The Frontstretch: Whaddahyado When You’re Losing the Faith? On NASCAR Overload by Jeff Meyer -- Friday April 13, 2012

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Whaddahyado When You’re Losing the Faith? On NASCAR Overload

Voices from the Cheap Seats · Jeff Meyer · Friday April 13, 2012


No! I’m not talking about losing faith in God, that’s just absurd! What I am talking about is NASCAR overload.

While Frontstretch’s very own Professor of Speed, Mark Howell is in Boston trying to convince a slew of highly educated folks, the type of folks who attend conferences to hear other highly educated folks orate about highly educational stuff, that NASCAR is a really cool thing, here I sit wondering who or what is gonna save me. What is it gonna take to make it ‘special’ to me again?

If you go way back in the archives and read some of my columns from years ago, you might get the impression that I had more zeal for the sport…and you’d be right. I’ve always said that I am a fan first and a writer/journalist/blogger/idiot (take your pick) second. That is still the case. The problem is, is that I’m just not as fan(antic) as I once was. And I think I figured out why.

When I was growing up during the ‘70s, we were poor. Oh, I never lacked for anything, I always was fed, had clothes, a bike, toys and generally every basic need that most young children have. In fact, it wasn’t till later in life, looking back, that I came to know the full scope of how poor we were. I just didn’t know it at the time, which I guess is a good way to be poor if you have to be. The point is, I was happy. The bigger point is, for example, when we got to go to McDonald’s or the local A&W or some other ‘special’ place, it was just that, special!

We didn’t get to go out to eat like folks do today. Nowadays, going through the drive thru is an almost daily occurrence for most Americans. McDonald’s is now almost considered ‘low rent’. Those fries that tasted sooooo delicious when we where younger, now have a ‘shelf life’ of perhaps five minutes! You best eat them first while they are hot or they positively suck! Going out to eat is now as common to most of us as putting on our socks which, by the way, more people should do when they do go out to eat!

The advent of regular TV broadcasting of NASCAR racing has made being a race fan less of an effort, less of an investment…and less special for hardcore fans like Jeff Meyer.

Coming from a devoutly Christian family, going to church on Sunday was a must, not an option. Now I realize that it wasn’t until the early ‘80s that NASCAR races were even broadcast with any regularity, but the sentiment was there for football, the sentiment being you hoped like heck that the pastor wasn’t long winded so you could get home and watch the game! We didn’t have VCRs, DVRs or even cable and the like back then. You had your three basic networks (and PBS of course) and if you missed something, you just plain missed it!

The reason and point of all this rambling reminiscence is simply this; with the sometimes vulgar opulence that we enjoy in this country, nothing is ‘special’ anymore. Not clear enough for you? Try this: NASCAR’s obscene opulence over the last 10 to 15 years is the reason ‘hardcore’ fans become semi-interested casual fans.

It is no longer ‘special’.

Oh, don’t misunderstand me, I do still love to attend a good race. I love the sound, the smell, the people (NOT, sometimes, the smell of the people!) but I, like so many others out there, no longer go out of the way, or make the extra efforts we once might have made to attend a race. Why should we?

By staying home and watching my television, I can see more racing action at all but two of the tracks currently on the circuit, than I could if I actually attended. (Those two tracks being Bristol and Martinsville). And I don’t have to wear any clothes doing it if I don’t want to!

Oh rats! I have something to do this week, I’m gonna miss the race! Not to worry, simply DVR it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that most people, myself included, don’t give a soiled rat’s behind if we are missing the race or not. Most people DVR it anyway, if for no other reason than to be able to skip the infinite number of commercials.

Remembering back to when I started this writing gig, we actually had to wait for the paper to print (or go online) to get the starting lineup to fill in the weekly race pool. Not now! Not only can you watch every qualifying live, but every single practice too! Still not enough for you? Well just tune in to one of the gazillion NASCAR related shows that will rehash and explain to you what you just saw, just in case you couldn’t figure it out for yourself.

Speaking of NASCAR themed analysis shows and the expert analysts…ever notice the first four letters of the word analyst? Says it all for me!

It just ain’t ‘special’ like it used to be. You used to have to put forth an effort to be a fan, now you don’t. It’s all become blasé.

Just like alcohol or drugs, anything to excess is bad for you. NASCAR is no different. They’ve made it too easy and now have to cater to the stupidest person, who just MAY be happening to watching that day, and in the process, they ruin it for all of us. When was the last time you watched a football game and they explained (for the umpteenth time) what a ‘first down’ was? That’s right, you haven’t!

Part of what made NASCAR great was the enthusiasm with which the real fans used to talk about it. If they happened to get a not so interested friend to watch or attend a race with them, that friend would ask questions if they wanted some aspect of the sport explained to them, and the fan would gladly tell them! That’s the real way to win a fan over.

There has to be something special about it all.

With today’s overkill and over exposure, it hardly is. I liked it better when it was less popular!

