A quick getaway dash to Charlotte. A beautiful cloudless day in the sixties. A lovely downtown hotel. Fun dinner at a noodle bar with exotic dishes. Walking the sidewalks at night with the lights from streetlamps creating soft halos on skyrise storefronts. Two days without estate headaches.
We used visiting the NASCAR Hall of Fame as our excuse. We'd wanted to go for ages, so we went. What we really did was escape the pressure we'd been under for months. Two days isn't much, but we had such fun studying the older race cars, reading the bios of the Hall of Fame winners, admiring the architecture of the building, and finally, when we needed to sit a bit, listening to the State of the Sport as given by Brian France et al. Reporters didn't fill the prepared seating, so we sat around the outside edges, listening closely to the blah, blah, blah that middle-aged men in suits seem to use to mask any real substantive comments or remarks.
I was struck by how far removed these men (all of the speakers and head honchos) seemed from the real sport of stock car racing. Not a bit of grease under a fingernail. Not a ball cap between any of them. They weren't so hot in the public speaking department, either. But when B. France referenced how they planned to make the stock cars more car-like next year, and how surprised the manufacturers seemed, but nicely so, I realized what the difference is. Fans, racers, mechanics, crew chiefs, owners, all care about winning and the moves on the track that get to P1. Making that hot rod faster than the speed of light (only theoretically) is the name of the game. The NASCAR suits are all about making the corporations happy. Money. Everything is aimed for bringing in more bottoms in the stands, i.e., money, and more sponsor dollars for the ISC crowd. France said there had to be "a story" for the year to be successful. Give the media a theme. Give the fans something other than racing. Baloney. Phooey. Poohdiddle.
Kurt Busch has the right idea. Go back to racing for fun, for winning for the guys who slaved over your car late at night, for your owner who has grease under his fingernails as well. NASCAR has become so much about big business, I fear the real joy racing embodies is on the endangered list.
I sure hope not. How I wish Cale, Ned, Smokey, Dale, Lee, and all that crowd ran the sport today.