We have a bit of a confession to make this week: we like NASCAR.
But the thing is, we don’t think we should have to confess this, we should be able to say it with pride! Sadly, NASCAR is a sport that’s misunderstood by many in the general public. And so, like many other fans, we’ve heard and gritted our teeth through all the jokes the public and stand-up comedians often throw at it – everything from it’s nothing but drivers going in circles to it’s just a simple a redneck sport.
With so many of these jokes based in NASCAR myth rather than fact, we want to take a moment today to set the record straight. On behalf of NASCAR fans everywhere, and in preparation for the 2014 racing season, we’re taking a break from discussing worker safety and spill kits, and instead are going to talk about the two more frustrating NASCAR jokes out there.
1. NASCAR is a southern, redneck sport. We can certainly say that this joke/myth is untrue. There are fans from all over the U.S., and even around the world, of NASCAR. For example, we know for a fact that Richard Hammond, an English broadcaster, writer, and journalist most noted for co-hosting the U.K. running of “Top Gear,” has proclaimed himself a diehard NASCAR fan. He has even dedicated sections of “Top Gear” to exploring NASCAR.
If you need any more evidence of NASCAR’s popularity outside of the southern population, check out the words of Jim Folsom, an analyst on beacherreport.com, who has no problem pointing out that not only are NASCAR’s audiences fairly diverse – they’re also a lot nicer than what he’s experienced at other sports events!
2. NASCAR drivers are just going in circles, aren’t they? Who hasn’t heard a joke about how easy it is to drive around a track? Well, in response to this, we direct you to a quote once again made by Jim Folsom:
Whenever I hear someone say those, and I hear it a lot, my first response is “well basketball is nothing but a bunch of freakishly tall…guys dunking a ball in their underwear” or “Football is just a bunch of huge guys crashing into each other in a big pile” or “Baseball is just a bunch of guys standing around scratching themselves and spitting.” All of those are absurd if you are a fan of those sports. You know there is much more to it than that. Yet people who follow those sports will be ignorant enough to spew the line about guys going in circles. The guys are going in circles at over 200 MPH [while] inches away from the wall and many times inches away from several other cars. Every little change in temperature or air pressure, or a bump from another car, can be the difference between winning and losing. There is so much that goes into winning a race that most fans don’t even realize it.
We couldn’t have said this better ourselves. The fact of the matter is that cars do not continuously run smoothly, especially on a NASCAR track. This is because…
A NASCAR track changes throughout the race.
Most people wouldn’t be surprised to learn that different tracks can affect a car’s operating systems or tires differently, the same way different roads affect their own cars in their daily life. Few would realize that the NASCAR tracks themselves can literally transform throughout a race. Howstuffworks.com does a great job of explaining this transformation in depth: “When a NASCAR tire moves across a track’s surface, it does so through applied force in the form of torque from the car’s engine. This applied force pushes the car forward while the rolling friction pushes in the opposite direction. As a result of this friction, heat builds up, decreasing the asphalt’s viscosity and making it more liquid than solid. This makes the track feel oily and slick and can make it difficult to handle, especially at the corners (one reason why the corners at Martinsville Speedway are concrete while the rest of the track is asphalt).” That’s right: the very design of the track means that driving becomes more and more difficult as the race goes on.
We highly recommend reading the rest of that How Stuff Wworks article to learn more about the science affecting NASCAR’s tracks. Hopefully, understanding facts like these will help eliminate the public perception about NASCAR being easy, simple and silly.
What do you think about our two points? Do you agree that these are the two most frustrating jokes/myths about NASCAR? Is there one NASCAR myth that you’re sick of hearing that you think we should have mentioned? Tell us about it in the comments