Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hate the Driver, Not His People



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.
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Photo courtesy of Jenn Eblin

Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

14 comments :

Oh wow, I can't believe someone would take that flag and tear it in half. That's someone else's property! And I can relate to the whole waiting in line to see Kyle- I was waiting for him to come out for an appearance in Dover this September and he was kind of running late, and some lady right next to me mentioned something about him being a crybaby. Why would you wait in line to see someone in you're just gonna trash talk them? It makes no sense. Great article though! Go Kyle!

As a casual observer and attending numerous races that Kyle has raced in...some Kyle fans bring it upon themselves. Most (not all) are just as arrogant and cocky as he is. Kyle fans are like gays...it's cool if you want to be gay, but don't rub it in everyone's face. Kyle fans are probably more vocal and nasty than Jr fans...and that's a tall order.

I absolutely, 100% agree with this post! As Kyle Busch Fan myself, I have received the usual hate mail from some Kyle Busch Haters on Myspace which all said the same thing! They were all pretty dang lame to actually message me and tell me how bad my driver sucked and how I cheer for the most hated driver on track [and other nastier words...but I'm not gonna say them cause most of them involve cussing] I waited for 3 hours in cold rainy weather to finally see and meet my favorite driver! I can't tell you how excited I was when he walked out, my heart was beating sooo fast and I was shaking! Many people don't see the side of Kyle that we see when we meet him. He was so sweet and so nice to me. Words can not describe how I felt about him after wards. Same thing happened to me about a Kyle Busch Flag. I was standing to watch Raceday.. and I saw this KyB Flag and was like yea!! More Kyle Fans! Soon did I find out that there was a big red circle and a cross through it one the other side. It made me sick. I'm one of the most biggest Jr haters out there but you will not see me buy something of his and deface. Well..first I wouldn't even buy anything of his! ;) I'm the loudest Kyle Busch Fan cheering at MIS every year and people tell me to be quiet because I'm to loud! I'm sorry that I'm proud of my drivers and if I have to scream and yell their names when they get the lead...so be it! I'm dang proud to wear my 18 merchandise to the track despise the dirty looks I get!

Oh and to anonymous person... I will admit..when Kyle wins...I'm dang proud! I do go all out to show my appreciation of my driver and I will go to every social networking site that I have to kinda rub it in peoples faces! But I don't really agree with us being more vocal and nastier that Jr Nation. I have run into some pretty disgusting Jr Fans out there. If you would hear/see what I have...you would agree with me and maybe go back on what you said. But I also no when to not take it too far. I no when to stop and get back to reality :)

Kiara, I completely agree! I'm fairly vocal about my feelings, to the point where Katy worries we may not make it back from a track, but I usually don't say anything until someone else starts in about it.

I like the way Kyle treats his fans and the fact that he does so many signings. We saw Junior this year in Charlotte and as soon as he realized they were people outside, he booked it. He couldn't even take a few minutes to step outside and talk to the 10 people who were out there. He even put his hand over his face at one point, which I found incredibly rude.

And to Anonymous, even if "some" Kyle fans bring it on themselves, you can't blame all fans. I worked in a NASCAR shop for awhile and met some of the rudest Junior fans in my life, but I know not all fans are like that. Just because you have a couple of bad experiences, you can't blame everyone. Like I said, how would you feel if someone ruined a bunch of your memorabilia just because they didn't like your driver?

I have a lot of respect for Jr fans, well at least most of them. They stand behind their driver and don't give up on him even when he has a rotten season. It's hard to find people in any sport who are as devoted to their favorite as Jr fans. Doesn't mean I agree with their choice of a driver.

On the other hand some Jr fans, and yes even some Kyle fans can be annoying. Every driver has those annoying fans. It's just part of the sport. I've got no problem with someone sitting beside me at a race and railing on my driver. I can rail right back at their driver but when it gets personal then i've got a problem.

The way that you explained Kyle at the beginning of this post is actually a lot of the same things that I've said about one of my drivers,-dare I say his name?- Brad Keselowski. Kyle and Brad sometimes have the same driving style. Brad and Kyle both make everyone fight to get past them. Obviously that's the point of racing, it's not called "Pull over and let another driver pass you". I like Kyle and I respect him a lot. He is one of the best drivers out there. It amazes me when his car is sideways coming out of the corner and it makes him go faster.

I never knew that someone had actually defaced his merchandise hauler. And I feel so bad for the fan that had her car defaced. What's the point in doing that? I don't decorate my car with too much when we go to races because I'm afraid that people might steal my stuff.

yes, on occasion, I've been known to say, "Jenn, you are going to get us killed" - then on occasion you meet that one fan or sit beside that one guy who doesn't care if you cheer against JR. He's just happy to have someone to talk to.

The woman that runs his hauler told us about it at Eldora this week after a fan (decked out in Junior gear BTW) walked by and made some rude comments. He said that he couldn't believe anyone would waste their money on Kyle garbage and that if we were buying something, we must be trash too. It was actually fairly shocking!

Jenn,
Did you go to Eldora for the Prelude this year? Only asking cause I saw that you were at Eldora this week :) I'm the same way. I got into this fight with someone girl in the infield of Indy. We were by Gasoline Alley watchin the crews pull the cars out to pit road and she had been stalking some crap about different drivers of course Kyle and Jr's car came out and I just had to boo and then this girl decided to get mouthy with me. We started to get into it and my mom was just like Kiara, calm down. I usually don't say anything until some says something then I have to step in :)

Katy,
I agree about the one fan too. Normally at MIS, we are surrounded by 14, 88 & 48 fans. Tony's fans you can actually talk too. & we make friends with some people we sit by but there is always the sloppy drunks [that most of time has 88 gear on] and the ones who are so annoying that sit right behind you. And then you got the people flipping drivers off as they lead or pass their driver.

Kiara,
Oh, the annoying ones that sit right behind you and rip on your driver the entire race, AND before during driver intros, and tell him he wishes he wrecks?! Those? Yeah, love those people. lol.

As a Kyle fan, you definitely get the ones who want him to wreck before the race lol. And yes, we were at Eldora for the Prelude this year. I've been there every year except for one, when I was living in Indiana and couldn't make the trip back :(

I may not agree with everything Kyle does or says, but I do recognize his accomplishments and admire them. And I'm a Dale Jr. fan! Seriously though, I think it's horrible for fans to ruin the property of someone else, let alone fans of a driver they do not like. There's no call or excuse for that whatsoever. And if I were sitting next to a Kyle fan, I would not boo their driver. As a Jimmie fan too, I hear my driver get booed enough the way it is! Great story - hopefully it will help some fans realize the way their actions affect other people. We're all out to enjoy the race, aren't we?

Jenn, We were there this year too! It was my first Prelude and I loved it!! Can't wait to go back!! I got soo close to the drivers when they were eating lunch!

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