The Frontstretch: Voices From the Heartland: This close (look at my fingers) to quitting by Jeff Meyer -- Wednesday May 11, 2005

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Picture in your mind, if you will, my thumb and pointer finger an eighth of an inch apart.

That is how close I am to giving up on following NASCAR with any more than a passing interest, let alone writing about it.

It’s too bad really. I like racing and for the most part, I like to write about it. However, in the last 8 years since I “got it really bad”, the sport has changed dramatically.

Like cute little kittens that grow up to be cats, like cute little puppies that grow up to be barking dogs at night, and like cute little pet alligators that grow up to be… well, big, ugly, flesh eating alligators, NASCAR has grown about as far from its roots as it can go. Oh sure, they will keep having races, but it is no longer about ‘seeing who is the best and the fastest’. It has turned into a single family run business that doesn’t see fans of racing in the stands, but 100,000 little ATM machines, to each of which they have the PIN.

It’s not that I pine for the old days. Change and growth is good, but how big is big enough? How big does that little pet alligator have to get before you turn it loose or make a few pairs of boots out of it?

Take a look at the cars. Do they resemble anything remotely close to ‘stock’ to you? Now they are developing ‘the car of the future’ along with the ‘engine of the future’. The difference between the cars now is so miniscule as not make a difference.

Does any one else see the future but me?

Equal bodies and engines ARE coming, that is a fact. Look at all the tracks that have been built lately. They aren’t known as ‘cookie cutter tracks’ for being different. The tracks that have ANY kind of character are being phased out. Even the BIG tracks are now TOO BIG. The race cars are racing around them TOO fast. Something must be done. We can’t have race cars going too fast now can we? Someone might win by too big a margin. The ATMs would suddenly stop showing up.

The new impound rule is another example of future. After all, when was the last time IROC racers got to practice before a race? They don’t. They are all equally prepared, identical cars. The day is fast approaching when we will hear, “Kasey Kahne! You have been assigned the chartreuse colored car in stall 19. Go paint your number on the car (with this ‘Official NASCAR paint provided by DuPont), then step away from the car and wait patiently until the NASCAR ‘Painted Number Official’ inspects your paint brush, after which you may return to your seat.” Tell me, am I out in left field here?

How about tires? We already have only ONE tire provider. Why? Well, the long and the short of it is, they PAID big bucks to have that privilege. What else could they possibly do with the tires to encourage even more parity? Well, believe it or not…it was recently confirmed by Goodyear officials that NASCAR has proposed a program that prohibits race teams from ‘buying’ tires. They want the teams to ‘lease’ the tires. The teams would still have to pay 1600 dollars per set of tires at each race, but, at the end of the event, all tires, used and un-used, must be returned to Goodyear. The reason? To prevent the teams from TESTING! After all, you can’t test your car in race trim at any particular track if you don’t have actual race tires. Traditionally, teams would stock unused tire inventory to use during tests. Not in the future if NASCAR has its way. All tires must be returned.

Oh, did I mention NASCAR’s ‘official’ reason for all this? Why to save the teams money of course! Aren’t those teams lucky to have uncle NASCAR to look out for their bottom line? Don’t be fooled you coveted ATM you! It is all about parity. Every one MUST be equal. You MUST conform. You cannot bring your own beverage into the race. You MUST drink beverages provided by the offspring of the parent NASCAR company. You MUST conform. They know what is best for us. Give Brian France your PIN NOW! No PIN, no admission to see “The Show”.

How stupid do they think we are? Or maybe we should ask ourselves, how blindly stupid have we let ourselves become?

Something to think about.

Stay off the wall (but send your account information),

Jeff

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Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
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