By: Ashley McCubbin
While certainly it is nice to see the sport’s history recognized and all three divisions at the same track at once with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series going to Darlington Raceway on Labor Day weekend, it’s at the expense of the void in a lot of hearts.
Canadian Tire Motorsports Park has only been on the schedule since 2013, hosting seven races in that span, but the lack of action there the past two years is not what anybody would like to see. After all, have you seen the highlight reel? Each event there has produced something which television has reshown over to create interest in the sport.
Who can forget Chase Elliott bumping Ty Dillon as he ran out of fuel? What about a drag-race to the finish line between Ryan Blaney and Germain Quiroga? Or how about John Hunter Nemechek getting tackled by Cole Custer. You also cannot forget the tangle between then Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson and Todd Gilliland.
Every single year they crossed the border showed why road courses currently have the hype they do right now across all divisions. So transitioning from CTMP to Darlington loses an opportunity to add to that ever-growing presence in the sport. After all, the trucks deserves the same amount of respect as the NASCAR Cup Series, and we know they are doing it six times over.
But it goes deeper than that. The event being run at CTMP symbolized Canadians getting respect.
It seemed each year, they felt ignored by the sanctioning body when everybody would say NASCAR is a southern sport. While certainly popular there due to it’s beginnings, the growth across the United States is exponential – as shown with the attendance for the west coast swing. It also went north and just as everybody south of the border tunes into FOX each Sunday to see the stars on the screen, so does those north of it through TSN.
Canadians have long supported the sport, from the various drivers who have tried to climb the ranks, to the head brass involved. Current NASCAR president Brent Dewar hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, while Brad Moran from Barrie, Ontario is the managing director of the Truck Series. You also cannot forget Cole Pearn winning the Cup championship with Martin Truex Jr. not long ago.
There’s also the pure attendance numbers. Each year, fans would pick out weekends to take off work and head south for a vacation to enjoy the sunshine, while attending an event at the track of their dreams. Why do you think Michigan International Speedway once said their fan base was 40% Canadian? A study in 2007 found 350,000 Canadians travelled to a race, while TSN drew an average of 332,000 viewers per event in 2006 – and we know it’s grown since then, too.
To see their dedication and fandom recognized by a race of their own – priceless. Canadians would circle it on the calendar when the date was released, plan their work schedule to be able to go, and enjoy it. It showed with the campgrounds packed each year CTMP hosted an event as fans hung out the whole weekend.
From NASCAR< it was recognition and thank for you support. For the fans, it was appreciation in knowing they were noticed and being able to witness the stars they were so used to seeing on television right before them.
Now for 2021 instead of partying and embracing the lefts and rights, everybody will be glued to their television wondering what could have been.
Truth be told, the cancelation was to be expected. It seems Canada is having a slower rate of vaccination than the United States, resulting in closures being extended in Ontario and a border showing no signs of opening soon. The news also came following IMSA, IndyCar and F1 doing the same with their events.
The easy thing is to pout, be angry, yell, scream, and cry – which is very understandable. However, the positive thing is to be thankful for the television coverage offered, and hopeful for 2022 giving us the show we’re missing. After all, it may be even bigger with fans realizing the pain they are enduring now.
I know I will be there for sure.