The Frontstretch: Voices From the Cheap Seats: It’s Not Nice To Fool Mother NASCAR! by Jeff Meyer -- Friday May 17, 2013

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I guess this column will date me a bit, but after reading NASCAR’s official response to the penalties they levied against teams Penske and Gibbs being drastically reduced, I couldn’t help but think of the old Chiffon Margarine commercial which stated, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”

NASCAR President Mike Helton made it clear NASCAR was not pleased with recent penalty reductions but Jeff Meyer thinks the rule book he refers to is a myth.

Here is the official response…

NASCAR undeterred by appeal setbacks: NASCAR president Mike Helton insists the governing body did not have its power undermined by recent reductions in penalties through the appeal process. “I don’t feel like this in anyway undermines what we do,” Helton said Friday at Darlington Raceway. “And in most cases the process doesn’t come back with anything that really changes our mind much [about the severity of the penalties]. We do our job and the due process exists for others to have an opportunity for others to listen to it and decisions are made to it.” While disappointed in [the reductions of penalties to Penske & Gibbs], Helton stands by the original penalties and says NASCAR would respond in a similar way if faced with the same violations. He added that the rules may be written even more specific in the future so teams and those involved in the appeals process understand more clearly why the penalties were given. “First of all, the integrity of the appeal process needs to be maintained as independent of the regulating arm of NASCAR,’‘ Helton said. “But we do learn from the appeal process as to how we may be able to write or be more clear so that you can show a third party why we reacted the way we reacted.”

Are you kidding me? Last week I wrote, and most everyone agreed (with the exception of a Californian…Love ya Kevin!) that NASCAR had lost touch with reality when it comes to ruling their own sport. The above release simply proves it and Mike Helton drives the point home with what has to be one of the biggest piles of BS since…well, since any politician or used car salesperson opened their mouth

“First of all, the integrity of the appeal process needs to be maintained as independent of the regulating arm of NASCAR,’‘ Helton said. “But we do learn from the appeal process as to how we may be able to write or be more clear so that you can show a third party why we reacted the way we reacted.”

Yeah, you learned all right! So, the policy going forward is that NASCAR will implement even more wordy rules because they simply are pissed that someone with common sense ruled against them.

Yeah, you do that NASCAR! Let’s see how far we can go in making this sport a joke.

And speaking of rules, I ran across an old article that I authored back in 2004 when I still had a rookie strip across my….uh, computer! Here it is in its entirety.

Where are the rules?
Jeff Meyer
May 12, 2004

Last year I set out on a semi-quest. I vowed to get my hands on an ‘Official’ rulebook of NASCAR. I call it a semi-quest because I truly spent only a couple of days at it. Recently I have been trying again. The results, so far, have been the same: nothing.

The search began after the 2003 spring race in Martinsville, when a controversial rule call prompted the following quote from NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter.
“Right now, we’re truly in the same league with professional football, basketball and baseball. Their fans are always talking about calls and close plays. I think this controversy is good because it put NASCAR right in there with the other sports.”

I said it last year, and I will say it again. NONSENSE!

Use any search engine out there and type in ‘Rules of the NFL’ or NBA or MLB and see what you get. You get the rules for those respective sports that can be downloaded free, or in some cases, instructions on where you can purchase them.
Now try searching for ‘Rules of NASCAR’ and compare your results. It is almost like a complete set does not exist.

On a website for us media types that is run by NASCAR, I can download the official 2004 Media Guide for the Cup Series, Busch Series or the Truck Series. The Cup series guide alone is 514 pages long! Also on this site are other various downloads and databases one can access that will inform you of just about every record and statistic of every driver that ever participated in a NASCAR race, right down to George Bush. But is there anything on this site about rules? NO.

Most of us know about section 12 of the rulebook, the most popular being section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing), which NASCAR officials use more than dental floss. But have you ever heard of anything from sections 1 through 11? Is there a section 13 and beyond? If there is a section 12, one would assume that to get that far, you’d have to pass through sections 1 through 11. As for beyond 12, the furthest I have heard of is 12-4-W (improperly attached weight), which also happens to a 12-4-A, as NASCAR so aptly pointed out to (and fined) Ricky Rudd’s 2003 crew chief, Pat Tryson last year.

Why does the kingdom of France keep the rulebook so secretive? Do they think us common folk, who so graciously line their pockets with gold, are too stupid to understand it? Most of the pages in my official golf rulebook read like the IRS tax codes to me, but at least I have one to refer to when I want to impress people.
Every NASCAR fan deserves the opportunity to own a complete set of rules. Until that happens, NASCAR will, unfortunately, have an aristocratic stink about it that other professional sports do not. But what do I know? As far as NASCAR is concerned, my name must be Stu Padasso.

And I still write about hope and change nearly ten years later…what is wrong with me?

Stay off the wall,
Stu Padasso

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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Carl D.
05/17/2013 08:18 AM

Because the rules are applied so inconsistently, Nascar would never publish them. Nascar really has only one rule: “The rule is what we say it is on the day we say it’s a rule.”

05/17/2013 08:42 AM

There will eventually be a breaking point…for the drivers and the fans.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Right now, Nascar is dying a slow death but there will be something else to come along and take away the drivers, teams, and fans. It may be a new series, heck, it may be the economy…I don’t know. But it sure FEELS like the dam is about to break.

Of course, what NEEDS to happen is a change in leadership at the top…across the board. But does anyone think that will happen?

Oh, and I TOTALLY expect Nascar to somehow retaliate after being embarrassed like they were. I just hope all non-Hendrick drivers know this and prepare for it.

05/17/2013 10:40 AM

Agree with JP that it does feel that the dam is about to break.Perhaps thet is why they bought ALMS, I dont know. But how can there be a new series. Virtually all of the suitable tracks are owned by Nascar/ISC or Bruton Smith. So think its more likely that they will eventually get rid of any tracks they dont own. Thus 100% of the money available goes to them.

05/17/2013 12:23 PM

What Helton, Nascar, etc. said after the penalties were overturned was dripping with enough arrogance and anger to drown more than a few politicians. It was actually shocking and very revealing.

Kevin in SoCal
05/17/2013 12:39 PM

I didnt disagree with what you said about NASCAR Jeff, I disagreed that its not the team’s responsibility to check their parts before installation and use. I work for a company that makes internal engine parts, and we sell to drag racers and oval track racers. We have warnings on our parts boxes to check all parts before installation. We’re all human and stuff happens. The NSCS does not have a “sealed-engine” rule. You may think its overkill to tear down an engine, and for the local track guy, it is. But for a super team in the Cup series, where there is millions of dollars on the line, I dont consider it too much to do. Look at what happened when you dont check.


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.