If NASCAR’s town-hall meeting on Tuesday went anything like every presidential town-hall meeting in history, the transcript probably read something like this:
Chairman Brian France: Hello, drivers and owners. Thank you for being here. I would also like to thank Mike Helton, Steve Phelps, Steve O’Donnell, Robin Pemberton, John Darby and Jim Hunter for attending. Last but not least, thank you to his eminence, Dale Earnhardt Jr., for being here today.
Earnhardt Jr.: Town hall meeting? They told me there would be free pancakes.
France: NASCAR faces a number of daunting challenges. Today’s forum is meant to provide a new form of communication between us. Does anyone have any questions?
Tony Stewart: Hi, my name is Tony Stewart. I am a humble, quiet man who owns and drives a race car. Goodyear Tires are awesome. How can we make them awesomer?
France: Thank you for your question, young man. The awesomization of Goodyear Tires is something NASCAR is deeply committed to. You have my word. The next generation of Goodyears will be super-awesome.
Stewart: Thank you. You have completely answered my question and calmed my fears.
France: How about you, young man? What is your question?
Ryan Newman: I just want to let you know, Mr. France, that your drug policy is terrific. I’m afraid to put anything in my body that I did not personally grow in an organic garden. I’ve lost 45 pounds. Your drug policy helps drivers stay clean and lose weight. It’s like a Snuggie. It does two things at once.
France: We are proud that our drug-testing regime is the toughest in pro sports. Yes! The NASCAR drug policy is like a Snuggie. Its very existence is inexplicable and it’s full of holes.
France: Next up, how about a question from the elderly gentleman in the back?
Mark Martin: My name’s Mark Martin. I’m an old man – too old to mince words. Used to be when you got to the front of the pack, someone could catch you and pass. Now, thanks to the Car of Tomorrow, no one can pass you. As an elderly driver, you can see why this appeals to me.
France: Thank you, Mr. Martin, for taking the time to express that sentiment. I could not agree more. We like to say it’s called the Car of Tomorrow because it will be tomorrow before you can pass it.
France: You, young man, the one with the starry look of hope in his eyes.
Kyle Busch: Hi. My name is Kyle Busch. People like me. My question is this: Can we get some of the other guys to act like heels? I feel like I’m doing all of the work around here. Can you force Kasey Kahne to throw a wrench at his crew chief? Maybe encourage Jeff Gordon to rob an Aaron’s? Or have Junior start a small RV park fire? I enjoy being the focus of fan rage, but I can’t do it all.
France: These are excellent suggestions, Mr. Busch. We thought Jimmie Johnson’s new haircut would enrage a good portion of his fans, but clearly we miscalculated. We will get back to the drawing board.
France: You – in the dress.
Jeff Gordon: Hi, my name is Jeff Gordon. People hate me for reasons they can’t articulate. I’m not wearing a dress. My question is this: I recently hurt my back. Is there anything else I could hurt for the sake of the sport? I have several healthy limbs and organs.
France: Your sacrifice, Jeff, is a shining an example to us all. Thank you for endangering your ability to walk as an old man. If the ratings continue to slide, we’re thinking – eye patch. Along with your stooped back, it will give you a pirate edge.
Computer-generated image of Jeff Gordon, age 50, at a yarn store
Kyle Busch.: You’re pretty great. I don’t think this meeting needs to last much longer.
France: Agreed. Thanks for your challenging and thought-provoking questions. Nothing will change.
Earnhardt Jr.: Hooray for pancakes!