A New Plan ~ Gentlemen (and Ladies), Start Your Acronyms
I grew up with the space program. It was there I got my introduction to acronyms and initialisms. NASA (an acronym) is loaded with them. The first initialism I remember catching my attention was during the Gemini program. EVA (pronounced E-V-A), space agency shorthand for Extra Vehicular Activity or a spacewalk. Later, during the Apollo program the LEM was the acronym used for the Lunar Excursion Module, the vehicle that was to take the men to the moon’s surface. That seemed to be the start of my infatuation with acronyms and initialisms.
When I graduated from college and went to work in Kentucky State Government it didn’t take long for me to learn a new set of acronyms and initialisms. Our program was loaded with them. Later, I moved to Frankfort and was part of the development team to help our department expand its regulatory responsibilities. New regulations, policies, procedures and of course forms had to be developed and with it I got the chance to even develop some new acronyms and initialisms. Terms like MIR, NNC, INC, FTACO, ICO, IVS, PPA, and MFR all make up the secret language spoken in our agency.
One of the more experienced employees saw my glee taking the initials from form titles to make new abbreviations and took me aside to offer some words of wisdom. He cautioned about getting carried away with it. He shared how in an earlier chapter in his state government career he was working with a team to bring mass transit to the Capital City area. The team he was on worked long and hard to develop the program. They were about to wrap things up but had yet to come up with a descriptive name. He said the perfect name to describe the program for mass transportation for Frankfort and the surrounding area was the Frankfort Area Rapid Transit System. Initially, it was met with enthusiastic acceptance. Logos were sketched, it all looked so promising until somebody stopped and did the initialism for it. It was then the realization set in that it just wouldn’t be appropriate to name the system that.
The moral was be careful and always check before you adopt a name. I’ll just leave it at that.
Racing had its share as well. Just the sanctioning bodies would make your head spin-NASCAR, ARCA, USAC, AAA, ASA, IRL, INDYCAR, IMSA, NHRA, IHRA, DIRT, UMPS, WoO. Racing looks worse than FDR’s (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) “New Deal” “alphabet agencies.” When you throw the sponsors into the mix to describe the series, it becomes downright ridiculous, MENCS, for example.
Every track’s name is initialized as well as the groups who own them-primarily ISC (International Speedway Corporation), SMI (Speedway Motorsports, Inc.) You just can’t get away from it.
Our races have been broadcast on television on ABC (American Broadcasting Company), CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System), NBC (National Broadcasting Company, ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network), TBS (Turner Broadcasting System), TNN (The Nashville Network), FOX Sports (uuuhhh, FOX Sports?) and radio on MRN (Motor Racing Network), PRN (Performance Racing Network). Acronyms and initialisms are everywhere you turn, including this web page-RFF (Race Fans Forever).
In the “olden” days, when fans were more influenced by MPH (Miles Per Hour) than MPG (Mile Per Gallon) and before the stock car hoods were covered with high paying sponsor logos, they often included a big number plus HP (Horse Power) to denote how powerful the engine was. Less common was the abbreviation CID (Cubic Inch Displacement) which let fans know the purported size of the engine. And in straight-line racing ET meant something far, far different long before everyone knew it as a little wrinkled space alien who wanted to phone home.
There are three car manufacturers in the Cup series today. The Camaro is made by Chevrolet, a division of GMC (General Motors Company). I was raised on Fords made by the Ford Motor Company or FoMoCo. Ford has been used as a backronym by its fans (First On Race Day) and by its opponents (Found On Road Dead and Fix Or Repair Daily).
The third make, Toyota Motor Corporation is commonly referred to as just Toyota. When it comes to racing, I really wished someone in their outfit had talked to that wise co-worker of mine before naming their racing division as their initialism for Toyota Racing Division is just a little too close to Frankfort Area Rapid Transit System for my liking.
A couple of seasons ago NASCAR introduced Stage Racing. RFF reader and former co-worker Jack Protagonist emailed me about the opportunity the Sanctioning Body missed to come up with an appropriate acronym. When asked what it should be called, he said New Enhanced Racing Format or NERF.
Long before Nerf was known for its foam balls, footballs, darts and bullets, it was a racing term meaning to bump lightly, accidentally or purposefully. What Kevin Harvick did to Kyle Busch seven laps from the finish at Loudon probably qualifies as a nerf. What Kyle Busch did to Kyle Larson at Chicagoland probably doesn’t.
In some series that don’t have bumpers, to Nerf requires Nerf bars and you will still find them on open wheel cars, especially the Modifieds. And Nerfing is still a part of today’s racing, even if you don’t hear the term used in racing much today.
Although I’m not a fan of that particular brainstorm from Daytona, I loved Jack Protagonist’s clever use of this old racing term for it. New programs like Stage Racing needed a new shorthand reference and this was catchy on several levels. It was a shame that it just never took hold.
It seems like NASCAR rule changes are now an annual event and no season would be complete without the new rules for the upcoming season. Lee Spencer with RacinBoys.com recently wrote about NASCAR’s 2019 PEI (Proposed Event Implementations) which covered a wide range of items including expanding the use of this year’s All-Star package to fourteen more tracks to the use of tapered spacers to improve fuel mileage so smaller fuel cells can be used, to single gear ratios for different tracks, to enhancing the dash technology and eliminating the driver adjustable track bars. It even addressed possible changes to the VTP (Vehicle Testing Policy). Don’t you love initialisms that refer to other initialisms?
Sounds like a lot of far-teaching stuff to this CRF (Common Race Fan). I wish them the best of luck with it.
As a CFR, I hope this PEI fixes what ails the sport today-it turns out to be What Is Needed. We can really use a WIN now. Otherwise, it’s just going to be another Comprehensive Racing Action Plan. We don’t need any more of that.
Only time will tell.
(Editor’s Note: “Tapered Spacer” is a refined but deceptive term for restrictor plate!)