Friday, January 16, 2009

Will NASCAR ever be as Fun Again?

Since I've never been a prognosticator, I'm not really going to attempt to answer my own question, and I'll leave that up to you to do.  NASCAR has such a rich history of personalities, that today's almost seemingly homogenized race car driver seems almost boring to me.  There are a few exceptions, of course, but when one watches a typical interview with the average driver, one can fall asleep.  We know there will be the gratuitous sponsor mentions, as well as thanking the team and owner, and perhaps the car manufacturer.  How often, though, does a driver really say what's on his mind?

In my perhaps not so humble opinion, NASCAR needs more 'characters' than it currently has.  When I use the term 'character', I'm really talking about a guy who's willing to speak his mind, and maybe stir up trouble a little.  Love him or hate him, Darrell Waltrip was probably the all time master at being a 'character'.  Even when he was a young driver, Darrell was always good for an interview before or after a race.  Darrell would say something that either made the audience laugh out loud or make their blood boil.  Fortunately for us, DW has not lost that ability.  Even in the booth for FOX he provokes us in similar ways, just like he used to do as a driver.  Darrell Waltrip, thank God people like you are still around.

Kyle Busch is much the 21st century version of DW.  Kyle makes people mad practically every time he opens his mouth, which is actually a good thing for the sport.  People love to hate Kyle Busch, and I have to salute him for keeping it real and keeping the sport interesting.  I'm obviously not a Kyle Busch fan, but I salute him for having the guts to wear the black hat for NASCAR.

If you want to see frankness from a driver, you can still look to interviews with Kevin Harvick.  Like Dale Earnhardt, the driver he replaced at Richard Childress Racing, you can still count on Kevin to give it to you straight.  When Kevin's had a bad day, he won't sugar coat things for you.  If he's annoyed with another driver, he'll tell you about it.  That's what NASCAR needs right now; the truth, and straight from the mouth of a p.o'ed driver.

I hope that NASCAR does not become so generic that we can't tell the drivers apart anymore.  NASCAR is unique in that there are relatively few players on any given Sunday, and we get to know them all, by how the drive and the personality, or lack thereof, they exude in front of the TV cameras.  I would give anything for a return of Bobby Allison, Junior Johnson, Neil Bonnett, Tim Richmond, and others that used to give the sport so much of the special flavor that we as fans loved.  Personally, I think that NASCAR will be just fine as long as we have drivers like the Busches, the Earnhardts, the Harvicks, and even the Johnsons and Gordons.  

I'd just like to see more personalities on display though.

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