Guess I’m getting old.

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

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04/13/2012 08:58 AM

You make some good points Jeff, but NASCAR never HAD to cater to the stupidest person, or the most ADD person, or the “casual” fan. They chose to, at the expense of people who had been following the sport their whole life and never even thought that the sport needed a playoff system, and a moronic one at that.

As far as a race broadcast being a rarity, you may get your wish on that in the next ten years. There is no doubt in my mind that unless NASCAR shakes things up at the very top, this sport is going to die a slow death. Anyone who doesn’t believe me just needs to look at the crowds at Bristol. A half-full Bristol was inconceivable in the pre-Brian days.

04/13/2012 09:55 AM

As far as the anal(yst) comment, I totally agree. I do not watch any nascar pre-race shows. Ansolute garbage. I used to be fanatical about watching races on tv. Now the condescending attitude of the announcers makes me run for the remote, even in the middle of the race. We get two nascar expert ex-crew chiefs explaining for the nth time about how something on the car works. To put it bluntly, tv broadcasts have pushed me away from the sport. Thanks for listening. I don’t like being treated like I’m stupid. The two Waltrips and the parrot are a prime example of this.

04/13/2012 10:30 AM

Jeff you nailed it!!!!

For years I would plan carefully to attend Daytona (and about 8 others) camp out in the infield, bring other NASCAR fans, take in the venues, the people, the lifestyle…

The “show” has become boring to me and for the first time in 20 years I stayed home to watch it all on TV…

Why do so many of the ANALyst and drivers call racing a “show”… Maybe because there is a clown running it…

Looking forward to my $30 seat at the Rock this Sunday…

04/13/2012 11:19 AM

Several years ago I wanted to go to a Nascar race. Now I would not go if they sent their limo and escorted me to a skybox at Bristol for free. As for tv, the Trip Brothers and Rusty don’t help either.

04/13/2012 02:44 PM

The only point I would really add is _ the non stop blatant commercialism. Speaking for myself, that puts me off as much as the pandering.
Basically however I would say its just out of touch with the times. However, ISC made 127 million in the 1st qtr. Not bad for a dying sport.

04/13/2012 04:33 PM

I feel the same way as the writer. I actualy let the race record for about an hour before I start to watch to run through commercials and long yellow flags. When I first got cable and discoverd ESP had races on almost every weekend, I would get up ealry to mow the yard and get ready to sit down with a cold beer and watch the race. Wilksbro, Bristol, And Martinsville were favorites.

Matt L
04/13/2012 11:14 PM

The magic of the sport that made it popular is gone. The cars no longer have the beautiful geometry they used to. The drivers don’t have the personality they used to. The competition is not fluid anymore. It’s divided into classes, haves & have nots that never really change week to week. The individual races no longer have the significance they used to. The broadcasts are no longer professional, more interested in selling a brand than covering the race.

It’s a sad culture that I really hope changes.

Kevin In Dale City
04/14/2012 01:09 AM

Jeff, I love what you write. I will try to keep it brief. I am 49 and grew up in Philadelphia. I would never miss the Indy 500. I would listen to races on the radio. I moved to Northern, VA in 1978. I watched the ’79 Daytona 500. At that time the put in cable my neighborhood. I ate up every piece of NASCAR I could consume, races on TNN, Niel Bonnet’s history of NASCAR (gosh I hated he tried to race again). My driver was Bill Elliot. I subscribed to NASCAR Scene. Then in the late ’90’s things changed. Money over the racing. You know my dream. Broadcast the race and overlay MRN/PRN as the broadcast. The networks would save money there by reducing the commercials, the broadcasters wouldn’t have personal agenda’s and attention would be on more than the “stars”. I know it is a pipe dream. But using the KISS (keep it simple stupid) principal would to a hell of a lot of good.

04/14/2012 07:19 AM

I was EXTREME HARDCORE for nascar racing until the Chase, and now the Top 35.

Now I watch maybe 3 partial races a year and the rest of the time I just check the internet to see what the head nascar bozos are going to do next to drive yet another nail in the coffin of this once great sport.

Guy Fawkes
04/14/2012 09:47 AM

You’re a backwards retard. Having faith in an invisible sky daddy is what’s absurd! Stupid ass biblethumper.

04/14/2012 06:14 PM

I would hazard a guess Guy Fawkes that you do not have many friends.
Good read Jeff.

Jeff Meyer FS staff
04/17/2012 08:55 PM

Dear Guy Fawkes
No where in my article did I try and change your view of if there is/or isn’t a God. Personally I could care less what or who you believe in…that’s your business.

As for me, well, call me a betting man. I grew up believing there is a God, Heaven etc. If it turns out I am wrong, oh well! What have I got to lose? If there isn’t, I won’t even know that I was wrong, now will I?

On the other hand, if there IS…jackpot!!!!

Seems like a no brainer to me! (hey, you wouldn’t happen to play poker, would you?!! LOL)


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