Woody: Another So-Called Race, Another Snoozer
It’s become a weekly refrain: Last week’s race at (fill in the blank) was an uncompetitive bore.
Matt Kenseth’s Texas one-step DID differ a bit from most of the so-called racing that has become the NASCAR norm: in a typical race the drivers log laps for 95 percent of the race, then turn it on during the final few laps and at least give the fans an exciting finish.
At Texas they didn’t even do that. Kenseth breezed to victory without a semblance of a challenge from speck-in-the-mirror Clint Bowyer.
I watched the race – or tried to. I drained the batteries on my remote control channel-surfing to try to find something to fill in the boring stretches. The TV guys would be jabbering about how “Matt has built a 5-second lead …” I’d flip over to the Animal Planet and watch a lion eat a wart hog, then flip back to the race where the TV guys were droning, “… and Matt is maintaining his 5-second lead …”
The telecast producers were so desperate for a little action that at one point they re-played a wreck from the previous race at Martinsville.
But at least I stuck with it, unlike more and more former fans that are abandoning the NASCAR ship. The weekly Empty Seat Survey doesn’t lie.
My buddy Don Christopher is a typical fan. He grew up immersed in racing, and when I was assigned the NASCAR beat by my newspaper he was my technical advisor. Don traveled with me to Daytona, Talladega and other venues for over 30 years. He always knew more about the sport than I did.
Last Sunday night I called to ask what he thought about the Texas race and he asked who won. He
didn’t watch it.
Don – who once could name not only every driver’s number but also most of their crew chiefs and sponsors – has lost interest.
He says the racing is boring and, as a former fan of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, he can’t identify with today’s drivers.
Don doesn’t make a big fuss about it. He doesn’t rant about the rotten racing. He doesn’t write angry letters to NASCAR or burn his collection of racing caps in protest. He just gradually quit following it. He has found other things to do on Sunday afternoons – something better than watching young millionaires cruise around in circles while whining about how hard they have to work.
I wonder how many other Dons are out there – once-rabid race fans who have become disenchanted and drifted away?
The solution is to have more exciting, interesting racing, but how to do it? It seems that the more fans gripe, the more boring the racing becomes – witness last Sunday’s Texas yawner that lacked even an exciting last-lap sprint.
Don hasn’t entirely given up on the sport to which he was once devoted. He still watches the Bristol night race and both Talladega races. That means he’ll be tuned in this weekend. There’s always tension at Talladega, and most of the field manages to stay in the same zip code as the leader. Nowadays that’s a racing rarity.
Talladega can usually be counted on to wake up the fans. The question is, for how long?
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments