What I Learned Today About NASCAR

Pairs? That seemed wrong, but as I looked at the TV the entire field was made up of two car trains!

“It’s like watching the Long Island Expressway!” Those words from my sister, Trudi. She just found out I watched the Daytona 500 on Fox this afternoon. She was not impressed.

My viewing came about in an unusual way. I saw my friend Steve this afternoon. He is a gearhead and race fan. His Sunday was planned around the 2&#189 mile Daytona oval.

He wasn’t expecting a good race. The track’s been repaved. The cars would be driving in pairs.

Pairs? That seemed wrong, but as I looked at the TV the entire field was made up of two car trains! They were close, very close. Often they were a too close! A little misplaced bump could end your day… and often did.

Steve went on to explain how the track and cars conspired to force the drivers to take this tact. Drive alone and you’ll slow down.

Sure enough as he explained I watched cars on the TV change position slightly. All of a sudden a car that had been part of a couplet was left alone. He slowed down!

I know so little about racing, but as I watched I realized this wasn’t about which car was fastest. It was strategy and teamwork and incredibly sharp reflexes.

I continued watching with Helaine when I came home. We watched a few wrecks and marveled at the drivers who managed to escape with their cars and themselves unscathed. It looked like they were dodging bullets.

NASCAR has benefited greatly from advances in TV technology. There is no camera angle uncovered. Beyond that the integration of data into the pictures makes the whole thing look as high tech as it obviously is.

Like the NFL NASCAR now seems better suited to be watched on the tube than from the stands.

Today’s Daytona was won by Trevor Bayne, a 20 year old rookie driver making only his second big time start. Until an hour ago he was an unknown. TrevorBayne.com features an image and the words, “Official Site Coming Soon.” I’ll bet it is. Real soon!

There are parts of NASCAR that do bug me. There’s the total in-your-face commercialism right down to the soft drink being sipped as drivers are interviewed. I’d feel better if they backed off a little there.

Mostly I was impressed with what I saw. I’m not ready to follow Steve and block out a Sunday, but I’ll be back.

13 thoughts on “What I Learned Today About NASCAR”

  1. Welcome! I’ve been a huge NASCAR fan for 9 years (if you saw FB statuses today…Tony Stewart is my guy). We were driving home tonight at 70, and I said to my husband “Imagine driving on that car’s bumper at 200 mph…all the way to North Carolina.” Watch all the different tracks this season…they’re all different!

  2. been a fan along time go to Vegas every year to the race. Big bucks to run thoes cars all year part of all the commercialism the drivers have to support there sponsers for giving them thoes millions of dollars

  3. Geoff, if you liked Daytona, wait until Memorial Day weekend and try the Indy 500. It’s a different kind of car and a different kind of racing – and about 30mph faster.

    That said – Daytona wasn’t a bad race, but the two-by-two drafting wasn’t typical of what you usually see. Nascar in some respects is a team sport – but it’s not usually tag-team wrestling.

  4. Geoff, if you happened to like the high speeds of Daytona. then make sure you watch the race at Talledega!!! Restrictor plate ( allows less fuel to air mixture into the engine) racing is the best! Close driving, drafting and lots of speed makes an explosive day.

  5. Yay! Welcome to those of us who have discovered it is not a red-neck enclave. Unfortunately the cost of the technology to race makes the sponsorship necessary, and Nascar fans are incredibly loyal to companies that sponsor their favorite drivers. Next you need to attend a race and feel the roar of the engines and you’ll be hooked. I suggest trying the Las Vegas race – you can kill 2 birds with one stone!

  6. I am one of the few liberal, Northeastern, “older” women I know who are big time NASCAR fans. Since Rusty Wallace retired, I am not quite as enthusiastic as I once was, but I do follow Tony Stewart. (How did he get from 2nd to 17th or whatever in the last 30 seconds???) I don’t understand this latest constant drafting. This is new. Why??

    Talledaga is brutal! But fun for fans.

    1. Not sure what you consider “older” – I’m 51, if that counts, and I meet the rest of your criteria. I do prefer Indy cars (at least, Indy cars on ovals), but I’ve been following both series since I was a kid. No favorite drivers here – unfortunately we’ve lost too many of my favorites over the years (Dale, Kulwicki, Bonnett) – although I would like to see Martin get the championship he’s come so close to so many times. And I agree totally about Dega.

  7. I got into Nascar back in the early 90s when I had to get up at 4am to get ready for work. Nascar on ESPN was pretty much the only thing on at that time (other than infomercials or music videos on MTV and VH1). It was then that I learned about all the intricacies that go into Stock Car racing (that you pointed out in your blog) and became a big fan. I’m not a big as I was but I still watch the big races.

  8. You should try Formula One World Championship racing. Their first race this season is in Bahrain on March 13 and it’s NOTHING like “watching the Long Island Expressway”. (Ask Trudi, maybe she knows).

  9. I think half the fun of watching Nascar is picking one driver and following him for a season. My interest has been renewed now that we have a local driver in Joey Logano to root for.

  10. Yes, the simple factor:

    roundy-round racing (NASCAR, Indy, et al): only have a functioning lower brain stem.

    F1, world rally, any auto racing involving turning in both directions and varying elevation: functioning cerebrum.

    Keep those cards and letters coming, folks!!!

  11. LOL Geoff.. when your ready to see it in person I have great Daytona 500 tickets! Start finish line across from pit row. Also, the pushing of the beverages is a bit much, however, a few years ago every time a driver was seen drinking or sipping a particular beverage on camera, money was donated to a NASCAR cause by the beverage company. It’s all good!

  12. next time you go to vegas you should go out to the track and do the richard petty driving experience and do 140 mph around the track, just have to be able to climb in through the window and drive a stick

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