Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rookie Stripe: Lingo You Should Know -- The Big One

Photo Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
Big, multi-car wrecks can totally change the trajectory of a race. They’re also one of the things loyal fans come to the track to see -- fleeting, dizzying moments of metal on metal, both pure terror and pure exhilaration. Not every race has enormous wrecks, but when they happen, they're breathtaking spectacles of excitement.
 
In NASCAR, I’ve discovered two things that are almost always true:

Racing has its own lingo.
History still plays a big role. 


NASCAR jargon is a curious thing. “The Big One” is a term I heard here and there when I first started following the sport, but was never quite sure what it meant. I deduced that it had something to do with wrecks.

“It’s near the end of the race, get ready for the Big One!”
“Don’t be surprised if the Big One strikes today!”

Turns out, The Big One is NASCAR slang for a giant crash involving a lot of cars. And it doesn’t refer to one specific crash, but means any huge wreck in a race. Major crashes seem to happen more often at superspeedways that feature restrictor plates. Restrictor plates, which limit how much air and fuel pass through a carburetor, make it difficult for cars to maneuver around each other, meaning they race in a physically close environment. Such proximity puts them in a more precarious position and makes them more apt to crash. Daytona and Talladega are typically the top-two tracks where fans expect to see the Big One, simply because they’re restrictor plate races at superspeedways.

The term "The Big One", like many other things in NASCAR, evolved over time. Even as late as the 1990s, commentators and drivers themselves referred to huge pileups as major crashes or big wrecks.

Photo Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs
“It’s the big one gang, it’s the big one.” Those were the words spoken by Fox sports analyst, Darrell Waltrip, after he watched the track disappear behind a cloud of dust and debris during the 2001 Daytona 500. – Beyond the Flag

Former driver and commentator Darrell used the term in 2001 to describe a massive 18-car crash at the Daytona 500 in the backstretch on Lap 173. He probably didn’t know it at the time, but he forever coined the term The Big One to represent all big NASCAR wrecks to come.

Sure enough, a monster wreck struck at Talledega over the weekend involving 18 of 40 cars in the field. Check out the Big One at Talladega, May 2017.



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