Years ago, back when I actually owned racing cars, a highlight of October’s Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds was the Syracuse-Oswego Challenge Cup, in which a trophy and cash - $10,000, I think - was awarded to the driver who scored the most points in the World of Outlaws sprint-car race at the “Moody Mile” on the Saturday afternoon and in the Quarter Master Twin 35-lap supermodified races at Oswego Speedway that evening.
Outlaws star Jeff Swindell had a lock on the cup and the money for a couple of years. In a blog a few months ago, although the subject was something else, I reminisced about offering my car one year to Jeff’s brother, Sammy Swindell (who said thanks, but no thanks).
That was then and this is now. The idea's the same but the races are bigger (the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600) and the prize would be way bigger (try $20 million).
Bruton Smith, owner of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, scene of the Coca-Cola race, in an interview on Speed TV tonight, reveals that he has been negotiating with the people at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to work with him to put up a $20-million bonus prize payable to a driver who wins both races on the same day.
Speed TV announced this afternoon that Smith will be a guest tonight on the program NASCAR Race Hub at 7:30 p.m. EDT in which he discusses his plan.
For a number of years, NASCAR drivers tried to do “the double” – drive in the Indy 500 and then hop a plane to Charlotte and race in the Coca-Cola feature. Robbie Gordon, Tony Stewart and John Andretti have tried it in the past. None of the drivers who’ve tried “the double” have won one of the races on the same day, never mind two.
But what a concept! What a challenge! What a dream!
Every race fan in the world – and even some people who couldn’t care less - would tune in to those races to see if someone could pull it off. It would benefit both series. NASCAR needs help, but not as much as IndyCar and the Indy 500. A number of NASCAR drivers would now try to run Indy and vice-versa.
Here’s what Smith, in an interview with reporter Wendy Venturini, says about it (according to excerpts from tonight’s program):
NASCAR Race Hub: “Charlotte Motor Speedway … you guys are reinventing the wheel here every year.”
Bruton Smith: “We do … we do … we want to surprise the fans. Every time they come, we want them to say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know about that.’ I’m working on something now that I thought would be great, for say, next year. And that is, we’ll maybe do something that would cause drivers to get more interested in running (the Indianapolis 500) and then coming here and … driving 1,100 miles of racing. It would take a Superman-type driver to (win both events).”
NASCAR Race Hub: “I thought the reason some of the drivers backed away from doing (both events) was … I don’t know … a conflict of the (start) times?”
Bruton Smith: “I’ve talked to Indianapolis and they would start their race at 11 o’clock … we’d have a jet waiting for the drivers. They’d land right here. We’d helicopter them (to the track) and they’d have ample time before they had to get in their car to win the 600. So, we have five or six drivers that could accomplish (winning both events on the same day).”
NASCAR Race Hub: “That sounds like a cool plan.”
Bruton Smith: “Maybe we could cause that to happen … and for the driver that wins both events, some huge award. Like maybe $20 million … that would get people’s attention wouldn’t it? “
You betcha, Mr. Smith. You betcha.