I doubt I ever watch a NASCAR race again because the sport that has helped make household names out of Floyd Countians like Curtis Turner and Darian Grubb has completed its transformation from a honest sporting event to nothing more than so-called “professional” wrestling. It is now just as phony and just as contrived.
I grew up a NASCAR fan. I followed the early years exploits of Turner, Joe Weatherly and others. My mother, in her single days, dated Weatherly while both he and she worked for the Navy as civilian employees during World War II. She also dated Cale Yarborough.
The slide downhill began years ago for NASCAR. The overly-contrived “chase” and “race to the chase” substituted commercialism and a desire for TV ratings over real competition. Rules are often modified to create false impressions for viewers while sacrificing real competition.
The final nail in NASCAR’s waiting coffin was driven last week by Michael Waltrip‘s racing team when a combination of a forced spin and extra, unneeded pit stops were used to affect both the outcome of the race and the final standings for the chase.
Clint Bowyer spun his car intentionally and a crew chief for the team ordered an unnecessary pit stop by one driver so another driver on the team could finish in a better position to make the chase. In addition, two teams — one of them Penske Racing — cut a deal on track that also altered the outcome.
As a result, NASCAR disqualified one of Waltrip’s drivers from the chase, put Ryan Newman back into the mix, and then added a 13th driver — Jeff Gordon — to the 12-man chase finalists in a highly-publicized effort to “restore credibility.”
What credibility? NASCAR, driven now more by money than concern for fans or the “sport,” doesn’t have any credibility left to restore. The Sprint Cup has become a laughing stock to those who used to consider stock car racing a real sport.
One only has to look at the empty seats to see that NASCAR is losing fans as well as credibility. TV ratings are way down as well.
At least two of Waltrip’s sponsors say they are “reviewing” their relationships with his team. They should.