NASCAR Takes Manhattan? Not So Much.

With all due respect to Darrell Waltrip and whatnot, I have to say, I think he’s kind of full of crap sometimes. Like now, when he weighs in on the annual and annually tiresome "should NASCAR hold its year-end banquet in New York City" debate and assures us that, doggone it, yes, it should!

Um, Mr. Waltrip? DW? Jaws? No. No, NASCAR really shouldn’t hold its year-end banquet in New York City because, um, NO ONE IN NEW YORK CITY CARES!

Waltrip, and anyone else who insists on defending the silly idea of NASCAR coming to New York, clings to the outmoded idea that NASCAR somehow needs to be in the media capital of the world – as though by being forced to acknowledge its existence, members of that august institution who otherwise eschew the sport will suddenly awake to its hidden charms. Right.

Waltrip saves his most absurd for this paragraph, however:
“Jimmie Johnson got to New York on Monday. He is being taken all over town doing media events, photo shoots, personal appearances plus interviews of all kinds from folks across the globe. He does anything and everything that’s asked of him before he finally gets to sit at the head table Friday night. Whether you like it or not, it does make a huge statement for our sport for us to be in New York City. It’s hard for a sport to basically take over the entire city of New York for a week, but NASCAR does.”
First and foremost, having attended a few of these year-end charades myself, I question the idea that there’s an adoring horde of media “from across the globe” traipsing at Johnson’s heels – of course, perhaps the crumbling economy has inexplicably created an international appetite for all things NASCAR that wasn’t there the years I attended. Regardless, in my experience, the vast majority of reporters chronicling the champ’s every move in NYC are the very same people who chronicled his every move throughout the season.
But, more to the point, and while I hesitate to say I think Waltrip is delusional … of course, he did drive in the days before air scrubbers in the cockpit lessened the affects of carbon monoxide poisoning .. oh, never mind. Still, whatever the root cause of Waltrip’s brain fart, there’s just no defending the idea that NASCAR “take[s] over the entire city …”
No. No. No. And no. 
How anonymous is NASCAR in New York City, in this, the 28th year since Big Bill brought the circus to town? I’m willing to wager dinner on the following: Send NASCAR’s top 10 drivers out into the city, en masse but minus PR reps, photographers, hangers-on or any other obvious markers that say This Is Somebody, and not three of them will be recognized more than two times. All day.
And, before you dismiss me simply as the bitter, cynical, and cranky bastard that I admit I am – Note to mom: I swear, you’re really not the only one who thinks so!! – it’s worth noting and my occasionally flagging self-image demands that I point out that, in this instance at least, I’m not alone; DW might take exception to my thesis, but at least ESPN’s David Newton doesn’t.