SHEHEEN: NASCAR’s All-Star Experiments

Ralph Sheheen Mug
Ralph Sheheen
NASCAR’s All-Star Race allowed for several potential new ideas to be tested in a non-points format. (NASCAR photo)
Ralph Sheheen Mug
Ralph Sheheen.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — There was certainly a lot of conversation following the NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

We’ve never had a problem with NASCAR trying new things, especially during a non-points race. That’s the perfect time to experiment with something new.

At Bristol, NASCAR tried three new concepts — lights under the cars, a new location for numbers on the sides of the cars and a choose zone for restarts.

While watching the first short-track version of the NASCAR All-Star Race, we conducted a very unofficial poll on social media to see what fans thought about these new ideas.

As one would expect, most traditionalists didn’t care for the lights, while younger fans liked them. Those who did like them suggested they should go all the way around the car.

Some suggested using the lights in a different form, similar to what IMSA and IndyCar are doing where scoreboards on the cars indicate running position and the length of a pit stop.

The majority of folks liked the idea of moving the numbers back just in front of the rear wheels. Not so much for the look, but they understood how this would benefit sponsors and could ultimately be better for the sport.

Many fans pointed out how it looked better with some paint schemes than others. This will be something the marketing people and designers will have to work on with each paint scheme if this is ultimately locked in for the future.

The choose cone seemed to get the best response from the fans. I remember having to do this while racing a Thunder Roadster during the Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway more than 10 years ago. It worked well then and seemed to work fine at Bristol.

It could definitely add to the drama of a race, especially if there were to be a late-race caution flag.

NASCAR officials realize it is important to make adjustments to help keep the sport relevant. Every major sports league does. That doesn’t mean every change gets locked in. The NFL tries new ideas during the preseason when it doesn’t impact the games that count.

Then they look at how the new rules worked and decide if it’s something with which they want to move forward.

NASCAR took full advantage of a perfect opportunity to try out a few ideas. As the old adage goes: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Now, we’ll see if any of it sticks.

— With so much uncertainty regarding when fans will be able to return to race tracks on a regular basis, livestreaming video has become hugely popular among fans and promoters.

SPEED SPORT has quickly become a leader in this genre of motorsports media, and we have launched two easy-to-access ways to watch racing.

It starts with the Network, where we have partnered with more than 80 affiliates to provide racing coverage. Stock cars, sprint cars —  dirt and pavement —and even demolition derbies are featured.

We have it all from famous race tracks such as Lernerville Speedway, Stafford Motor Speedway and Skagit Speedway, as well as sanctioning bodies such as POWRi and IMCA.

Each week our Network affiliates broadcast as many as 100 live racing events. Viewers can subscribe to any or all of the affiliates to watch the racing live.

We also launched the channel, where for $14.99 a month you can watch racing on-demand. With so much racing on our affiliates’ channels, there is no way you can see it all live. The channel provides a one-stop destination to watch all of these races in the same place.

In addition, the channel includes hundreds of hours of original SPEED SPORT programming.

Visit us at to test drive our free preview.

— For the first time in four years, the Brad Doty Classic wasn’t hampered by weather. Fans and racers turned out with 42 sprint cars in the pits for the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series event at Ohio’s Attica Raceway Park.

In addition, the local health department allowed Attica officials to maximize the crowd. Congratulations Brad.

— Imagine how bummed Kyle Larson must have been when they announced the cancellation of the Kings Royal and the Knoxville Nationals. That’s two huge checks and two very prestigious races that he would have been favored to win.

It’s incredible to see the roll he has been enjoying. We haven’t seen this sort of domination in sprint car racing since Steve Kinser’s glory years.

For much more about Larson’s domination, print readers can check out the story on page 20 of the magazine, while online readers can stay tuned for that feature Aug. 4-5.

— Congratulations to Kyle Petty on being named to the board of trustees for the North Carolina School of the Arts. Music has always been as much of a passion for Petty as racing.

He is currently an artist on Ramseur Records and has opened for such well-known acts as Randy Travis, the Oak Ridge Boys and Hank Williams Jr.

— Ricky Carmichael recently shared that when he was racing as an amateur, he remembers crashing hard and getting the wind knocked out of him.

His dad stood over him and uttered, “Motorcycle racing’s fun, isn’t it son?”