For NASCAR regional racers in the west, November 15 could prove to be almost as important to them as voting for the President on November 2. November 15 is the date NASCAR has implied the 2005 schedule will be released. It may well be the date that the future of racing in the West is forever changed.
The reason there is such importance placed on the release of this schedule is directly related to the buzz coming from the east that the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Series will be scaled back to two divisions; merging the Northwest with Southwest and the Midwest with Southeast.
Many teams considering moving up to NASCAR’s regional touring and even teams already committed to the series are hesitant to buy new cars or put money into working on existing cars. They don’t want to let go of their hard earned cash until they see the schedule.
Some businesses are feeling the impact of the uncertainty of the teams by reduced sales this year. This is a traditional time of year that makes used race cars and related stuff a hot commodity, but sales are slumping, as drivers looking to move up to or out of the NASCAR Elite Series have put their plans on hold.
There is a big question mark that the 2005 schedule will be able to answer. By reviewing the NASCAR regional racing schedules, teams will discern if it is business as usual in 2005, if only a few races are combined in 2005 or if there is an all out transformation and merger of the regional racing in 2005.
Once the schedule is released teams will settle on what is best for them. Nothing will alter much if only some races are combined. But it will be a different story if two series are merged into one.
The feelings on the future of a combined series are mixed.
On the one hand you have those expressing fear that the combination will hurt local businesses that have long supported regional tour racing (from part suppliers to tire distributors), local teams, and local officials. They feel that the only ones not getting hurt will be NASCAR and the fans. Those drivers on a budget will have to drop out. They feel it will be too expensive.
On the other hand are those that think the elimination of some of the lesser funded drivers is a good thing, They feel the opportunity to have a bigger purse, to have more exposure, to have a better quality field will help raise NASCAR Regional Touring to another level and will lift the bar on what is expected. They feel the tracks like Pikes Peak and Las Vegas might have a renewed interest. They believe fans may be more attracted because the drivers will now match the name of the series and truly be "Elilte".
The one thing that both sides agree on is that there will be less drivers competing, but the drivers that do compete will in a sense be involved in a battle of survival of the fittest and those teams that cannot compete fulltime will become the field fillers for the races when the series visits their home track. It also is believed the drivers that drop out will join some of the independent series, such as the SRL and that these series will become feeder series for the all new NASCAR Regional Racing.
I don’t know about you, but I am ticking off the days on my calendar for November 15. My vote is that the history of racing in the west is about to be changed. What about you?