The Frontstretch: Mad at Jimmie, Jeff, Or Junior? Don't Wreck It For the Rest of Us! by Amy Henderson -- Friday April 6, 2007

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Mad at Jimmie, Jeff, Or Junior? Don't Wreck It For the Rest of Us!

Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Friday April 6, 2007


Amid one of the best race finishes we've been treated to recently at Martinsville Sunday, we found ourselves treated to a growing trend that is both disturbing and utterly ridiculous. As the checkered flag fell and the race concluded, it seems that a group of fans were less than pleased with the race's outcome, namely winner Jimmie Johnson. OK, fine, the nature of racing dictates that not everyone's favorite driver can win every week; some people are always going to be disappointed. But lately, certain fans are taking it too far.

As Johnson celebrated the victory that he'd earned, cans and bottles sailed over the catchfence, raining onto the track to show the fan’s displeasure with his third victory of the season. Unfortunately, not all of them were empty; the projectiles gathered quickly and messily, creating more debris on the track than NASCAR has seen in a race all year. While unruly and unbecoming of the fan base, this isn’t the first time such an incident has happened; Johnson was showered with similar junk when he won at Indianapolis last year. Ditto, Jeff Gordon at Chicago; two examples within a list that has gotten alarmingly long over the last few years.

As best as I can recall, the bottle throwing all began at Talladega a couple of years ago, when a caution flag very late in the race precluded a duel to the finish and may have taken away Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s chance at a win. Everything from hot dog wrappers to $10 seat cushions were thrown onto the track, all but assuring that the race could not be restarted. The green-white-checker rule was added the following year, and so the trash-throwing masses turned their attentions to tossing things at race winners they didn't like instead.

The so-called “race fans” who partake in this sort of ignorant, dangerous stunt do so seemingly without repercussions. Never mind that a mostly-full can or bottle of liquid could seriously hurt a spectator, especially a small child, if the thrower could not clear the fence with the missile. Never mind that a can has the potential to cut the tire of a car doing burnouts and send it into the retaining wall, possibly injuring the driver, spectators, or crew members. What a tragedy that would be; but the garbage-tossers aren’t thinking about any of that. They’re just worried about letting go of their frustration in completely the wrong way.

Granted, it's hard to isolate the garbage-tossers in the huge crowds after a race, but there are steps that tracks could take to solve the problem. Positioning extra security in the stands in the closing laps of races where a controversial driver might win would be a start. And when a perpetrator is caught red-handed, that person's tickets should be checked and that person should never again allowed to purchase tickets to the venue, or in the case of the multi-track ownership groups, any of their tracks. If the person got tickets from a friend or as a resale, they could still be banned from buying tickets directly from the track in the future.

Is this infallible? Of course not, because there are still many ways for these pseudo-fans to come back; but it would send a strong message to these ignorant people that their actions will not be tolerated if they are caught. A message of “this childish behavior is not acceptable at our track” is a beginning to stronger enforcement of unruly fan reaction after the checkered flag falls.

Bottom line, the throwing of cans and bottles onto the track in "protest" of a certain driver earning a win reflects badly on all race fans in general. Fans of one driver get blamed for the actions of a few, simply because they are the ones who traditionally dislike the drivers who are usually the ones on the receiving end of this treatment. It isn't fair to the hordes of fans that don't act this way to get lumped in and badmouthed along with those few that have such little common sense that they actually enjoy this.

Three-year-olds throw things when they have a temper tantrum because they don't get what they want; one would hope that adults might know better. Unfortunately, there are those few race "fans" who seemingly have not outgrown throwing tantrums because they didn't get their way. They think that purchasing a ticket to a race gives them the right to act in a manner that they should be ashamed of. It's time for these people to grow up, stop the childish ignorance, and behave in a manner respectful of the race winner, who has just risked his life for four hours for their entertainment. Too bad if it didn't turn out the way you wanted; you're ruining it for the rest of us.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Racing to the Point: NASCAR Has Its Own Heartbreak Kid
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Couch Potato Tuesday: Picking The Best IndyCar On-Air Personalities


©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

M. B. Voelker
04/06/2007 06:40 AM

Here’s a standing ovation for you!

04/06/2007 06:48 AM

Such behavior typifies the changing face of NASCAR and all the sports. Only golf fans are still relatively civilized and they are occasionally becoming suspect. It’s sad to see people who are out of control and have never been taught how to behave in public. Unfortunately, those kind of people don’t read columns such as yours.

Jeff M.
04/06/2007 10:19 AM

Just wanted to point out a couple of things.

While I do not condone the throwing of objects onto the track, the actions of the fans at the April 2004 race in Talladega was a Godsend for the sport.
Immediately after the race, NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter staunchly stated NASCAR’s position. “Here and Daytona, we’re not going to run a one-lap shootout just because of safety. We feel like here and Daytona, those just aren’t the places to do that.” Remember, that was in April ’04.
Barely 3 months later, in July of ’04, beginning with the New Hampshire race, THAT is when NASCAR went to the green-white-checkers.
Suddenly in three months time, it was “safe” to do it at ‘Dega and Daytona. The fans had been calling for g-w-c for along time before then but NASCAR just simply did not care. The debris at that race was the fans doing what was necessary to FINALLY make NASCAR get off their butt and do something.
Since then, there has been NO justifiable reason for throwing objects on the track.

