Why I Love NASCAR: It's Like the Soaps by Chief 187™

Days of Our Lives is a production of NBC
in association with Sony Pictures Televison.

It occurred to me the other day while I was making lunch and turned on the television to my soap opera that NASCAR was a lot like the mainstay of daytime television, the soaps.

Bear with me, I've got “proof”.

In my world I've known about racing as long as I have about soap operas. My father watched the former and my mother the latter. I was exposed to both. I never equated the two until this off season.  

While in grade school I watched the soap opera my mother followed – Days of Our Lives on NBC – and stuck with it throughout college. Once I got a full-time job teaching I had to stop watching my “stories” regularly. Occasionally I would have opportunity to catch up and, strangely enough, it wasn't so terribly difficult to figure out what happened.

On the flip-side  I came to NASCAR later in life, as an 18-year-old woman new to Southern life,  living in southwest Virginia. I was ready to embrace the “Southern” sport. I watched for nearly 11 years, until my favorite driver Dale Earnhardt died.

I returned to the sport in 2007 with renewed vigor.

Here’s where I realized NASCAR is like the soaps.

Even after a long absence I was still able to pick up where I left off in NASCAR. Many of the characters in NASCAR were the same – Earnhardts, Pettys, Waltrips, Labontes, etc. – but there were new names, too. The Busch brothers, Kasey Kahne, and Denny Hamlin were young and flashy and resurrecting the sport.

Like a soap where storylines usually revolve around a hospital, NASCAR, of course, is set at the racetrack. Other venues find the drivers having meet-and-greets, sponsor obligations, and vacations just like the soaps veer away from the hospital to show other locales.

Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR
Brian Z. France and Mike Helton
Soap operas usually have a “family of origin”. For Days of Our Lives it’s Horton and for NASCAR it is France. All characters in the soap have some connection to the original family. This is most certainly true in NASCAR. The France family is patriarchal, dynastic, and rock solid in their import in the sport.

And because NASCAR is a family there are deaths, births, and other “storylines” – who is dating whom – that continue to keep the fans coming back week after week and season after season.

NASCAR is a sport but it is also entertainment. Whether you buy into the premise that NASCAR and soap operas are similar, they certainly do claim the most loyal fans in their respective realms.

For my entertainment dollar, NASCAR has given me far more in the decades I have been watching it than my "stories" did. Of course, I still keep up with both! And these are yet more reasons why I love NASCAR.

Chief 187™ is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™Chatter. Her column “Why I Love NASCAR” and other articles are featured on Skirts and Scuffs. She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit http://Chief187.com.

Why I Love NASCAR: It's Like the Soaps by Chief 187™ Why I Love NASCAR: It's Like the Soaps by Chief 187™ Reviewed by Chief 187 on Monday, January 28, 2013 Rating: 5