The Frontstretch: A Chicane by Any Other Name Just Ain't the Same by Jeff Meyer -- Wednesday August 16, 2006

Go to site navigation Go to article

A Chicane by Any Other Name Just Ain't the Same

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Wednesday August 16, 2006


Sometimes while watching a NASCAR race, it's the tiniest little thing that gets stuck in my mind, and I end up mulling it over all week. Not that mulling anything over all week ever produced satisfactory results, but maybe, like an annoying Barry Manilow song that gets stuck in your head, if I share it with you, you can do the mulling instead of me.

The subject of this week's mental distraction is the word “chicane;” or, as in this particular case, the lack thereof.

You see, us Iowans, or at least the crowd I run with, don't get to hear, let alone use the word “chicane” all that often. Oh, sure, we have a few of them here and there on some lonely back roads, but they are most often referred to as a “dogleg,” or a “crook,” or even “that spot where I hit that big buck and rolled my truck.”

So, it is with special anticipation each year when the race at Watkins Glen rolls around that I get to hear, and possibly use, the word “chicane.” This year, however, I was denied that privilege all weekend.

Can someone please explain to me why the chicane, as it has been called for years, suddenly became the “bus stop?”

I realize that this may seem to be a trivial thing, but like I said before, it really bugged me throughout both the Busch and Cup telecasts. Not that I've ever been particularly fond of the word itself; it sounds French to me (it actually is) and I've never been too keen on anything to do with France, be it the country or Brian. It would be safe to say that my yearly anticipation to hear or use the word “chicane” lies more in my loathing of it…as weird as that may sound.

You see, even though to me, a chicane is sort of a sissified way to describe a “whoopitydo” in a stretch of road, it probably was, to millions of hardcore NASCAR fans, the one chance a year to impress their other non-NASCAR friends with a brief show of sophistication should they use it on them in a sentence.

But now that chance is gone; thinking back on it, I suppose this was bound to happen eventually. NASCAR, in its never-ending strive to inundate the major markets such as New York City and Seattle, had to call it something like “S curves” that the fans in metropolitan areas could identify with. Let's face it, in NYC a “crook” in the road is something to take aim at, and if you asked where the nearest “chicane” was to catch the #5 Crosstown to Manhattan, you'd never get a definitive answer. A few strange looks, maybe…but not a definitive answer.

I miss the “chicane.” I wonder what Ward would call it?

Stay off the wall (especially near the bus stop),


The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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

08/17/2006 10:11 AM

I always wondered why not name it after J.D. McDuffie. It was his unfourtunate accident that made the “chicane” a reality. It would be one way to honor one of the last independents.

John Potts
08/17/2006 10:11 AM

I heard on one of the telecasts that the term “bus stop” came about because a similar chicane at the Spa-Francorchamps course in Belgium is at or near an actual bus stop. I can’t vouch for it. It figures, though, because the chicane at Daytona was put in for road racers to keep them from hitting Turn 3 at over 200 mph, and the road racing term would apply.

JOhn Potts
London, KY

08/17/2006 12:24 PM

Nascar officals refered to it as the “inner loop” all week. Course they call the “luck dog” a free pass. And than there’s Kurt Busch calling the Busch series the Grand National Division. It’s his name for Christ’s sake!!!@!!!

Dick Hertz
08/17/2006 02:13 PM

John Potts is correct, the term “bus stop” is from an actual bus stop on or near the race course as described. After going to WGI for over 20 years, I am annoyed that they call it that. It has always been referred to as the “inner loop” and yes even a few sophistocrats call it the “chicane”. Does anyone out there know what we WGIers call the grassy area between the inner loop and the no loop? I wish that they used the term when Robby did the banzai run on Rubberhead on the last lap of the Busch race. (we call it the Duck Pond)

As for KB calling it the Grand National series, take a listen to Junior sometime. He refers to the Charlotte 600 as the “World 600” and the July Daytona race as the “Firecracker 400”. He even refeered to last weekend’s Glen excursion as the “Bud at the Glen”. Some habits die hard.

Dot Jones
08/17/2006 02:16 PM

Dale Jr has referred to drivers as being “moving chicanes”. This means you can use the word every week.

08/17/2006 05:28 PM

Chicane is the name of my dog and I live in Iowa. My son used to race superbikes. Yes, I missed hearing it because the Glen is about the only time I can anymore. And yes, I always think of JD when the Glen race rolls around.

J. Meyer
08/17/2006 06:02 PM

Trying to make up for your comment on the Top Ten list, aren’t you Dot!? HeeHee!
You are forgiven!


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.