NASCAR Embraces “MadHouse” Approach to Racing


NASCAR has either totally lost its mind or is so deep into the pockets of sponsors, team owners and corporate interests that it can no longer see and think clearly.  I suspect it's a lot of both and the fact that it could barely muster the courage to put Carl Edwards on a measly three-race probation is evidence of it.  Instead of making it firmly clear that NASCAR was in control of its sport, it turned its press statement into an opportunity to express just how concerned it is about the fact that Brad Keselowski's car got airborne after Edwards dumped him.  Safety first, after all!  NASCAR President Mike Helton explained it: "[Keselowski's car going airborne] is a very important element of all of this that I would ask all of us to be reminded of the fact of the car getting airborne was a very serious issue. And that's something that we'll take a look at very quickly and try to figure out how to help prevent that happening in the future."  Way to divert the attention away from the real issue.

And this is where NASCAR's conflicting statements begin.  They want to "prevent" an incident like this from happening in the future, yet they've given the drivers the green light to act like complete morons on the racetrack.  Does that make any sense at all?  Everyone in the racing community is rallying around NASCAR's supposed pre-season pronouncement that drivers are free to "take the gloves off".  Did I miss the press release?  When did NASCAR say that its drivers had free reign to behave like totally reckless maniacs and wouldn't be punished for intentionally causing violent accidents?  If NASCAR thinks that fans are interested in watching their prima donna racers engage in tit-for-tat crashes rather than real racing, then they are even more hopelessly out of touch than I first believed.

NASCAR doesn't understand the simple concept everyone calls "rules".  Is it or is it not, by the rulebook, acceptable to intentionally crash somebody?  And if it's not, what is the penalty, per the rulebook?  Because if the only penalty is a slap on the wrist then Keselowski should be free to send Edwards right over the damn billboards at Texas next month.

Kyle Petty nails it: "I think we took ourselves away from just being a sport to being a sideshow in some ways. We’re not a sport. Sports have rules."

A Tale of Two Carls

Remember last May when Carl Long -- an underfunded driver who was attempting to qualify for a non-points paying race -- blew an ancient and decrepit motor and had it inspected by NASCAR?  NASCAR found the motor to be less than two-tenths of a cubic inch larger than the limit.  Two tenths.  Despite the fact that the violation was almost certainly unintended, they suspended the guy for 12 races, fined him 200 points that he didn't even have, and fined his crew chief $200,000.  Twelve races for two-tenths.

Carl Edwards nearly kills someone and he gets "probation" -- which amounts to nothing more than being under the "watchful eyes of NASCAR".

Consistency isn't a NASCAR trademark.  Consider:

  • In 2007, Robby Gordon was suspended for one race after failing to yield to a black flag that was displayed for aggressive driving in the previous day's Nationwide Series race.
  • Ricky Rudd was fined $10,000 and placed on probation for the rest of the season after intentionally crashing Jeff Gordon in the 1994 Mello Yello 500 at Charlotte.
  • In October 2004, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was fined $10,000 and docked 25 championship points for joyfully dropping an s-bomb in a victory lane interview at Talladega.  The point loss dropped him from leading the standings.
  • At Indianapolis in 2002, Jimmy Spencer intentionally crashed Kurt Busch in what is probably the most dangerous corner in all of American motorsports.  Busch was scolded by NASCAR for "gesturing" towards Spencer after climbing from his car.

The Apple Falls Far From the Tree

Unfortunately for NASCAR, Brian France does not seem to be able to command the kind of respect his father and grandfather garnered from its participants.  The limp-wristed, "well we're not really sure if that's over the line" approach doesn't exactly exude a sense of strength on NASCAR's part.

It makes me remember a time in 1990 when Dale Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine were wrecking each other consistently until Bill France, Jr. stepped in.  The intervention was recalled in the film Days of Thunder.  France had lunch with Bodine's then car owner Rick Hendrick and explained:  "Rick... If you can't control your drivers any better than this... then maybe you should stick to something you can control.  ... Like selling used cars in downtown Charlotte."

Categories : Opinion



I enjoyed Your article. Don’t You just love NASCAR!!

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