Wednesday, March 25, 2009

10 Observations from a NASCAR Weekend

Some thoughts, frustrations, and appreciations from this past weekend's events at the Bristol Motor Speedway...

1) RACES ARE A WEEKEND EVENT, NOT JUST TWO HOURS OF ENTERTAINMENT. There were roughly 10-12 hours total of pure racing this weekend, but when there weren't things to do inside the track, there was certainly entertainment outside. Lots and lots of not only driver's merchandise booths but various vendor giving away a ton of free stuff.

2) COMBOS REALLY ARE A MAN'S FOOD. They're salty finger foods made with pretzels and a cheese inside. Are you kidding me? They're fantastic. Things are only better when a tent has them as free handouts.

3) BATHROOMS ARE AN ISSUE. There are only so many trailers outside the track for bathroom use, and let's face it, nobody finds using a porta-potty a real luxury.

4) THE SPONSORSHIP ASPECT IS BORDERLINE INSANE. I know everyone has their favorite drivers, but there's just something funny about seeing grown men walking around with huge jackets with a big M&Ms logo slathered across the chest. More disturbing are the women wearing the Viagra car aparell. It's to the point you can get a general idea of who a fan is rooting for based on their color scheme. Let's see...he's got green on. Must be the Scotts #60 Carl Edwards car or the #88 Amp Dale Jr. car. The guy with red? Gotta be a #14 Old Spice Tony Stewart fan or perhaps a #9 Bud Kasey Kahne fan. Yeesh.

5) HOW IS THIS STILL A REDNECK SPORT? Sure, the majority of customers purchasing 12 packs and packing extra koozies have either A) teeth missing, B) a mullet, or C) the word Earnhardt placed somewhere on their body, the fact is the technology that goes into these cars is mindblowing. The fact that just a few inches taken off a car and just a small chassis adjustment can make or break a driver. Awesome.

6) BRING EARPLUGS. When there's 43 souped-up car engines roaring around a tight half-mile track placed down in a bowl surrounded by 180,000 people, things get loud. I mean, you can either get earplugs, or go to a metal concert and stand right next to the speaker. The choice is yours.

7) SCANNERS ARE PERHAPS THE COOLEST WAY TO ENJOY NASCAR. If you've never been to a race, let me encourage you to rent a scanner before you go into the track. These nifty little radios come with headphones (also useful for blocking out noise) that allow you to listen to conversations between any driver and their pit crew during the race. For example, in Saturday's race I heard Kyle Busch give an expletive-laced tirade to his pit crew after they caused a violation for a lost tire. Sunday I switched back and forth from Jimmie Johnson's crew constantly updating him on who was in front or behind, as well as Kevin Harvick's frustration after wrecking just past the halfway point. Trust me, whatever car wrecks, turn to their frequency right after. It's most entertaining, and a feature you won't find in any other sport.

8) RACING CAN BE DULL. Sunday, I watched 503 laps of racing. Sure, it was fun, but there were certainly times where it was just watching Busch drive around an oval track while 42 cars followed behind him. NASCAR is a bit like hockey; you watch for the wrecks and the fights.

9) LIKE ANY SPORT, NASCAR IS BETTER WITH RIVALRY. Maybe rivalry isn't the best word, but it's more fun to watch a sport where you can hate someone almost as much as you cheer for your favorite driver. When Kyle Busch won Sunday, you saw thumbs down signs from fans, heard boos, and felt a general disgust with his victory. It's almost like we were sitting in Fenway, and Derek Jeter went 4-4 with a game winning homer. If all the drivers were likeable, what would be the point of cheering for just one or two?

10) MY IDEA TO MAKE NASCAR BETTER. Maybe it wouldn't go over well, but I'd like to see the team concept emphasized more. Perhaps split the drivers into 10 different teams comprised of 4 drivers each. Based on the combined performance from those 4 drivers, a team championship would be determined at the end of the year. The top individual driver could get a MVP award similar to what the NFL, NBA, MLB, and other sports do. Maybe it wouldn't work, but it would get guys like me who are used to rooting for teams more into NASCAR.

1 comment:

Ivey said...

That's really cool. I love going to the races. As for #10 I can see how that would be cool... I'm just not sure the general NASCAR population would go for it... Hendricks or Roush would win every year.