Friday, May 24, 2013

Not All That Glitters is Gold: Five Questions for Charlotte

Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR

We live in a world where materialism is a heightened level of greed. There are many bins and shelves full of things/actions defined as avaricious, yet the need for new technology is more consuming. And we are all offenders.

Today, the entire world is at our fingertips. We can know anything with a few keystrokes and Google Chrome. Instant gratification is the fault in our stars that will bring us to our demise.

I’m guilty. My hands are up in surrender ... right after I finish answering this text.

Of course, teenagers are deemed the worst criminals, yet the truth shows that everyone has Googled something while on a dinner date, waited eagerly for a response to a message, laughed infinitely at videos of people getting hurt. It’s hard to believe such trivial things can add up to a large complex.

The fact of the matter is, we are impatient. We want things at the snap of our fingers. The wait seems pointless, so we cut it out of the equation. Twitter feeds tell us all we need to know. YouTube can repeat a TV show’s episode flawlessly (minus the buffering). Facebook shows reminders of birthdays and graduation parties, so there goes your memory.

And suddenly, no one sees the sense in calling someone anymore. Just like that, we are cold, distant, and only feet from each other.

The impetuous nature spills over into everyday life. Teachers have asked me to look up definitions on my phone during class. Military couples stay in touch through the wonders of Skype. They have restaurant apps where you can order your pizza from your couch.

There’s a thin, ever-changing line between convenience and ridiculousness.

One example I see of greed’s need is the announcement that Charlotte track owner Bruton Smith wants to move the October Chase race from Charlotte to Las Vegas. Not all that glitters is gold. To him, empty Charlotte seats turn onto the gold coins that cascade from the mouths of Sin City’s slot machines.

Because the All-Star Race received less than boastful comments, Smith is attempting to stir the pot. Any sort of publicity is good publicity in the corporate world.

Also, because of last weekend, everyone is suggesting changes to the exhibition race’s format. They don’t want to wait and see if next year’s race improves.

They want that instant gratification of knowing that will all be “fixed.”

From the new iPhone to rearranging the NASCAR schedule to flipping the All-Star Race yet again, we crave new technology and immediate answers. Much could be gained if we sat the phones down for a while and opened an encyclopedia instead.

They joke that we should respect our parents because they made it through high school without the Internet.

Maybe that’s not a joke at all. Maybe, in the end, it’s sort of sad.

In this week’s Five Questions, I tackle Smith’s publicity stunt, the Hall of Fame inductees, where the historic race known as the Coca-Cola 600 stands, and more.

Will Bruton Smith go through with the Las Vegas deal? I could say so many things about the proposal to take a race away from Charlotte (if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen them all). Restraining from going on a rant, a few words will suffice: you leave Charlotte behind, you leave NASCAR’s roots behind. Like a plant without its roots, NASCAR would slowly cease to exist. If he knows any better, this will never happen.

Can there ever be acceptance over the new NASCAR Hall of Fame class? Discussion and debate is a part of every sport and rightfully so; head honchos can’t do everything right, and there should be a check every now and then. That check was in session on Wednesday when the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2014 was announced after hours of deliberation and voting. Tim Flock, Maurice Petty, Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett and Fireball Roberts are to be enshrined next January. However, there was some outcry over who got in versus who was omitted, the point of Benny Parsons being rejected heavily stressed. Though fan input is strongly encouraged, it’s a double-edged sword, and this is a perfect example. The fans were allowed to vote for their inductees, and the results would count for one filled-out ballot. So the fans played a role in the selection, albeit a small one. Maybe the problem was lack of fan awareness? There’s a sense that we are pulling away from what/who made the sport what it is today. We should celebrate those characters every weekend, not just when the inductions are imminent. Educate the young. Remind the elderly. Feed the sport.

What is the Coca-Cola 600’s place in the sport? They compare it to a marathon, and that is understandable; the longest race on the circuit can make drivers' bodies and minds feel weary and drained. It’s the rev limiter of the season. If your mind tops out here for a split second, you could be heading nose-first into the SAFER Barrier in a blanket of sparks. It represents the mental element that adds an extra level of competition, and that is crucial in setting NASCAR apart from other sports. It’s what makes it special.

Does the All-Star Race’s results spell trouble for this weekend? As I touched on earlier, the reviews of the All-Star Race weren’t stellar. Because of this, people are worried the 600 will lack excitement and drama. You can’t judge a track by its race, which means that everyone needs to throw the All-Star Race out of their minds. The 600 is known for having an exciting beginning, a drawn-out middle, and a thrilling finish. So that is what should be expected.

With the importance of strategy increasing with each race, do crew chiefs get enough recognition? Without the drivers, we obviously wouldn’t have a race to watch. However, is it possible we give the drivers too much credit. There is so much going on behind the scenes that we don’t see. The crew chief spend time retaining information from practice sessions, calculating tire and fuel cycles, holding everything together. With the crew chiefs, the sport would fall apart. Should they receive more than a mention in Victory Lane? The answer is definitely yes.

2 comments :

Good questions Kristen! I agree with your point that we need to "educate the young. Remind the elderly. Feed the sport." Hopefully with TNTs return we get those weekly historical profiles during pre-race. We need more of that on every broadcast in my opinion. We have such a rich history and it seems we only honor certain moments and drivers over and over and forget some less famous names...

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