December 18, 2008

Euthanize NASCAR?

Ray sent me this article yesterday while I was hopped up on cold meds. Ray always does stuff like this-sending me stuff when I can't be coherent. Ok, so he sends me stuff all the time because I'm rarely coherent! 'nuff said.

Mitchell really wanted to get my opinion seeing as how I'm a huge NASCAR fan.

What do I think about abolishing NASCAR because of high gas prices?

I'm not ready to go there. I think full-scale abolishment of NASCAR is an extreme idea that I'm not ready to embrace.

If we stop NASCAR simply on the grounds that it's a fossil fuel burning sport, where do we draw the line?

The sport of NASCAR itself does use gas as part of the sport. It's integral. No gas, no event. Period.

However, think about all the fossil fuels that are burned for any sport. How much gas is burned to fly sports teams to "away" events? How much gas is consumed to fly team members who live in other states back to the home state for training camps and the season? How much gas went into carting the Vatican Splendors museum exhibit around the world? How much gas is consumed flying orchestra members around the world? How much gas do the Olympics consume in flying athletes all over the world as well as reporters and fans to cover it and see it?

It's true that fuel is not generated from a naturally renewable energy source. We need to think about alternative energy. Maybe one day we will see Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart propelling cars down the track like Fred Flinstone-using their feet! Or, maybe we will go back to the classic days before the big teams, before the entourages, before the big money sponsorships, when the driver had to work on his own car to keep it running for the race and had to scrape together the funds to even race.

If times are tough, I'm all for scaling back. I'd totally support reducing the field from 42 cars to 30 or 35 to cut down on the amount of fuel consumption needed. But, the drawback with reducing the field is the drama of more cars on the track = more potential disaster is lessened. A lot of NASCAR fans enjoy a tense race and fewer cars could lessen that reason many tune in. However, I think the restrictor plate has made the races safer (read: boring) so an argument could be made that at this point reducing the field will not hurt a sport that has already slowed down due to the aerodynamic drag of the plates.

I 100% agree with the Slate article that some of the ratings reduction has been that many fans are bored with the drivers. I can't think of too many fans who are happy that Jimmie Johnson won the title yet again. I know many who tuned out when it became apparent he was going to win it again. However, I don't think it's fair to intimate that all the drivers are milquetoast. Look at Carl Edwards. Seems like a nice guy but is he really? The cracks in his persona showed a few times this year. Harvick vs. Anybody is a fight always waiting to happen. Montoya was dull this year-not like him. I know Jeff Gordon fans are still as mad that he did poorly this year as his many haters are happy that he did poorly this year.

I know a lot of the hardcore fan base is upset that the classic tracks like Darlington are not on the schedule anymore-so much so that some of them refuse to watch NASCAR on the weekends that used to be assigned to the old-school tracks. This anger, not anything on the drivers, could account for the ratings being down.

I know a lot of fans are upset that foreign automakers were allowed into the sport but I don't know too many that decided to just turn it off when that happened.

I think picking on one sport to take the brunt of gas prices and the nonrewability of the resource by just disappearing altogether is unfair. I would support any and all sports (as well as ANY of US) taking a good hard look at our gas consumption and working to reduce it. For me, personally, I combine more trips now and I'm not driving much outside of going to work.

There's a part of me that thinks, even though the author is a fan, that NASCAR is an easy target for a lot of people to talk about abolishing because there's the constant debate over whether auto racing is really a sport or not. There's also a lot of snobbery typically involved. NASCAR has the unfair rep of being a blue-collar, redneck, poor white trash sport. Auto racing is not considered a highbrow or even an intelligent sport-even though it is-think of all the mathematic and engineering knowledge that goes into a race and the car design. It's not just a guy driving around in circles-though it's looks like that to the unintiated. Holy Mass looks like an aerobic workout to the unitiated but it really isn't. You need to see and learn both to understand them.

I'm REALLY curious to know what Bobby has to say.

6 Comments:

Blogger Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I'm all for increasing our carbon footprint by the use of fossil fuels ;)...I truly believe this global warming bs has been blown WAY out of proportion since well we're contributing about .00003% to the actual cause which is due merely as a consequence of the Law of Conservation of Energy ;)

But you're absolutely right, Mass isn't just a Catholic excuse for a workout

December 18, 2008 12:02 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Being that NASCAR racing started out with the "Feds chasing moonshiners carrying white lightening to market", [see the great b&w movie, "Thunder Road" starring Robert Mitchum], maybe as a bit of homage ("'omazh") to its rural roots, NASCAR should start using animal methane as fuel!

December 18, 2008 4:42 PM  
Blogger Bobby said...

Cathy,

I've made a response based on my knowledge of Slate, and the political atmosphere behind many of the schedule changes (estate tax, lawsuits, et al).

I read a Kyle Petty press release before the 2004 Mountain Dew Southern 500 that fit the point. Kyle said a typical Sprint Cup Chase race was a Tournament Players Club course where golfers shoot in the low to mid 60's. Darlington in the Chase, he said, was playing at a U. S. Open course where they are struggling to just break par.

Sadly, they went to court to force a schedule change. Once you do it in court, you're playing with fire. Can you imagine if someone in Los Angeles decides to sue the NFL to ask the Minnesota Vikings be moved to Los Angeles by force? That's what they did to Darlington.

And they don't want to talk about the problems with the American Le Mans Series, which has signed a Green Initiative. For the second consecutive year, they have lost a race (Belle Isle) on the 12-race schedule, lost the only team that races in the premiere P1 class, and the only regular team that runs in the GT1 class. The series will race with P2 prototypes and GT2 cars, which are not as prestigious as the G1 and GT1 classes. NASCAR, on the other hand, owns the successful Grand American Road Racing which still has over 40 teams racing in their Prototype (the most diverse engine manufacturers; Porsche, GM, Ford, BMW, Toyota) and GT classes (Porsche, GM, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mazda).

December 20, 2008 6:30 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Nascar is really sexist and even anti-Catholic Cath. Oh. And I don't know what Church you go to, but I never thought Mass looked like an aerobic work-out, are you back at St. Joans? LOL! Just kidding. Nascar is for _____ (fill in the blanks).

Kidding - you know that, right?

December 22, 2008 10:59 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ter, hon, are you off your meds again?

December 23, 2008 8:12 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

No - I'm just taking doubles for the holidays.

December 23, 2008 9:29 PM  

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