You get only one shot to make a good first impression.
That being the case, the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sparta, Ky., left one of the worst first impressions in sports history.
Other than Kyle Busch, who won and assumed the points lead, it would be difficult to find anyone who honestly thought Saturday's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway was a success -- rousing or otherwise.
The race itself was a bit of a snoozer, with lots of single file, green flag stuff and none of the door handle-to-door handle action promised by track owner Bruton Smith, who loves to talk (and loves to talk big).
Unfortunately for Smith and the people who worked so hard to make this debut a great one, it was traffic outside the track that made the most news.
And all of it was bad.
Thousands upon thousands of fans were stuck in snarled traffic on Interstate 71, some taking up to six hours to drive just over 20 miles.
Even worse, those who finally made it to the track -- long after the race had started -- were turned away because there was no parking available.
"We expect the track to address this head on and have a much better situation for the fans moving forward," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said.
Of course the incident has helped create another kind of competition.
Smith owns Speedway Motorsports, Inc., which includes Lowe's Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, among others. In the spirit of gamesmanship, he'll occasionally take shots at International Speedway Corporation, which owns facilities such as Daytona and Talladega.
A little more than 12 hours after the debacle at Kentucky, Talladega Superspeedway issued a news release telling fans there will be no traffic woes to worry about when Cup competition returns to Alabama in October.
"After hearing how rough the fans had it at Kentucky this weekend, I wanted to let them know that we're ready to show how a race weekend is supposed to run," TSS president Grant Lynch said. "We put fan experience at the forefront of everything we do. That's why we allow coolers in our grandstands and provide hundreds of acres of free camping. It's why we created a $49 two-day ticket and allow kids 12 and under to sit free in the Allison Grandstands on Saturday and Sunday. It's also why we work closely with the Alabama State Troopers and other organizations to ensure our fans arrive on time to see the race."
The traffic snarl in Sparta on Saturday is obviously a huge embarrassment for Smith. In an era when fans have to carefully pick and choose which events they travel to, Kentucky Speedway likely dropped off the list for quite a few of them.
If 2011 amounts to a lesson learned, then perhaps the track will learn how to get people in and out in a timely fashion by 2012.
As for the racing itself, well, it's probably nothing a few caution flags and fresh asphalt can't fix.