The Frontstretch: NASCAR Athletes: To Be Or Not To Be by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday April 16, 2009

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NASCAR Athletes: To Be Or Not To Be

Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday April 16, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, an obscure journalist named Richie Whitt rose up once again and proved that the only wit he does possess is in his name. I say “once again” because some of you longtime readers may have some vague remembrance of having heard that name before… and you’d be correct.

The last time Richie Whitt appeared silhouetted in my crosshairs was almost five years ago, when he was a “freelance journalist” in October of 2004. You may remember his “groundbreaking” expose of the group NAMRF (National Association of Minority Race Fans)…or you may not, which is totally understandable as you probably had forgotten all about the clown show that was NAMRF, too.

Back then, Whitt spent a few days with the poor, supposedly ostracized group and documented a brief part of their plight and sojourn for us. During his time with them, while he was not invited to their inner meetings, he did manage to tell us that the principles of the group looked exactly like Bob Marley and Michael Moore. He also managed to reveal that they had a pretty cool tour bus. Yes… truly groundbreaking stuff. He also seemed to have a preoccupation with the excess of female nudity, especially boobs, that can be found at NASCAR events, as he mentioned it several times back then.

Well dear reader, fret not. In these ever changing, uncertain times in which we live, some things apparently do not change! Mr. Whitt is still an idiot, (although he is now gainfully employed by the Dallas Observer) and he is still obsessed with the bounty of naked women at NASCAR events as evidenced in his April 1st article (and no, it was no joke) titled NASCAR drivers, start your engines: It’s about the most athletic thing you’ll be doing during the Samsung 500.”

Mr. Whitt’s latest assertion goes something like this; NASCAR drivers are NOT athletes because they simply sit there and steer a car. It is the car that does the work; so therefore, they cannot possibly be athletes.

Think NASCAR drivers aren’t athletes? Try racing for three plus hours in heavy traffic in a super-heated cockpit at Bristol before making that assessment.

I’m sure you probably have some sort of retort for this statement, as do I, but I think Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said it best when Whitt posed this assertion to him. (And Gossage got to say it to Whitt’s face, lucky guy!)

“That’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever said, and that’s saying something,” Gossage exclaimed.

Putting aside my utter disdain for Richie Whitt for a moment, (I’d rather befriend Kyle Busch than Whitt) let me clear up this whole “athlete” issue as succinctly as possible armed only with my good looks (subjective) and Midwestern common sense. (Unfortunately I cannot throw some female nudity in there, sorry)

The online dictionary of defines “athlete” as a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.

The keyword, in this case, for Mr. Whitt(less) would be stamina. In his article, Whitt admits that he has never been behind the wheel of a stock car, but he has never tried to sack Tony Romo either — although he does realize the difficulty of the latter. Well, if he thinks sacking Tony Romo would be hard (and remember, he never tried that), what makes him think spending three plus hours in heavy traffic at 190 mph in a superheated cockpit is so damned easy if he hasn’t tried that either?

Better yet, Richie, try it at someplace like Bristol…

But I digress. The point is, different sports require different training. A soccer player doesn’t train like a boxer, a boxer doesn’t train like a basketball player, and so on and so forth. Each sport requires specialized training in specialized areas, stock car racing included. Thus endeth the lesson for the day!

The funny thing about all this is, Richie’s column isn’t just something I happened to run into whilst browsing the web. It was sent to us here at FS by one of his colleagues at the Dallas Observer with the premise that we might have some fun with it. Says a lot about what his colleagues think about his writing, doesn’t it?

And just to prove (in case you haven’t read his article) that he is still obsessed with the nudity thing, here is another excerpt:

“On Sunday, the crowd will look for big wrecks, but during the week it’s obsessed with big racks. Trust me, NASCAR fans attend races just as much for chicks with loose morals as cars with tight steering. Walk around the infield and there’s so much focus on the female anatomy you’d think the Sprint Cup was Victoria Secret’s sleek, new bra.”

For the life of me, I can never figure out why some people go to such great lengths to prove to others that they are an ignorant ass. Must be an athletic gift!

Stay off the wall (unless you’ve taken your blouse off while reading this, then by all means, jump on up there!)

Jeff Meyer

Contact Jeff Meyer

P.S. In case you’re interested … here are the links to Jeff’s critique of Richie Whitt’s NAMRF stories in 2004:
Part one
Part two
Part three

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©2000 - 2008 Jeff Meyer and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

04/16/2009 08:05 AM

Remember Jeff that the goofball works for a newspaper…as if an explanation was needed for why newspapers are in the state that they’re in.

I liked your article but I’m not sure why you would even pay attnetion to this dolt. It’s like watching Keith Overbite’s juvenile tantrums. Neither are worth anyone’s time.

04/16/2009 01:37 PM

In truth , i don’t think it really makes any difference if race car drivers are thought of as athletes . WHO CARES ! By the dictionary you sight , a practitioner of Yoga would be an athlete .
This ancient argument was invented many decades ago because race track promoters didn’t feel that races were being covered on the local sports pages . So they began the constant drum beat of drivers being athletes , hoping that news coverage of racing would follow . It mostly did not . Mostly because the sports writers didn’t fall for it .
I don’t care if they are considered athletes , it wouldn’t change my appreciation of the drivers or the sport one bit if they were declared NOT to be athletes .
But by the definition of athlete , which is having stamina , agility , strength , and i’ll add eye hand coordination , almost any person could be an athlete . Hauling shingles up onto roofs all day requires all of the above . So does landscaping . So does installing ductwork in attics . So does bridge building . And skyscraper window washing . And sitting in front of a computer screen for 8 or 9 hours every day entering info for a boss who couldn’t care less . Now that takes stamina !

04/16/2009 04:42 PM

You know how many 12 oz. curls I do in an average race while watching it on tv? Let’s just say that Gov. Schwarzenegger would be proud of my athletic accomplishments!! Marshall, I understand what you are saying, but kudo’s to Jeff for defending the sport and the ‘athlete’s’ that I so enjoy for 9 months out of the year.

04/16/2009 06:29 PM

I go through this same BS about a dozen times a year Jeff, and it never gets easier. The only way someone comprehends the temperatures, g-forces, nerves, and reflexes that are involved is to do it themselves. I used to take people out in my Street Stock after racedays and scare the holy hell out of them for about 15 laps. In 100 degree weather. As close to the wall as I could. That tended to change their mind when they fell out of the car onto the pit-ground grass soaked in sweat and praying. :p

04/16/2009 10:07 PM

the fact that 50 year old mark martin can compete for wins doesn’t lend much credence to the ideas that nascar is a sport and its drivers are athletes. i can’t think of many other sports where 50 year old “athletes” compete for victories.

04/21/2009 10:28 PM

racefan: Randy Couture was, until recently, the World Heavyweight Champion at 47 years of age. And the man’s body is perfection. Mark Martin has a strict athletic regimen, he’s an exercise freak. That’s how.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
Top Ten Reasons Fans Failed To Show Up At Bristol Sunday
BSNews! NASCAR CEO Given "Special" Award Amidst Lavish Fanfare
Fan Coun-ci-What? Just What Is It That NASCAR Wants To Study?

Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.