Spinning In The Rain: When NASCAR Put The Drivers In The Wet

Spinning In The Rain: When NASCAR Put The Drivers In The Wet

It’s the running joke against NASCAR: How can a sport that has history dating back to good ol’ boys from the American South, moonshiners and the like, wind up scared of a spot of rain? How in the world did that happen? F1 drivers have rain tires. DTM, BTCC, Supercars, they all race in the rain. Rally drivers don’t give a rat’s ass what the weather is doing, so long as they have enough forewarning to prepare for what the stage will be like. Yet NASCAR’s usual mode of operation is, at the first sign of droplets, is to either let the cars slow-lap under a yellow flag, or to bring them in under a red and wait for the rain to pass and the track to be properly dried out before any car gets back out onto the track in anger. Being fair, no Cup car is really meant for saturated asphalt. They’re overpowered for conditions, being operated by wheelmen who usually operate with a buried right foot. Call us a bit slanted if you must, but combining a wet road course and a Cup car and driver is bad all the way around. The finesse and care needed to make that program work just aren’t present.

Yet, it’s happened: Watkins Glen, Road America, and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal have wound up being rained out and the drivers being told to suck it up and get out there. Frankly, it’s something we feel should happen more often. Rain tires exist, and with NASCAR looking once again at road course racing, putting wipers and lights onto the cars sounds like a great way to weed out the weak drivers. Or maybe it’s just another, more natural way to get the crash footage that audiences usually love to see.

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4 thoughts on “Spinning In The Rain: When NASCAR Put The Drivers In The Wet

  1. Gary

    Today’s drivers drive really fast cars, no doubt. There’s some skill in that. But just like “launch control”, “traction control”, and rev limiters on street cars, it doesn’t mean they are great drivers. Today’s drivers are pussies compared to the likes of AJ, who is admittedly a pretty high bar to reach, but just the same, everyone back in the day drove in whatever kind of weather God threw at them. My brother and I still talk about the time we ran a Pro Stock final round in the rain. Sebring ran one of their endurance races in absolute flooding conditions. That’s how it should be.

  2. Matt Cramer

    NASCAR tends to set up their races around watching in person. The oval track layout and speedway design, for example, emphasizes being able to see the whole race from almost any seat. I suspect the reason they don’t run in the rain has nothing to do with the cars or drivers, but that they think (rightly or wrongly) that the fans won’t sit through a race in pouring rain.

  3. greg

    Number 60 was using a freakin’ Swiffer to clear his windshield. Some of the cars that had one wiper had almost no contact between the rubber and the glass.

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