Sunday, April 14, 2013

NRA 500? Who's Got a Problem with That?

Although I've not watched NASCAR races for a few years, as I recall Jonathon Seidl is right: there is a tradition of referring to races by the track rather than the sponsor.

Who ever refers to the Food City 500? Ads in Food City supermarkets do. Local people talk about "Race Week" and "the race" and "Bristol." I've heard neighbors get as specific as "The Speedway," when talking about the Bristol race. Outside the store, I don't hear "the Food City 500."

Jason Howerton reports on NASCAR fans who have no problem with a race being sponsored by the National Rifle Association...

As I recall--years ago, when NASCAR was a smaller enterprise--fans don't care what sponsors a race. Back when I was watching races, there were the Winston Cup and the Busch Cup. Named for towns or families? Er, ah, not exactly. And I thought these official names were pretty ironic because successful racers are not smokers or heavy drinkers. Racers who even drink too much beer or soda pop tend to dehydrate and wash out during a long, hot race. How can you name an athletic event after a product serious athletes don't use? But nobody protested. People chuckled. Some race fans did smoke cigarettes and drink beer. The ones I knew didn't. If cigarettes and beer are not large parts of your life, you think of "Winston" and "Busch" as names of families, whether that's what corporate sponsors intend or not.

Oh, well...sports have a way of being good for a laugh. A headline that turned up in today's e-mail: "Danica Patrick says Martinsville shows she knows how to drive a car." Er. Uh. There was doubt about that?

Note: she said "Martinsville." Who sponsors the Martinsville race? I've forgotten, if I ever knew. I remember that Martinsville is the name of a track.

Showing my age here...I did not remember Fort Worth being part of the circuit. So it was worth scrolling down quickly through Jonathon Seidl's photo series. Different track, but many things about a NASCAR race haven't changed.

Are they really "deafening"? Yes--especially at Bristol, where the track's so short that your ears never really get a break from the roar of the engines. It's normal and acceptable to wear ear plugs.