Wednesday, November 18, 2009
When it comes to NASCAR, few drivers are as hated as Kyle Busch. The odd thing is that the hatred for him seemed to simmer below the surface, only coming out when he wrecked Dale Earnhardt Junior in 2008. He went up against the most “loved” racer in the sport, put him in the wall and there was no turning back. Following that race, even Junior himself said he didn’t envy watching the other driver try to leave the track.
From that moment on, fans loved to hate Kyle Busch. I know this firsthand because, as a Kyle fan who doesn’t hesitate to wear a Kyle hat and shirt at the track, I bear the brunt of the hatred. In Charlotte, after the 2008 Nationwide race he won, fans booed him relentlessly and threw garbage at him and his car. That same year we waited an hour in line to meet him, only to have people in line run their mouth about him. They hated him, but waited in line to meet him.
This year we had the misfortune of sitting beside a group of Junior fans, with a Kasey Kahne fan behind us. The Junior fans said not a word, while the Kahne fan booed Kyle at every chance and complained about what a horrible driver Kyle was.
Fans are quick to point out the fact that he never takes responsibility for his actions and expects everyone to get out of his way, ignoring the fact that most drivers behave the same way. They also complain that he shoves people out of the way if they won’t let him pass. Another driver once did the same thing and he earned the nickname “The Intimidator”. Perhaps Junior fans are just upset that this young “kid” drives more like their hero than his own son, but that’s neither here nor there.
The fact of the matter is that you can hate a driver, but you shouldn’t hate the people connected to that driver. A female Kyle Busch fan parked her car in the infield at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year, decorated with a Kyle flag on the window and several #18 stickers on the car. Care to guess what she found when she returned to her car after the race?
Another fan had ripped the flag from her car, tore it in half and left it on the windshield. She also found beer and mud covering the stickers she and her husband lovingly placed on their car.
This isn’t an isolated incident either. The couple who run the Kyle Busch souvenir hauler told me this year that they had to replace the covering of their hauler several times this season. It seems as though fans loved defacing the M&M logo and anything to do with Kyle Busch.
If this is the way you act, you have no business calling yourself a NASCAR fan. NASCAR fans hate drivers and talk a lot of smack, but they don’t follow through with those actions. In the past I’ve often threatened to kick Junior or Jimmie Johnson in the shins, but I wouldn’t ever actually follow through with it. Not liking a driver is part of being a fan and the world of racing.
When you take the time to ruin something that belongs to someone else, you’re stepping over the line. If you dislike a driver, then talk your smack, buy your other driver’s things and stay out of that driver’s line. Don’t hate on someone because it’s the popular thing to do, or because you think people expect you to act one way.
And if you see someone defacing another person’s property, do something about it! Think of how you would feel if someone did that to you. As much as I dislike some drivers, I’d never to do anything to one of their fans; I have more respect than that. You should have the same amount of decency and common sense yourself. Respect yourself, respect the sport and above all else, respect your fellow fans.
Photo courtesy of Jenn Eblin
Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.