be better off if more facilities operated like Bowman Gray Stadium.
Sunday morning Facebook timelines in the thousands were overrun by video of Junior Miller going after Burt Myers with his car in the infield following a Modified race at Bowman Gray Saturday night. The accompanying video that made the storyline even more ridiculous was of a female fan punching Myers while in victory lane after the race.
In 2010 the History Channel series “Madhouse” featured a season in the life of racers at Bowman Gray Stadium, which is in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The continued theme of the show was celebrating rivalries that regularly turn ugly in many ways. It painted the portrait to America of short track racing as a thug sport where fists fly after every event, racecars are regularly used as weapons and promoters and race track owners stand by and laugh at all of it. Myers and his racing family, along with Miller, were the showcase players in the series.
Yes, Bowman Gray Stadium is a unique short track facility that packs fans in regularly, and surely those attendance numbers are the envey of short track operators across the country. The question is, what cost do you pay when encouraging and promoting a circus atmosphere takes precedence over well run short track events?
Turn short track racing into an uncontrolled, mayhem-filled three-ring circus and that will help short track racing? Really?
Bowman Gray Stadium isn’t packed because people like racing, it’s packed for the same reason that if you had gladiators fighting to the death with lions today, you’d sell that out too. People love to sit back and watch other people do really dumb things. But is that really racing? No. Short track operators could stage fights between competitors every week across the country, but would that really make short track racing better?
Saying that the idiocy that takes places regularly at Bowman Gray Stadium would help other short tracks become successful is like saying you could get more viewers for tennis if you took away the rackets and instead used an oblong brown leather ball, changed the court to make it 100 yards long, put in lines every 10 yards and had 11 players on each side.
Oh wait, no you can’t turn tennis into football and then say it’s the recipe that made it more successful. Saying short track facilities across the country need to turn their racing cards into some sort of pro wrestling/enduro hybrid monster sport is basically just changing the sport entirely.
Yes, story-lines and drama create fans. But, where does it cross the line to not even being about the racing any longer? If people are coming to your track mainly because your drivers consistently use their cars as weapons to go after other drives or your drivers are regularly getting hauled off in handcuffs, then are you even selling “racing” at that point?