Watch & Learn, Keith Olbermann



OK, Keith Olbermann, I get it- you don’t like NASCAR. It’s no big deal; heck, lots of NASCAR fans don’t like NASCAR in its current form. To each his own. If my circle of friends were limited to those who were as crazy about NASCAR I was, I wouldn’t be able to fit a golf ball through the said sphere.

That’s not the issue: the problem here is your disrespect for the participants in the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. You say it is like driving a taxi cab in New York , or negotiating eight lanes of traffic in the City of Angels. Really? You truly would think that such an elitist would be better educated.

First of all, let us consider the difference between 70 miles per hour and 200! Since you are often incapable of original thought, have your research team check it out. Imagine covering the length of a football field in one second; think of the g-forces pulling on you as you pilot a car weighing over three thousand pounds at that speed.

Oh yeah, and then there’s the left turns about which you critics like to make jokes. You’ll have to slow down, thus apply the brakes; but how much brake do you apply? Speaking of braking, have you ever come to a sudden stop in heavy traffic with the driver behind you bearing down on you? Kind of scary, isn’t it? You remember learning about braking distance when studying for  your driver’s test? The faster you go, the more braking distance you need. There’s one little problem, you may have as many as 42 other drivers tailgating you.

Check out this video (click here.) Check out the heart rate and breaths per second. Now keep that up for as many as 500 miles. You may say that this is a different kind of race car on a different kind of course- it’s apples and oranges. It’s more like comparing red delicious to yellow delicious apples. It’s still driving a car at high speeds while trying to negotiate a race course. It takes every ounce of concentration you have not to run into to somebody, mistime your braking, or weave your way through the heavy traffic. Now keep that up for approximately four hours.

This doesn’t even take into account the heat, which can in turn lead to dehydration, and any number of things that can exhaust a driver. All you have to do is look at a driver being interviewed after race. They look they have run a marathon; there may be a reason for that.

The solution is simple, Mr. Olbermann: go the track on race weekend. You don’t have to race yourself, but get into one of the race cars where you can do a ride-along. Remember the ABC summer series Fast Cars & Superstars? When former Lakers star John Salley tried running a few laps, I thought he would wet his pants. Come to think of it, Keith, you may want to bring along a change of underwear. Things happen that scare even seasoned drivers. Every athlete or sports figure who has gotten close to the action has come away with a brand new appreciation for NASCAR’s participants. You may not need much athleticism, but it sure helps. All the off-track activities Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Josh Wise, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards partake of have helped better equipped them for the rigors of racing.

Keith Olbermann, watch and learn. Check it out, and then tell the sporting public what you think. You may still find yourself not enjoying NASCAR racing, but at least you should come away with at least a measure of respect for the sport. Yes, it is a sport. You really would think that a broadcast professional who has a thinning list of places to work would choose his word more carefully.