NASCAR touts it’s Battle at the Beach race for the Tour Modifieds as if it were the best thing it has ever done for it’s oldest division. Truth be told, those who love NASCAR’s only open-wheel division, whether they be competitors, or fans, know just the opposite is true.
While it is completely possible NASCAR believes what they are doing by putting on this race every year benefits the division, it wouldn’t be the first time the executives who rule the sport seem to be the most clueless. Yes, the race pays well with $20,000 going to the winner. Yes, the race is televised live, a rarity for this division, and yes, the winner does receive a trophy saying they have won at Daytona.
What NASCAR doesn’t seem to understand is just how poorly the temporary oval, set up on the Daytona backstretch, makes both the division, and the drivers look. The completely flat surface lends itself to single file racing, where it seems the only way to pass is by using the car’s front bumper. It doesn’t allow the many talented drivers in this division to display their skills by running a different line, or setting up a driver for a power move.
The temporary track also gives the appearance of racing in a parking lot. A casual viewer might think the teams, and competitors, are nothing more than hobby racers. Truth is the teams that compete on the Whelen Modified Tour consist of some very talented people, working with some very expensive equipment.
As for the purse money posted for this race, yes it is significantly more than any of the other events on many of these team’s schedules, however, it also comes with great expense to most as well. At least half the field travels from the Northeast to compete at Daytona. This means added fuel costs to get to the track, hotel rooms for the entire team, and time away from their businesses, which often fund their racing. Not losing money at this event would be a win for most of the teams involved.
Meanwhile, NASCAR has eliminated races from the Modified schedule that were not only popular among the fans, and competitors, but that also showcased the talent of the division. Races that were run on tracks like Martinsville, and Richmond. Both places that featured plenty of passing, and thrilling finishes.
NASCAR may truly feel they are helping their oldest division with the Battle at the Beach when it is doing quite the opposite. The Modifieds need higher purses, more television exposure, and a bigger variety of race tracks to compete at. Unfortunately, one of them is not Daytona, and the sooner NASCAR realizes that the better off they will be.