Monday, April 28, 2014

For the Love of NASCAR

In a driver-focused sport such as NASCAR, it has become more difficult for me to maintain the same level of passion when I no longer have a favourite full-time driver.  Some fans are perfectly capable of liking entire racing organizations or base their likes off of car manufacturers.  I've never been able to accomplish that feat.  I don't pick drivers based on who they drive for or what car they drive.  Nor do I pick drivers based on the car number or sponsor.  So I see absolutely no problem in cheering for drivers from two entirely different racing organizations.

But I'm getting ahead of myself so let's start at the beginning.  I should probably mention that I knew absolutely nothing about racing at this point in time.  In the beginning, I noticed Dale Earnhardt Sr.  He was larger than life and his car had the same number that I used for high school track.  So it made it easy to pick him for a start.    Later on, I noticed a lovely pink/black car.  It was the #99 Exide driven by Jeff Burton.  The only thing I knew was he seemed like a good guy.  And so I gave my NASCAR heart to a driver that I knew absolutely nothing about.  He still has it.  Jeff Burton is and will always be my favourite race car driver.


Dale Sr. and Jeff Burton

Fast forward to 2013... My favourite driver announces that he will no longer be racing full time for 2014.  I was heart-broken.  I knew that eventually he would stop racing but even that fact couldn't prepare me for the inevitable.  The only thing that helped ease the pain was the announcement that he would commence commentating in 2015.  So at least I had something to look forward to since he wouldn't be racing anymore.  But now I was facing a season with no favourite drivers.  There are a few drivers that I don't mind winning but none of them hold that same interest that Jeff holds.

Somewhere along the years of watching, I managed to notice two crew chiefs.  Of course they are from two entirely different racing organizations... two different car manufacturers.  But again... NASCAR is a driver-focused sport which makes it difficult to watch without having a favourite driver.  Crew chiefs don't get much of an audience unless there is a rules violation.  Then of course they get slammed by fans of other drivers.  Remember, it's "working in the grey area" if it's your favourite driver's crew chief and it's "cheating" if it's not your driver's crew chief.


Chad Knaus and Paul Wolfe

As a result, I now find myself with a dwindling passion for a sport that at one time I would have never considered missing a single event.  How bad has it gotten?  I've stopped watching NASCAR themed shows like Race Hub and NASCAR America.  I've stopped watching pre-race shows.  I can no longer stand the mindless drivel spewed by the commentators.  I don't even listen to them during the races.  I'm one of the fans in the minority who doesn't care for the "grid walk".

Even the fans are getting on my nerves.  Apparently it's okay for your driver to show some "emotion" but heaven forbid another driver do the same.  You can't have it both ways people!!!  And don't even get me started on the fans who immediately start acting crazy when there is a camera nearby.  I've also heard fans dig through the trash at race tracks in an attempt to find souvenirs.  Seriously?!?  How pathetic do you have to be to search through garbage at a race track?

And while I am on the subject of fans... I'd have to say NASCAR fans are one of the biggest groups of conspiracy theorists out there.  Depending on which side of the fence you are on, NASCAR either gives Jimmie Johnson everything or there is some conspiracy to keep him from winning.  I would think NASCAR would favour Dale Jr since he is suppose to be "most popular driver".  Or even Danica Patrick.  Because let's face it... that girl needs all the help she can get.

So it comes down to one thing... find another driver or find another sport.  I really don't know what I am going to do at this point in time.  So I'll just keep watching and hopefully my passion will be re-kindled one day.  Until then... there's always baseball.

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