Concerning Tony Stewart, NASCAR Is (Lug)Nuts


So, let me get this straight. Tony Stewart raises a safety concern and gets fined $35,000 by NASCAR for it. Then NASCAR changes their rules, stating that, going forward, all lugnuts must be tightened. Yeah, that makes sense. Shoot the messenger, then do what he said.

Tony Stewart isn’t always one for saintliness, but doesn’t it say a lot about his character that he will pay his fine anyway, and the money raised from the NASCAR’s driver’s council to pay it for him will be donated to charity? Now that’s classy.

What’s not classy is how NASCAR has handled Stewart’s remarks. While the retiring superstar may have strongly worded his opinions regarding lugnut tightening, isn’t it understandable on a matter of safety, the speaker go for maximum impact with his word and his tone? Wouldn’t you agree the things he said about NASCAR could have been a lot worse?

By its track record, NASCAR has demonstrated an allergy to admissions of wrong. It’s a history of stubbornness dating all the way back to Big Bill France himself. Heaven forbid we admit that we admit we got something wrong and vow to make it right!

It seems like the more professional way of handling the matter would have been to do this: Imagine if NASCAR’s response to Stewart went this way, “It should go without saying that safety is of paramount importance in NASCAR. While we take umbrage with the tone of the charges made by Tony Stewart, we can appreciate his own concern for safety, and how frustration may result. To this end, we are calling Mr. Stewart in for a meeting to discuss his concerns face-to-face. After that meeting, we will determine whether or not we need to revisit the matter of tightening lug nuts on our race cars.”

Would that have been so hard to do? It never ceases to amaze this observer how NASCAR continues to shoot itself in the foot in the court of public opinion. If you need any clearer example that people of great wealth live in ivory towers far removed from the reality of life, here is NASCAR’s Brian France with Exhibit “A.” I think a study of family trees would find that France must surely be a distant relative of Marie “Let them eat cake” Antionette. Kudos to Tony Stewart for affecting change at the expense of his bank account.