This attempt at humor was originally delivered on August 12th, 2004, was titled "NASCAR Hype," and if you ever watch Racin' you might understand where I'm coming from here:
I enjoy watching an occasional NASCAR race. I’ve followed the sport of stock car racin' since I was a kid in the 1960’s, when it was still in its infancy (by today’s standards,) and guys like Bobby Allison and Richard Petty drove cars that were actually built on the same assembly line beside the ones that parked in your neighbors’ driveway.
The race cars also actually looked like the vehicles in the dealers’ showrooms—except for the 600 horsepower engine under the real steel hood, the roll bars, the lack of a back seat, the STP & Hooker header stickers on the fenders, and the big numbers plastered on the doors and the roof. Come to think of it some of our neighbors in south Alabama had all the stickers and the roll bars and no back seat. I guess you had to be there to understand.
There was little TV exposure in those days except regionally for the really big races like Daytona and Talladega—the Indy 500 was the only race of any kind regularly televised nationally back then. If you got north of or west of Tennessee and hooted and hollered and yelled the number “Three” in public, no one knew what on earth you were talking about let alone would be willing to fight you over whether Dale Earnhart or one of the Allisons was the better driver.
Today things are quite different. Total strangers will beat your Grandma if she happens to ‘dis their driver in public. From New Hampshire to California, from Michigan to Homestead Florida, people are fighting in traffic and willingly paying seventy five or more dollars to attend NASCAR races--events that represent probably the most commercialized 6 hours they will endure in a lifetime, with the singular possible exception of Christmas each year.
What really gets me is the TV interviews they do with the drivers and pit crewmembers. The interviewee is always forced to use the name of sponsors, car owners and other suppliers as every other word in each sentence. “Thanks Bill, I couldn’t have driven this Ronnie’s Pulpwood Bubba’s Garage Dodge Charger all 500 laps here at the Trojan Condoms Raceway without the help of them super Goodyear tires while quenching my thirst drinking some of that good ‘ole Gatorade sports refresher.”
After each race, the driver finally gets to Victory Lane after tearing up almost all of the grass in sight doing donuts and burn-outs and when he exits the car, having pulled off a logo adorned helmet the size of a beach ball, he then is forced to put on a baseball cap with some other logo on it. Then they line up soft drink and sports drink bottles and other consumer products on the roof of the car behind his head and body-less hands and arms appear in the TV picture to force feed him various drinks from prominently labeled bottles to the point he can barely answer the questions being offered by the TV reporter.
Imagine if the early explorers like Columbus, Cook, or Byrd were forced to submit to this kind of TV coverage and did interviews and had product sponsors like NASCAR has today. I know there was no TV back then, but just imagine if there was. Columbus’ return from the new world could have gone something like this:
Headphone-Clad Announcer: “So tell the viewers, Chris, are you glad to be back here in civilization?”
Columbus: “ Well I’ll tell you, Vito, we definitely wouldn’t be here in first today at the Pope Pius IX Marina if it weren’t for the performance of our fine vessils--the Guido's Shipyard Queen Isabella Ragu Spaghetti Beteroulli Olive Oil Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. They just sailed so smoothly. Of course, we did loose the Pinta about half way home due to engine failure.
Announcer: Engine Failure?
Columbus: Yeah, the sails, they blew right off her in a storm, they did…it was really something to see!
Announcer: “What about that incident at the midpoint of the trip with the native’s canoe outside the Virgin Islands—are you going to hold a grudge with him on the next excursion to the New World?”
Columbus: “No, I don’t think so, we just love sailing, and things happen when you are going eight or ten knots. This Guido’s Custom Shipyard built fleet of ships just ran right over those itty-bitty dugout canoes—I think that Indian is still swimming home right now. He won’t be no trouble in a year or so when we’re over that way again.”
Announcer: “Did you ever think that you and your crew wouldn’t make it back here to Europe?”
Columbus: “No, not at all. We all had every confidence that these Queen Isabella Guido's Shipyard Italian Solid Oak ships and Mercury Vesevius outboard sails had the muscle to keep us in the lead most of the trip and bring us on home safely…but, by the way, there was that one incident when the Indian Chief caught me with his youngest daughter…boy was she ever a hotsie-totsie…
Announcer: A Hotsie-totsie?
Columbus: Yes, boy or boy, breasts out to here
Announcer: Where do you see yourself and your crew going from here, Mr. Columbus?
Columbus: You see that there moon up there in the sky?
Announcer: The Moon?
Columbus: Yes, well, we’re working with this guy named daVinci, you may have heard of him, on this new kind of ship and boy I tell you, she beats the heck out of the speed and power of these babies we just got off of. We ask the fans to just watch the news in a few hundred years and see what we’re doing. It will definitely make your head spin, it will indeed.
Announcer: Well, ladies and gentlemen, you heard it here first…now back to you in the studio in Madrid, Mr. Jennings…