Should NASCAR continue racing on Easter?


Things seemed to be well under control under the lights at Richmond Raceway on Sunday night (March 31), just before Bubba Wallace caused Kyle Larson to slip on the homestretch with two laps to go. While the resulting restart controversy has dominated post-race reflection in recent days, another has emerged given the glaring absence of spectators – and largely competition.

Should NASCAR continue the pattern of breaking traditions and racing on holidays? This week Vito Pugliese and Mark Kristl take on the topic Two-headed monster.

There is a way to get around holidays

A year ago, after NASCAR held its Easter race at the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track, I argued in this column that NASCAR should continue racing on Easter weekend.

The 2023 Easter NASCAR Cup Series ratings were lower than in 2022. Guess what? This year's race took place at a different location, wound up with even lower ratings.
That's not good, but all is not lost. Should NASCAR continue racing on Easter weekend? Yes. However, the race should not take place on Easter Sunday, but on Saturday evening.

Easter Sunday is a day when families come together, often going to church and eating together. There's not much time to watch a Cup race.

But other major sports also take place on other holidays. The MLB plays on July 4th, the NBA plays on Christmas, the NFL plays on Christmas, the NHL plays on New Year's Day, and other holidays are often televised sporting events.

On Easter Sunday, NASCAR ratings did not result in growth for the sport; quite the opposite.

So what is the solution? Saturday – Holy Saturday in the religious calendar – night.
There aren't that many activities for people to do this Saturday evening. People spend Sunday together, not necessarily Saturday evening.

Additionally, Saturday night racing would allow fans to attend the race and still have Sunday free to spend the holidays with their families and friends. The same goes for the people in the garage – drivers, teams, media, etc. If there are no races over the Easter weekend, either the season is extended by a week or a different weekend is created. NASCAR races have been held on Easter weekend for three years in a row. They want to lead the TV market with high ratings.

Another challenge NASCAR faced when racing on Easter is scheduling. In stick and ball sports, the Detroit Lions play on Thanksgiving, the Rose Bowl is on January 1st, and almost all MLB teams play on July 4th.

NASCAR fans didn't like the dirt event at Bristol, the Next Gen didn't perform well at Richmond, and without the racing history this weekend, there's no established tradition like the season-opening Daytona 500 or the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day- weekend and the Labor Day weekend Southern 500.

Of all the tracks, NASCAR could visit either North Wilkesboro Speedway or Rockingham Speedway on Easter weekend. Both tracks have the history and love of the fan base to support NASCAR with one of them this weekend. Then NASCAR has to stay at this track for this Cup date on Saturday evening. Ideally, the first year would achieve high ratings. However, if this is not the case, NASCAR should work with its television partners, race sponsors and other interested parties to achieve scheduling consistency on Holy Saturday evening at this race track.

Additionally, both tracks are close enough to Charlotte that teams don't have to travel far to get there, allowing them to be home for Easter.

NASCAR can benefit from racing on Saturday evening of Easter weekend. Make it an unforgettable experience for the whole family, with activities like an Easter egg hunt for kids, autograph signings for drivers to build community spirit, and fun racing on one of the sport's most historic racetracks. – Mark Kristl

Give me a break – Is nothing sacred?

NASCAR has always been a series built on tradition. Traditionally there are times when we race and when we don't. The Daytona 500 is usually held on the second Sunday in February, the Coke 600 is held on Memorial Day weekend, and in recent years we have come to our senses and brought the Southern 500 back to Labor Day weekend.

On the other hand, we usually didn't drive on Mother's Day or Easter weekend. Mothers have had to hold back from racing for a few years, but recently racing at Easter has posed a bit of a conundrum. After all, it is a floating holiday that does not take place on the same weekend every year. However, it has an inherent significance, as demonstrated by the acres of uninhabited aluminum visible Sunday evening – and Saturday afternoon too.

That being said, we should probably take the entire Easter weekend off.

Now this could be counter to “progress” for NASCAR. With every race this year seeing significant increases compared to last year, they obviously want to keep the momentum going. But that momentum has led to a less overwhelming racing response over the last few weekends off.

The Circuit of the Americas was a lot of fun on Saturday with Austin Hill and Shane van Gisbergen doing their best in the final laps, but Sunday's event was pretty boring in comparison. The biggest moments were some contact on lap 1 and then the nasty attack on Christopher Bell by Kyle Busch The race in the pits. Saturday and Sunday weren't exactly the most exciting competitions, regardless of who wasn't there to watch it. So much so that rumors have emerged that Richmond is in danger of losing a date for 2025 and beyond.

If this is the case and based on what happened on Sunday, you should at least get the tire back on track and bring the Bristol tires if they don't want to stop shifting on short tracks.

Although it's a bit harsh, it still acts as a distraction; The low attendance was due to a major religious holiday and the first weekend of spring break being scheduled for many parents of school-aged children. The second reason is that the weather was quite humid on Sunday; At least God spared the lightning, otherwise it might have been postponed to Monday. The race had just ended and it started to rain again.

When the New Year's schedule comes out, the usual banter begins about which tracks should keep and lose a date, and how breakneck and relentless the schedule is. In the early/mid 90s there was basically one week off every month and two weeks off in May. This year, the season begins with the Daytona 500 and continues week after week until there is a two-week break at the end of July with the 2024 Summer Olympics.

I don't know about you – but I don't need to be bombarded with entertainment every weekend. The NFL season is now too long. MLB is murder. How do you play hockey in the middle of summer? NASCAR could stand to take a breather and run one race per track at a few other locations without filling those up. The NBA has hosted a Christmas game for as long as I can remember, and now the NFL will be getting into the holiday spirit this year, too. While its primary aim is to delight a captive audience, it simply oversaturates and focuses on what many could be better spent spending with family. If you are someone who observes and celebrates, it will probably seem a bit intrusive. – Vito Pugliese

Vito is one of Frontstretch's longest-serving writers, joining the team in 2007. He writes for several other media outlets, including Athlon Sports and Popular Speed, with his Voice of Vito column (monthly, Fridays), and also appears on radio. He's always had a thing for old Mopars and probably oil-soaked cardboard in his garage.

Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the start of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the editor of the site's ARCA Menards Series. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud graduate of the University of Dayton.

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