NASCAR: Why?

March 1st, 2012

Daytona 500 crash

I know, it brings in a lot of money even though attendance keeps dropping. It’s a spectacle, yes, though so was throwing Christians to the lions. It takes some skill to drive 200 mph in a pack. Skill does not equate to sport.

The recent series of fiascos at the Daytona 500 just confirms what we all know from watching South Park’s 2010 send-up of NASCAR (wherein Cartman gets Vagisil to sponsor his car after he ingests a tube to make him stupid).

The race was first postponed because of rain, which the media made much of (“first time in 54 years the race has been postponed!”). They also made a continual big deal over Danica Patrick, who’s pretty but not a very good driver. Where are the black drivers, by the way?

Anyway, after a restart, one Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a track dryer that spilled 200 gallons of jet fuel and caused a massive fire and a two-hour cleanup. Then more crashes, 12 caution flags, and more left-turning in cars that all look the same and use old technology to keep speeds down.

Pack racing at TalladegaWhat it’s really about is pack racing, meaning large numbers of cars running full out and very close:

Once everyone got the jitters out of their systems the race settled down and the fan were treated to a return of the pack racing of old. No more 2 car dances going on all over the track, this is what the fans came to see. An old school pack race, with 43 cars all trying to out manouver each other, chasing the glory and even a mid race bonus of $200000.

In other words, they want to see them crash—which they do, frequently. NASCAR races are cleaned-up, sanctioned demolition derbies.

A guy named Matt Kenseth won, but so what? The final big story was Brad Keselowski, who, while the race was halted, tweeted pictures of the fire and texted back and forth with some of the 130,000 additional followers he had accumulated by virtue of his stunt.

NASCAR didn’t penalize Brad, as he was not actually driving at the time. Of course they didn’t. This opens up a whole new audience segment, and we would not be surprised to see drivers actually texting and driving, inches apart, at 200 mph. It’s the next logical step.

Are you a NASCAR fan? Please tell us why.

—jgoods

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  1. March 6th, 2012 at 14:50 | #1

    @Brad
    oh yeah and they dont paint the cars anymore in NASCAR. Its all Vinyl wrap.

  2. March 6th, 2012 at 14:41 | #2

    @Brad
    “none are so limiting as NASCAR”………if thtas the case then how come F1 has said this year that the cars front nose has to be no more than how ever far off the ground? Its a safety factor because every year the nose of a F1 car was getting higher and higher and they reached the point to where the nose was so high that if some one was to hit the side of the car head on they had a chance and hitting the driver in the head. They also mandated that the exhaust has to exit in a certain location on the car. that made it so Lotus could not use there forward exiting exhaust anymore. They also did it because during low speed corners they were makeing the car rev higher to produce more exhaust and angled it at the spoilers to create more downforce. Every single racing series has its “limiting” factors. so to say NASCAR is limited more than other series of racing is BS. Tell me one rule in NASCAR that is so “limiting”

  3. Brad
    March 5th, 2012 at 21:05 | #3

    What a can of worms we have here, boys!

    Here goes my 2cents worth:
    Nascar is basically a promotion and sanitizing agent…AKA: Banker. They are in the business of promoting themselves and their income. To do this, they lay claim to the rights to control when, where, who, and how the ‘races’ are run. The ‘teams’ allow them to do this. The ‘rules’ are agreed upon by the teams’ ‘owners’ to keep the money flowing, and to accomodate the grossly deteriorating infrastructure they race in/on. All the chassis are required to match, so the variables are limited engine mods (until squelched again next season), gearing, limited suspension options, rear wing, and drivers…oh yeah, and PAINT.

    Not a recipe for innovation, which is what the entire world’s racing community expects. Yes, F1, SCCA, IMSA, NHRA, and all the other ‘sanctioning bodies’ involved with the many facets of ‘motor sports’ each have their own version of ‘rules’, yet none are so limiting as NASCAR…who blames it on ‘safety’. Personally, I see it as equal to ‘professional wrestling’…milking a dead horse!

    BTW: What is the last innovation promoted from NASCAR? Oh Yeah, AIR-DAMS in the 1980’s.

  4. Randy
    March 3rd, 2012 at 07:09 | #4

    That’s ironic advice coming from you. About ten years ago I attended driver training at MIS to get my high speed certification for my job and yes, I did drive stock cars on the oval. As students, our cars were limited to speeds quite a bit lower than the real thing, but I can tell you the conditions inside that car are really brutal and these cars require 110% of your attention every second. I have nothing but respect for these athletes in every form of racing, perhaps you should too.
    As for blacks in racing, I’m not sure why you refer to an article that says exactly what I was saying the the first place. There are cultural forces that concentrate black athletes in certain sports. I’d say the lack of black representation in racing shows the lack of black cultural interest in racing. Given that NASCAR racing as a sport was developed in the South, I also suspect there was an element of racism in the past that kept blacks away from the sport. Things are changing, though, with athletes like Tiger Woods and Danica Patrick, even with the sexist attitudes of some automotive journalists.

