On this misty cold Sunday morning a few days after the Thanksgiving feast & over a week after NASCAR crowned a new series Champion, I take time to ponder my beloved sport. It's one of those restful days before the Holiday season kicks into high gear with glitter-laden parties and of course the NASCAR Awards Ceremony. This visual delight is to be in Las Vegas & I'm quite certain every NASCAR fan is aquiver with excitement.
What will the ladies be wearing on the red carpet? Will every savory detail be shown on television? Will the wives have a brawl live on television the likes of which will make the Real Housewives of heaven-knows-where pea green with envy? What will they be eating? Epicurean delights prepared by the best chefs known to the planet? Oh it's more than a girl can bear. I'm quite certain NASCAR fans everywhere will be biting into their Sunday morning sausage & gravy biscuits while waiting on the cows to come to the gate or the horses to eat, pondering these very things.
To get a definite feel for the excitement, I log into Twitter completely giddy with anticipation. Will there be a new speedboat or a blessed kiddie with an exact replica of the latest Maserati with which to speed around the manicured grounds of the current manse? I know for sure all my fellow racing fans will be looking excitedly for the same things… said no sane person ever! Reality is that it is always heartwarming to see the relatable photos of a favorite competitor’s family & friends celebrating the Holiday season. Maybe I'll see outdoor scenes, bonfires & fishing trips. Possibly cute impromptu captures of family dogs lounging around the fire. This should be heartwarming & pleasant.
I log into Twitter almost tasting the home cooking & smelling the wood smoke. Yet what am I greeted with? Dubai. I see Dubai. No flannel & blue jean-clad folks out chopping down a family Christmas tree. But giant Mosques & Abaya clad women.( not that there's anything wrong with that) If I'm excited enough due to the TV show about the extreme wealth of racing wives now, I'm quite certain and all the more thrilled extreme shopping trips in Dubai will be covered ad infinitum . Of course, many of you will say it's sour grapes on my part, this sarcasm I emit; that I know nothing about B2B selling, thought leaders and influencers. (Although the best influencer I ever knew was a cow named Lucy that led to whole herd onto the busy interstate. I bet you thought a yellow-green checkered restart was bad. ) But give me a break, it's really amazement; I enjoy a good dumpster fire as much as the next person. I mean the fan base of NASCAR flies to Dubai all the time.
Now I'm aware it’s an F1 race with royal princes & movie stars. So I should not show my ignorance of all things racing. Yet I also know that all the multi-colored seats in racetracks across our land are placed there in an obvious attempt to make empty stands look full to the TV viewing masses, all 4 million of them. This is very real & quite concerning. NASCAR just keeps overshooting the runway. Sponsors are fleeing in droves and I'm pretty certain that the guy trying to sell tents and outdoor equipment is a tad bit nervous at this point. Pretty sure the couple looking to purchase a camp stove and sleeping bags for Talladega is not considering Botox injections and the latest personal jet deals from Bombardier , but what do I know? Wasn't the most popular driver for 15 times a dog-loving guy named Dale Earnhardt Jr who pulled folks out of ditches in Mooresville NC during a snow storm? Riddle me that.
I can't help but smile to myself as I look back on this NASCAR season. The big players, the guys with the stardom & marketing teams who tooled effortlessly to victory backed by big money were trounced by a ballsy young fella willing to trade paint & race like it was meant to be. A driver willing to take a chance and catch a whole lotta flack to be crowned Champion. Deals were made & pit stalls traded, yet the loss still came. Oh the horror! I get the vapors just thinking of it. Let me take a gulp of my soy latte & nibble of my beignet just to go on. (Not really, it's a black coffee & a ham biscuit from Bojangles)
NASCAR as I see it has always been a working guys’ sport. It's had the great backstories of guys drinking a cold beer after perfecting the best race engine, mechanics swapping theories while sitting around in the evening shooting at the bats which darted around the streetlight light outside the race shop. Drivers getting their race game together fishing on Kerr Lake or bush hogging out on the tractor. Something we can touch and feel, for we the fans have done that very thing (maybe not the bats). Now racing has become a mind numbing compilation of stages hovering very close to simply handing out participation trophies for random things like cutest kid in victory lane or shiniest car. How about they just run the race and whoever gets to the finish line first wins? Where's the story of the outstanding dirt track kid given a chance by a team who by grit & determination wins the championship?
So I'm going into 2019 a Joey Logano fan. Getting gold stars for just showing up isn't my thing, nor do I bet it is for a lot of folks. Let's hope his winning this Championship doesn't make a bull in the field a steer in the lot. Here's to hoping the next few years don't bring us the OxyContin Cup with exciting venues such as the Botox 500 and Spanx series. In any case they can make a mud pit in the winner’s circle and the girls can fight it out. Can you think of a better way to settle an encumbered win?
Now I know I'm hovering close to rain, jail, the pickup truck and Mama getting run over by a danged old train. But NASCAR needs to figure out it'll only hang around as long as its true base will let it. Right now we barely tune in much less go to pick it up in the rain.