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Woody: News Flash – NASCAR Is Noisy

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 2 2010

It has been determined that auto racing is noisy. They forgot about smoky. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer

After an extensive study (funded by extensive tax dollars) our hard-working federal government has come up with a stunning discovery:

Racing is loud.

I wish they’d called me before they went to all that trouble and expense. I could have told them what their experts worked so hard to find out.

Scientists and researchers with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health spent countless hours (and dollars) conducting sound tests at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway.

They concluded that automobile racing creates noise.

They even produced a lot of fancy statistics to prove it, in case someone doesn’t believe them. One “research audiologist” used something called a “personal noise dosimeter” to measure track decibels.

He could have saved himself some time by simply poking his head out the window.

According to the Noise Police, the most noise a worker should be exposed to on an average 8-hour shift is 85 decibels. They found that was exceeded in less than one minute for a driver during practice, within several minutes for team members, and in less than one hour for spectators during a race.

They also made another amazing discovery: if drivers and fans use ear plugs the noise is reduced. (I assume that study was funded by a separate federal Ear Plug Grant.)

From the stories I read, the Noise Police weren’t clear, exactly, about what they expected to be done about the problem. But whatever it is, I’ll bet it will be expensive.

Maybe they could hire some of those PGA guys in the ice cream pants to hold up “Quiet Please” signs while the race is in progress.

Racing and noise have always gone together, and it frequently causes problems. Neighbors living near the old Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway are constantly up in arms (and ears) about the racket, even though there has been auto racing on that site since 1904. That means that only residents 106 years old or older have a right to complain; for everyone else, racing was there when they moved in.

Don’t buy a home beside the airport then gripe every time a plane flies over.

What the Noise Police apparently don’t understand is that most race fans LIKE the sound and fury. The roar of engines is part of the sport. When the field thunders down the front-stretch at Talladega, aluminum seats vibrate and molars rattle. If the cars ever start humming by like electric golf carts, it won’t be Talladega any more.

Again, the Feds weren’t clear what they expected NASCAR to do about its noise pollution, but get ready for some sort of government regulation. (While they’re at it they might also conduct a study of racetrack hot dogs. It’s a busy-body’s double nightmare: a race fan subjecting his ear drums to all that noise while subjecting his gastronomical tract to a track dog.)

Frankly, if I have to choose between noisy and nosey I know which I’ll pick.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes from all the uproar over the roar. Will the Feds try to make NASCAR tone it down? Will drivers and fans support a muffler move? Or will the government’s expensive study fall on deaf ears?

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

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 2 2010


  • just me says:

    Your tax dollars. Wasted….AGAIN. And at a time we can’t AFFORD to WASTE it, you idiots.

  • ed g says:

    Thank God for this research. I have been to NASCAR races at Texas, Daytona, Chicago, Kansas, St. Louis, Bristol and Talladega and was completely unaware of any noise. Please protect me, oh wise ones!

    Now on to minimum MPG requirements for Cup cars (I suggest at least 30 mpg)and catalytic converters to help with emissions. And for spectator safety, let’s have the closest seats to the track at least 1,000 feet in distance and 100 feet high so those nasty cars cannot come up into the grandstands. Larry, if you were any kind of effective advocate you would be working to mandate tofu dogs and lo-cal near beer at the tracks.

  • slander says:

    Your tax dollars at work?