(Credit: CIA Stock Photography. Copyright 2014)

Voices from the Cheap Seats: With Joy & Sadness, I Take My Leave of This Mess

Geez, where do I start? How do you sum up 10 years of weekly columns in a few parting paragraphs? I’m not sure I can do it justice but I guess I will give it a shot. Y’all deserve that much!

Speaking of y’all, I want to say first and foremost that I wouldn’t have lasted this long if it hadn’t been for the thousands of faithful weekly readers and fans, many of whom have actually become friends.

When I came to this site oh so many races ago, there were several senior staffers (senior meaning having more time in and/or possibly qualifications, not older!) that simply didn’t like me. Well, not me as much because I am a really, really likable guy, but more so my barroom style. This whole writing gig started in a bar, as a matter of fact, as the result of a drunken challenge by a friend who, as most people do, had just lost a heated argument to me about common sense (as much as two arguing drunks can have anyway) and stock car racing.

At any rate, I got my foot in the door here at Frontstretch – and more importantly, I got hits! Lots of hits – and the hits just kept coming! Over the years, the management (and most of the staff) of the site decided that they might as well just get used to me seeing as how, like many a drunken guest, I didn’t seemed inclined to leave.

I go now but know that my parting is bittersweet.

Who out there among the media is going to cut through all the NASCAR and media bull, telling you how it really is (or should be)? Who is going to poke irreverent fun at any and all in this business when they deserve it? It has been my privilege to do so all these years and that is where the sadness in my heart comes in. In some weird way, I feel I have a responsibility to the true fans to do so and my leaving is letting you down, but there is a flipside too.

This sport is a mess and honestly, I’m tired of bitchin’!

What used to be fun is now a weekly chore, and I am truly not happy doing it. I mean, I’ve been leading the damn horse(s) to the water every week and yet most of them refuse to drink. I’m at the point that the horse(s), if they are thirsty, can find their own water or drink the Kool Aid that is put in front of them. Most of the real fans left years ago anyway so I guess I might as well, too.

One of the universal things I keep hearing over and over is how, like myself, people used to plan their Sundays around NASCAR. Key words: used to. Now, it is not the case, and that is sad.

Welcome to the world of the casual fan. As a now fully converted casual fan, I just don’t, or more accurately can’t do it anymore. That is sad as well.

It isn’t all bad, though. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet and talk to most every driver and media bigwig or personality in the sport. Again, like many readers, some of them have become friends. I’ve enjoyed the rush of hanging over the wall during the whole race, snapping pictures like mad from a vantage point I used to only dream about. I’ve been showered by debris from crashes while trying to get that special shot and have even had to get the hell out of the way a couple of times for fear of my own safety.

One of the first things I learned as a member of the media/photographer world is that lugnuts often become missiles when a car is leaving the pits and it really, really hurts when they hit you in the shin! Oh, and did I mention they are HOT as well? Yeah, let them cool a bit before you pick them up!

All in all, it has been a fun time with memories and experiences that I am blessed to have had. Honestly, I wish more fans could experience it the way I did. Having press credentials is kickass!

But wait: before I go, I have a few parting shots I’d like to take and leave you with a few assurances as well. First, the assurances.

If you feel you can simply not live without my sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek, irreverent journalistic style, know this much: I’m not leaving permanently. I will still be on staff and I plan to even write from time to time, probably sooner rather than later because, let’s face it, someone is going to piss me off – and like any man who likes his beverages, I won’t be able to remain silent for too long. So, you have been warned! I just won’t be doing it every week (but then again, never say never!).

As for some parting comments….

(Credit: CIA Stock Photography)
Kevin Harvick is the most deserving of the four that made it to the final race, so good for him. (Credit: CIA Stock Photography)

Congrats to Kevin Harvick. Of the four drivers who managed to luck into the final race, Harvick is the most deserving. Having said that, I still firmly believe – and anyone with a brain can see – that with this new format, pure luck is now the drivers’ best friend, especially in the final 10 races. Just as a champion could be crowned without ever winning a race, one driver could win the first 26 races (or more) in one season and still not be the champion. What kind of crap is that?!

