Late last year, NASCAR took the fairly dramatic, entirely pragmatic step and cancelled all testing at tracks that hosted a NASCAR-sanctioned race. Given the economy and the perilous position far too many teams found (and continue to find) themselves in, the move seemed reasonable and fair — after all, it’s estimated that it costs teams as much as $100,000 per day to test.
Needless to say, the intended and admirable goal of said ban was to both save all teams money and, at the same time, help some of the sport’s smaller, under-funded teams remain at least theoretically competitive with NASCAR’s powerhouse teams.
Yeah, about that …
According to this column by Bob Dillner, the ban hasn’t really slowed testing all that much. Or at all. It’s merely displaced it, from sanctioned to non-sanctioned tracks. According to Dillner, one team is even considering flying to Japan in order to test. I’m going to venture a guess here and say that I don’t imagine such a trip, you know, saves a team a lot of money. Or any money. I’ll go even further out onto a limb and suggest that said nameless team isn’t one of the many teams that are struggling just to make it past Daytona in 2009.
NASCAR’s decision to cancel testing was a good one, undertaken in difficult circumstances and done with the best intentions. That there are teams with enough money to skirt the policy is not very surprising; however, it is depressing — the policy was supposed to help level the playing field; it appears it will ultimately do nothing of the sort.
And so, at the end of the day, the rich continue to get richer and the sport as a whole is no closer to addressing an issue that has both alienated long-time fans and exacerbated a class system which rewards wealth perhaps more than it does good old-fashioned ingenuity.