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Monday, February 21

A NASCAR fan in a Blue State

I am a NASCAR fan, and I believe I am the only one in my whole office, which makes me unique, if I can put it charitably.
I don’t get a whole lotta love for my guys who only know how to turn left, and that’s ok. Imagine this, I work amongst a whole office full of people who look at me strangely whenever I say “Git Er Done”, and couldn’t tell a Jeff Gordon from a Jeff Burton. (Burton's a hick, and Gordon's a pr---)

Very very casual golf fans only watch the Masters. Very very casual baseball fans might only watch parts of the World Series. And very very casual NeckCar fans only watch The Daytona 500 (The Great American Race, a registered Trademark of NASCAR). I understand that, I accept that, and I pity the poor people who only watch Daytona.

Because it sucks.

It’s worse than an NBA game, where you only need watch the last two minutes. The Daytona 500 is 3 and a half grueling hours, and that’s just the pre-race. Then the race itself is another 3 grueling hours of watching 35 cars Screaming past at 185 MPH, three wide, within 3 feet of one another. I understand when the casual fan starts nodding off and reaching for the Food Channel. I could sit here and try to convince you how much concentration this takes to ride Bumper-to-bumper at 3 miles a minute for 490 miles, but you’d never believe me.

Then, in the last ten minutes, some finally gives in, and lessens his concentration, his grip with reality, and scoots a few feet one way or another. This is usually enough to cause the 26-car pileups that have made the name for restrictor plate racing. Whomever’s left, which is usually some amalgam of Dale Jr., Gordon, Johnson, and a couple of others, then races like it matters for the last 4 laps. Once in a great while, a legendary figure hits a wall with 100 Gs of force, and snaps his head off at the neck.

But even that isn’t real good TV. Yesterday, Scott Wimmer turned his stock car into a tornado simulation, spinning like a top over ten revolutions, and walked out without a scratch. When Dale #3 (God Rest His Soul) hit the wall in 2001, it didn’t look like anything more than a hard bump. The spectacular wreckx are actually the safest, as long as the roll cage remains intact, because the sheer force of tearing the car apart is dissipated, sparing the driver. On the other hand, ALL of the force in Dale’s big bump was absorbed by his neck, leaving his car practically totally intact.

Anyway, Daytona is NOT a nice NASCAR sampler platter. The race is run with restrictor plates, a very low-tech piece of metal that is inserted into everyone’s engine to equalize their speed. It is the most costly race, which discourages a lot of risk-taking. It is the first race of the year, so little bad blood or vitriol is spilled.

No, if you only want to watch one NeckCar race a year, for a good picture of the action, choose a race at a small track like Darlington or Bristol, tracks barely larger than a high-school running track, where the guys run 95 mph with absolutely NO room between yourself and your worst adversaries. Guys smash the fuck out of one another in (and out of) their cars. Daytona is kind of like the All-Star game and the Pro Bowl rolled up into one.

Before you knock it, watch a real race and make up yer mind.