Friday, February 13, 2009

Gentlemen Start Your Engines!!

It's NASCAR season once Again!!!
Yes, in case you haven't guessed, I am a Race fan. And when I say a race fan, I am not really a picky race fan. I will watch snails race if there is nothing better to do!! Ok That's not really true, but I have watched lawn mower races. LOL Sometimes a guy just needs to see something interesting. There are many people who don't consider motor racing to be a sport, but I'm not one of them. A sport defined as follows :

a source of diversion : recreation b: (1): physical activity engaged in for pleasure (2): a particular activity (as an athletic game) so engaged in

4 a
: sportsman b: a person considered with respect to living up to the ideals of sportsmanship

So by this definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Racing is a sport and the drivers and pit crews are sportsmen.

I guess that I am something of a sports nut after all. I am not a hardcore fan, ( I miss summer races all the time) I am however a long time fan since I have been a race fan as far back as I can remember. I used to watch the races when they were on TV sporadically back in the 70's. I would watch the highlights on The Wide World Of Sports. I watched the Daytona 500, The Indy 500, the Charlotte 600, the Southern 500, Darlington and Rockingham and Bristol and Martinsville. These were the races of the days when the Allison's and the Petty's ruled the track, when guys had a beef and they got into fisticuffs in the pits, they swung for teeth and later that night popped a beer together and laughed about it. They weren't called into the hauler and told how to behave in front of company. These guys were mechanics as well as drivers and they knew the wrench as well as the steering wheel. The last of these guys are still running a few races, Terry Labonte, Bill Elliott, Mark Martin. They haven't had to turn a wrench in years, but they still remember the days when the driver split time with the crew chief driving the hauler to the next race. Now most of the teams have dedicated employees for every aspect. Drivers for the haulers, tire changers, jack men, Tire carriers. There is a guy whose entire job is to run a stopwatch. So It really is a team sport.

I watched the stock cars and the open wheels and the Grand Prix and the road rally's. It was sort of in my blood though because there was a time when my pops used to race snowmobiles. I loved going to the races. I got to be in the pits and to see all the guys. This was way before the days of the corporate sponsors and if you had a little bit of factory backing you were in the top echelon of the sport. Pops quit racing the year that one of his closest friend was killed on the track. It was the final straw for him, besides the expense of getting to and from the race sites, there was the upkeep of the machines and the other related equipment. Then when his friend was killed it lost some of it's appeal. I was only 6 years old, but I remember seeing the accident that killed Curtis Beam. I won't describe it, but suffice it to say that I will probably remember it for all of my life. Even so, it is a risk that every Driver takes when they decide to compete. This past week the Extreme Motocross world lost Jeremy Lusk. In 2001 NASCAR lost Dale Earnhardt Sr. There are so many names of Drivers who have died on the track doing what they loved to do. I couldn't come close to listing them all. And not only drivers but the crew members as well. Pit guys, and track guys and rescue guys and even in some cases fans. It happens, and we understand this. Maybe we have a little bit of the macabre and we hope to witness one of these crashes. We all want to see some carnage, but we really hope that everyone walks away. There is nothing like the cheer in the stands when there is a spectacular wreck and then the driver gets up and walks away from the wreckage. We like the excitement, but we want the human to live on.

If your not a fan of racing, you will never understand the appeal, and if you are a fan then you know what I'm talking about. Root this year for Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip. Mark because he is racing a full season and making a run for the cup, one more try before he retires. He is one of the best drivers in the business but he has never been a series champion. Mikey because he needs a good season to keep his teams and his sponsors. Gentlemen, Here's To you! May yo have a great season and I hope you rund a great Race on Sunday.

1 comment:

J_Lemmon said...

Still not a huge nascar fan. I generally don't watch the races, and most of the time won't turn them on even if there is nothing better to watch. I do like racing, and occasionally go to the local stock car races nearby. I've been to Daytona, and seen the track myself. Although, never seen a live Nascar event. This doesn't mean that I don't like the sport, or Nascar. Just that I'm not that into it. Just as you are not that into NFL. To each his own! Enjoy the season!