Just because we did something 30 years ago doesn't mean it's still acceptable today.
I remember back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when a driver would be fortunate enough to find himself in Victory Lane after a heated battle in a race car for four hours, he'd get out, someone may have poured a beverage on him, and then he got ready for a picture and received a big ol' double smooch, one on each cheek, from the Unocal Girls. From what I understood at the time, it was a tradition going way back into the history of our sport. Go ahead…Google it. You'll find pictures of drivers throughout history getting the double touch of glory in the Winner's Circle. It was a range of dealers, too…everyone from the aforementioned Unocal ladies to Miss Pontiac to Miss Carolina to Miss Winston, the representative of the series' title sponsor for a while. Here's Derrike Cope in Victory Lane after winning the 1990 Daytona 500.
Heck, Jeff Gordon was getting extra kisses from Miss Winston when he got started in the Cup ranks. He was dating the then-Miss Winston, Brooke Sealy, and they eventually married. This might be where the magic started, although I don’t know about that lip caterpillar.
Then, the kissing kind of went away…
As did the scantily clad women who did the kissing and presented the trophies. And that's fine. They were replaced with more conservative outfits like golf shirts and pants, and then to, in the case of the Miss Sprint Cup campaign, a driver's suit, which I thought was rather cool.
But Winston is gone, Nextel is gone, Sprint is gone…and we have the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. I like Monster drink enough, I guess, but I prefer Red Bull in my Jäger bombs. Along with a new title sponsor came something of which I'm not sure I'm particularly accepting. It seems there are some extra….ehh…items, in the Winner's Circle during the driver interview. They are round, and perhaps inflated, but they are not the tires on the car.
Yes, Monster has brought back the ogling target…and set NASCAR back 30 years.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with the objects in general…in fact I'm a big fan of them. However, I don’t think it's the message NASCAR and its dwindling fan base need in order to grow the sport. Someone did a study of the ages of the fan base of major sports. NASCAR was the second oldest fan base, behind golf. Golf is entertaining and fans can relate to it because it is something they can participate in fairly easily. NASCAR is entertaining, but unless they have the money for a starter car and the means to travel to get to the local Kart or Dirt track, I'm guessing most kids are going to pick up a different toy…so, I don't think NASCAR fans are getting replenished. Now, to top it all off, if I'm a concerned parent, I think, ehh, maybe I don’t want my young child watching something which objectifies women…more than Cheerleading.
Maybe I'm wrong, but let me ask you this…other than "eye candy," why are the Monster Energy Girls there? Representatives of the sport? I haven't heard a Monster Energy Girl (and forgive me for not knowing their names, but it proves my point even more) doing commercials promoting NASCAR like Kim Coon did as Miss Sprint Cup.
The Monster Energy Girls seem unnecessary to me…and hopefully the dual smooches of Victory will be forever thought of as unnecessary as well.