17 February 2008 by Published in: General musings 20 comments

Warning: this is an off-topic rant that has nothing to do with the Civil War.

Today is the Daytona 500, the opening race of NASCAR season. I can’t possibly think of anything that I would want to do less than sit and watch a NASCAR race on television. Guys turning left for 2.5 hours in cars that are supposed to be stock cars, but which are anything but. I know that NASCAR is popular, but God in heaven, I cannot, for the life of me understand why. Perhaps these are my northern biases coming through, but I just don’t get it.

I cannot, for instance, fathom sitting in the grandstands having your hearing damaged watching a bunch of guys going around in circles and doing nothing but turning left. I cannot fathom sitting and watching one of these races on television. I’d rather do something really fun and fascinating, like watching paint dry or grass grow. Or the old favorite, watching snow melt. Those activities would be at least as much fun, and just as interesting to me.

And then there’s the whole idea of including NASCAR as a sport. I will grant you that it takes skill to drive one of those cars. There’s no doubt about that. But it’s a stretch beyond reason to say that these guys are athletes. They sit in a car. I sit in a car, but that doesn’t make me an athlete. A commuter, yes. But an athlete, no.

I recognize that it’s a cultural phenomenon and that I might be in the minority in my opinions about NASCAR, but I just cannot, for the life of me, begin to comprehend the fascination with it. I don’t get it, and I never will. And if that makes me some sort of an anomaly then I can live with that.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Paul Taylor
    Sun 17th Feb 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I lived in Florida for over 30 years and went to the Daytona 500 once. My next door neighbor was given 2 infield passes from a customer of his who had one of those big motorhomes parked in the infield’s 4th turn. It was a day of hot sun, cold beer, burgers and brats.

    There was also no shortage of rebel yells and Confederate flags waving when the green flag dropped!

    It was, without a doubt, the loudest, most bone-rattling experience I have ever been through. The vibrations that coarsed through my body when those 40 cars came roaring around that final turn at the start of the race is a sensation I will never forget.

    To be honest, in retrospect it was a fun day (coulda been the beer) but looking back on it now, it’s a “been there done that” experience.

    Paul

  2. Sun 17th Feb 2008 at 11:09 pm

    Paul,

    My high school class president–an old and very dear friend–was married to Rick Mears, the Indy driver, for about ten years, and I probably could have had tickets to the Indy 500 any time I wanted during that time, but it just never interested me enough to want to go. I just have no interest. I can think of so many better ways to spend a day, not to mention the impact on my ears. 🙂

    Eric

  3. Sun 17th Feb 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Eric, My friend… I myself am not a ‘serious’ NASCAR fan per say. However my oldest son (a perennial honor roll student and all around good guy, who lettered in Academics and could probably go to the college of his choice) LIVES for the sport and is in a special voc-tech program that will have him entering the Nascar Institute of Technology (in Charlotte N.C.) at the end of his Sr. year (next year) where he will continue his education learning to build those cars from the frame up. He will then qualify to work for one of the 44 teams (x’s 16-20 cars per team x’s 10+ people per car) that is HQ’d there. My point in that the ‘sport’ is really more of a science nowadays and the technology is absolutely mind-boggling. My son is proof that you can be smart, and a gear-head, and a redneck. And I’m sure I’ll be rooting for whatever team he gets picked up with. It is an acquired taste, and you don’t have to necessarily ‘get it’ to respect it those that do (and/or work in it.) Kinda’ like Blue Jacket’s hockey, Bruce Springsteen, and Federal Cavalry Ops. 🙂

  4. Brian
    Sun 17th Feb 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Goooo jooooonyerrrrr!!!

    u think its easy , go race cars then… heard the pay is good

  5. Sun 17th Feb 2008 at 11:21 pm

    MIchael,

    I wish your son well.

    I respect it, and I respect those who do it. I just don’t get it. And nothing will ever persuade me it’s a sport and deserves to be measured against say, the Olympics (although things like rhythmic gymnastics, an Olympic medal event, are not sports, either). As you say, it’s about the technology. If so, why maintain the pretense that it’s a sport?

    Eric

  6. Sun 17th Feb 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Brian,

    I never said it was easy. I said I don’t get it and that I don’t believe it qualifies as a sport. Big difference.

