Friday, January 12, 2007

NASCAR: Is it becoming more like WWE?

I may now alienate a good portion with this post, but hang with me, as I will be back with other material in future posts.

I'm just amazed that it took me this long to post something about NASCAR. No I am not a redneck!

I am a relatively new NASCAR fan. Charlie, who has the office next to mine, has been a large influence in me as far as my interest in stock cars is conerned.

Anyway, I was looking at this morning's Medina Gazette, which on Fridays always has racing news. During the Nextel Cup season they always have a feud of the week. During the off season(which is now) they have the feud when something noteworthy happens. Guess what? Something noteworthy happened this week.

The feud involves two of my favorite drivers, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards.

Tony Stewart, pictured to your upper left is two time cup champion. He is approaching middle age, fights the battle of the bulge, and whines alot when things don't go his way, much like most of the population. And like alot of us he sometimes speaks without thinking. I started liking him when I realized that despite all that, he does win races. Tony is pictured doing his victory celebration, climbing the fence.

Carl Edwards is a rising star in NASCAR ranks. Pictured to your above right, he is doing his signature back flip, which is his victory celebration. I started liking him as a result of a very unselfish act. He had won the Craftsman Truck Series race in Daytona three years ago and he gave his trophy to a child whom he had with him. The child had a medical condition called neurofibromatosis, something that affects members of my family.

Now to the feud. Last summer during a race at Pocono Raceway, Tony went to retaliate against something Clint Bowyer had done and in the process caused Carl to wreck. Tony was penalized for aggressive racing. Carl later spun Tony out as they were going to pit road. Carl was also penalized.

The story goes that the issue was never resolved and trash talking was going on. Carl said he was going to make Tony bleed. Tony says to bring it on. He's got $50,000 saved up for the fine NASCAR would levy on him. He also has called Carl the Eddie Haskell of NASCAR.

Talk like that goes on all the time in that sport. It especially happens after a wreck when a reporter sticks his microphone in the face of an already hot driver.

I wonder if the continued talk between Carl and Tony isn't a plan to do some fundraising for a worthy cause, as NASCAR is always good to do. Or is it just for publicity?


collegedj86 said...

I'm not exactly sure what to think of NASCAR anymore. I actually became a fan in the mid 90s when Jeff Gordon started racing the circuit. Gordon is an Indiana boy, just like I was, and so my family became big fans of his.

At the time, NASCAR was not really a national sport, though it seemed to begin its rise in that respect. Sponsors were starting to take more interest in the sport, especially in sponsoring races and race tracks (Charlotte now Lowe's Motor Speedway). Multi-car teams were starting to become more common as opposed to one-car teams.

Then, NASCAR made a huge jump from second-rate programming on stations like ESPN to Sunday primetime on Fox and NBC. I think this change has sparked a major change in the sport. The major networks are primarily Nielsen-ratings hungry, because that leads to them making more money. To hype up the sport, they dig into the lives and scenarios of drivers, such as this "trifle". Also, you see things like the change in rules regarding finishing under a green flag. Plus, I always felt like some of the late yellow flags were "staged". If you have a late race shootout, that increases excitement, thus increasing ratings.

So I guess I say all that to say that I think maybe NASCAR is becoming more like the WWE, but in the staging aspect. I don't think each component of NASCAR is staged (like exact placings of racers), but I think some things are buttered up a bit for better ratings in the commercially and financially driven world of the major networks.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR became a national sport in the early 70s, and was broadcast on national TV long before cable, and long before ESPN.

Trash talk is nothing new to the sport. The good ol' boys runnin' 'shine back in the moutnains were doing it before NASCAR ever existed.

Sounds like you weren't there, but that doesn't mean these things didn't exist before you exposed to the sport.