Sunday, February 19, 2006


And around the track they go! Around and around they go, over and over again at ludicrous speed! For 500 miles, the Nascar's best and brightest show their stuff in the annual Daytona 500 race. Arguably Nascar's 'Superbowl', even though it takes place at the start of the season, the D5Hun gets more hype than the NBA and NHL finals combined! This piece of evidence tells me that all this 'nonense' that I hear about Nascar becoming the most popular sport in America might really be true, despite my heart's desire for the opposite. In the last few years, I have seen an increase in the amount of billboards, print, TV and radio adds that portray a Nascar driver, or team, shilling various brands of beer, liquor, hardware stores, and even now DLP Technology! And this is in LA! Nascar is becoming less of a 'hick' thing, which surprises me. I tried to watch the Race today, to see if maybe I have been blind, and am missing the 'Big Picture' that I often think of when folks tell me "baseball is too boring" or "football takes too long." When people say that to me, I gasp in disbelief and deem them 'Foolish!'
"Don't you get it?" I exclaim! "It's about strategy, skill, stamina, desire, and drama! Each game is a chapter from the book that is the Season!"
Those who guffaw at my disdain for racin' would probably say the same thing to me about their beloved Nascar. So I flipped on Fox and settled in to watch the Daytona 500.
After 20 minutes, I gave up.
I really tried this time. I have done this on 3 other occasions. Twice in high school, once in College, and now, as a 20 something out in the world, I did it for the 4th, and possibly final time.
Now I am a lover of sport, and that is a love of playing them, and watching them. This past year, I took another step in becoming old as I have grown a passion for watching golf. Yes, I know. But this Nascar thing still confounds me.
Some close friends of mine like Nascar. They don't seem to follow it hardcore like the NFL, but they do admitedly like it, and have an interest in it when the big races are on TV. So again, I felt like maybe I have been too stubborn about the whole thing.
Well, after those 20 minutes came and went, I don't care if it is stubborness, the race did nothing for me. I did not feel attached to anything that was happening. Being the sport lover that I am, I do know some of the racers. Tony Stewart(he won the Nascar Cup series last year?), Dale Jr., Kurt Busch, Kyle Petty, and Jimmie Johnson. And I saw their cars highlighted as they raced around the track, yet still, I couldn't find a reason to care who wins. That aspect of it would obviously change if I got into the sport and followed each race, thereby finding those in this crowded field that I would deem 'skilled' and would root for. But the 'skilled' part is what I find hardest to bite into.
I know these drivers are in adverse conditions, racing in cars that are going between 150-200 MPH at points in the race. It does take skill to keep control of the car at those speeds. They also face the literal heat of the race, often becoming dehydrated as the temperatures on the track get extremely high as the race progresses along the blacktop. That I can respect, they put their bodies(and lives) on the line for their business, bank account, and inadvertantly( I suppose) the desires of the fanbase to see a wreck. The drivers also use drafting as a way to gain an advantage, which is strategy, albeit a boring one.
That being said, it's still 40 cars, going similar speeds, around an oval, for 500 miles. Sometimes, one car goes to the pit for repair. Sometimes, one guy bumps another car purposely to 'send a message.' He'll get docked some points and get a warning flag. Sometimes, one car passes another car. Sometimes, one car gets bumped too hard and his race is ruined as he loses laps during repair. All of these things happen every few laps, then, when it's finally over, whoever crosses the finish line first, wins. It seems a combination of luck and avoiding disaster is what it takes to win.
Tony Stewart's race was ruined because some jackobee driver doesn't like him so they bumped him hard. What is this, gym class? Here's a question for Nascar can you be mad at your opponent for cutting you off? That's how you win, isn't it? This just does not get my passion for sport going. It's boring, repetitive, and it reeks of machismo. It's like these guys never got out of high school.
All Nascar needs is that girl straight out of the 50's waving the start flag as the cars race by.

The moral of this story is I can't get into Nascar and struggle to see why it's so popular. I know the cars they drive are a thing out of a Greese Monkey's dream, and there is a pit team that works to perfection changing out oil, fuel and tires, which is impressive. I have no doubt great engineering goes into these cars. But what is it all for? To drive in loops, really fast, over and over again. In the words of William Shatner, I can't get behind that.


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