Brian France… what can I say? You are truly one of the biggest idiots on the face of this planet. You have taken something good, made it your own, and ruined it for millions. You have very few, if any, hardcore fans left, but you are too stupid to see that. You believe everything is fine. You are to NASCAR what President Obama is to America. No one takes you seriously.

OK, I’ve got to stop that – getting too damned worked up just thinking about it!

Thank you! Thank you to everyone that has made this ride so meaningful. The ones that write back praising me and the ones that send me hate mail… I raise a beverage to you all and once again I implore thee –

Stay off the wall!

Jeff Meyer

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About Jeff Meyer

Jeff Meyer
Jeff is one of the longest-tenured staffers at Frontstretch, starting his second decade as the resident humorist and pain-in-the-butt that keeps NASCAR (and his fellow co-workers) honest. Writing Voices From The Cheap Seats, every Tuesday, his BSNews! Segments along with alter ego “Stu Padasso” have developed a large following. Jeff makes his home in Tennessee and is a Bristol groupie, camping out for the August night race every year since he can remember.

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30 comments

  1. Avatar

    Ah Jeff, I understand you deserting a sinking ship. My heart is heavy as well. This has been my hobby and fun (among other things) for a long time, it is something I truly enjoyed and feel very bad about not believing in what I see and what it should mean, it’s about the slickness of marketing, endless “trending” this and that and adjusting accordingl..it is about the “show”. Brian is embracing the reality TV mentality and this Chase debacle took it to another sad level. I have heard he has been told time and time again, but the moron will not budge, after all he is making his dollars elsewhere and not from the families that used to love the experience of going to a race. That bull Nascar told for years it was the economy, but that largely was a lie. I dislike the Chase…I disliked this Chase even more. Sorry I cannot accept a 1 race Champ. Made the 10 race champ look down right season like. Some fans can say they like it but in no way did that represent for many, many teams a stellar year with consistent results including wins. Wow..this was a exhausting year and not in a good way, we feel your pain. Good luck and pop in to keep it real!

  2. Avatar

    Its just become so tedious to suffer thru But you know there is a silver lining, I have found that there are so many other, more interesting things to do. So as a senoir citizen now I make my Sunday afternoons productive.

  3. Avatar

    Many of us are wrestling with the same issues Jeff. I think we are all heading the way of the casual fan. It’s just a matter of time. I am about there myself. Good luck and thanks.

  4. Avatar

    Sacrificing an entire season just so you can manufacture a ‘game 7 moment’ is stupid. At least the lottery of a ‘chase’ managed to put one of the better cars in Victory Lane. I remember when my Sundays revolved around watching the race…but those were the ‘good old days’, which the media keeps telling me weren’t really so good. All I know is that I no longer have the love and excitement for racing that I used to. As far as ‘selling out’ Homestead, I saw lots of seats covered up in turn 1…and didn’t they remove about 20k seats? Diminished expectations for a greatly diminished ‘sport’.

    • Avatar

      Sacrilege! (joking), how can you not understand that the Leader of NASCAR is so much smarter than all of us, ask him, he’ll tell you and the majority of the media will back him up.

      All of the fans who don’t like this – well, we’re just stupid. Again, all we have to do is listen to the media and read the articles (and don’t even get me started on the twitter feeds bashing anyone who says anything against the crapshoot).

      the definition of insanity is supposed to be doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. I think I’m going to have a moment of clarity and maybe it is time for me, like Jeff M, to truly become a casual fan and just catch the highlights or lowlights (brawls, major wrecks, whatever) on SC.

  5. Avatar

    As one of those “diehard” fans that i guess i am i have to say i don’t get it. I have been involved in racing for literally my whole life. I used to fall asleep in the grandstands as a very young boy because my dad raced & then flagged at our local track. I have raced,crewed, officiated & watched racing my whole life. All the “hardcore” fans out there give me a laugh. Racing is racing. You do it to win. Points were created to get the teams to the races every week. That’s the difference.. Where are.all of you who bitched thatthese.guys don’t race hard enough & they’re all too vanilla?????? Oh, now your all bitchin about the points. Well i’m tired too. Tired of you “hardcore” fans crying about the good old days cause the truth is they weren’t that good. Truth is the racing this year has been outstanding & if you haven’t enjoyed the last ten races then you should go do.something else cause your not a RACE fan anyway

    • Avatar

      …wow Rich..speak for yourself…there were many more “race fans” before this abortion known as The Chase, and this playoff Chase. If you feel that this is exciting and the way to go, then maybe you didn’t have enough heart to be a true fan, you need the bells and whistles and shiny objects to distract, occupy and entertain you. Nothing has to go “BOOM’ 24/7 despite what the people with 15 minute attention spans tell us.

