Volume II, Issue 7, Page 5

Off The NASCAR Grid

Let’s set the room A/C to “STUN” and see if it can unlock my brain from the North Carolina summer heat and humidity torpor. I don’t believe the South would have ever seen the growth it has without the advent of refrigerated air. I’ve worked in the South American tropics and it’s nothing compared to the NC summer when a wall of 90F degrees / 90% humidity greets you days on end. Just makes an adult beverage all that more enjoyable – now where did I put that…

Has the world finally tired of 24 / 7 NASCAR? Here at home, we’ve cut back our 157 cable TV channels to just about 10 or so. Pissed the cable company off. Just found that there is too much noise and not enough signal for the monthly cost. Don’t fight over who controls the channel changer anymore either. (Any of you remember when you were the channel changer?) We’re not on rabbit ears yet (some of you might remember them also). We’ve maintained the broadband Internet connection and kept ourselves from totally reverting to the ‘50s. We have to keep up with MaxChevy and our sister websites. Lots of signal from them!

The only TV “sports” channel left around here is VS (Versus). Yeow, it’s big fun watching the Tour de France bicycling event and previously the America’s Cup sailing competition – yeah -- I’m lying. The PBR bull riders are the real badasses of the sports world and VS has them locked up. They even have “Remember When?” shows about great bulls the PBR has known. I ask you, why would you want for more than that, and want to change the channel to see cars turning left all the time? Bull riding makes racing a stock car look like knitting a doily.

I’m finding that I now enjoy listening to Nextel Cup (soon to be called Sprint) races on the radio more than I ever enjoyed the numbing TV racing telecasts. Except I do miss seeing Steve Byrnes leading a bunch of chuckleheads on a pre- or post-race panel set, or working pit road during the action. I used to work with him years ago, and he was a class act then, even as he is now.

It might be just my geezerness showing because listening to stock car races on a radio today harkens back to when I used to listen in the early ‘60s to the Indy 500 on my GE portable radio (“15 Transistors” -- emblazoned on its faceplate). We didn’t have wall-to-wall TV saturation of motorsports in those days (sonny!). Which may have been for the good. It required your imagination to visualize the track, the cars, the racers, the action. Maybe my listening to the racing radio will help stem my path to future mental fogginess by keeping my mind more active. One can only hope.

NASCAR TV ratings are down; continuing their downward trending from last year. Even the return of ESPN back into the telecasting mix doesn’t seem to have helped. Today’s ESPN NASCAR coverage isn’t the same as the hungry network that laid the foundation for motorsports TV coverage – too many times they seem to be shouting for a sensationalized story. But again, that may be the geezerness seeping through again. I need sense made of the racing, not sensationalization of it. The NASCAR Soap Opera and what paint job is so-and-so’s car using this weekend can only take you so far.

The major hand-slapping NASCAR gave Hendrick Motorsports for their #24 and #COTs being out of line at Infineon Raceway (Sonoma) once again showed that no matter how big you are, we’re all the same height when laying flat out. Getting both teams knocked with $100,000 fines, 100 drivers’ points deducted, and six-race suspensions for the crewchiefs will get your attention no matter how big your pocketbook is. It certainly got Rick Hendrick’s. And the violations were for a portion of the COT not measured by templates! Gotta love that! Used to be you could do that sort of massaging, but the COT is sacred to NASCAR, and they mean for everyone to get the COT religion. Genuflect as you come through the inspection line.

But for all the foaming and frothing about the merits (or not) of the penalties, it came down to Hendrick saying, "The penalties are excessive, but we're not going to put time and resources into issuing an appeal. Instead, we will direct that energy into our internal processes to make sure we have full confidence that our cars will meet standards when presented for inspection each week.

“We've said from the beginning that this would be a learning process (with the Car of Tomorrow) and there would be a lot of give and take between NASCAR and the teams to figure it out. That doesn't seem to be the case now, and I don't think it's the right direction to go."

Yeah, we agree to disagree. Even Scooter Libby got his punishment commuted – there is no room for that in NASCAR and the COT.

Now, where was that adult beverage…going to need it and a Goody’s headache powder to combat the brain freeze I’ve given myself.

[Note: Kids, DO NOT mix Goody’s and adult beverages at home. It takes a trained professional to do so.]  


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