So I read Shawn Courchesne’s article about Bowman Gray Stadium in which he calls the Madhouse a “circus” and says it’s not the solution to short track racing’s problems.  I’d like to offer a rebuttal to what Courchesne’s commentary and list off what Bowman Gray has right.

First, make no mistake, Bowman Gray Stadium is the envy of short track promoters and every track wants to be like them.  Do they want the “circus”, maybe not.  They do want the sustained car counts, the storylines, the attendance, the fan support, the media coverage and everything that goes along with the circus.  But it’s not just the drama.

To start off, it’s the drivers and their personalities.  Go to South Boston and Southern National or most other short tracks in the country and talk to the drivers.  You’ll get a handful that race because they love the sport – but it’s mostly young kids looking to “move up” in to ARCA and NASCAR.  I’ve done feature stories on dozens and dozens of Late Model drivers and it’s almost always the exact same thing.

Bowman Gray is a different animal.  Take, for instance, Derek Stoltz.  His postrace interviews don’t consist of him merely thanking his sponsors.  Stoltz is a badass who says it exactly like he sees it.  Same story goes with much of the Modified and Sportsman racers at the “Madhouse”.  Short track racing needs more drivers like Derek Stoltz.

As for the rivalries, say what you will but rivalries create storylines. There are heroes and villains, good guys and bad guys. The fans love it and the media loves it. The media can’t get enough of it and it draws them to the track and, in turn, they get fans talking about it. I’m not just talking about, I’m talking about local newspapers and local television. As Dave Despain would say, “hate is good”.

Say what you will about the circus, Bowman Gray is also a place where old school racing thrives.  It’s personalities and rivalries that make reading stories, writing stories and watching Corey Latham’s interviews from Bowman Gray so entertaining.

If having rivalries and drivers with personalities is a “circus”, I’d love to see the “circus” at more tracks.