Let's go all the way

Posted by Iannucci | 2/24/2007 | 1 comments »
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Forgive me for going off on a NASCAR tangent here. I’ve tried to reserve my thoughts relating to last Sunday’s Bic Lighter Daytona 500 out of the realm of Indy Racing League discussion, but after seeing this on the MSN.com home page I just have to say something.

Popular Searches: Daytona crashes
If it's OK to cheer for the wrecks as long as no one gets hurt, there was a lot to cheer about at the Daytona 500, including the dramatic finish.
Now I know that there are a certain number of folks who count themselves as race fans who watch primarily to see the carnage. I accept that, and in fact the little old lady who lives next door to me admitted as much this weekend when she said she was bored with the first half of the race. I am not making that up.

However as an IndyCar fan I can’t possibly relate to this. Oh sure, I could argue that IndyCar crashes are more spectacular because the cars are designed to disintegrate around the driver. I could also link to the flaming Ryan Briscoe, the flying Buddy Rice, the flipping Mario Andretti, or even Kevin Cogan vs The Pit Entry Barrier, but I’ll just let you find those for yourself.

No, I do NOT “cheer for wrecks” precisely BECAUSE someone could get hurt. They don’t flash a big disclaimer across the screen that says “No drivers were harmed during the filming of this crash” during races, and despite the recent safety improvements in just about all forms of racing I still cringe when I see a horrific accident. Last year I had to explain what happened to Paul Dana to P1, and she seemed to dial down the excitement for the series premier at Homestead when she realized someone could actually die. Thankfully Katherine Legge was unharmed when her Champ Car ride went flying to bits at Road America, but we were terrified – not cheering – when we saw it happen.

Yes, on occasion I watch Champ Car. Everyone needs a nap, alright?

Look, I realize accidents are going to occur in auto racing and I often marvel at them after the fact, but I know those spectacular crashes often end a career or worse, a life. As thrilling as racing is you can’t be having fragile imperfect human beings flying around at 200 MPH and expect everything to be always be Okey Dokey. Like so many bad things in life tragic accidents going to happen.

So for someone to actually HOPE for an accident means they must not have any personal attachment to the drivers. I don’t mean they aren’t cheering for someone to win, I mean they don’t care what happens to them. We see the shiny cars racing at breakneck speed, but evidently some us forget those are people’s sons, daughters, husbands, wives, and parents in those metal boxes.

I base this on no scientific evidence, but I suppose this is more of a NASCAR phenomenon than any other form of racing since those races tend to have A LOT more crashes and crash fans. Additionally, I’ve noticed positive responses to the carnage at the end of the Kingsford Charcoal Daytona 500 – even asking asking if this was the greatest Daytona race ever – so I’m going suggest NASCAR just drop the pretense and give these Road Warrior lovers what they want.

The Maaco Hummer series.

We’ve gone from cars to trucks, so the next logical step is the SUV. This new series will not only feature vehicles designed to withstand impacts with any object, it will do away altogether with those pesky yellow flags. Hey, if officials and stuff the yellow flag in the pocket while over a dozen cars are heading in the wrong direction at Daytona then let’s do it for the entire race EVERY RACE.

Hummer series vehicles will be a bit slower, but they’ll still feature prominent NASCAR regulars mixing in with youngsters who are barely old enough to drive. That should be exciting! Also, every vehicle will come with NASCAR approved spiked rims that you can also purchase for your ride at your local Discount Tire.

Every race will only be 100 miles since we’d be lucky to get that much out of any single car. However the fuel cell will be small enough so drivers still require a half dozen pit stops. Initial race sponsors include Blue Cross, United Healthcare and AFLAC.

Lastly, the points system will be a little different, with bonus points based on the career of the still popular but still deceased Dale Earnhardt. Drivers will be awarded points based on the position of the car they knock out of the race. Bump draft the leader and you get 43 points, but only 1 point if you knock out the poor soul at the back. Let them all gun for the leader.

If the folks want crashes where no one gets hurt, then this should work. Let’s light this candle, NASCAR fans!


  1. Anonymous // February 25, 2007 6:46 PM  

    Very well said. Did you happen to watch this afternoon's Auto Club 500 and see David Reutimann's crash into the SAFER barrier? (Please pardon my brief, delusional foray into NASCAR viewing...) His car happened to be one in which Fox had an in-car camera, and what really struck me was the replay of his crew trying to get him to talk after his crash. Reutimann just sat there motionless and unresponsive, and as a viewer, there was no way to know if he had suffered internal injuries or just had the wind knocked out of him. It was pretty alarming. He finally showed signs of life when his crew pled with him to get out of his car because it was on fire.

    I can understand how our human nature draws us to look twice (or more) at a car crash, but I am similarly perplexed that this unavoidable fascination could turn into something to cheer about.