NASCAR is often regarded as the ugly, red-headed step-child of professional sports. You know what I’m talking about: “All you have is a bunch of cars running circles all day,” “NASCAR means ‘Non-Athletic Stock Cars circling Around Rednecks’,” “If NASCAR is a sport, then I’m an athlete for driving in traffic everyday.”
To the critics I say, “It’s your loss.” The beauty of America is that we have the First Amendment and if you want to go on some idiotic rant, you’re entitled.
For some 31 years, I’ve either played, coached, watched or reported on sports. Unlike many of you, I was not born with a wrench in my hands, NASCAR is a taste acquired relatively late in life. I’d like to think it’s given me a chance to explore the other options before coming to the great sport of auto racing. You know the old advertising slogan “You’ve tried the rest, now check out the best.”
Why is NASCAR better?
It’s A Feast For The Senses….The speed, the smoke, the noise, the crowds.
It’s The Thrill of the Chase….One car out front, and 42 others fighting,scratching, bumping and swerving to catch it.
No steroids. If these guys are on “The Juice” their suppliers should be fired- ‘cuz it ain’t workin’.
It’s The Drivers….Somewhere in that field is a guy you can relate to. You want machismo? Smoke is your guy. Want a gentleman? Then you’ll like Mark Martin. Are you a Southerner? You might like Dale Jr. or Jeff Burton. A Northerner? How about Martin Truex Jr. or Joey Logano. A mid-Westerner? You’ve got Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman. From the Southwest? There’s Bobby Labonte. The West? We’ve got Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. The Pacific Northwest? Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne.
It’s The Cars…even if you hate the Car of Tomorrow, you still have to admire the precision, the engineering, the technology that enables a machine to approach 200 miles per hour.
No Thugs….regardless of what you think of the Busch Brothers, Tony Stewart or Kevin Harvick, none of these guys ever stabbed, shot, or ordered anyone else to do the same. NASCAR is a “Pac Man”- Free Zone.
Who would you rather have….Kyle Busch? or Barry Bonds?
It’s The Races….think of it this way. If we have a really bad race, like the one at the Brickyard, we really blow our tops. Why? Because the races truly are events, they’re experiences. On any given day, there’s a crappy game in the NBA, NFL, NHL or Major League Baseball, and no one says “Boo” about it. We have a bad race, and there’s a riot about to break out.
It’s The Fans….NASCAR fans are Broncos, Cubs and Steelers fans all rolled into one. Go try and hassle an Earnhardt fan sometime. I’ll be there to call an ambulance. The loyalty in second to none.
It’s The Fearlessness….Sadly, we’ve lost some legends out there: Weatherly, Fireball, Irwin and Earnhardt just to name a few. Even in the safer car, it takes major league cajones to drive a car 200 miles and hour with 42 others doing the same.
It’s The Access….Say what you want about NASCAR’s leadership, but they’ve made sure the drivers have never forgotten where their purse money comes from. Have you ever heard anyone from the Boston Celtics thank the fans for their support like Carl Edwards has?
It’s the Short Off-Season- THANK YOU LORD!
It’s The One Sport My Family Can Agree On….even my wife and daughter are hooked.
It’s The Tracks- Daytona, Bristol, Darlington and Indianapolis are practically a piece of history.
Golf? It’s too dang quiet in the gallery, and Heaven forbid you should sneeze while Tiger’s taking a tee shot. Tennis? The rules are too confusing. Baseball is too slow. The NBA has gotten too far from its roots. Just watch a college game and compare that to the NBA and I will tell you that professional basketball is not real basketball. The NFL? Too violent.
Don’t get me wrong, I like pretty close to all those sports and consider doing play-by-play for high school football and basketball to be among the most fun things I get to do. Yet- at the end of the day, I am proud to say, when it comes to NASCAR….
I’ve got it pretty bad.
PHOTOGRAPHY CREDITS: Dale Jr. Burn Out courtesy of CalifDreama, Phoenix Race courtesy, crash photo by boofita, and Petty photo by mandj98. All photos found at flickr.com.