RODNEY D. PIERCE
HERALD SPORTS EDITOR
RICHMOND, Va. - NASCAR teams and fans alike are feeling the effects of the nationwide increase in gas prices.
Though the teams don't pay for the fuel they use on the track - Sunoco is NASCAR's official fuel supplier - they still have to purchase gasoline for pre-race and post-race activities.
"Diesel prices have gone up, so it's costing us more to get the truck to and from the racetrack," Bob Dodge, engine builder for Brendan Gaughan's No. 4 Kodak Dodge, said Saturday prior to the Chevy American Revolution 400. "We have rental cars, or we sometimes drive if (the race is) close, so it's costing more to get to and from. Aviation fuel, we fly at almost every race, so it's costing more to do that. OPEC needs to just get production up and lower the oil prices down."
Dodge estimated that teams go through 30 to 40 gallons of gas during the two-day qualifying and practice sessions, but said that the quantity used on raceday depends on location. "A place like Michigan, where we run 400 miles, it would be about 88 to 90 gallons per car," he said. "These things get at best, five miles to the gallon."
Crude oil, the main element in a gallon of gas, is at its highest price since March 2003, so the prices of other everyday items, such as food, are being raised by businesses to accommodate. Richmond resident William Richmond says that tickets and concessions prices at Richmond International Raceway, have gone up. "It's more expensive," he said. "It's going to put some pressure on the sport."
That pressure probably won't keep the sport's loyal fanbase from flocking to the tracks to see their favorite drivers swap metal. "Joe" traveled all the way from Erie, Penn. to watch Saturday's Chevy American Revolution 400. "We'll do what we gotta do to get to a race," he said. "We'll be here, but what are you going to do? You've gotta drive."
However, the pressure may change how fans get to the races.
"I think people do (carpool)," said Rickald.
"Joe", who says gas is over $2 a gallon in Pennsylvania, said when he arrived in Virginia and saw gas prices were lower, he figured he was good to go. "We saw gas was $1.79 a gallon down here. We're thinking we're golden."
Yet it still took $60 to fill up his Ford F-150. "It's just horrible," he said. "Horrible. Believe me, we want to do a lot of things to a lot of people, but you've got to put gas in your truck."
"It affects everybody," Dodge said. "It's a nationwide, economic hit. It doesn't really affect us, we get it for free. (But) it still comes out of somebody's pocket."
Sports Editor Rodney D. Pierce can be reached at 537-2505 ext. 241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.