NASCAR Isn’t Crashing and Burning

There are NASCAR fans who will tell you – with a straight face, at that – that they watch racing for the racing. Yeah, well, most politicians swear – swear! – they won’t raise taxes, either. How’s that working out for you?
Anyway, to some race fans, the idea that people might watch a race because, you know, they kinda sorta maybe hope they’ll see an historic, awesome wreck a la Michael McDowell at Texas or just a garden-variety, Robby Gordon-caused fender bender is offensive. Right, these pretenders spit, and presumably you take in a hockey contest in hopes of witnessing unchecked brutality wrought by over-stimulated goons.
Look, I’m actually one of those who does believe hockey is worthwhile without the fights, but that’s neither here nor there. I also happen to believe that NASCAR crashes are, um, you know, kinda sorta … cool. And the mere possibility that one might occur heightens my interest.
And you know what? I’m not a lunkhead (or at least, that’s what my mom tells me) and I’m not alone, as Jade Gurss, author of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s book Driver #8 and Jr.’s former PR rep, makes pretty freaking clear.
So, on the assumption Gurss and I aren’t alone in appreciating a good crash every now and again, the recent news that crashes in NASCAR were down pretty dramatically in 2008 is somewhat bittersweet.
Obviously, that the sport is safer and that no Cup driver has died since Earnhardt Sr. in February 2001 is all to the good. But if any reasonable portion of NASCAR’s fan base, already stretched thin economically and apparently frustrated by what it perceives to be boring racing (brought about by the safer Car of Tomorrow), is given one less reason to spend five hours every Sunday either at the track or watching a race on TV – well, that’s not so good.


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