NASCAR, seemingly, is the perfect shit-storm of family fun. It has loud, expensive toys that occasionally go boom, athletes who aren’t really athletes and more merchandise than a Disney convention. But despite all this, and the fact that it’s already insanely popular, there’s still a decent amount of elitist prejudice from traditional sports fans who think it’s nothing more than glorified go-kart racing.
In this week’s edition of Don’t Hate, we’re sticking it those very elitist sports fans and explaining why NASCAR doesn’t deserve their hatred. Boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing, haters.
5. Because Rednecks Are Smart – Maybe Smarter than You
Let’s face it—common sense would dictate that there’s no way a band of idiots can make a car go 190 mph without it somehow blowing up, or orchestrate a high-stakes pit-stop – which means changing all four tires and refueling— in the time it would take for the average person to write out their name in cursive. The stereotype is that NASCAR is populated by idiot rednecks, doing redneck things, because they’re rednecks. But that just ain’t true, homey.
It takes brains to compete in NASCAR. There’s more strategy that goes into turning left 200 times in a row than any outsider realizes. A driver and his crew have to take into account things like weight distribution, drafting, fuel management, tire friction and a dozen other forces that impact the car on the fly at any second. And there’s more ingenuity to building and maintaining a badass automobile than anybody likes to admit.
True, every car does look the same on the outside, but they’re each custom built by different machinists and engineers who measure improvements and win or lose millions of dollars by fractions of a second. A NASCAR race is basically a chess match on wheels, except there’s a chance you might die in spectacular fashion if you’re behind one of those wheels and you screw up.
4. Because Screw Weight Training & Conditioning
What we consider the four main major sports (football, basketball, baseball and hockey) all mostly require that a person spend years fine-tuning his physique before he’s ready to step up to the top level and compete. We’re talking biceps and ass muscles, impeccable reflexes, respectable 40-yard dash times, the pressure to indulge in PEDs and maybe a few baby mamas. Landing at the top of any of these sports takes years of physical development, and the fortune of having been born with athletic ability. But since the pot at the end of the rainbow is filled with gold and vaginas, you press on.
All NASCAR asks, however, is that you have a titanium-fused, King Kong-sized set of balls, and the ability to think on your feet. Or ass, we suppose, is more appropriate. And the payoff for trading in a weight bench for a helmet and a wrench is not as disparate as you think. Know what sport has more female fans per average—a little over 40%—than both the NFL and MLB? That’s right…NASCAR.
Lesson? Chicks dig the ride, and NASCAR doesn’t discriminate against flabby.
3. Because They’re Man Enough to Tweak Their Own System
Because NASCAR basically grew out of lawless moonshine derbies and barstool conferences, they have no reservations about adapting with the times, or actually listening to their fans about what might need changing, like their points system that determines each year’s Sprint Cup champion.
Apparently, the system was astoundingly confusing for a sport that is comparatively easy to follow (whoever crosses finish line first = winner). But they modified its format, and they did it for noble and just reasons that make sense: mostly so a) younger, unknown drivers would be able to attract more sponsors and earn more money; and b) so there would be more turnover at the top of the elite Cup series.
Basically, this is like if the MLB took preemptive measures to ensure that the Royals annually had a more realistic chance to stomp on Hank Steinbrenner’s groin. Unlike traditional sports that equate stubbornness with integrity, NASCAR has the balls to tinker with a product that already makes serious bank for the sake of both their competitors and their fans.
2. Because No Sport is More American
NASCAR’s gradual rise as more than just a Southern deity in the last two decades has coincided with the steady rise of globalization, yet it remains as distinctly American as cellulite. It’s been well-publicized that they’re the second most watched spectator sport in America, behind only the NFL. That’s a lot of people tuning in, and you have to figure it can’t all just be rednecks wrapping tin foil around their antennae on top of their trailers, right?
The NASCAR race-day spectacle is ridiculously cheesy and heartwarming. There are flags, trailers, beer coolers, prayers over the loudspeaker, military fly-bys and national anthems sung only by national recording artists. It all incorporates, according to Prof. John D. Miller, “elements of danger, the military, patriotism, and religion” into something that has yet to be eviscerated by political correctness.
The paradox, of course, is that foreign companies like Toyota are currently trying to make inroads into the NASCAR culture, and foreign drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya are becoming increasingly recognizable. So NASCAR’s appeal really boils down to it being our last line of defense against those commie-heathen Chinamen.
1. Because They Wouldn’t Hate You
The one big difference between NASCAR and everY other major ball-based sport is that during competition, there is no visiting team. Technically, there are racing teams that drivers belong to, but that doesn’t really mean anything to the fans. They root for the individuals. Every driver is in it for himself, yet they all compete on the same track, at the same time—like if Dana White sanctioned real-life royal rumbles for UFC.
This means that there is no animosity among crowds at the track, or between groups watching at home. It’s harmonious—not something you can typically say about events where beer consumption and confederate flag-waving is expected. Announcing that you’re a Denny Hamlin homer in front of a random group of NASCAR fans who prefer Kasey Kahne is far less likely to get you beat down than if you wore a Chargers jersey inside the Oakland Coliseum.