    • Avatar

      Rich, if you liked it, great, no one says you can’t but we don’t have to feel the same way and telling someone they aren’t a “real race fan” because they disagree with you is just an attempt to intimidate. Will this format bring in more race fansl long term? I doubt it. Considering that the fan drain has been going on for years now.

      I enjoy watching racing and having a driver up on the wheel but I thought the crapshoot chase format was even less necessary than the former 10 race chase format.

  6. Avatar

    Jeff, I hear you and I’m struggling with the same thing myself. I’m not sure that I am interested enough or that I want to continue to be p*ssed on by NASCAR with their nonsense and of course the inferred commentary that anyone who didn’t like the crapshoot is just stupid.

    Good luck, although I didn’t always agree with you, I’m still sorry to see you stop posting a regular column.

    “This sport is a mess and honestly, I’m tired of bitchin’!” I think this sentence really sums up how I feel, too.

  7. Avatar

    From Brian France to Barry Obama to an ice-cold beverage, we are kindred spirits. I will miss your weekly columns but certainly understand your desire to move on. Leave knowing your work was greatly appreciated.

  8. Avatar

    Change is inevitable. You have to adapt or become extinct. I like this version of the Chase. Anyone who can’t see the difference in how these guys are driving either doesn’t want to see it or they are blind. The boys are up on the wheel again, every race. As it should be.

    • Avatar

      nobody is denying that, it is the gimmick of “The Chase”, it is a the gimmick of a playoff system that doesn’t need to be. Not all change is good, sometimes it is just change for the sake of change. Brian I do not believe cares about the sport, while it is a business, the business side is what makes his mouth water..the money. I do not believe he has a passion for what decades of families have loved and built traditions on. He has diluted even further what a “Champion” means, the whole season was pretty much for nothing and we now have a 1 race Champion, all of course for manufactured excitement, well what next when this novelty wears off..(and it will) Just a 10 lap shootout? Nothing equitable or admirable about this format.

  9. Avatar

    Fantastic article but sadly we can’t ignore Pharaoh Obama like we can ignore Joker France. The Pharaoh continues to harm the country, the Joker has killed a sport. Both cases are extremely sad.

  10. Avatar

    Sorry to see you go, but as a fan, I’m going through the same things. Getting worked up over something I cannot change. I’ll still watch but it’s getting to the point where I’ll be watching fewer races and getting outside more Sundays. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

    BTW, I think I’ll start calling it the Shamrock Series. Too much luck in determining a Champion.

  11. Avatar

    THE THRILL IS GONE AND I DIDN’T MAKE IT THAT WAY.

  12. Avatar

    I completely understand. 5-10 years ago, I planned a good portion of my weekends around NASCAR. Now, I either casually follow the running order or check on Monday to see who won. It’s not what it used to be at all, and the only reason I still even casually follow it is because of an interest in the drivers. Nothing against Harvick, because he did have a great year–but this “championship” is essentially meaningless.

    • Avatar

      Ditto. With the exception of Martinsville, I don’t think I watched a single race flag-to-flag. Heck, I’m from Alabama & didn’t even bother with Talladega.

      Let not your heart be troubled: USAR ProCup is everything that Winston Cup (ahem) used to be. If only they could get another tv deal…

      • Avatar

        For me, I’m becoming more interested in sportscar racing (IMSA). It seems to maintain the more traditional ways of running races and competing for championships, but it is still interesting to watch.

  13. Avatar

    Thanks for the articles and insights Jeff, and I’ll definitely miss your columns. Please continue writing when you can.

