I’ll ask the question. Are we race fans, or wreck fans?

cathyelliottI was talking with Darlington (S.C.) County Treasurer Belinda Copeland last week and we were having a bit of fun over some of the topics I have recently addressed in this column, and how some of my comments may have come across as being a bit negative. The word “harsh” may have come up.

Belinda is that rare type of person who believes everyone is entitled to their opinion – and this, remember, is an opinion column – and she offered me some much-needed and greatly appreciated words of encouragement: “Just say what you think!”

I thanked her and told her half-jokingly that I was planning to try to redeem myself a little bit this week by writing a warm-and-fuzzy piece on the subject of Mr. Tony Stewart, and I really meant it at the time. Honestly, I did.

Then, the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway happened. After lurking at the back of the field in the early stages of the race, Stewart surged to the top five, only to crash out with 12 laps remaining when his car got loose, sending him into the wall and the infield care center rather than to Victory Lane. This mishap followed an earlier crash that took 22 cars out of the race … and no one batted an eye.

Which brings us to one of my most troubling NASCAR soapboxes. Restrictor plate racing and the heart-stopping incidents it creates has made one burning question stand out in my mind over the years: Are we race fans, or wreck fans?

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I feel that restrictor plate races are starting to resemble bad traffic accidents on the Interstate. You don’t want to watch, but you just can’t seem to help yourself, and it’s really starting to get on my nerves.

We’ve even given these horrific things a name – “the Big One,” a huge chain reaction accident that generally takes out about half the field and yields a few fights and plenty of choice words from drivers. There are injuries; sometimes bad ones. I feel safe in saying that the majority of fans who watch these races expect to see a wreck of this type, and are actually disappointed if at least one car doesn’t go airborne.

It was after one of these events back in 2011, remember, that Tony Stewart wryly shared his “disappointment” at the low attrition rate. “I’m upset that we didn’t crash more cars,” the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion said convincingly. “That’s what we’re here for. I feel bad if I don’t spend at least $150,000 in torn-up race cars going back to the shop. We’ve definitely got to do a better job at that.”

Maybe it’s because I recently binge-watched Season 6 of Game of Thrones or have read one too many Philippa Gregory novels, but I have come to feel that the atmosphere surrounding restrictor plate races has become almost medieval. Barbaric, even.

In Tudor England and Westeros alike, those poor souls who were ratted out for saying something that might have been construed as disloyal to the crown – AKA treason – were the stars of a show that droves of people turned out to watch, with kids and picnic lunches in tow. It was a real spectacle. The day generally involved an ax man, a basket and a foregone conclusion, but hey, the viewer market share was outstanding. It was gruesome and terrifying … and the spectators loved it.

Beloved fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr., known for his skill at restrictor plate racing, has been famously quoted as calling it “bloodthirsty. If this was how we raced every week, I’d find another job … I don’t even want to go to Daytona and Talladega, but I ain’t got much choice,” he said. “If that’s what people want, that’s ridiculous.”

I’m with Junior on this one. When did we as a nation embrace voyeurism at its worst, becoming excited at the prospect of potential damage to both man and machine? When did we become willing to actually PAY for it? How much farther are we willing to go?

On second thought, don’t answer that. I just don’t want to know.

Comments

comments

Socastee alum Lemonis to take Mississippi State job

Socastee alum Lemonis to take Mississippi State jobSocastee High alum Chris Lemonis will be named head baseball [more]

Birds split doubleheader, return to open homestand

Birds split doubleheader, return to open homestandThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans split a doubleheader Sunday with the [more]

Local track athletes capture first at S.C. Junior Olympics

Local track athletes capture first at S.C. Junior OlympicsThe Myrtle Beach Track & Field Club played host to [more]

Native son Drew Brophy returns for art retrospective

Native son Drew Brophy returns for art retrospectiveThe Myrtle Beach Art museum drew over a thousand folks [more]

Drew turns softball skills into memorable summer

Drew turns softball skills into memorable summerOlivia Drew was crying, and her mother, Brittany Drew, was [more]

Pelicans limited to one hit as offensive woes continue

Pelicans limited to one hit as offensive woes continueAlex Lange fired six excellent innings Thursday, but the Myrtle [more]

All-County Track & Field: Second shots strike silver

All-County Track & Field: Second shots strike silverThe frontrunners in this year's My Horry News All-County Girls [more]

Mutiny gives Strand fans small taste of World Cup

Mutiny gives Strand fans small taste of World CupAmerican soccer fans don't have a rooting interest in this [more]

Pelicans open second half with eye on playoff streak

Pelicans open second half with eye on playoff streakThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans begin the second half of the [more]

Pelicans help propel South to victory in All-Star Game

Pelicans help propel South to victory in All-Star GameA pair of Myrtle Beach Pelicans played key roles in [more]

NMB's Ballard, MB's Coble reconnect at North-South

NMB's Ballard, MB's Coble reconnect at North-SouthA pair of former teammates and rivals joined forces for [more]

Pelicans fail to finish .500 after losing first-half finale

Pelicans fail to finish .500 after losing first-half finaleThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans dropped their final game of the [more]

CCU's Biermann, Lancaster make All-American squad

CCU's Biermann, Lancaster make All-American squadCoastal Carolina shortstop Seth Lancaster and designated hitter Zach Biermann [more]

Ibarrondo comes to rescue to rally first-place Mutiny

Ibarrondo comes to rescue to rally first-place Mutiny The Myrtle Beach Mutiny needed a wake-up call late Saturday [more]

Pelicans split twinbill with Mudcats, play finale today

Pelicans split twinbill with Mudcats, play finale todayAfter the Myrtle Beach Pelicans fell 2-1 to the Carolina [more]

Pelicans lose fifth straight, play doubleheader today

Pelicans lose fifth straight, play doubleheader todayVictor Diaz's seven strong innings for the Carolina Mudcats were [more]

All-County Boys Tennis: Johnson, MB duo top list

All-County Boys Tennis: Johnson, MB duo top listThe future looks bright for the sport of high school [more]

Hess carves his way to Team USA surfing nod

Hess carves his way to Team USA surfing nodCarter Hess carved his way to a spot on the [more]

Pelicans' bullpen spoils Thompson's perfect start

Pelicans' bullpen spoils Thompson's perfect startAfter Keegan Thompson was removed following seven perfect innings for [more]

Piggot feasts, scores four goals to lead Mutiny win

Piggot feasts, scores four goals to lead Mutiny winThe Myrtle Beach Mutiny rolled to a 6-0 victory over [more]

CCU trio makes all-region; Lancaster an All-American

CCU trio makes all-region; Lancaster an All-AmericanCoastal Carolina shortstop Seth Lancaster was named to the Perfect [more]

Braves' icons Avery, Jones to appear at Pelicans game

Braves' icons Avery, Jones to appear at Pelicans gameThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans will welcome former MLB All-Stars and [more]

Coastal guard Labinowicz announces plan to transfer

Coastal guard Labinowicz announces plan to transferCoastal Carolina University men's basketball player Artur Labinowicz plans to [more]

Report: Myrtle Beach Bowl 'near lock' for 2020 kickoff

Report: Myrtle Beach Bowl 'near lock' for 2020 kickoffIn yet another development in the Grand Strand's booming sports [more]

Adaptive surfers depart for US Surfing Championship

Adaptive surfers depart for US Surfing ChampionshipLocal surfers, volunteers, and family members gathered at the Charleston [more]

Socastee alum Lemonis to take Mississippi State job

Socastee alum Lemonis to take Mississippi State jobSocastee High alum Chris Lemonis will be named head baseball [more]

Birds split doubleheader, return to open homestand

Birds split doubleheader, return to open homestandThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans split a doubleheader Sunday with the [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2018 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach