NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Voices from the Heartland: “Jesus Takes the Wheel” During Last Week’s ARCA Race!

We’ve all heard the old saying before… a picture is worth a thousand words. But be that as it may, the editors still insist I actually type about a thousand words every week whether they make much sense or not – and despite their editorial narrow-mindedness, the old adage still holds true. I will give you an example…

Hanging on the wall of a small Wisconsin tavern that I invested heavily in many years ago, was a picture. It was your standard 8×10 variety, cheap wooden frame… nothing out of the ordinary. The subject of the picture was two men – both of whom were regulars that I knew, but was not close friends of. The tavern sat at the corner of a busy city intersection, a small fact that makes the content of the picture even more poignant.

In the picture, one man is wearing a Bears jersey, the other a Packers jersey. If memory serves me correctly, either way it makes no difference… the guy wearing the Bears jersey is bent over, in the middle of the intersection (traffic stopped in all directions, taking in the scene, no doubt) with his naked butt exposed. The man in the Packers shirt is bent over and planting a kiss on his exposed butt!

It is one of those pictures that, once you see it, you know EXACTLY what happened and can almost hear the conversation that led up to it.

“Yeah, right! You’re drunk! If the Bears beat the Packers tomorrow, I’ll kiss your a** in the middle of the intersection!”

One should be careful when making statements like that, especially if there are witnesses!

In last week’s ARCA race, while there were no exposed butts that I saw, there was a brief moment of in-car camera video that produced that rare, you can see what the person is thinking moment. They only showed it once, DW briefly commented on it, and then they let it go. The moment was when media darling Danica Patrick was spinning out of control.

As Nelson Piquet, Jr. sent her down into the infield grass, Danica is seen trying frantically to keep the car straight, and doing a good job of it, I might add. But as the car re-enters the apron asphalt, it begins to spin and tires begin to screech! Danica, still fighting for control, turns the wheel in a manner that we, as seasoned stock car viewing veterans, are accustomed to seeing. Except that suddenly – Danica throws her hands up off the wheel! An instant later, she remembers where she is at, what she is driving, and starts fighting for control of the vehicle again. Well, the first thing that came to my mind was that country song by Carrie Underwood: “Jesus, Take the Wheel!”

What made the video so funny was the wide range of emotions that it conveyed. It went from composure to surprise, a brief moment of panic, followed by the sudden realization of “Oh yeah! I’m in a STOCK car, not an INDY car, I’ve got to steer this thing!” and back to composure again.

Although I found the entire episode to be quite funny, I want to mention a few things here in Danica’s defense. First of all, this was her first race in a stock car (that I know of) and probably her first attempt at crashing. When driving an open-wheel car such as an Indy car to which she is so adept, it is standard operating procedure to do just what she did (let go of the wheel the moment before impact!) If you don’t, more than likely you will end up with a broken wrist, if not an arm. With Indy cars and the speeds at which they travel, there is usually not much “saving” it from the tires screeching to the moment of impact. Danica, for a split second, did what she was trained to do – only to suddenly remember she was NOT in an Indy car. The scene, though fleeting, was priceless!

Something that would be almost as funny, if it were not so pathetic, was the way it was treated by the announcers in the booth. All DW could muster was something along the lines that she saved it “Indy-car style,” while the others never touched her hands-free maneuver at all. After all, you can’t make fun of a woman driver, especially Danica. That is just not politically correct, now, is it?

Well, in all the years that I have been watching stock car racing, in all the in-car camera views of drivers spinning, I’ve never seen one use the “JTTW” approach to a save until last Sunday.

One can only wonder what ol’ DW would have said if one of the boys had done it. I bet it wouldn’t have been so nice!

Stay off the wall (and keep your hands on the wheel. Your faith ain’t THAT strong!),

Jeff Meyer

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