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Woody: Caution Free, Action Free

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, June 29 2010

"Action" from Sunday's race in New Hampshire. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

At one point during the record 201 caution-free laps of (ahem) racing last Sunday at New Hampshire Speedway I flipped off the TV (mechanically speaking) and went outdoors.

I watched the grass grow for awhile. Then I found some paint and watched it dry. Both were considerably more entertaining than what I’d been watching.

When I finally went back inside and turned on the TV, I found I’d missed all the excitement: Kasey Kahne’s car had quit running and Juan Montoya and Jeff Gordon had scratched their fenders. Wow. Be still, my heart.

That was about it until the final 20 or so laps when business finally picked up.

It was one of the most boring races I’ve ever almost sat through, so naturally I wasn’t surprised when many fellow scribes started twittering over such an exhibition of skill and finesse.

Some of the same pundits who were distressed over the wreck-o-rama at Sonoma the previous week loved the lap-logger in Loudon. I thought the race was as flat as the track, but they seemed thrilled over the fact that almost nothing at all happened.

I don’t get their “nice-is-right” attitude, but then I don’t see the big deal over Lady Gaga either.

I’m not saying there has to be a pileup in every corner on every lap, but I don’t understand how watching polite young gentlemen endlessly mince around in carefree circles is supposed to pop your Pacemaker.

I don’t know how TV ratings are compiled, but it would be interesting to know how many viewers stuck with the telecast during the long stretches of non-racing. I have a buddy who’s a life-long NASCAR fan and he has started tuning out. He tries to plan it so he tunes in for the final laps and that’s it. NASCAR has become the NBA on wheels – catch the finish and you’ve seen it all.

I realize that it takes skill to drive a car in fast circles inside a concrete barrier, but there’s supposed to be more to racing than that. It also takes skill to drive in rush-hour traffic, four-wide, pedal-down, nose-to-tail, but nobody’s going to buy a ticket to watch the morning commute.

After 40 years of covering NASCAR I’m not giving up. What’s the viewing alternative – watch some guy from Guyana bounce a ball off his noggin?

I’ll continue to tune in, hoping to catch an occasional glimpse of racing the way it used to be – like this spring’s Talladega classic or the action-packed road-rage special at Sonoma a couple of weeks ago. Who knows, maybe someday they’ll start racing at Bristol again.

But I’ve become resigned to the fact that such bursts of action and excitement are the exception rather than the rule.

Today it’s all about the “big picture” and protecting a position in the point standings, about staying out of trouble and not forcing the issue, about riding around for three hours, then (maybe) racing for three minutes at the end.

I’ll continue to tune in periodically to see if I’m missing anything – if by some chance a race might have broken out – but meanwhile I’ve got more exciting ways to spend my time. There’s grass growing in the back yard and paint drying on the barn.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, June 29 2010
5 Comments

5 Comments »

  • john says:

    BORING BORING BORING IS JUST WHAT IT WAS. ITS MORE EXCITING DRIVING MY STREET CAR IN TRAFFIC. MY GIRL FRIEND SAID SHE COULD DRIVE AS WELL AS THE NASCAR DRIVERS, IT LOOKS SO EASY. I NOW GO TO MY LOCAL SHORT TRACKS AND WATCH TOUGH ,ROUGH GUYS DRIVE HARD. john

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  • Ray Saloomey says:

    Wanna see some stock car racing – get someone to broadcast the Modifieds – nobody does it better than northeast modified drivers!

  • slander says:

    I have a few friends who were at the race, and they said there was some good, hard racing going on all over the track. They enjoyed it.

    I watched the whole thing on TV, start to finish, and I wasn’t disappointed at what I saw. TNT showed what they could. Granted, it wasn’t perfect, but they did do a fairly good job of showing plenty of battles (add RaceBuddy to the mix to catch even more…). They certainly did a far better job of it than those clown-shoes at FOX.

    You know the old saying? “To finish first, first you must finish.” Yeah, it was like that. Guys were racing hard, and there was a bit of shoving going on, but they weren’t getting stupid to the point of tearing their cars up in the process. The 2/48 tag-your-it (not to mention the 2/14 ’scuse-me-comin’-thru-thnxbai) was an all-day, almost-every-lap thing.

    Rock-em, sock-em bumper cars? Hardly. But boring? Not a chance. That was hard racing, the way it oughta be™…

  • scorer27 says:

    New Hamster is THE WORST track on the circiut and the races there suck more than a skimmer in the gulf! THEN, on top of that you have to endure the TNT clowns and there sorry excuse for a broadcast. It was amazing how bad it was.

    Ever since the creation of “THE CHASE” I have compared the Cup show to WWE but as usual Larry you nailed it, NBA on Wheels is perfect.

    I spend virtually every weekend at a track somewhere in the south. Few are as fun to me than when I get to visit the Fairgrounds in Nashville, or Five Flags in Pensacola or the amazing facility that I work at known as Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, GA. These are great facilities with awesome racing and they should be sold out every time they open the gates. Yet, the boring Sunday afternoon / Saturday night parades know as NASCAR has harmed these tracks and many others. People watch this stuff on TV and many assume that all racing is the same so there is no reason for them to visit their local track.

    Once again, thanks for sharing your insight and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.