As NASCAR fans well know, this weekend’s race at Darlington will be bearing a familiar name, the Southern 500. To many fans, this feels like an attempt by NASCAR to get back to its old roots. To me, it’s NASCAR’s half-hearted apology to the fans.
Despite its name, this race is not the Southern 500. Any true NASCAR fan knows that the real Southern 500 is run on Labor Day weekend(a date now held by Atlanta Motor Speedway), not Mother’s Day weekend. If NASCAR really wants to get back to its old roots, they need to move the date back to Labor Day weekend.
To me, this is a half-hearted apology from NASCAR to the fans. For years, the fans have been complaining that NASCAR has left its roots and moved west, and that sponsorship dollars have replaced what used to be exciting racing. And they have every right to complain. We used to get exciting races, and sponsors didn’t tell the drivers what to say or how to act. Because of this uprising by the fans, NASCAR needed to do something. So, they decided to call this weekend’s race the Southern 500, almost as if to say, “There, are you happy?”
Here is my honest opinion as to why the name was changed back to the Southern 500. For the past few years, the lone race at Darlington was called either the Dodge Charger 500, or the Dodge Challenger 500. Dodge, by the way, is owned by Chrysler. Guess what? Chrysler doesn’t have the money to sponsor NASCAR races anymore. And since NASCAR didn’t have sponsor for the race, they decided to “make it up to the fans” by calling it the Southern 500.
NASCAR has reeled a few people in, like NASCAR on Fox announcer Larry McReynolds, who said, “That really sounds good, doesn’t it? ‘The Southern 500.'” Here’s the thing Larry, technically, and you will probably hear this plenty of times on Saturday night, the race isn’t even called the Southern 500. The actual name of the race is the Southern 500 Presented by Godaddy.com.
Wow, that brings back some memories, doesn’t it? I can picture myself talking to my great-grandchildren 80 years from now saying, “Back in the old day, Bill Elliott became the first man ever to win a million dollars in NASCAR by winning the 1985 Southern 500 Presented by Godaddy.com.” Yeah, okay.
I totally understand if this new name change makes you think of the good ol’ days of NASCAR. You are just one of the unfortunate souls caught up in NASCAR’s little plan of gaining back some old support. In my opinion, the Southern 500 is run on Labor Day weekend.
They call it the Southern 500, but it isn’t.