  5. jgoods
    March 1st, 2012 at 21:45 | #5

    @ Randy
    Man, you gotta lotta spleen, don’t you?

    If you think oval racing is better than road racing, then you just don’t know the difference between skill and sport. And where do you get your information, Jack, about my athletic and driving capabilities? “Danica Patrick is not only a better driver than you’ll ever be, but a better athlete, too.” Ouch, that one really hurt. Regarding blacks, you’re wrong again. See http://www.nascar.com/2008/news/opinion/02/04/bkimm.bhm.progress/.

    In the future, try commenting on things you know something about.

  6. Randy
    March 1st, 2012 at 21:21 | #6

    Thank goodness there are never crashes in other forms of racing! What the heck does any race fan go to see? The noise, the crashes, drivers bumping each other and fighting for position. One nice thing about NASCAR compared to most road racing is that the spectator can see all the cars all the time on the big ovals, not so on most road racing tracks. And believe me, if you think handling one of those cars at speed is skill rather than sport, especially on a hot day. I’m pretty sure that the “pretty but not a very good driver” Danica Patrick is not only a better driver than you’ll ever be, but a better athlete, too. And where are the black drivers? Same place the white pro basketball and football player are.

  7. Brendan
    March 1st, 2012 at 16:07 | #7

    Agreed with all the above comments. This is a pretty poorly informed article. Another point to be made is that the pack racing and frequent wrecking really only applies to 4 races on a 36 race schedule (2 at Daytona and 2 at Talladega). The other 32 races are run on tracks of shorter length where there is a considerable amount of braking involved, car handling and driver skill also play a much bigger part. Theres even 2 road course races, which means right hand turns. Lastly, to answer your question of “where are the black drivers”, there has been black drivers in NASCAR in the past (search Bill Lester)

  8. March 1st, 2012 at 16:04 | #8

    You said it all sir. From one NASCAR fan to another…thank you!@

  9. jgoods
    March 1st, 2012 at 15:20 | #9

    @
    @
    @
    Okay, you guys taught me something. Good and fair comments. Justin, I thought they were still using carburetors; thanks for the correction.

  10. March 1st, 2012 at 14:56 | #10

    Also Juan’s wreck was due to a mechanical failure. Granted he shouldn’t have been racing around under a yellow, especially near safety crews.

  11. March 1st, 2012 at 14:52 | #11

    To start off, I’m a road racing fan. Grew up watching F1 and WSBK. I am also a professional driving instructor on road courses and have worked in NASCAR with a couple of teams.

    Driving a stock car at 200MPH at Daytona is not an easy feat. The car is almost constantly trying to swap the rear end with the front, and the front end is liable to wander around with little warning. When you’re behind another car, the front gets even worse (due to less downforce), and now you’re going even faster. Since you’re going faster, you’ll inevitably begin rubbing, or bump drafting the guy in front, you do that wrong, you get an accident. Then when you’re running side-by-side, the airflow is even more disrupted, and it tries to pull the car up and down the track. Talking with the pros who do it and have raced open wheel, Max Papis and AJ Allmendinger come to mind, they’ve told me that running Daytona in a pack is one of the most difficult things they’ve done.

    Then you have to factor in the strategy of getting the front, and staying there, along with 150 degree cockpit temps.

    You don’t have to like it, but respect that it is not an easy task.

  12. March 1st, 2012 at 14:51 | #12

    I’m a NASCAR fan, Yes. I get ragged and jokes about it all the time like “their turning left…..oh, they are turning left again…” I’m a gear head to the core. I love cars and racing so much. If NASCAR isnt a sport then neither is Formula 1, NHRA Drag Racing, Le Mans, or any other type of 4 wheel racing. They all have the same repetitive motion. They do on the other had have one BIG thing in common, endurance. Every form of racing require some kind of endurance, obviously some more than others. I would love to see any one of these people who say NASCAR is not a sport go out and race 500 miles at speeds up to 200 mph and having so many G’s put on your body in the turns and see if they are not tired after they get done.
    You say they use “old technology”. Since when is fuel injection old technology. Yes, it has taken them awhile to get to it, but they finally realized that is was time to move on from the carburetor and into something “greener” for the environment. Two years ago they moved to ethanol so they could get away from fossil fuels and help out with the recession that was going on. They do restrict the speed for pack racing, but it is also for safety reasons. Formula 1 has some rules for speed limitations as well so I don’t really see what your argument there is.
    All in all, NASCAR is a working mans sport. It started out like that. I think NASCAR has come to realize that and that is why they made the changes they did to the cars from the stupid COT with the carbon fiber splitter and wing, to a more natural looking street car which is what it is all about. I have a lot of more things I could say but couldn’t find ways to fit it in. I just leave you with one thing, Nation Association for STOCK Car Racing. That’s what its all about, think about it and let me know how you feel now.

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