Feb 162009

I’m done. Finished. No more will I lay on the couch nearly every Sunday afternoon from February through November watching a block of dumb go-karts with nice bodywork roll slowly around a big circle in Blue Angels-tight formation for 5+ hours. NASCAR has jumped the shark. Actually, they have jumped a fake shark in a dunk tank on a segway at half-throttle.

This is not an over-reaction to Sunday’s Daytona SnoreHundred or whatever. In fact my favorite driver won in particularly smart fashion, leading exactly one lap before the skies opened and God Himself decided Matt Kenseth shall win. No, this is the culmination of thoughts after watching a long slide from relevancy to pointlessness that rivals the WWE in authenticity.

I saw my first stock car race at age two. Spent nearly every race weekend with my Dad watching races at the local track. I started watching NASCAR in 1972 at age 9. Richard Petty was my Hero and he always won. Once by over two laps. Through the 80’s my allegiance was with any car fielded by Petty Enterprises. Richard’s son Kyle was an inspiration for his coolness and personality more so than his prowess as a race driver. In the 90’s I rooted for anyone who could beat Dale Earnhart, who reminded my of the smug bullies who would shrug off their mistreatment of weaker kids with a smirk. Now, besides Matt Kenseth I also have a lot of respect for Dale Earnhart Jr. who at a young age had to deal with his father’s on-track death in the public eye while maintaining his own racing career. He seems to have come out of that a very level-headed and likeable fellow, not afraid to mix bravado with humility as appropriate.

The problem with NASCAR isn’t the drivers. There are very few prima donnas among them, and the few of those aren’t successful enough to rub it in anyone’s face.

No, the problem with NASCAR is the stupid rules and the neo-fascist image management which somehow creates an atmosphere where a wife beater in a wife beater can feel morally superior to people who can and have read a book in the past 12 months, while feverishly debating the awesomeness of the Chevy vs. the Toyota when in reality all the cars are exactly the same. That is to say they are slow (down almost 40 mph from a peak in the mid-80’s). What exactly is the point of having an 800+ horsepower motor if it’s going to be carburated and restricted to half that power? What is the point of cars measured and metered to within micrometers and picoseconds of each other running around a track with their throttles wide open and the driver’s role reduced to turning left in varying degrees? And what is the point of watching this parade? Or shall I say charade? Crusade?

There no longer is a point.

So long, idiots. I hope you enjoy slumming it as a pay-per-view event in a couple more years.