Editorial: USRRC: Turn Out the Lights . . . the Party's Over
8 June 1999By: David Treffer
There is a country and western song that uses the phrase "Turn out the lights, the partys over!" The same line could be used for the United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC). A paltry field at both Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio is evidence enough that the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) is the only way to go in sports car racing.
In fairness to the competitors at both Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio the racing among the 8 CA/WSC entries was good. However, the paying customer (aka: racefans) wants to see a field of 20-30 CA/WSC plus a throng of GT cars. Better yet, have a CA/WSC field so large that the GT cars must run a separate race except in the 6 hour or longer enduros.
The grumbling among spectators at Lime Rock, on the 3rd turn hillside, was so pronounced that half of them left before the race was over. The often-heard comment or variance thereof was "I enjoyed the start but its difficult to get excited about such a small field." Who knows maybe they had to go home to roll their socks or do some gardening.
Whatever the reason for leaving, a number of fans said they would not be back until the whole sportscar mess was straightened out. Hello....is anybody listening?
The creation or resurrection of the USRRC was in response to Andy Evans heavy-handed and outrageous method of running Professional SportsCar (PSR). In spite of the internal problems (prize money not being paid, among others) PSR was putting on a good show with large fields. Evans stepped into a hornets nest when he announced the creation of a "stockcar" series. Bill France, Jr. was probably looking for an opportunity to step on Andy Evans and did just that. Remember the song by the late Jim Croce, something about "you dont step on supermans cape." The fact that Rob Dyson sits on the Board of Directors of International Speedway Corporation (ISC) should not be dismissed either. Dont forget that it was Bill France, Sr. who helped John Bishop get IMSA started.
One of the other reasons that the USRRC was created was to allow the under-funded teams to race. A form of socialized racing. Basic set of rules with little tolerance for variation of interpretation. Nothing wrong with that philosophy. NASCAR has made it work, but even in that series you have the haves and the have nots. There is and never will be cheap professional racing. Speed as the old clich goes "is measured in cubic dollars." There will always be well-funded teams who can hire engineers to push the outside of the rule book....err, envelope.
One last thing, aside from the small fields ,except for the 24 Hours of Daytona, the USRRC schedule has too many weeks in between races. Daytona was in January and the series did not race again until the end of May. A lifetime by todays standards. Now the series does not pick up again until September 26th at Homestead. Hard to maintain any momentum. A very reliable in-the-know source informed The Autochannel that the possibility of the last two races being canceled was better than fifty/fifty. Time will be the great informer. Now what other song can I think of........