Saturday, February 12, 2005

Another Thing I Don't Understand... NASCAR

So NASCAR has pre-empted regular programming in primetime tonight. Amazing. I don't' understand the appeal. Can someone explain NASCAR to me? (Just in the remote chance someone from the UK or elsewhere not familiar with US hilljack "kulture", NASCAR is autoracing; the drivers have these cars that are essentially fiberglass body types of cars out on the road now with a color scheme for each, tons of tacky sponsor stickers, and a big number on the hood, the door, the roof, and anywhere else they can put it. )

It's fucking racing. That is all it is. Yet, everywhere I go here in Ohia (apparently, that is how people living south of I-70 pronounce it) I see cars and trucks with a numbered sticker showing some sort of allegiance to a NASCAR driver. I don't say NASCAR athlete because while these guys may be in great shape, they're not athletes. They're sitting in a car, driving at high speeds. Granted, it is very intense; but does this mean that we'll make a sport out of long distance truck driving as well? I mean, these guys are driving well above the posted limit and they have to deal with unforeseen obstacles on the road all the time and it's a race against time (fictional truck driver: "I gotta be in (insert city name) within 12 hours").

But back to the thing with putting a number sticker on a car. Why? I can see putting a sticker of your alma mater, professional sports team, or even a band on your car. There are traits to those organizations or bands that make them unique and easily identifiable. You might even associate certain traits of that band, school, etc. with the driver (if you see someone with a Bauhaus sticker, you might think "There goes a goth.") Now, why do hilljacks identify with a driver? Sure, the driver may give an interview and be a nice guy, but why put the sticker on a car?? I can see if maybe driver #11 is from the same hometown or from a nearby town. But what if driver #11 is from Tennessee, yet fictional mullet haired fan lives in Michigan? What possible connection could is there? It's not like if he were driving an unmarked car, fictional mullet boy might say "Oh yeah, that is totally #11. Can't you tell by the way he made that left turn?" See where I'm going with this? If weren't for the markings on the car, mullet wearing NASCAR fan would never know who this guy is and wouldn't feel some sort of allegiance to him. Unless of course, maybe he happens to be a big fan of #11's sponsors (fictional mullet haired NASCAR fan "I've got a #11 sticker on my van because he's sponsored by Bud and I drink Bud; I've been drinking Bud my whole life"). See, at least with a team or a band there are uniquely identifiable traits such as knowing that the Steelers are going to have a punishing defense and a pounding running game; an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo will never be confused with an Eric Clapton solo; ManU may play a trapping type of defense differently than say Arsenal.

Maybe people are just fans of the color schemes of the cars? So does this mean I need to find the driver whose colors match my faves? Now, I know someone will come on here and talk about being at a NASCAR event and how that is what draws fans. OK, so I can understand the atmosphere and so on. Again, why do people really go to racing events? For CRASHES!!! Almost no one is sitting in the stands with a log book and a stop watch charting the progress of #11 lap after lap. So really people at a NASCAR event are there for 1) crashes and 2) beer. So these fans sit out in the sun and get drunk with fast cars going in a circle. You've got to give NASCAR credit; they let the fans walk the track before hand and the drivers do make themselves accessible to the fans. But again, its the crashes they want. I don't know what it is that I'm overlooking that makes hilljacks sit in the stands with no shirts and sporting sweet mullets drinking the Beast. Is it that these folks feel allegiance to a car company? (Again mullet haired fan "#11 drives a Ford; I own a Ford; so I'll put a #11 sticker in the window of my Ford van) I drive an old Jeep Cherokee, so I can never get into NASCAR because what would a Jeep be doing going 100 mph?? Burning is what it would do!!

So anyone who can enlighten me on the craze or addiction or sickness known as NASCAR, please do!!!! And yes, I made up the #11 driver ... I don't know if such a driver exists in NASCAR but if there is, more power to him.

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