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Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Thursday November 29, 2007
The NASCAR banquet is the event of the night. The Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria will be transformed into the stage on which the champion will graciously accept his accolades (and a really big check). Everybody will be turned out in his finest with a lovely wife/mother/significant other on his arm. It's NASCAR's chance to shine in a world far removed from the garages and the roar of the engines. It's glitter and finery.
And it's really, really boring.
Jeff Gordon made some comments this week about NASCAR and the sponsors curbing the drivers' personalities. He commented that the fans are not always treated to the best side of the drivers, because they get so they're afraid to show it. And he's right. Back in the old days, drivers were allowed to be more real, have a little more fun, be looser.
It should still be that way.
Imagine if the banquet was less scripted, more fun for everyone involved. I'm not suggesting that Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick start a food fight (although, come to think of it, that in itself would be worth watching), but if someone did peg the champ with a wadded up napkin, would anyone really complain?
I don't think even Jimmie Johnson would really complain. Picture this. A competitor with a sense of humor (perhaps one racing for a certain competing home improvement sponsor) tosses a napkin at Johnson. Jimmie retaliates by making a trip to the men's room. (After all, not even NASCAR could tell him no to that!) On the way, he casually drops an ice cube down the offender's back.
Pretty soon, the crew chiefs are involved. Tony, now cold, damp, and unappreciative of Zippy laughing at him, buddies up to Chad Knaus, coaxing him into putting something like butter in Jimmie Johnson's now vacated chair. It ends sometime in the wee hours in the morning after Johnson gets Zippy to help him rearrange Tony's hotel room, coming to a close with Jimmie's trophy pasted to the ceiling of his room and Tony's shoes floating in the bathtub like little toy boats.
What a story that would make the next morning. Imagine that: drivers having a little harmless fun. That's old school, really, because the drivers always used to have a lot of harmless fun. It wouldn't hurt NASCAR or anyone's sponsor. In fact, in this day and age of so many of NASCAR's personalities lacking-well, personality in the eyes of many fans, it would probably help.
Not to mention, the banquet wouldn't be boring anymoreâ€¦
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Wouldn’t it be something if NASCAR had to issue missing person(ality) reports at the Banquet?
And, it’s possible that some of The Brian’s personalities are rubbing off on the drivers and crew members.
Anybody know if those killer attack palm stumps from Florida are stalking The Brian waayy up north in the Big Apple?
Pretty soon NA$CAR will consist of The BIG The Brian and a bunch of Mini-me’s.
Gag me with a spoon.
I wanna see a fist fight and a sincere interview with drivers being themselves.
I guess I’m one of them red-neck NASCAR fans who still remembers what it was like back in the days before NA$CAR and The Brian’s improvements.
Remember a former NASCAR Banquet when Ricky Rudd was on stage and he commented that his shoes were nice and shiney until Dale Sr walked all overthem,
I remember when Ricky Rudd pulled all of those napkins out of his sleeve for “cry baby” Davey Allison and Bill Elliott gave Alan Kulwicki a big comb because he always fixed his hair before he got out of the race car. Those were the days. I haven’t watched the banquet in several years because it became a scripted, boring, awful “show.” Granted many of the drivers weren’t great speakers, but they didn’t have to prove that they couldn’t read well. Now it’s a poorly read, pre-written speech. I won’t watch again.
Was it two years ago that the show went 5 hours long? Good grief, that was boring as hell. Thats 4 hours and 55 minutes I’ll never get back.
I am so damn glad that Mark Martin didn’t make the stage this year. His fawning all over Bri-guy in 2004 about how the chase was the best thing ever was so far past embarrassing all I could think of were the words of Gary Burghoff (aka Radar O’Reilly of M*A*S*H fame) saying “It’s brown gob; Up I throw”.
Yes, we need more fun. Leave the robotics for victory lane.
I think it’s a bit much to blame corporations for the dull drivers. Helio just won on Dancing with the Stars and he was the toast of NY. He is just very charismatic. He also works for Penske and very corporate savy. He’s just a fun guy. Marcos Ambrose is another really charismatic guy. He doesn’t have to be a bad boy to gain fans.
Most award programs are very boring—Oscar, Emmy, etc. NASCAR banquet is no different.
I hope that Tony will do ssomething like he did when he brought out the Hans device. Or when Jeff toasted Dale with a glass of milk.
For all the money these drivers get, if they cannot figure something clever to do on their own, they ought to hire someone. Make it fun for the fans.
Turn the banquet into a roast, with all the other Chase drivers telling jokes about the champion.
Back when Schrader made the top ten, the awards ceremony was worth watching.
Fat Tony has added a little spice in the past (not much this year).
The closest we got to a little fun this year was Kyle Busch’s inside joke about thanking Kurt’s wife (last year, Shrub the Younger forgot his girlfriend’s name and used Kurt’s wife’s name instead. On national TV.)
Recent articles from Amy Henderson:
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
Fans To Decide Format of Sprint Unlimited at Daytona
UNOH and Kentucky Speedway Extend Sponsorship Agreement
Earnhardt Out For Charlotte and Kansas After Talldega Concussion
Piquet, Jr. Wins K&N East Opener
Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.