Went to the races at Bristol Motor Speedway this past weekend. It was my first time at Bristol and the night racing was an excellent change from the mid-day scorching heat that typically accompanies races at Texas Motor Speedway and Talladega in the spring and summer.
A few things struck me at the races on Friday and Saturday night which I had noticed before, but never really considered.
First is the way NASCAR presents itself to the general public in relation to other “major league” sports. No other sport really encompasses and really SELLS the very “American-ness” of its roots, its fans and its support the way NASCAR does. Love it or hate it, this is truly an American sport in every sense of the phrase. Name another sporting event at which an invocation is given always in the name of Jesus Christ as a truly Christian prayer? Name another sporting event at which everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, stands with their hat over their heart during the entire National Anthem, singing along as if they were in the shower at home?
Yes, NASCAR, for all the stereotypes and prejudices people try to heap upon it, is about as American (in the traditional sense that is) as you can get in a sport these days. And while it has become en vogue for more mainstream sports fans to disconnect their athletic passion from the spirit of FREEDOM that was so closely tied to their roots in this country, NASCAR fans only seem to increase the connection with theirs.
Never in my life have I seen so fiercely patriotic a group of 160,000 people in one place. And this is the fastest growing sport in all of these great United States of America.
Baseball and basketball are experiencing a depression of sorts, and I fear were it not such a violent sport, football wouldn’t be far behind. The reason people are flocking as fans to sports like racing is because the former have athletes who have no concern but their paychecks. NASCAR fans on the other hand have true ambassadors such as Richard Petty, a man who literally has signed every single autograph for every single fan that he’s encountered that has requested one. No figure in any sport can match his unending love for his sport, nor the fans to which he is beholden.
You see, fans want heroes in sport because it gives them a feeling of greatness that they may be lacking in their own lives. And yet fans also want to be respected for their freely given admiration and support. They do not want to feel abused, used and financially raped to make a few spoiled thugs richer than they ought to be.
Going into the track on friday night for the Busch Series race, I was struck by just how easy it was to get into the track. Sure, there was security and a checkpoint….but it had nothing to do with Homeland Security or terrorism. It was to make sure you didn’t bring glass bottles into the track. Aluminum cans are fine. Yes, at most tracks in the NASCAR circuit, fans can bring in food, drink, hell you can bring in a picnic if it suits your tastes.
In this age of security threats and terrorism warnings, a gathering of 160,000 people crammed into such a small space would normally garner the most excruciatingly painful of rules and regulations that would make even the most hardened bureaucrat sore. And yet after thinking about exactly why that was…I looked around me. An Islamic terrorist wouldn’t make it out of the parking lot, much less into the stadium. To the elite Left in this country (and abroad), such a fact would bring the strictest ire and contempt, labelled nothing shy of racist. But in NASCAR circles “political correctness” flies about as well as pig shit on a rainy day.
And that’s just the way we like it.