SEELMAN: A Bad Situation All Around

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ATTICA, Ohio — Count me among the masses of sprint car fans who were thoroughly bummed out that Tuesday night’s Brad Doty Classic got scuttled by Mother Nature.

It’s always one of the premier events on the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series schedule, and one of the most hotly-contested wins of the year because of what it means to the drivers, especially as the kickoff to the Month of Money and leading into the Kings Royal weekend at Eldora Speedway.

This year’s field included NASCAR stars Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell, as well as Rico Abreu, Chad Kemenah and a host of other drivers in addition to all of the Outlaw regulars. To see the race not happen Tuesday night was a bit of a gut punch to the race fan in me.

To make matters worse, due to the rescheduling of the previously rained-out #LetsRaceTwo finale at Eldora Speedway from mid-May to Wednesday night, the Doty’s longstanding rain date was removed for this year — leading to just the third full cancelation in the race’s 31-year history.

As I was perusing social media last night, I quickly saw a lot of fans jumping on the World of Outlaws and Eldora for “stealing” the Doty’s backup plan and calling for WoO officials to find some way to get Brad’s race in later in the season “because it’s the right thing to do.”

However, there’s two sides to this story and I want to put them both out there.

First off, I’m going to agree with the legion of social media warriors defending Brad and Attica. It would be difficult to find anyone who champions sprint car and dirt open-wheel racing in all facets more than Brad Doty. We see it on a regular basis and there’s not a nicer guy in the pit area than he is. Period, end of that discussion.

He takes on a ton of work each year to make the Doty one of the premier events on the schedule and, rightly so, is commended regularly for his commitment to motorsports in that regard as a standout promoter.

From that standpoint, it hurts not just to see his race be washed out, but unable to be rescheduled. It’s a ton of hard work that ultimately went for naught this year.

Before you jump down the Outlaws’ throats for moving Eldora’s rainout from earlier in the season to the Doty Classic’s rain date, take a minute to remember what kind of situation the Outlaws have had to deal with as well.

This is a tour that had already faced 10 cancellations due to weather or otherwise. There’s been a lot of date shuffling and rescheduling aside from those cancelations as well.

I’ll be frank in saying that I’ve never seen a season affected this negatively by weather in the time that I’ve been professionally covering the sport. It’s been a bit insane.

In that respect, WoO officials are just trying to find ways to get shows in this year, just like the All Stars, POWRi, USAC and other regional tours and local tracks are.

There are a lot of factors that go into dates that will and won’t work when it comes to rescheduling, including other conflicting events, the track and series schedules and simple logistics as well, among a lot of other things.

I’ve never personally experienced them, but I’ve spent plenty of time trying to watch those things play out as a part of the Must See Racing asphalt sprint car staff over the past few years. It’s not an easy situation to be in.

I’m sure that Eldora and WoO officials realized when they were resetting the #LetsRaceTwo program that it could affect the Doty if weather was an issue. But in resetting that event, there’s a third party involved — the United States Auto Club.

Having the Eldora makeup as a lead-in to Indiana Sprint Week was one of the few things that made sense logistically for USAC, when you consider that the sprints were in Pennsylvania and New York for Eastern Storm in June and at Knoxville in early July.

When the sprints weren’t racing, there were midget and Silver Crown dates that the USAC officiating team was having to deal with — making trying to put a race on an off weekend for the sprint cars a virtual impossibility.

This plan was ultimately the only way it would work for WoO, USAC and Eldora to be able to have a chance at making up one of their bigger shows of the year.

On the flip side of the coin, as Doty pointed out in a recent column, the next time the Outlaws are in Ohio is in September, when Attica is shut down for the season by that point. It just all added up to having no way to successfully reschedule the Doty Classic.

Trust me, I know it hurts for the Doty and I know it hurts for all the Ohio race fans who were pumped up about the race. There were no real winners in this case, especially when everyone’s spending more time fighting about who screwed over who than they are about being excited that we at least have four more race nights to come at Eldora, not to mention a huge purse on Saturday night for the Kings Royal champion.

At the end of the day, this scheduling snafu is just a bad situation all around, and I hope it doesn’t happen again.

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