I’ve always maintained the opinion that it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself. Especially if you’re obsessed with something. Anything.
One of my addictions is NASCAR and growing up in the Northeast, where automotive sports are often put in the same basket with punkin’ chunkin’ and mud bogging (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), I learned early on to keep it all in perspective. Thus, I can easily admit that the number of diecasts, t-shirts, beer mugs and Jell-O molds cluttering my life is pretty funny. Co-workers dubbed me L.T. simply because they find the concept of Left Turn all afternoon hilarious—I try not to disabuse them of the thought. They kind of have a point.
However, there is a point at which my sense of happy-go-lucky NASCAR fan gets irritated. Ask.com has destroyed my ability to chuckle at anything bearing the company logo. Why, you ask?
I laughed hysterically when NASCAR launched their “How Bad Do You Have It?” campaign years ago. The champagne showers in the living room, burnouts in front of your house, sculpted shrubberies, hair-dye, bumper stickers… almost every episode struck a chord with me. I could, and still can, understand the kind of silly stuff fans do in the name of their favorite past-time.
I think that is what the “Official Search Engine of NASCAR” wanted from their numerous TV spots. However, from my point of view, they fell short of the goal.
You’ve seen these ads. The nice family, known as “The Rays,” spends their time at the track wondering “What do NASCAR drivers wear under their suits?” or “How do you make beef jerky?” or “Can I put racing fuel in my RV?” Apparently they haven’t died yet from the dubious breakfast of “Can you drink milk that is expired?”
I feel sorry for the Rays. I do! Not only have they fallen under the mesmerizing spell of our favorite sport, but they apparently don’t have the brain cells needed to process the finer points of the competition in front of them. What worries me more is Ask.com’s idea that the average NASCAR fan will identify with this family from… well, it’s not nice to pick on people like that.
And then, as I sit here writing yet another article with probably far too many “big words” in it, I begin to wonder… will it work? Will NASCAR fans, with their minds muddied by gophers that plant TV cameras, commentators that mutter “I tell you what” every other sentence and races where the leaders drive off never to be seen by the second-place car… will these fans mindlessly click over to the new search engine because their will to think has been eaten by FOX?
Don’t say it’s so!
I have faith, however misplaced it might be, that the average IQ of a race fan is far superior to the Rays. I can only believe that the 5,000 campers that arrive at each track know better than to gas up with $8/gallon racing fuel, they don’t guzzle chunky milk and know perfectly well you can find a Slim Jim at your local Store 24. As to what lurks beneath Bobby Labonte’s driver’s suit, I think that question is best left unanswered…
Here’s hoping Ask.com smartens up, or at least gives America credit for being brighter than your average bear.
Author’s Note: This article was researched using Google.