THOMAS: The Charlotte ROVAL Was A Success And Lived Up To Expectationsby Hunter Thomas October 4, 2018 0 comments
Heading into the inaugural NASCAR race weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, there were a lot of nervous folks. Many drivers struggled in the various test sessions, and four drivers were going to be eliminated from the NASCAR Playoffs following the Bank of America ROVAL 400. At the end of the race weekend, it was clear that NASCAR, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. and Charlotte Motor Speedway hit a home run with the efforts.
The action in Sunday’s race was very competitive and exciting. There were 10 lead changes among eight leaders. Fans saw five accidents, most notably, a 15-car pileup in Turn 1 on lap 105 that shook up the Playoff picture. And then of course, the epic finish, when Jimmie Johnson attempted to pull off a bold move for the win and instead, ended up spinning and not only crashing Martin Truex Jr. but also ending his chance at an eighth title. To cap it all off, Ryan Blaney, a fan-favorite driver, squeezed by the last turn chaos to win and advance to the Round of 12.
The Bank of America ROVAL 400 wasn’t a crashfest disaster. People overreacted, and it’s because humans are creatures of habit. Most people don’t like change; however, for us young folks, we do like innovation and change. The ROVAL will hopefully open the door and attract younger fans and individuals who prefer road course and even street course racing. Not all of today’s younger generation enjoys sitting in a seat for hours at a time in the grandstands. Today’s world moves too fast to stay still for too long. The ROVAL offers an array of opportunities for a different style of entertainment. The grandstand seating was there for fans who preferred it, but the infield took on a new life.
With the track being intertwined throughout the infield, fans could walk to several different areas to watch the race. For example, fans could literally walk up to the Bojangles’ or Papa John’s in the infield, order food and beverages and walk over to a nearby fence and watch the race. After that, if they had the correct access, they could walk across the infield thanks to a pedestrian bridge and watch the race from many different angles. Some of the camping spots were literally up against the fencing around the track. Granted, viewing is right up against the fencing during the oval races at the track, but at the ROVAL, fans were much closer to the action. The layout catered to everyone’s preferred style of racing and fan experience.
The coolest aspect of the layout was the pedestrian bridge that connected two sides of the track. Fans could literally walk across the track as 40 race cars roared by underneath them. The picturesque Turns 2, 3 and 4 appeared to feature some of the best seats at the track in the infield. Fans sitting in the grandstands in Turn 1 had a wonderful view and then of course, the closer to the flag stand, the better view of pit stops and the finish.
There was still the fast backstretch and high bankings, just with an added chicane and slower entry into the turns. Traditional pit stops still occurred. Everything was just fine. Events can always be bigger and better, and folks who are much smarter than I am will figure it all out, but for now, the inaugural race weekend was a success.