Pam J
04/06/2007 12:51 PM

Great job Amy!

04/06/2007 01:01 PM

I feel the same way. I would add to your proposed penalties, the perps being arrested and being escorted to the local police station.

If need be have the local municipality pass ordinances making it a mis-demeanor felony to throw anything on the race track.

Half of the idiots who do that are drunk to begin with. Take them to jail and let them sit overnight, ban them for life from attending the track, and put their names, pictures, SS, and whatever in a computer bank for other tracks. If they do the same thing there, increase their fines, and a lifetime ban from all NASCAR events.

NASCAR racing is for fans and not intoxicated/irresponsible people who think themselves fans of NASCAR. They ain’t no better than European soccer hooligans!

Pam R
04/06/2007 01:22 PM

Great article, Amy.

Sadly NASCAR is not going to stop selling tickets to ANYONE. They want the dollars. The only way is to have heavy fines subjected to the idiots. And I mean HEAVY fines. Warning signs should be posted at the track, or on the ticket stubs to warn of the fines.

Vito Pugliese - FS Staff
04/06/2007 02:53 PM

I was at the 1998 Coca~Cola 600. As the laps were winding down and Jeff Gordon got by Rusty Wallace following a late race restart, a guy about 4 rows in front of me chucked a half-full (half-empty if you’re a pessimist….pause for laughter) can of Miller Low-Life over the fence, and it hit the side of Gordon’s car as it went by at speed. I remember someone did that to Geoff Bodine at Talladega several years ago. It put a hole through the windshield. I can understand being passionate about your driver, but come on…..putting others LIVES in jeopardy? Come on guys….it’s cars going around in a circle. You don’t get a trophy too if your guy wins. Maybe switch to Pepsi halfway through the race, so you aren’t all liqoured up and filled with rage by the end of the event.

melissa herman
04/06/2007 05:38 PM

I do understand people being very passionate about their drivers, but alot of people are turning mean and viloent if thiers doesnt win.I have been to three races and all three had some many drunk vulger people yelling bad things and profanty at each other and other drivers .My two girls want to go to a race, but from what I have seen there is no way I will take them.Didnt these peoples parents teach them any behavor for public places. I have no problem with people drinking ,but there is a limit.And as far as this throwing trash on the track, give them a 1000.00 fine for littering just as if they were any where else.And if they cant pay let them serve there 90 days in jail. Maybe if it happened that way they would learn or stay home.I have my favorite driver, but I would never disrespect any other drivers. They go out on these tracks and put their lives at steak for us. All for entertainment.And no matter how bad they did or how good they did , they all did their best.they deserve our respect no matter what.

04/06/2007 06:51 PM

good article, Amy. Unfortunately, I don’t think much if anything will be done to stop this until someone’s seriously hurt or killed. IMO folks throwing cans, bottles, etc on the track should be subject to fines and punishment.

Scott Orr
04/06/2007 06:58 PM

Use surveillance video to ID and arrest these people before a driver gets hurt.

MK Grogan
04/07/2007 06:02 AM

Nice article! Totally agree. Unfortunately some people (Dale Jr. Pitboarders) say they enjoy seeing Hendrick cars get pelted with flying beer cans, but they add they would never do it themselves… Yeah right. If you willingly admit that you enjoy seeing it, I doubt you would restrain yourself from participating when in the presence of a mob. Grow up people!

04/07/2007 08:16 AM

Jeff and Jimmie are driving pretty good , those goofball garbage chuckers better condition those throwing arms .

04/07/2007 10:32 PM

Simple fix. No more cans or bottles at the track. Drink the watered down beer from plastic cups at the track at $6.25 a pop like at Fenway. That is until 100 laps to go when they should shut off the Taps. See if that gets these extra Y types attention. It is beyond me why someone would pay so much and then just get so hammered they hardly know who won.

04/07/2007 10:35 PM

This is the first I’ve heard of the litter on the track after Martinsville. Is it becoming more commonplace these days? I find it unfortunate this is they way people choose to display their displeasure. It doesn’t speak well for the fan base, even if this is a minority.

Hopefully, measures can be drafted to catch and fine these folks, including the bill for the trash clean up.

Keep up the great work Amy.

the Bay Area, CA

04/08/2007 08:38 AM

I seem to recall that the recent trend for throwing stuff on the track began at Daytona when Micheal Waltrip won the Firecracker 400 which was allowed to finish under caution.

But unfortunately the trend goes way back. In 1969 the PDA boycotted the first Talladega race due to safety concerns. Richard Petty was president of the organization. The next race after Talladega someone threw a beer bottle at the 43 car while it was at speed shattering the windshield.

I don’t know what the solution is. But I am opposed to banning beer and soda bought into the tracks. The actions of a few should not limit the rights of the majority. And if NASCAR were to impose such a rule my guess is it wouldn’t be to increase safety or decorum but only to increase profits at the concession stands.

In my years on the circuit I have seen everything right down to expensive scanners thrown on the track. Somewhow I don’t think fans will accept having to show up naked at races with nothing but thier ticket stubs in hand to end this trend.


Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
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