Remember back in the day when, as the late Douglas Adams so aptly put it, “Men were real men, women were real women and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real, small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri?”
It used to be that way in stock car racing, too!
With that in mind, I have to say that it honestly gives me the screaming heebie jeebies when I hear anyone from so called “racing” fans to even champion (and non-champion) drivers complaining about “rough driving,” “idiots during restarts” and even, get this… NASCAR being sexist and discriminatory with their “Have At It, Boys!” approach this year.
Might I remind all of you whiners out there that, just a decade or so ago, racers were real racers, pit lizards were real pit lizards and small lethal pieces of debris were real, small pieces of lethal debris!
Since I ranted earlier this week about the restarts, I will try not to bring that up too much today, although it may get a mention or two. What I want to focus on instead is rough driving and “Have At It, Boys!” Let’s start this off with a quote from four-time (consecutive) champion, Jimmie Johnson concerning the closing laps of last Sunday’s race in New Hampshire with Kurt Busch.
“That’s what the fans want to see. And if I was in the grandstands, I would love to see a little bit of bump-and-run, watch the guy run him back down, and do the same to get by. I understand it from that standpoint. I have to say I was a little shocked, and I haven’t spoken to him or really seen any video to know, if he slipped and accidentally got into me, or that was his intentions. If it was his intentions, that’s the first time in nine years racing with him that I have experienced that, and definitely changes the way that I race with him from that point moving on. I hate that he felt that I wasn’t going to wreck him [after that bump], because that was my goal: to wreck him.”
And this from Chad Knaus, on the same subject….
“We all were upset. I don’t know, I’m still having trouble thinking that he did it intentionally. I’m hoping that he drove it in there, bounded in there, was hoping he could get to the inside of us and the car turned. Kurt has never raced us like that. So I’m hoping that he’s not trying to act like he did something that he didn’t intentionally mean to do. He’s a good friend of ours, we don’t like racing him like that, and I hope that’s not the case. Steve Addington, his crew chief, is a great friend of mine, so we don’t need to start any shenanigans like that. We are big boys.”
Well first of all, Jimmie and Chad, I can assure you, as Kurt said, he DID do it on purpose… and I’m sure neither he nor your good friend, Steve Addington, are going to be sending apologies your way or asking for your forgiveness. This is, after all, RACING! You are in the big leagues, in case you forgot. And don’t you remember that even though he has matured a bit over the last few years, the dude in the rearview mirror last Sunday did have the last name of Busch?
So, friends or not, how can anyone, especially a four-time champion, not expect to get roughed up a little? Is it because Jimmie thinks that no one should even touch his car because he is the reigning champ? Is it because Jimmie is used to being way out front most of the time over the last four years? I mean, being out front is best for Jimmie, seeing as how, over the last four years, it’s not often you find him actually trying to race back in traffic where other racers are! And when he is back there, he seems to not know what to do. Case in point: how do you get Jeff Gordon to actually say “pissed off” unless you are doing stupid things back in traffic? And wasn’t it not that long ago that people were placing bets on how long it would take Jimmie to cause the “Big One” at any given plate race? In comparison, Busch hasn’t really been lighting the track on fire the last four years. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t raced you that way, Jimmie!
Now, I don’t deny Jimmie and Chad their talent, especially when paired together (although I would love to see them split up, just to see who the “talent” on the team really is) but perhaps they need to remember that this is a race and there are no friends in racecars, especially during the closing laps. I am simply astounded that Jimmie even became upset by Kurt’s maneuver – especially when Kurt showed remarkable maturity by doing the bump ‘n’ run the right way! Maybe Jimmie and Chad didn’t see it coming, but everyone else on the planet who was watching was not surprised at all.
The more I think about it, it’s a pity that Johnson never got to compete against Dale Earnhardt. Dale didn’t get the name “The Intimidator” by being your friend on the track. Had Jimmie ever raced against Dale, maybe he wouldn’t be running his mouth now about Kurt’s little “bump” – because he would have gotten bumped about 10 times harder and lost a win as a result.
As for you fickle fans out there, you all bitched that the races were so boring. NASCAR was too “hands on,” just let the drivers “do their thing,” you said. You raised a big stink when NASCAR forbid those drivers to bump in the turns at Talladega. You got all upset and pissed off when some dude in position 25, starting on the inside during a restart, took out your favorite running inside the top 10 because he was a lousy driver in the first place. Why, even your favorite driver was pissed because he got taken out by a lapped car “driving like an idiot” on a restart.
Now that NASCAR has changed those rules… you still ain’t happy? What the hell do you want?
You think the driving today is rough? Perhaps you should go back and watch the ending of the infamous 1979 Daytona 500, perhaps one of the most important races in the history of NASCAR, if you want to see rough driving! That’s what stock car racing is all about.
This is not a sport for wussies. It is about strapping in, stepping on the gas, and going as fast as you dare… with that ever looming possibility that it may cost you your life! There is going to be “rubbing.” There are going to be crashes. People are going to rough you up, and you will someday be the one doing the “roughing” – all in the name of being able to say, “I beat everyone else!” That’s all there is to it. Plain and simple.
If you cannot accept all that, if you get all riled up by the so called “roughness” in today’s racing, well… you need not waste your time. NASCAR, due to dropping revenue and plummeting attendance, is finally starting to get back to what and how it should be. Go watch curling or something; we don’t need nor want you here.
Finally, let’s get to NASCAR being “sexist and discriminatory!” The following is a quote from a so-called “racing” fan, and is in my opinion a sad, sad indicator of the sport’s audience today.
“This new ‘boys have at it’ policy is SO discriminatory against women. NASCAR instituted this new rule so that male drivers can wreck Danica and not get penalized. It’s not fair. And Morgan Shepherd should be ashamed! Has he NO moral compass! If I was his sponsor, I’d drop him like a solid rock! That just simply cannot be forgiven. Or at least dock him enough points that his season couldn’t be resurrected. I mean, who does this guy think he is?”
Now normally, due to simple apathy and the futileness of it all, (that, and I really am usually a pretty nice guy!) I would not even mention a fan comment such as this one… but their suggestions are just downright ludicrous!
Aside from the trivial drivel about the use of the word “boys,” for anyone to actually think or believe that NASCAR wants its male drivers to wreck their female Dale Jr. just totally defies belief. Not only that, but to call out, of all people, Morgan Shepherd! Well here is some news for you, “fan”… Shepherd’s sponsor is usually Jesus! Yes, THAT “gee-sus,” not “hay-soos!” This last week, it was DealTaker.com, but to say Morgan Shepherd has no moral compass? You’re nuts!
Hey, don’t take my word for it. Let the “fan” continue…
“…and us women – we need to speak out against “boys have at it!!!!” “ DRIVERS have at it” would at least allow Danica to get some revenge or express her emotions freely post-race. NASCAR wants to make Danica the next vanilla driver clone. I mean, at least they let her start this race. I won’t even get into the REAL reason she only drives a partial schedule. (Ever notice last week’s Nationwide race and ALL Cup races only allow “gentlemen” to start their engines?!?!) You’d think after all these years, NASCAR would be a LITTLE less redneck than that!”
Boy, do I feel stupid! All this time, I thought it was Danica’s previous commitments to open-wheel racing that has kept her from racing full-time in NASCAR. I’d love to hear the real reasons! And to think… all NASCAR has to do to allow Danica to wreck someone is change one little word! I never would have guessed that Danica was racing under such restrictions! Why, she even has to have one of her crew members reach in and start the car for her!
I must be a redneck!
Stay off the wall (and Jimmie Johnson’s bumper!)
About the author
The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.
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