Drivers Or Racers
Author's Note: My articles are based solely on my opinions. Normally no statistics are offered. Enjoy and feel free to comment afterwards...
For the past few weeks there have been several discussions as to why some of us at Race Fans Forever like or dislike some of the things that are happening in NASCAR today. I would like to offer these thoughts even though they may not adequately explain how some of us think or feel about the current state of NASCAR.
Most of us who contribute articles at RFF are of an older generation. We grew up in various parts of America during an era where most families enjoyed outings together, and traditions were passed down to the next generation. Very often the interests the parents became the interests of the children. It was not uncommon for the offspring to follow in the footsteps of a parent when seeking employment. As history shows, families had a lot in common and their core values were instilled in their children.
What does this have to do with drivers or racers, you may ask. You may then follow up that question by asking what the difference is between the two. When it comes to racing, some of you may feel there is no difference but this person would have to disagree with you on that point. Anyone who has visited this site on a regular basis and has read the offerings we have here would readily remember that I have always differentiated between the two entities. I will always see a difference in what I call a racer and the others that I call drivers.
When I first became interested in stock car racing, I was very fortunate to have friends and a mentor who were very honest and what I call "pure" race fans. In those days, anyone who drove a car in a race, which was the beginning of what we call NASCAR now, was a racer. They raced to eke out enough money to get their car ready for the next race. Then some of them discovered they could make enough to support a family if they finished well enough and if the track was paying a good purse. Through it all, they remained racers and would put their heart and soul into each race, hoping to finish in the money, if not first.
As auto racing evolved into a professional sport things changed. Stakes became higher as technology started playing a bigger and better part in how cars could be set up and how they could design all parts of a car to make them better than before. The competition became fierce as more money was offered and lots of sponsors came into the sport when they began to see how it would benefit their companies. During the initial phase of this era, most of those who drove the cars were still racers, in this person’s opinion.
As time to passed, more and more people became interested in watching the races and the money became more plentiful. Owners then decided they could do better if they had more than one car on the track. So enter the two car teams, which then became three, then four and up to five before some rules were put in to limit the number of cars an owner could have. Owners then began putting other family member names on the car as owner. Rules tightened but they then discovered what are called satellite teams. I won't go into detail as to how any of this works as most of you who are reading this already know what has and is happening in that respect.
Somewhere along the line and through the years, NASCAR racing became more like a show rather than a real competition. As time passed, a lot of us longtime fans who are now older, began to see what we once loved slowly change in the way it was presented. I believe that is about the same time I began to differentiate between racers and drivers. Some examples of the ones who are still active today that I will call racers are: Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and there are others. To me, the best racer left us when we lost Dale Earnhardt.
While watching the race at Talladega on 10/23/16, it became very obvious as to whom I would designate as drivers in this race. I personally feel this 10-race scenario they now have and call “The Chase” contributes more to that description of those in the race cars on the track. An example of this is how it has become such common practice for some of them, in order to protect their point position, to fall back from the competition and just ride around the track at the back. This was very evident with the JGR cars of Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. There were others who did the same and because of that, some of the lesser funded teams and lesser known drivers were able to get a better finish, but in this person’s mind, it was just plain insulting and very insulting at that.
Along with the racers and the drivers, the fans have also changed. The fans are just as devoted and avid about their driver. Some of them are happy to have their favorite doing whatever is necessary to finish well in the Chase. It does not matter to them whether they are racing for a win or whether they are just riding to stay safe within the group who advances on to the next round of three races. They go along with the theory of protect your position in points no matter what it takes. This old gal much prefers watching competition and watching racers race. How about you? What do you think? Is there a difference between a racer and a driver? Or are they one and the same who just approach the job at hand differently?
Please feel free to express your thoughts and feelings. If you have ideas about this, please share those also. Thank you.