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Memo: Things Could Get Real Ugly in NASCAR Garages

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 12 2011

A couple of reasons why allowing shorts in the garages might be a bad idea. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Let’s see what’s in the old Saturday Memo today:

NASCAR has set itself up for an environmental disaster of major proportions this coming season. It is a disaster the effects of which, I predict, will range from nightmares to temporary blindness.

It is the off-season decree by series officials that fans, and especially media, will be allowed to wear shorts in the garages and infields at races this year.

My friends, some doors were never meant to be opened.

The banishment of shorts, sleeveless shirts and open-toed shoes has been in effect for, basically, forever.

Reasons for the ban have always been kind of obscure. The blanket reason thrown over the ban was to safeguard the physical safety of those in the garages and pit road environs.

I always figured that if a 3,400-pound car ran over your foot, it didn’t matter if you were wearing Birkenstocks or Chuck Taylors. The car and tire were going to leave a mark no matter what the footwear.

I likewise figured that a cotton jean was not really going to protect legs from red-hot exhaust headers or back-fire flame bursts all that much better than leg hair.

And sleeveless shirts? If somebody has contorted himself or herself to such a degree that their shoulders are in danger, they shouldn’t be allowed near running automobiles in the first place.

I have alway felt that heat exhaustion was always a bigger threat to the health of spectators than was a crushed toe.

Also, other series have allowed the wearing of shorts in garage area forever. In fact, in the IndyCar Series, crew members – apparently unconcerned about leaning on a hot manifold – often wear shorts while bending over crammed engine bays.

No, the real danger stemming from the wearing of shorts in NASCAR garages this season will be emotional scarring from having to view legs that are Hollywood-special-effects ugly.

We’re talking veins and hair and knobs here folks.

I like John Darby, Mike Helton and most of the people I share press rooms with. But some secrets need to be kept. And I include the secrets that reside inside my own pant legs.

So, for those planning to hit the garages this year, please consider eating bland, light food before heading on though those gates. The combination of ghastly legs and race track food could be trouble.

And finally, parents, talk to your children. Something like this should not be left up to strangers or public school teachers or even clergy.

Memo to self: Pray for a nice, cool summer.

Hero worship

There is a little bit of amateur psychologist in all of us. We’re always looking for little tells in other people’s personalities. We are constantly trying to figure out what makes them tick.

I think we all got a peek at the inner Kyle Busch during media day at Daytona on Thursday. We got it when he was asked about Ben Roethlisberger and other athletes who are not especially beloved by the

Kyle Busch says long live aberrant personalities. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

public.

“It makes me relate to them and it makes me like them,” Busch said. “Like a Barry Bonds for instance.  He’s a great baseball player, you can’t deny that from him, although there might be some speculation  or whatever you want to call it there late in his career that kind of hurt his image a little bit.  Overall, the guy did a lot for baseball and a lot for the sport and was very good at what he did.  Tom Brady, a lot of people don’t like Tom Brady.  Why?  He’s good at what he does.  He’s very good at what he does and he’s very young and very good at what he does.

Same thing with (Ben) Roethlisberger, same thing with now Aaron Rodgers – he’s really good. There’s a lot of athletes that I can relate to that are kind of under the same scope that I am and I like all those guys.  I like people that are good at what they do and it’s not that they know that they’re good at what they do, but they are accomplished and they know how to accomplish what they want to.”

Memo to self: Send Kyle thank-you note for not including Michael Vick in that response.

Surface infatuation

So, after a couple months of off season noodling, it seems a lot of people are saying that the savior of NASCAR is here. They’re saying that this savior will get the 2011 season off to such a powerful start

The new Daytona surface will have to be better than this, right? (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

that five years of declining Nielsens and grandstand-seat vacancies will, snap, become laughable memories.

The name of the savior is asphalt.

Specifically, the new asphalt at Daytona International Speedway. Everybody in the sport seems to love it. They’re predicting big things for it. Like the bestest, most greatest, loveable/huggable race in ever.

Two wide, three wide, four wide; pick any number less than 44 and that his how many cars will be going door to door for 200 laps next Sunday.

The race will be so exciting that non fans will be made new fans, new fans will be made forever fans and old fans will begin wearing “I Love Brian” pins on their Sam Bass t-shirts.

The excitement stems from a couple of tests which have been held on the track since the new asphalt cured late last year. Drivers say the stuff is so smooth, grippy and fast that their excitement is tempered with a bit of anxiety. Might be too smooth, grippy and fast. The 200 mph barrier is in mega danger.

And that, folks, is just the kind of talk we all love.

But disappointment, thou hast a name and that name is Life in the 21st Century. The best laid surfaces often go awry.

Expecting parents, do not name your future child Polymer Mix just yet.

In this era of uncertainty, we have all been let down before by sure things. In life, in racing and even in re-pave jobs. Think everything from Chicagoland to Bristol. Good asphalt tends to be seasoned asphalt.

Here’s hoping the Bud Shootout, the Gatorade qualifying races and the Daytona 500 will range somewhere between boffo and epic. But, here also is a word of caution born out of experience.

Memo to self: Ah, the power of negative thinking.

Finally a couple of cap doffs to: Tom Carnegie and that wonderful, goose-bump raising voice, Chip Ganassi (an ownership run that nobody can match), Leigh Diffey (best race broadcaster in America), Jim France (Grand-Am is indeed grand), Hurley Haywood (still a gentleman after all these years) and the Green Bay Packers.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 12 2011
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Terry says:

    I am with you all the way. Please remember ( coveralls )
    sponsors get more from less exposer….as for the ladies well….less is more …more or less.
    I don’t like Ben Rottenberger either.
    How hot slick will the Daytona track be for the Firecrack.
    GO # 21……