Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

NASCAR - Yellow Flags and Spoiled Brats

I have enjoyed racing since the day in 1939 when I saw my first midget auto race at Sportman's Park north of Akron. Those were rough and dangerous races on a banked dirt track that didn't allow for mistakes or ineptitude. The driver of a car that wasn't much good died in the consolation race that first night. Either of the two racing publications of that era would tell you that several drivers were killed every week on tracks across the country. That part I didn't enjoy, but the races themselves were exciting and competitive.
I still like to watch open wheel racing, especially IRL but also CART or Formula One. I just can't warm up to NASCAR, though, despite its current popularity. The fact is you can stand along Lexington Avenue in New York any day of the week and see just as exciting taxicab races.
One of the minor annoyances with NASCAR is the TV announcers who constantly refer to the "... car." "The 26 car has passed the 49 car" and similar remarks. The cars aren't going around the track on their own, in each there is a driver who should be named rather than a number. Then, too, the cars themselves with their countless decals and painted signs are an abomination.
There is nothing minor, however, about the number of yellow flags on display in every race. I watched a little of one recently in which the audience was told there had been 18 caution flags. The race was still going on so there probably were more before it ended. You can bank on that being true because it seems there is always a yellow flag to slow the action and spoil the fun during the last five laps.
The problem is that there are too many cars on the track. I don't know how it came about that 43 cars start every NASCAR race but there has to be a reason rooted in history. Traditional or not, that's far too many, the majority of them lacking even a faint hope of winning. More often than not it is the drivers of those cars that are responsible for the caution flags. As a race winds down to the final laps you can be almost certain that one or more of them will be involved in an accident. NASCAR accidents seldom are as serious as those in open wheel racing, but they certainly bring the action to an abrupt halt. If there were half the number of cars on the track the races would be far more interesting. Park the ones that aren't competitive.
When a race is over, and sometimes before that, come the temper tantrums and the finger pointing more suited to 12-year-olds playing a pick-up game on a playground. Quite a few drivers need to grow up and quit acting like it is a wrestling event on Monday Night Raw. The wrestling is billed as entertainment and only an idiot would think it is anything else, but it can be fun for everyone. Well, nearly everyone. But when a couple of NASCAR drivers who wouldn't last 30 seconds in one of those staged matches act like they are John Cena or Rey Mysterio it's both pathetic and disgusting.
There's a TV commercial that contends "NASCAR isn't a sport, it's a way of life." That may be true and it probably accounts for its popularity. A great many of those in the grandstands aren't true racing fans, they're event fans. It's the thing to do, the place to be, because it makes them feel they are a part of something even though they aren't. That seems to be the way people are today at every kind of sporting event. They want to inject themselves into the action, thinking they make a difference even though they do not. It's the tailgating and the overblown pre-game or pre-race pageantry with its insufferable hoopla that draws many of them to a track. That sort is to be pitied because they can't have much worthwhile in their personal lives. Posted by Picasa

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