- Last Updated on 12:18 PM 04/23/12
- BY The Gazette-Virginian
NASCAR will ease its ban on testing for its touring series next year, allowing testing at NASCAR-sanctioned tracks that host a regional touring event but do not host a national touring event.
That opens the door for 15 NASCAR-sanctioned short tracks across the country including South Boston Speedway to host tests next season for racing teams competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, Camping World Truck Series, Camping World East and Camping World West Series.
Wednesday’s announcement by NASCAR officials was good news for South Boston Speedway General Manager Cathy Rice.
“I was very happy when I heard the announcement,” Rice said.
“I am happy that we will again be allowed to host test days.”
In the recent past, South Boston Speedway has been one of the more popular tracks for NASCAR teams to test at because of its close proximity to the Charlotte, N.C. – Concord, N.C. area where a majority of the race teams that compete in NASCAR’s touring series are based.
For South Boston Speedway, as with other short tracks, the ability to host NASCAR team tests provided additional monetary revenues. When NASCAR issued the testing ban for its touring series, it took away a means for the short tracks to derive income.
“I understand NASCAR’s reason for banning the testing,” Rice said.
“I didn’t like it, but I understood it. I understand cutting out the testing at the big tracks, the tracks that host national events. I didn’t understand why they cut out testing at the short tracks.
“It (the testing ban) has hurt the short tracks,” Rice added.
“We suffered (financially) from it last year.”
South Boston Speedway has hosted test days for racing teams in NASCAR’s national touring series in the past and, on many occasions, has hosted tests for racing teams competing in NASCAR’s regional touring series that have a date on South Boston Speedway’s schedule.
“It (allowing testing) helps when you look at hosting a touring series event,” Rice pointed out.
“Some of the drivers and teams may not have raced here or tested here before. Having the opportunity to test makes them better prepared for the race. As a result, it helps make the race a better show for the fans.”
Rice also pointed out that hosting test days helps to draw and maintain fan interest.
“The front gate is open every day and when we have teams come in to test, people sometimes stop by and go sit in stands and watch some of it,” Rice said.
“If a team requests a private test and requests that we don’t let anybody inside to watch, we honor that request. But, when the test is open and people want to stop by and watch, we let them do that. It may seem like a small thing, but I think it helps create more interest among the fans.”
Based on this season’s regional tour schedules, the following tracks will be eligible to host tests next year: Greenville-Pickens Speedway; Tri-County Motor Speedway; South Boston Speedway; Thompson International Speedway; Music City Motorplex; Adirondack International Speedway; Lime Rock Park and Thunder Hill Raceway.
Also eligible to host tests are All American Speedway; Madera Speedway; Douglas County Speedway; Toyota Speedway at Irwindale; Portland International Raceway; Miller Motorsports Park and Colorado National Speedway.