    Eric

  7. Sun 17th Feb 2008 at 11:31 pm

    BTW: I never said it was a sport. 🙂

  8. Sun 17th Feb 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Michael,

    Fair enough.

    Eric

  9. Don
    Sun 17th Feb 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Eric,

    I’ve never understood NASCAR either. Now if we were talking about horse racing…. 8^) ‘Call to the post’ is a bugle call of sorts, and the 2nd Cavalry was initially mounted on Kentucky and Tennessee throughbreds.

    There, horses were mentioned so it’s not off topic by much.

  10. randy
    Mon 18th Feb 2008 at 10:56 am

    Eric:
    You’re not alone. I’m a southerner and I don’t get it either. Also, I’ve got another one for you: watching a chrome bumper rust. Appropriate, eh?

    Randy

  11. Mon 18th Feb 2008 at 11:08 am

    Personally, I haven’t watched more than 30 seconds of any race in my entire life. I don’t get it either.

    But I think you alluded to it in your post when you mention the rush attendees get – the noise, speed, etc. Just as many are fascinated with sports cars, such a race is the ultimate performance rush.

    Yep, I’d buy tickets to watch moss grow on rocks before watching a race, but I guess I can understand others’ fascination with it.

    I do drive a Corvette, after all 🙂

    J.D.

  12. Mon 18th Feb 2008 at 11:22 am

    I’m a lifelong, multi-generational Southerner, but I, like you Eric, find modern Nascar VERY boring. However, I LOVE the history of Nascar and how it all started out as moonshiners suping up their cars in order to outrun federal agents, a.k.a. the despised “revenuers.” As you know, most native Southerners instinctively dislike the feds. Its in our genes, so we can’t help it. 🙂

    Watch this clip and if you’re not familiar with the moonshine/Nascar connection, you will find it very interesting and it will help you understand the romanticism and bravado that is still connected to Nascar:

    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/moonshine/

  13. Mon 18th Feb 2008 at 7:46 pm

    I actually used to go to the Indy 500 every year when I was in high school. Maybe it was just because I was young and easily impressed but I loved it. We had seats in the grandstand just past turn 4, right where you could watch the cars going into the pit. It was fun watching the strategy of who was pitting when. We also had a nice view down the homestretch. Of course, we made it a bit more interesting by having a gambling pool where for $5, you were randomly assigned drivers. It was a fun way to get out of Chicago for a day, get a sunburn and participate in a happening.

  14. Scott Smart
    Mon 18th Feb 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Sounds like you dislike all motor sports and not just NASCAR in particular. I prefer sports car racing. I find NASCAR rules seem designed to make it like pro wrestling.

    ISTM a distinction can be drawn between sportsman and athlete. I suspect at least 50% of the olympics would not count as sport under your requirements.

  15. Tue 19th Feb 2008 at 8:20 am

    Eric

    Come on and down to Ararat and we will take you out to the Rolling Thunder Raceway and let you embrace your inner dirt track.

    http://www.freestateofpatrick.com/pcracing

    I even sell books at the racetrack.

    Hokie Tom Perry

  16. Brooks Simpson
    Tue 19th Feb 2008 at 2:08 pm

    “They sit in a car. I sit in a car, but that doesn’t make me an athlete. A commuter, yes. But an athlete, no.”

    Clearly you’ve never driven in New York or Boston.

    NASCAR makes for a cool video game. 🙂

    Super Bowl Champion NY Giants. I like that better.

  17. Sean Dail
    Tue 19th Feb 2008 at 3:15 pm

    It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? I grew up here in North Carolina in the heart of NASCAR country, but I would rather take up knitting than watch a NASCAR event.

    In addition to all of your arguments, I can’t help but think about how much gasoline is wasted during the course of one NASCAR race.

  18. Tue 19th Feb 2008 at 11:21 pm

    “I can’t help but think about how much gasoline is wasted during the course of one NASCAR race.” True, but take comfort in knowing that we are lifting oppressed peoples out of their poverty by buying their oil at over $100 a barrel.

  19. Art Bergeron
    Wed 20th Feb 2008 at 9:09 am

    An episode of “The Simpsons” some years ago said it all. The crowd was totally bored until there was a crash.

  20. Thu 21st Feb 2008 at 11:19 am

    Let’s forget NASCAR for the moment. If you REALLY want to watch an “auto sport” go to a demolition derby at a county fair.

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