Racing 101

Editor’s Note: Vivian Simons wrote this article a few years back, and it’s still as accrete today as it was when it first was published on Race Fans Forever. //B

Author’s Note: I do not profess to be an expert on NASCAR. However, I have been an auto racing fan for over 50 years and have had a lot of interaction with other fans as well as drivers and track promoters. My opinions below are based on those interactions and on what I learned from watching and listening. I do not write about statistics, only about my observations of auto racing.

When I watch a race, I try to analyze each one based on what happened in reference to a specific issue rather than just lumping the same types of situations into one. For instance, a green-white-checkered that happens just because NASCAR calls a debris caution for whatever reason, real or imagined, is totally different from the type of green-white-checkered situation we saw at Phoenix on March 13 this year (2016). To many, it was a one car incident on the track and the circumstances it created along with the number of laps left that turned it into the exciting finish we got to see. That being said, it would not be good if all races ended because of another competitor’s bad luck or misfortune as it did in this race.

My point is that it was not a contrived finish as some have suggested. It was not because NASCAR deemed it, just to give us drama. To a lot of us it was racing, and good racing at that, during the last few laps before we finally saw the checkered flag fly. Many people would have liked it better if either Kevin Harvick or Carl Edwards had taken the other out and a crash had ensued. If that had happened, it would also have affected the finishing positions of others in the race and there would have been a lot torn up cars, plus someone could possibly have been injured. Be careful what you hope for, because the end result may not be so good.

Photo Credit; Jonathan Ferrey / NASCAR via Getty Images
Kevin Harvick beats Carl Edwards, to the checkered flag at Phoenix International Raceway on March 13, 2016, Avondale, Arizona.

During that same race, I have heard and read that there was other good racing and competition on the track. If you talk with people who were present at the track and watching the actual race, they will tell you there was exciting racing going on throughout the field. The new down force set up seems to be working. Unfortunately, those of us who were watching on television only saw a few of the front runners most of the time. Another item of interest is when FOX goes to the side-by-side screens and brags about the fact we get to continue to see racing during the commercials. What we normally see is one car on the track during this time and it is on a very small screen. We still are not seeing the actual competition on the track.

However, we must keep in mind that the fans at the track are still getting to watch all the track and seeing both racing and all drivers. We hear and read about it in blogs or posts from a lot of the fans who did attend the race in person. They tell us they saw exciting racing and good competition on the track during most of the race.

A lot of us watch the scroll across the top of the screen and see the changes in positions on the track. Does this remind you of anything? If you read my article about Daytona Memories then you will know what I am talking about. Remember how I mentioned in that article that one could obtain paper printouts from the media center, which showed changes in positions at certain intervals? Their scroll kind of works in the same way and for many television viewers, it may be the only way someone has to keep track of a favorite driver. Unless someone is involved in an on-track incident or has a car problem, that driver will never be mentioned on television. Some fans long to hear their driver’s name but never get to do so.

Sometimes, depending on which car make we like best or based on whose fan we are, each of us quickly draws our own conclusion as to what happened in different incidents. If something happens involving one of our favorite drivers, we are quick to blame the other driver before we even see a replay. Have you noticed that some of the announcers in the booth tend to do the same thing? They seem to have their favorites and also jump to conclusions and blurt them out to the audience, but very seldom go back and correct the remarks they made. It is kind of like having a big headline in the newspaper about something and when they discover it was incorrect, they only put the small print correction in some obscure place somewhere in the back pages of the paper, if they put it in paper at all. Do you see the correlation here? It happens every race and all we can do is shake our heads because we know they are relaying information that is incorrect.

Sometimes we will see two cars side by side get into each other, resulting in a spin, and we immediately place the blame on the one we like least. Very few people look at the re-plays and watch to see if one or both drivers were holding their line. If they did watch, they may realize they were wrong and it was actually the side force wind that made them touch or maybe even crash. There are so many different things that create problems between the cars, but it is not thoroughly explained, so new fans will never truly understand what is happening. They accept what they are told and then profess it to be true when they tell someone else what happened. They are learning not to observe the circumstances, but to jump to conclusions and to place the blame on someone they don’t like.

Sadly, the true art of racing is diminishing because it has become so distorted from what it was originally intended to be. Maybe we are all responsible for that. Sometimes we need to look at all situations, weigh them out or analyze them by applying common sense and logic as to what racing is supposed to be before we draw our own conclusion and pass that it on to someone. We all need to learn to be more objective when evaluating an incident on the track or in the pits. That way, perhaps others will have a better understanding of what our sport is all about.

Photo Credit. Robert Laberge / Getty Images
Matt Kenseth leads the field in a restart during the NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2016.

We just had the chance to watch The Food City 500 at Bristol. Racing has not been the best at that track the past few years. I believe the lack of fans in the stands shows that people are losing interest. There was lots of on track action throughout the pack and quite a few racing incidents. I think there were possibly a few nudges but there was nothing deliberate done by one competitor to another. We did not get to hear what took a lot of the competitors to the pits or what all the penalties were. For a change, I think it was a good race this time.

Please feel free to comment and express your thoughts. But keep it clean. No name calling and no slamming. Thank you.

Vivian Simons

(Editor’s note: This story is published with the permission from the author! It was originally published on Race Fans Forever. More of Vivian’s articles; (Here)!

Photo Credit (cover); Meg Oliphant / Getty Images

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