|Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday, May 5, 2013 |
Credit:Tom Pennington/Getty Images
These detractors poo-poo the state of the sport and hearken back to a time when NASCAR was in its glory days – and, depending on the age of the person to whom I am talking, that was sixty years ago or 30 years ago or even a decade ago.
I can appreciate frustration with the sport. Most feel they can do better but that’s the fallacy. To effectively run an organization as large, encompassing, and complicated as NASCAR is an imperfect science.
And, furthermore, in every “heyday” of NASCAR there were detractors who were frustrated, angry, and “through” with NASCAR.
“Big” Bill France surely dealt with his fair share of disgruntled owners, drivers and fans. This bothered him little. It was his ball club and if you didn't want to follow his rules you could leave. Drivers like Curtis Turner learned that the hard way.
When Turner became interested in bringing an organized union to the drivers in NASCAR, France put his foot down ON Turner. He blacklisted Turner, disallowed the popular driver from running NASCAR races, and effectively shut down any and all union talk. Eventually, after a four year period, Turner’s ban from NASCAR was overturned, but France was never crossed in that way again.
Bill France Jr., his father’s successor, had his fair share of battles in NASCAR as well. Whether he was tackling Darrell Waltrip in the early 1980s or Bill Elliott during the 1985 season, his grip on NASCAR was as tight – if not tighter – than his father’s. France Jr. took NASCAR from being a regional sport to a national one. He made it the fastest-growing spectator sport in the country and brought Fortune 500 companies out of the woodwork to get involved in the spectacle.
There were those in France’s generation who did not approve or agree with everything France Jr. implemented, stood by, and changed. They grumbled, swore off NASCAR, and shook their collective heads in disgust.
Fast forward to now, the era of Brian France, France’s grandson and France Jr.’s son, and the naysayers and detractors are at it again.
I will be the first to admit that NASCAR is not perfect. Sometimes inconsistencies, improprieties, and imperfections exist. I've never denied those facts. But it is the best we have and I, for one, think it is a thankless task to run such an organization.
What fascinates me is how people continuously run their mouths or, in this day and age, their fingertips on their chosen keyboards on social media to scrutinize and criticize NASCAR viciously. It is, of course, a free country, and these people have a right to do so, but many hide under aliases and talk big about how terrible NASCAR is. These same people often are the ones who watch every practice, test, qualifying round and happy hour. They scrutinized every race in every series, as well as pre- and post-race interviews.
They are, perhaps, the biggest fans of the sport, yet find perverse comfort in hammering it.
From my vantage point NASCAR gives me a fine product: a fabulous bit of entertainment in which to indulge weekly. There are different series, dozens upon dozens of drivers, team owners, and pit crews. Not to mention the sponsors who meticulously create catchy ad campaigns, and there's plenty of drama on and off the track to keep me glued to the sport.
As a writer I never lack for topics about which to write articles. As a fan I never get bored following a 36-race Cup schedule. I revel in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, watching rising stars and equally compelling racing. And as a consumer, I feel I get my time and money’s worth.
But how truly boring a sport it would be if the detractors weren't there to stir the pot, stoke the fires, and spread their fertilizer?
NASCAR listens, too. Complaints are collected and although I’m sure many find their way to the “circular file”, some are taken as constructive criticism and plans are implemented to fix the wrongs.
NASCAR evolves over time, but change does take time.
For all of the negativity they bring, detractors are a necessary evil in our sport. I may not be a detractor but I see their place. And, by doing so I can admit that detractors are yet another reason 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.