A Voice for the Fans ~ Sad Times and Poor Broadcasting
All of us at Race Fans Forever send our thoughts, prayers and condolences to all that have been touched by the unspeakable tragedy in Las Vegas at the end of what should have been a fun-filled weekend of good music and conviviality. Shalom and Amen.
I bid you welcome gentle readers, though I come this day with a heavy heart. To our assigned reader of all things NASCAR, I’m sure you’ll understand if I am not quite my usual cryptic but amusing self. As I pull up to the keyboard on Tuesday, I find little amusing in my life today other than my sweet little JoJo, who is always worthy of a smile and at times, outright laughter.
My last article debuted on Monday of this week amidst a month’s worth of bad and sad news all crammed into a single day. Upon awakening on that day the first news one saw or heard was of a mass shooting in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, an annual three-day outdoor Country Music concert. Jason Aldean, the closing act on Sunday evening, was performing on stage when gunfire erupted from above, high up in the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
Throughout the day, the death toll mounted. As I type this around noon on Tuesday, it has risen to 59 dead and 527 injured… so far. No, gentle readers, there’ll be no names mentioned or videos offered here. All I will add to this sad occurrence is that the FBI needs to get real. This is the worst single attack in modern U.S. history, and they find no reason to call it terrorism? This American has a problem with that.
Later that same day, the news came out that Tom Petty, a popular singer and lead member of a group known as “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers”, had suffered unexpected cardiac arrest and was not expected to live out the night. He did not, and many music fans now mourn his passing. Petty was more of my daughter’s era than mine, but that did not lessen his talent or popularity. Tom Petty was 66. May he rest in peace with the Lord, along with all those lost in the Las Vegas Massacre.
“Cheer up” they told me. “Things could get worse.” So I cheered up and sure enough, things got worse. It was almost bedtime on Monday when the sad news came from Doug Yates that his dad, Robert Yates, renowned crew chief, team owner and engine builder had passed away after waging a long and tiring battle with liver cancer. Robert Yates was 74.
Robert, along with Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Ken Squier, will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as the Class of 2018 on January 19, 2018. I prefer to think that he is not gone, he has just been reunited with Davey. Rest in peace dear man; your earthly race has been run and you won.
Turning our attention back to racing… that’s why we’re here, you know… we’re now down to 12, and that might refer either to the number of drivers still with a mathematical chance of winning the most convoluted system of scorekeeping ever devised by a human, though obviously deranged mind… or conversely, to the number of folks that might even care. The choice is yours. When we reached the end of race 26, before the cards were shuffled and redealt, Martin Truex Jr. was leading the points. That hasn’t changed, but who cares? He is the 2017 NASCAR Champion as far as the folks at Race Fans Forever are concerned.
I seem to recall when this Chase/Playoffs crap started, the stated idea was to make it all about racing and not “the points!” Well, that sock certainly got lost somewhere in the laundry, didn’t it? Your scribe can tell by the vast number of complaints heard daily that most all of us still watching are sick to death of the points, the points, the points… the never ending chatter on the points, points, points! (With apologies to Edgar Allen Poe)
How many times throughout the same race is it necessary to ask or state, “If the race were to end now?” Enough already! At the end of the race we’ll all know how it ended. That’s why they run the race. Your job, Mr. Race Announcer and Mr. Color Analyst, is to make the race more enjoyable for the fans in the viewing audience. It should not be necessary to add your own opinions over and over. It’s also far from necessary to show that new-to-NBC toy called a helmet-cam a couple dozen times per race. We’ve seen it. Most of us don’t like it. End of story!
Then there is that new Buzz Phrase… “One point matters”, repeated ad nauseum throughout each race. Gentlemen, I’m not sure who you feel comprises your audience, but most of us can count to 20 if we take off our shoes, and understand the concept that 10 is greater than 9. We are not excited, and if you truly are as excited as you seem, then we question your intelligence level.
The Dover rating came in as a 1.3, or about 2-million viewers. That pretty well spells out that no one is excited, period! I’ve no idea how many fans were on hand to watch what might have been a fairly good race. I’ve stopped caring about who’s in the grandstand… notice, that word is no longer plural.
To the crew at NBC: Keep yelling at the audience. Saying things louder or repeating them more often does not better programming make. TV times have been adjusted to late, later and latest to accommodate the wishes of a couple of back-channel cable misfits. That’s helping… the NFL. We used to start even with them. Now, they have been on air for an hour, two and even three hours before we start a race. Brilliant strategy there! I’m sure the fans will jump at the chance to leave a game in progress to come listen to your diatribe about points; who has ‘em; who needs ‘em and how to get ‘em! Nope! Not gonna happen!
Here’s a clue, since you obviously have none… talk about the race at hand. That’s what matters. What might or might not happen next month, next week or when the race ends is all conjecture. Bring it back to the here and now. Tell the viewers about the race, and for the sake of sanity, stop screaming! Our ears are bleeding!
This week we’re off to Charlotte Motor Speedway, once considered one of the premier tracks on the circuit… back in the days when Humpy Wheeler, the ultimate showman, was running the show. Now we have seven clones that look just like her, and that’s the perfect definition of overkill. I know it surely “killed” our perfect oval now known as Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Gentle readers, I’m sure it’s apparent that your scribe is not in the best of moods. It’s now Wednesday, and parts of this missive might change by tomorrow, but for now it’s time to stop staring at the screen in hopes that these fingers might find something nice to write about.
We always close out with some Classic Country Music in this column. As a note to the horrid folks I’ve seen opining on social media that Monday’s massacre in Las Vegas was fine with them because those killed were all Country Music fans, I have just one thing to say. “Kiss This!”
Now, let’s get back to where we were and all enjoy another in the series showing those wonderful stars of the 1950s. Like all the others, this one features a star-studded cast and brings wonderful memories to this old heart.
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!