  14. Avatar

    Jeff – you WILL be missed!!! I heartily agree with everything you wrote in your column above – how any ONE person can single-handedly ruin the only sport I’ve ever followed is beyond me. I long for the ‘old’ days when racing was racing and there was leeway to how creative crew chiefs could be — which kept the competition going up, up, up – and when the cars actually looked like they should look. Please don’t go too far away….

  15. Avatar

    Good luck in the future, Jeff. Like you, I too have made the transition to casual fan. I watch the road races from flag to flag, otherwise, show me the highlights. Probably Daytona too because its too damn cold to do anything else. Maybe NASCAR will wake up one of these days though I doubt it so long as Brain (sic) runs the show.

  16. Avatar

    Jeff. I’m a 30+ year fan and I’ve watched this series for a long time and seeing it die a slow death at the hands of Brain fart france has been hard to watch. When long tome die hard fans like me start feeling apathetic, nas$car is in trouble. The chase charade has been a joke from the beginning. And how many major sports seem to have their rules written in pencil so they can change them as they please. With you leaving, this site has lost one more vital part that drew me in a decade ago. Hard edged has become vanilla crème. And the dorks at Daytona want it that way. First Matt. Now you. This site has little allure to me now.

  17. Avatar

    I was a NASCAR viewer in the 2nd half of the 90’s and in 2000. Then, we didn’t have the channels to watch races again until 2011. I have a Twitter and Facebook friend named Whitney that’s like you. She used to be a big fan, but now she’s a casual fan. Her busy life and other interests, in addition to her frustrations, which may include her favorite team’s performance lately are why she’s that way.

  18. Avatar

    Jeff, really sorry to hear you are leaving,,,,,I guess we can add you to the list of Matt Mclaughlin, Mike Mulhern, and Monte Dutton, who no longer need the aggravation of reporting on WWF on wheels. It’s kind of sad that this is one of the few websites that discussed real racing with real fans, but I have seen that changing the last several years. Take a look at Jayski today (# of articles is less than a page) and count the number of articles that accurately review this years championship chase. Looks like B France was right, and all those drops in ratings and empty and covered seats were imagination by the real fans.

  19. Avatar

    Thanks for all the articles, zingers and chuckles along the way. It’s been great reading your columns each Monday and I’ll miss your “telling it like it is”! Enjoy your other activities but I hope you’ll be back!

  20. Avatar

    It seems that everything that I like is going away. Racing has degererated in to a marketing program where people who call themselves drivers are making millions while finishing middle of the pack or worse. The country I love is falling apart without any leadership. The writers are burned out, telling it like it is rather than some fluff job being concerned about political correctness. Finally, huge amounts of money to drivers and teams have made them bow down to sponsors. Oh well.

  21. Avatar

    Congratulations sir, you have firmly established yourself as a redneck. You are officially among the people who have played a part dragging both a once great sport and a once great country to the ground because you cling to the “good ‘ole days” while you sit on your couch with a beer in your hand and a motor in your mouth. I hope the door hits you on your way out, because you’re nothing but a fake, both as a racing fan and as an American, and filth like you deserve a boot in the butt, for only when you and the rest of your inbred kin are put in their place will NASCAR and America get back what your kind stole from them: dignity and pride.

  22. Avatar

    You will be missed Jeff !!! Hopefully you get back sooner then later ! Frontstretch was the first thing I found when I got an iPod and was trying to find story’s on NASCAR and my driver CARL ! I am one of those that appreciates your sense of humor ! Best wishes to you ,Jeff !

  23. Avatar

    Greetings
    Happy trails to and yours.
    You will be missed, I have read and agreed with you for a long time.
    I surely wish the mafia goons in NA$CAR would get their heads in the correct place and attempt to repair all the damage they had done to our sport.
    Good luck and I will watch for your articles after your well needed break.

  24. Avatar

    Sorry to see you go Jeff. I became a race fan over 50 years ago and I’ve seen the highest highs and the lowest lows possible. Unfortunately for us true fans of auto racing, the choices are becoming fewer. You can follow spec car series like NA$CAR, the Rolex series, and IndyCar, or you can follow something like WRC, Aussie V-8’s, Robby Gordon’s truck series, drag racing, or F-1.

    Happy trails compadre and enjoy several cold ones for me.