The day of the last Roadgeek Ramblings, discussing the idea of moving Martinsville to be the finale of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, it was announced that the track would be the first to get LED lighting around the .526 mile paper-clip. The decision to get the historic Martinsville track lights is potentially historic, as we can now use it as justification to make sure all tracks have lights. In NASCAR, seven tracks on the circuit still lack lights (aside of Martinsville): Pocono, Michigan, Sears Point, Watkins Glen, Dover, New Hampshire, and Indianapolis. Lights and NASCAR have been together since 1992, when Charlotte received its lights. It’s time to fix that.
Why have more lights at tracks? NASCAR on a Saturday night is a lot of fun. NASCAR on Sunday afternoon is great too, but there is more excitement on a Saturday night. Having a NASCAR schedule with two races at a certain track, one held in the day and one held at night would be something special. Racing at Bristol is fun in both night and day. Could you imagine driving around Martinsville with lights at night in the middle of October? Considering the race at Martinsville could go pretty late into the evening (as the 2015 race demonstrated, as Jeff Gordon’s celebration was mostly in darkness with flood lights lighting the area around the portable Victory Lane.)
Dover and Talladega, along with Martinsville, should be the two other high-priority tracks for lights. A night race at both tracks would be extremely exciting, considering how they are during the day. Talladega’s race in 2013, the final running of the Aaron’s 499, had the case of the race finishing in almost complete darkness, because of the lack of lights. Yes, Talladega is the longest track on the Cup schedule. Yet, unlike Sears Point and Watkins Glen, there is a way to light the entire 2.66 mile track and keep it within cost. Dover (along with Talladega) is prone to rain, and having a track that has lights means you can go deep into the night as necessary if the rain is falling.
That said, of the racetracks I listed, three specific ones do not need lights, and there is no real reason to give them lights. Sears Point and Watkins Glen are road courses, and the amount of money it would cost to light eleven turns at both tracks would be prohibitive. Besides, for road courses, there are headlights that can be installed in cars in case it was necessary. The other one is Indianapolis. The Indianapolis 500 is not run under the lights, and should always be like that. Same for the Brickyard 400. Lights and the Brickyard do not compute.
Lights and NASCAR is a great thing, and the decision to keep Martinsville modern with lights should be the precedent for the future. If Pocono Raceway, Dover Motorsports, Speedway Motorsports and International Speedway Corporation would look into grant money for getting lights, there is a future market for NASCAR tracks. There is a lot of fun under the lights and the tracks that suffer from needing some drama and fun, such as Michigan and Pocono, could really use it. NASCAR really could use it. Full moon Saturday night is a lot more fun.