I’m not sure how many of you are race fans and know exactly what happened Sunday night. For those of you who aren’t, let me fill you in. The Auto Club 500 was set to start Sunday afternoon in Fontana but was delayed over an hour because of rain. They finally got on the track while it was still slick, resulting in two incidents that saw the race come to an end for a few drivers. Then after 87 laps, the rain really started to come down so the red flag was dropped, and the tarps were thrown over the cars. At this point it was well into the evening on the East Coast, and certainly in the evening on the West Coast, where the race was being held — I’d say around 6pm PT. What ensued over the following five hours was maddening, if not downright embarrassing.
Scrambling to decide what would happen, FOX began airing re-runs of shows like the Simpsons and Family Guy on my local affiliate as they presumably tried to dry the track off in Fontana. At 9pm — midnight on the East Coast mind you — there was a cut in to the FOX studio at the track where they announced the race would resume in an hour, at 10pm PT, since the weather reports indicated the sky was clearing up. Great. With nearly two-thirds of the race incomplete, they would try to finish it up at 1am on the East Coast. A nice kick in the nuts for the die-hard fans out in the Carolinas and whatnot. Anyway, the news continued to get worse for the soldiers who braved the hour of anticipation.
At 10pm PT, they once again cut into the FOX studios at the track, ostensibly to resume race coverage in the 87th lap. Ohhh no. The eagerly awaiting audience was then told that they would have to wait another hour — until 11pm PT, 2am ET!!!! — before the race would start back up. The first cut-in at 9pm was somewhat disappointing, but at least it allowed you to make the call if you were going to stay up and brave it, or just head to bed. The 10pm update telling viewers that the race would be delayed another hour and start at 11pm PT was just plain cruel. At that point it’s ridiculously late. Just call it a wrap and make plans to finish the race on Monday. Instead, you sumo slam the nuts of the fans you’ve already squashed, and ripped off our peckers for good measure. FOX kept the race audience on hold for 10 hours on Sunday, when really the extra two hours were completely unnecessary. They made a horrible decision to try and finish up the racing late at night when the bulk of the race remained.
Taking this a step further, FOX had the viewers by the balls if you’re a NASCAR fan. If you made the choice to commit to watching the race, you hung around the extra two hours. And what’d they tell you on your local FOX channel? Sit around and watch our post-Oscars coverage in the meantime — exactly what a bunch of racing fans want to see. The entire situation was completely mishandled. I’d really like to hear from the people in charge that at 10pm they were really planning to run the rest of the race starting at 11pm. I don’t believe that for a second. I’m pretty convinced they knew the race was going to be run the next day but they delayed the announcement to keep people hooked up post-Oscars coverage. The 9pm-10pm delay was somewhat understandable. The 10pm-11pm was incomprehensible. Just my thought.
(Photo courtesy Mark Avery/AP)