Monday, October 8, 2007

What happened to you, Dega?

First of all, I'm not the kind of fan that's easily bored by any race. I hear people talk about boring, and I think to myself, "Well, they're just not as big a fan of racing as I am." I have to admit though, that I yawned a couple of times during yesterday's race. After watching nearly every DEI and RCR team have engine problems, I just sort of tuned out. Not entirely, but I just lost interest.

I think part of the problem is Nascar's shining example of progress, the Car of Tomorrow. I just can't get my heart into the new car. They're all so identical, that if it weren't for paint schemes and numbers, I couldn't tell a Ford from a Chevrolet from a Dodge from a Toyota. I know that was basically Nascar's goal from the beginning, but from a fan's standpoint, it just creates boredom. At least it did for me yesterday.

Congratulations to Jeff Gordon for driving a smart race and being where he needed to be when it counted. I've never been a Gordon fan, but as a driver, he's as smart as they come. He figured out where he needed to be to finish in the win column, and I certainly can't blame him for that. That's the way its done these days, and I'd do the same thing if I were in his shoes. I guess part of my problem with Nascar is that with all the parity they're striving for, and have achieved, to some extent, they have lost something else: Racing.

When I go to my local track here in Anderson SC, I see something that I'm not seeing much of in the top Nascar series these days. I see guys and gals fighting for every position for every lap for however long the feature lasts. I understand that in a 400, 500, or even 600 mile race, you have to conserve your equipment, and that's just smart. What I'm missing these days is good old fashioned, smash em up, bang em up racing. I doubt if I'm the only fan that feels that way lately. It's not that I want to see drivers wreck, but I do like to see them lean on each other a little. That's why I have always been so bored with open wheel racing, at least the top series out there. The cars can't touch, if they do, they wreck. Put some fenders on my race car, folks! Put some bumpers on the front and the back, and let's use them! My blood gets pumping faster watching a 15 lap feature at my local short track on any Friday night than it does watching 500 miles of just about anything in the Nextel Cup series over the last couple of years. Sure there's exciting moments, but not on practically every lap.

Nascar has, unfortunately, become a big business these days, and has agonized over parity more than I think they need to. Let's help the little guy get into the series, but let's not do it by making all the cars, and for that matter, most of the drivers identical and interchangeable. Let engine builders and crew chiefs use their own genius to manufacture wins. Let the best drivers drive for the best teams, but help the little guy get his foot in the door as well. If I knew how to fix it, I'd be working for Nascar right now, but I don't and I'm not. I don't know what the answers are, but I'm ready for Nascar to be fun again.

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