I listen to sports talk radio quite a bit. Most of the time, the coverage of anything related to NASCAR is severely lacking, but I do perk up when events occur that catch the attention of even the most diehard stick and ball radio guys who would rather talk about college basketball RPI’s than they would even mention any kind of automobile racing, especially NASCAR.
Trevor Bayne’s win at Daytona on Sunday changed all of that. I didn’t listen to the radio all day, since my paying job requires most of my attention between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm. I do listen on the way to work, while I’m at lunch, and on the way home, however. Early this morning, I listened to one talk show host who kept referring to the Daytona 500 winner as ‘Trevor Payne,’ or sometimes ‘Travis Payne,’ and I was yelling at the radio, which turns out to be a very productive exercise. It’s productive if you’re trying to roughen up some already scratchy vocal cords anyway, which I have, due to a recent cold. Unfortunately, it’s not very productive for much else, except making the cats give me one of those ‘he’s losing his mind again’ looks.
This particular host had a caller who tried to correct the last name of the driver in question. The host quickly ignored the caller’s attempt to correct a mistake, and announced that he basically watches all the races, and he knows what he’s talking about. Interesting, because I watch all the races that I can, but sometimes not all of them. For instance, I did not get to watch the Craftsman Truck race on Friday, nor did I catch the Nationwide race on Saturday, nor did I see the Twin 150’s on Thursday, because calling in sick just to watch two qualifying races just didn’t quite outweigh my need for a paycheck, but even I knew who Trevor Bayne was. I know more about him now than I did Sunday morning, but even I knew his name was ‘Bayne,’ and not ‘Payne.’
I just finished watching Trevor’s appearance on ESPN’s NASCAR show on Monday evening. The young man is nearly impossible to dislike. His enthusiasm is contagious. He’s a very real, excited young man with a very personable and engaging personality. If I were the Wood Brothers, I’d make darn sure this guy doesn’t get away. He reminds me of the son I never had, but wish I had. The guy prayed over the radio on his pace laps before the green flag dropped. He was 20 years and one day old when he won the Daytona 500, in only his second career Sprint Cup start.
Several talk show hosts today have repeatedly talked about how Trevor won the biggest race in only his second race, as if he’s only been in a race car one other time in his life. That, of course, is not true. Trevor has been racing since he was knee high to a grasshopper, and achieved much national acclaim racing carts as a boy. He’s been around the Nationwide series for a while. In other words, the kid has been driving competitively most of his life. The talking radio heads don’t seem to grasp that, and I actually heard one guy today try to make the argument that this is just proof that NASCAR is all a farce, just a sham, because some kid who has no idea what being a race car driver is all about just won the biggest race in his sport. This gem of a host made a comment that Trevor probably doesn’t even know how many wheels there are on a stock car, because he’s never raced but one time before. No, I’m not talking about ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, either. This was some guy who typically engages mouth before brain, and since in his mind, NASCAR isn’t a sport anyway, why waste the time to actually research a subject on which you are about to pontificate?
Those you who listen to sports talk radio can probably tell me some even better stories than the couple I’ve shared with you. As a NASCAR fan, I take a little pride in listening to these experts on all things sports, and knowing that even I know more about my sport than they do, no matter how well connected they try to appear to be. One host I listened to today made the usual comments about Trevor being a ‘novice racer’, but when a caller who actually was a fan called in and set the host straight on Trevor’s pedigree, the host quickly admitted that he doesn’t actually watch NASCAR, he just scans the headlines. I give this guy his props, he admits when he knows he’s delved into an area that he really doesn’t know anything about. Unfortunately, many taking radio heads won’t admit that they’re wrong about anything.
I suppose just to prove a real expert knows what he’s talking about, Trevor Bayne will have to change his last name to ‘Payne.’