The Southern 500 and a Darlington Tradition
Karma is a curious creature. When you start messing with tradition you are taunting Karma and she hates that. Someone called the Titanic "Unsinkable." Karma stepped in to prove somebody wrong. How many times have you said something, and then immediately knocked on wood to ward off evil Karma? If you’re guilty of such, you appreciate her for what she is. If you are not, may Karma have mercy on your future.
Nowhere in sports does Karma work her magic more than NASCAR. No team, no driver, no owner, and certainly no track is immune from the payback parameters of finicky fate. NASCAR messed with tradition back in 2003 when the decision was made to stop running the Southern 500 on Labor Day. Someone had their eyes on California gold. Someone forgot to knock on wood.
The 2004 Darlington, Southern 500, was run in November and the inaugural Sony 500 launched at the California Speedway on the following Labor Day weekend. Oh, the humanity!
I’m sure it was a decision that International Speedway Corp (ISC) felt had to be made. There were beginning to be a few empty seats at the Darlington track for the Labor Day race. When the 2005 racing schedule was announced, I recall the horror of scanning the lineup and not finding a fall race at Darlington. I fell to my knees and prayed for Karma to be gentle with the assassins of the Southern 500.
So here we are, six years later. The Labor Day race at Fontana, barely on the radar screen of the fickle Southern California consumer, folded like a lawn chair and is absent from the 2011 schedule. The Southern 500 is now the Mother's day race at Darlington. Maybe NASCAR and the powers to be figured they should throw karma a bone. She is not easily appeased.
Until the Southern 500 returns to its former Labor Day spot, the finger of fate will not be denied its pound of NASCAR horsepower. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape and you don’t mess with racing tradition. Did anyone consider that Madame Karma is closely related to the Lady in Black? Ask any driver who tempted fate coming out of turn four at Darlington what price you pay to the lady. You get back what you dish out, usually in factors of four.Continued on the next page